Let’s say you’re a parent and you have teenage kids.
You love them, so you want to do the best you can to set them up in life. When you were a teenager you had to do some things that weren’t exactly pleasurable, so maybe you spare your kids that kind of thing and make it a bit easier for them. Like driving them places, instead of making them catch a bus like you had to, or maybe indulging them with gadgets where you had none and just had to get bored if you didn’t go out. You know what I mean, we all do it.
Except sometimes you overdo it a little, and then you think to yourself “hang on, I’m putting myself out here and you don’t seem to appreciate it anymore”. Your kids haven’t suddenly become rude, it’s just that you’ve been so accommodating that they’ve fallen into the habit of taking your tolerance for granted and now they’re abusing it (without even knowing they’re doing it). So you wind up feeling like you’ve made a rod for your own back and you wish you’d done things differently but it’s too late now.
And then you meet another parent with a different approach from yours. And you meet their teenagers - and they are annoyingly grown up compared to your own, because this other parent has adopted a more “life is tough ... get on with it” approach. This new parent hasn’t abused the kids, he/she has just adopted a tougher stance than you have, basically you’ve just been a bit soft.
So...you decide to try and sneak a little taste of this different approach into your own family. You clamp down on some of the overindulgence, knowing that it’ll make your kids better people in the long term - and that’s your goal; fully rounded, mature and polite young adults who can function and contribute well in the world.
The minute you introduce this new thinking, your kids scream “abuse!” from the rooftops and claim that you are the worst parent ever. They stop talking to you and tell all their mates what a prat you are. If you have the guts you stick to your guns, (this isn’t me, by the way), and then ten years later you see your kids out in the world and hear people saying “what a nice young man/lady” and you feel proud. And if you’re really lucky your kids will actually say to you at some point in the future - “nice one Dad, I didn’t like it at the time but you sorted me out...thanks for that”.
What am I on about?
Transpose all this across the Atlantic. Behind all the putting his foot in his mouth and arrogant posturing, maybe this is what Trump is trying to do. And maybe instead of everyone screaming “abuse!” we should let him have a go and just see what happens. In other words shut up moaning and just wait and see.
Of course, what he’s doing may well escalate the terrorist problem, and that’s a real possibility, but it doesn’t mean he was wrong to try.
Mike Jennings, Lydbrook Park, Copley