I wrote the following in 1998 and remember being surprised at what I wrote. One of the paradoxes of life is that, the more things change the more they stay the same so I think it would still be useful to post. Three things that have definitely changed since 1998:

1. Mary Whitehouse, founder president of the National Viewers’ and Listeners’ Association, died November 2001. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_Whitehouse

2. I have read Kahlil Gibran on children: https://allpoetry.com/Children-Chapter-IV

3. I have heard Barbra Streisand sing “Children Will Listen” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZAf13cKZ4Tc


Four letter words, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Four-letter_word, tend to be very emotive. Mary Whitehouse objected to their use on television or video. She seemed to feel that society was losing grip of its moral fibre and the use of four letter words was a symptom of that. On the other hand, there are those who would argue that strong language has always been used as a form of expression: Chaucer was not afraid to use it.

The Victorians who established the idea of a strong moralistic society were unable to control their passions: severe poverty led to all sorts of unlawful and immoral activity. The trick was to ensure it was all kept underground. The language of today may be society saying that we need to deal with issues rather than continually hide them.

The most emotive four-letter word is not even thought of as a four-letter word. Home, however, is a four-letter word and brings out a variety of emotional responses.

Home is where the heart is heart is. It is where a mother and father lovingly bring up 2.3 children. Children of both sexes learn to trust the adult world and cope within it.

This myth however has been shot through on a number of occasions. We now learn that Home for a great number of children is not the safe, secure sanctuary we are lead to believe in. In fact, some children grow up in an atmosphere of fear and mistrust. It may be advisable to give parents a certificate in parenthood before they can have children.

Some adults are still trying to come to terms with the idea of Home. Their parenting, far from allowing them the space to grow into mature adulthood may have been nothing more than an oppressive abuse of power.

The word child abuse recalls to mind many examples. One of the first to grab the public’s attention was Cleveland, Rochdale and the ritualistic abuse that took place in Epping Forest: clearing written pre-Saville and other more recent cases which showed us horrifying depths we still hard to imagine). Although horrendous I do not wish to talk about such cases. These cases give people a false sense of security. They feel it has nothing to do with them and is a problem of a few.

Child abuse is not about isolated incidents but can also be about insecure parents continually undermining their children. Parents too worried about social pressures and personal anxiety to give their children what they need. Parents may not be very good at parenting but some would get first class honours in how to put an idea or principle above their child’s welfare.

There are a number of reasons why parents’ fail to satisfy their children’s basic needs. The most important is probably that the parents needs to have some of their own desires met. They themselves may need some parenting.

There may be some friction between the parents that makes them lose sight of the child. The child may be found on such occasions huddled in a corner trying to be invisible. If either parent notices the child they may start using him as a pawn. Home may seem like a battleground where the child is expected to act as a referee.

Some of us have had families who have, at some time, put tradition, culture, economics, religion or social standing above the needs of their children. Just as Victorian society did not approve of dissent neither will these families. They may insist they become doctors or teachers because it is the only suitable occupation for women. Their sons may have to become engineer or go into the family business.

The child’s insecurity is further increased because of a society which insists our parents can do no wrong.

The children being brought up in such a home may grow up confused and insecure. In turn, they themselves may become parents. The wheel of life never stops turning. The least we do is hope for is it slows down, in order to give us a little to think and take a deep breath or two.

May we all be well, healthy and strong:

May we all be happy.

May we all abide in peace

May we all feel safe and secure

May we all feel loved and cared for.

Qaisra Khan


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