Not that I ever met the good doctor. Benjamin Spock was an American who in 1946 wrote a book about ‘Baby and Child Care’ that has been the guide for many parents. His book was a best seller, as parents after the Second World War were insecure how to treat their kids.
Large families where children would bring up each other because father was busy out at work and mother with the young ones and the housework, had changed to smaller families where parents had more time for parenting.
His advises were different from others at that time. He found the emotional bond between parents and children very important at a time that doctors told parents not to hug or kiss their babies.
I think I turned out well, and many of my generation, because our parents could always turn to Spock when in doubt.
I think of that book when I see families in the restaurants and public places in Kurdistan. My foreign eyes notice the same uncertainty that my parents must have felt about educating their kids.
In this country, anything young is loved best. So in a family gathering, the babies sit on the table or go from knee to shoulder and get all the attention. Here is where the jealousy starts that has such an effect on Kurdish society. The kids that are a little bit older, become outcasts and have to look after themselves.
They play outside without anyone keeping an eye on them, they move around in restaurants forgotten by their parents – and they get into mischief. In my apartment block kids are for ever knocking on the door of their home, and their mother opening it. And we all suffer from the noise.
I notice very little correcting going on. If a child bothers someone, breaks or damages something, there is hardly a parent who knows how to react. Punishment is hardly given by modern Kurdish parents. Kurdish children learn from very young that crying will get them what they want.
Who can say ‘no’ to a child? Well, it’s part of upbringing. Children need to know that in life they will not always get what they want. And they have to lean to deal with it.
With changing times because of sudden welfare, it’s time to think this over again. Modern times need new ways of bringing op children. Spoiling them will spoil the society. I think it is high time for a Kurdish Dr Spock to write the book that so many parents here are in bad need of.
This blog was first published in Kurdish in the daily Kurdistani Nwe