Children learn respect at home

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Children learn respect at home


I received an email from a reader who resides in the United States in response to the column last week suggesting parents act like parents before becoming friends to their children. The reader commented on the problems associated with educating children in Korea.

“Children will only respect their parents when they love and care for their children while disciplining them strictly at the same time. Parents must not overlook the fact that a spoiled child will not learn to be considerate and respectful of others, and parenting without discipline will return as a boomerang and ruin their character.” The reader also expressed concerns on the educational reality of Korea today and requested that the media address basic family issues such as parenting and manners.

More than 10 years ago, Japanese businessman Mamoru Ikehara wrote a book titled “Criticism on Korea and Koreans.” Having spent 26 years in Korea, he said he was determined to address issues that were uniquely Korean. While some arguments, including the growing gap between Korea and Japan, are not convincing at this point, his harsh criticism on education and parenting are still valid.

As a child, when Ikehara had a fight with his friend, his mother would only ask who the friend was and take him to his house. Even when his nose or lips were bleeding, she would make sure he apologized to the friend and the parents. Only then, the mother would treat his wounds. Korean parents would also visit the friend’s house but for a different reason. Instead of apologizing, they would blame the other parents for what happened between the kids, and the fight between the children would often develop into a confrontation between parents.

As children don’t learn that they have to take responsibility for their actions, they are likely to assume that the parents will stand by them whenever and wherever, even if they are at fault. Excessively protective parents spoil a child’s character.

Teaching children to be considerate, polite and respectful of others cannot be done overnight. It has to be acquired naturally throughout childhood. Aggravating school violence is emerging as a serious social issue. Teenagers who have extorted and beat younger students have been booked, as they were even violent to parents of the victims. The government is announcing various plans, but they cannot solve the problem. It may take time, but we need to go back to the basics of education and discipline at home.

by Bae Myung-bok

*The author is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.
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