Главная страница «Первого сентября»Главная страница журнала «Английский язык»Содержание №23/2009

"Anne of Green Gables": Bringing Up Children

The problem of bringing up children has always existed in every human community; it will exist as long as there are children: for mankind it is eternal.

While bringing up children, parents, teachers, trainers, educators, mentors, tutors, grandparents, uncles, aunts, elder brothers and sisters, camp counsellors, nannies, headteachers and other school authorities, governesses, nurses, coaches, supervisors, etc. usually face a lot of problems, such as misbehaviour, disobedience, aggression, rudeness, disrespect, naughtiness, deceit, arrogance, impudence, impertinence and dishonesty.

When grown-ups fail to cope with these problems successfully, they usually label children “difficult”. Often it is the result of their own wrong, improper behaviour or ill, inadequate treatment of children.

It is generally acknowledged that children tend to copy grown-ups. And if a grown-up is rude, irritable, impatient, intolerant, aggressive, shouts all the time, etc. a child is most likely to be the same. For an ill-mannered grown-up can hardly expect a child to have good manners with his or her own example constantly in sight.

Anne Shirley*, for example, is rude and disrespectful with Marilla’s neighbour and friend, but it is partly the lady’s own fault. She was inconsiderate enough to call the girl’s red hair “carrots”, which humiliated Anne greatly. So if you want a child to be polite and respectful to you, you should also respect his or her feelings.

Children are often accused of lying. They are apt to lie, that’s true. But sometimes children are pushed into lying by adults themselves. Children want to come up to their expectations, to please them, not to disappoint them, or they may simply be afraid to tell the truth: lest they should be scolded, told off, reprimanded, rebuked, reproached, punished in one way or another (get a beating, be deprived of something they like, etc.).**

Adults may also expect children to be evil, wicked, naughty and disobedient, capable of doing only harm and damage, committing misdeeds, sometimes overlooking their own faults and shortcomings.

When Marilla, for example, fails to find her brooch, the first thing that comes to her mind is that Anne Shirley has stolen it. It doesn’t strike her that she could have lost it, put it in a different place, or somebody else could have taken it. She blames the girl immediately, without giving it a second thought.

Marilla shuts the girl up in her room till the latter confesses.

Not knowing anything about the brooch, compelled to tell a lie, Anne invents a story of taking the brooch and eventually losing it. The truth comes out only when Matthew Cuthbert, Marilla’s brother, accidentally finds the brooch.

Children are often persuaded through fear, fear of punishment, fear of forfeiting something nice and pleasant. Compelled respect also implies fear and is not real. Just as one cannot be made to love, one cannot be made to respect. When children are compelled to respect and obey somebody rather imposing, they usually do it only in his or her presence and hate, despise them and hold them in contempt behind their backs. And that’s quite natural, isn’t it? For real, genuine respect can only be won: one is to be respected in one’s own right, that is for one’s own virtues, merits and achievements, not because of one’s position, rank or status.

No wonder that Anne Shirley loves and respects Matthew Cuthbert, because he is, in his turn, affectionate and caring towards her. He buys a beautiful dress for the girl to wear at a Christmas ball.

On the whole, the problem of the difficult child arises when the psychological atmosphere in which a child is being brought up is not friendly, but hostile to him or her, or when a child doesn’t get enough love, attention, care, affection, reassurance, and praise. When grown-ups are inconsistent in their requirements and demands, go back on their word, etc., when a child is over-criticised, not trusted, the results are similar. To conclude, one may say that there are no difficult children, but just misguided adults who can’t find a way with them.

However, there are such cases when a child misbehaves due to organic and other pathologies and diseases. Then a doctor, a psychologist should be consulted.

* Anne Shirley is a girl of eleven raised in an orphanage. She is accidentally sent to Miss Marilla Buthbert and Mr. Matthew Cuthbert, middle-aged sister and brother living together at Green Gables, a farm in Avonlea, who have originally requested a boy as a helper on their farm.

** For forms of punishment see “The Lumber Room” by H.H. Munro.

Sources: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

By Olga Kostenko