I remember my late mother, who was a very wise lady and a teacher by profession, used to tell us ( my siblings and I) that there is a saying that ” each person has a square of heaven above his head”.
The meaning of this phrase is that each of us will pursue our own path , and no parents or other people can determine what we are going to be except ourselves.
Parents of course play a very important role in bringing up children. Mencius, a disciple of Confucius, believes that when a person is born, he is pure, and it is the environment and his upbringing that influence him to be what he would be later on in life. This is of course debatable, and over the years there are other schools either supporting or refuting this.
One thing is sure. A person’s childhood influences his adult life. Anyone who has done a bit of psychology would know that. However, sometimes we do find very different siblings, despite the same upbringing and same parental care and control.
I remember one of my patients, a lady about my age, who has 3 very successful children, all grown up and doing well in life . She, however, was a case of depression. Her husband who is also my patient is a very decent man, well behaved and soft spoken. After many consultations, I finally learnt from her the cause of her depression.
She has one other kid, now in his early 20s, and third in the family, who is on drugs and were caught a number of times shoplifting (the family has to pay compensation to prevent the victims from going to police). SHe blames herself for this son’s behaviour and this guilt feeling has been haunting her and made her depressed.
His behaviour cannot be due to different upbringing. It has probably more to do with peers and his childhood experiences outside home , perhaps in schools, perhaps on buses, or perhaps from certain shows that he has watched, which may not be entirely under the control of the parents.
I am quoting this example to show that sometimes, you do not know how your child will turn out to be even when you apply the same control and give the same teachings. Perhaps, we should tailor different ways of bringing up different children to their different characters, since their environmental influence is different from one another.
Still, there is no guarantee that all children will turn out good. It is like our fingers; no two fingers are of the same length, even though all arise from the same palm.
Yesterday’s paper highlighted that one of RPK’s children was charged for stealing. This type of crime would not normally be highlighted in the press. Perhaps it is highlighted to give a perception that there is certain blemish on RPK’s character or his family. Perhaps because RPK is such a high profile personality, this case was highlighted. ..In the spirits of a free press, even though this type of cases normally does not get reported, the media has every right to report on this, of course..
RPK has written a very moving piece on this son, and in the same article , he apologised to the nation for his son’s conduct. http://mt.m2day.org/2008/content/view/22142/84/
It is very gracious of him to apologise on behalf of his child. He does not need to. His son is already an adult, and his son has his own square of heaven above his head and should be responsible for his own action.
He and his wife must be feeling very sad and very disappointed with this son. All parents would like to see their children grow up to be a useful person. But if the child chooses different path, what can the parents do?
RPK and his wife should not blame themselves for this son’s act. RPK also did the right thing in not negotiating his son’s release after he was alleged approached and offered a settlement. A lesser parent might do that to secure the son’s release. I salute RPK and his wife for this.
In fact, letting his son face the punishment rather than negotiating his way out is the correct thing to do. Let the son learn from the hard way, if he chooses not to listen to the parents.
I hope no one would pass any judgemnt on RPK just because of this wayward son’s crime. It will not be fair for the family. I would also like to reassure RPK that his name will not be blackened by this highlighting of his son’s crime
I am sure most of my fellow Malaysians will share this view of mine and that this incidence will never diminish his status as a freedom fighter for a better Malaysia.
(update: more comments are available at MT site http://mt.m2day.org/2008/content/view/22244/84/ )