OK, this post has nothing to do with Moving Back to Jamaica. Yet.
There is a great show on television called SuperNanny that is just the best reality show, mostly because the children, and therefore the parents are not acting.
On the show, parents that are in trouble invite Jo, the SuperNanny, to coach them on their relationship with their children. Luckily for us, the viewers, the kids are usually just as bad as the parents advertise them to be, both in fact and on film. Unlike adults on most of these shows, they are not acting, and when the parents try to "act" they are quickly brought down to earth by a misbehaving child who, the parent suddenly realizes, is embarrassing them on national television.
The show is exceptional, partly because it is so bloody real.
Furthermore, the SuperNanny's advice is excellent, and is focused on using all the best practices that good parenting is all about (e.g. setting clear consequences) and avoiding all the bad ones (e.g. getting angry and spanking.)
I recommend it highly, and while the show gets hokey at times, and is radically simplified to fit a 60 minute time-slot, I learned enough from watching it to use it with some of my nieces and nephews -- to good effect. Having no children of my own means that I can only practice vicariously.
If I did have children, I hate to say that by now I would probably have done a bad job.
Because I only recently started to think seriously about what makes a good parent, this after many years of efforts to improve myself through reading books, taking seminars, having a coach and being counselled in therapy. I can see now how much of who I am was shaped when I was very young, and until I became consciously aware of what these events were, I was blind to the source of many of my weaknesses.
However, that is only the first step. Having these insights is only the beginning. Turning them into good practices is only the beginning of developing good parenting habits. After all, most practices are just passed on uninterrupted from generation to generation, both unquestioned and stoutly defended.
Turning these practices around is difficult, and while introspection is the first step, having a SuperNanny around as a coach would definitely help.
I have always wanted to have children, but I am glad that I don't, just because I would be a vastly different (and hopefully better) father at 40 than I would have been at 23. I shudder to think what I would have done at that age...
On a much larger scale, given how young our criminals are here in Jamaica, I can only think that the most immediate cause is the style of parenting. A 16 year-old single mother has frighteningly few qualifications to undertake the job well.
Would a national SuperNanny help all of us?