‘Problem Children’ Created by Parents

Mauritius Times – 60 Years Ago

By LP Ramyead & S. Bhuckory

This is the first installment of a series of articles on psychology. As a holder of Diploma in Education of Leicester University, the author writes on this subject with authority. We recommend it to parents and to our young men.

“I can’t make up my mind,” is heard more often than not. And many of our friends who complain of this indecision, this want of ability to make up their mind really mean it. What’s the cause for this habit of mind which cramps our life and so much prevents us from making the best of it? The cause is more deep-rooted than many of us imagine. Most often, its history goes back to a period of the individual’s life when he was subjected to a treatment which destroyed original thinking and engendered diffidence. His parents over-anxious about his welfare pampered him, fussed over him, coerced and shepherded him all the time. He was rarely given the opportunity to decide for himself. And now that he has to do without the pair of crutches, he often feels miserably helpless, lonely and forsaken. The world does not ‘accept’ him. And this feeling of ‘non-acceptance’ is indeed an awful feeling which if too persistent would make a crash of one’s life.

Some parents adopt towards their boys and girls more than necessary a too bossy attitude, that attitude of a drill-sergeant which tends to smother initiative and to strip the adolescent of his capacity to live the full life which our Maker intended for everyone of us. As Tolstoy put it, our boys and girls need more of our love and affectionate cares, less of that bossy patronage which can only freeze and bring about a baneful stagnation!

‘Problem Children’

Children with a certain amount of mental maladjustment have always been found in all parts of the world, and in the post-war world, the number has much increased. Many of them have a dramatic history of unsatisfactory behaviour. There is, however, always a reason which accounts for the strange ways of these unhappy children. Psychologists are daily telling us that mostly parents are to be held responsible. The famous English psychologist Elizabeth Cloudsdale writes: “In nearly twenty-five years of dealing with so-called ‘problem children’, I have yet to meet an instance where the problem was not created by one or both of the parents.”

Upon a visit to a school for maladjusted children, in Leicester, I asked a boy how many brothers and sisters he had. He replied: “Five in all, but Dad does not come home now.” That was a broken home, and there lay the clue to the problem. Maladjustment can, however, be brought about by a number of other reasons. Those endless squabbles and bickerings between husband and wife going on in front of the children or within their hearing often scare them out of their wits, rendering them very morose and unhappy. When these bickerings of parents become too frequent or assume larger proportions, the children living under the roof may grow maladjusted.

Problem parents have problem children. When we find a son or a daughter bone idle, defiant, even given to stealing, we have first to try and find out the psychological reasons for this abnormal behaviour. Normalize the background — the home atmosphere and the child may quickly grow stabilized. A policy of threats and punishments might worsen matters and make the child more maladjusted than ever.

A Sense of Success

Every failure is a step to success, they say, but there is a certain amount of truth in the theory that failure often breeds failure. This is especially true in the case of people of tender age. On our visit to Duxbury Road School for maladjusted children, Leicester, the headmaster in his talk mentioned the very interesting case of a boy who seemed a hopeless failure at first but who suddenly waked up and started sprinting ahead once that he was given a sense of success. The boy came from a well-to-do family; dad was in the Navy; a brother was already making a name at a Grammar School.

The headmaster who observed the boy found that a sense of failure and frustration was at the root of John’s troubles. Having discovered that the boy possessed a certain amount of skill in handicraft, he shifted him to the handicraft section where, after a few weeks’ training, John succeeded in building a decent chair which became the object of his immense pride. The staff visited it in his presence.

Mummy was invited by the headmaster to have a look at the creation of her son. John had been given a sense of success which transformed him surprisingly. Formerly he thought he was no good, but after that he was given a sense of success, he felt he was somebody and he made a good push in Mathematics, languages and other subjects. How many of our boys and girls are victims of a crushing sense of defeat and failure! If only we could give them that highly stimulating sense of success!

* * *

Another Delegation for London

By Somduth Bhuckory

Another parliamentary delegation is leaving for London to discuss constitutional reform with the Secretary of State. Most probably the delegation will take the plane on the 17th (Feb 1957).

Is it too much to say that Labour has already won a victory? We presume that the Labour delegates have consented to go to London to discuss anything except P.R. Everything lends support to the view that Mr Lennox-Boyd has dropped his unpopular P.R. proposal.

How long are we going to wait before we get a new Constitution? Talks of constitutional reforms started as soon as the 1953 general elections were over and now we are nearing the 1958 general elections. As Responsible Government and Universal Suffrage were two outstanding planks of the Labour platform, the late Hon. Rozemont tabled a motion signed by thirteen of his colleagues for a representative delegation to visit London to discuss changes called for in the constitutional set-up of Mauritius. The debate started on the 8th December, took five sittings of the Council and ended on the 22nd.

We know what followed. In 1954 Lord Munster came to Mauritius with Mr Sidebotham and in 1955 the first parliamentary delegation met Sir Lennox-Boyd. The outcome was that Universal Suffrage and P.R. made strange bed-fellows and produced a constitutional crisis at the end of September 1956.

Now seven months after the first delegation left, another delegation is busy packing up for London. Will the second visit help? We think that the Secretary of State knows all that there is to know from the delegation about P.R.! He is surely calling the representatives of all shades of opinion — except independent — to discuss entirely new proposals. We see, therefore, that there is some prospect of putting an end to the deadlock.

The first time Labour sent Hon. Dr Ramgoolam, Hon. Rozemont, Hon. Forget and Hon. Seeneevassen. Who will replace Rozemont this time? It is rumoured that it is Hon. Rault who will step into Rozemont’s shoes. We wish the rumour to take the shape of reality. Hon. Dr Millien is at a discount because he seems not to see eye to eye with the Labour Party in the matter of constitutional issues.

On the other hand, the anti-Labourites were Hon. Koenig, Hon. Mohamed, Hon. Dr Celestin and Hon. Sauzier. Although the whole delegation is safe and sound, it is being wondered whether Hon. Mohamed will be leaving. It is being said that some people prefer to see Hon. Osman or Hon. Bahemia in his place. But let us not forget that after what he has been through — remember the report of the Keith-Lucas Commission and his enigmatic fall at the last municipal elections? — Mr Mohamed has strong sympathisers if not supporters. So we won’t be surprised to find the old delegation of anti-Labourities on foot once more.

What are the new proposals? We don’t know. Universal suffrage coupled with single-member constituency may be the alternative. We think that such a proposal has a better chance of materializing than any other.

But are not the delegates going to tell us at Plaine Verte what stand they are going to take in London?


* Published in print edition on 18 October 2019

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