141. Parenting

As we know, you cannot generalise. Not all men are sexist, bigoted pigs and not all women are seductive secretaries with a penchant for dropping pencils at inopportune moments. Children, too, come in all variety of sorts. There are some who are athletic, some prefer to be overweight and play video games, some relish education and some prefer pugilism and truancy. Each of us has the right to forge our own path in this world; we can be whatever we want, kind of. I mean I wanted to be a Formula 1 driver but that didn’t work out.

Kids don’t like it when parents interfere, unless the interaction is the gift of money, then the promise of raked leaves and completed homework sounds through the hallways for minutes. No, young teens like to get on with things, they want to hang out with friends, go to the mall, play hoop and of course, pitch woo. But there is a fine line, for all their independence craving, mum and dad still need to ensure that Johnny and Betty Teenager are raised correctly. I don’t have children, but that sounds like a tough job.

It is indeed unfair, Kevin. Don't worry, mum and dad did it too when they were your age...

It is indeed unfair, Kevin. Don’t worry, mum and dad did it too when they were your age…

I guess, and parents correct me if I am wrong, that the balancing act is always a fine line between “thanks for the 20 quid, I’ll do anything for you” and “stop ruining my life, I hate you.” Right now, I don’t have the patience for such volatile behaviour, but I do remember being a teenager and I do remember the conflict and frustration of it all. It is a taxing time for young adults, they are old enough to start doing more grown-up things but too young to actually do anything.

When I was 16 or so, my friends and I would always try our luck by sneaking into pubs or nightclubs wearing fake beards. The results were 50/50, sometimes we’d get in and get served, other times we were politely told to “f*** off.” It was funny; it was part of the growing up process. Above all, it was healthy. Just because I wanted to hit a bar when I was 16 didn’t mean that I was a disappointment to my father, nor did it mean that I would burgle people’s houses or go car-jacking.

Socialising is important. Without social skills you end up with the personality of a rock. If you lock your teenager up every weekend like Josef Fritzl then they are being denied the chance to spread their wings and learn the world for themselves.

Now, to the UAE part of the blog at last; last year I passed note on a kids-only nightclub in Dubai. Truth be told, I cannot remember what my opinion on the matter was. I can’t be bothered to go back through the archives to see what I wrote then, so there is every chance that my thoughts have changed, or the integrity of UAE Uncut is about to be severely compromised.

The nightclub that opened in Dubai for children aged 12-20 has been closed down. What a stupid thing to do. Lets recant the facts; the club dedicated one night a week to teenagers so that they would have something to do. There were snacks and soft drinks on hand together with games, both computer and physical. Chiefly, and obviously, alcohol was forbidden, so too was smoking and other narcotic usage. On the face of it, then, this sounded like the perfect environment for groups of teens to spend together once a week.

So why was it closed? Well, some parents, and in these situations it is only ever a small, miserable minority, have been complaining to the police. The minority have been up in arms and coming out with the kind of statements that make me so angry that I want to punch my laptop screen repeatedly until they feel it. One parent was quoted as saying “whoever came up with this idea should be punished” and another said “children who visit such clubs risked ending up as frequent visitors at bars and pubs once they were independent.”

Who the dickens are you? The idea mooted was to give children somewhere to go once a week. Being a mid-teen is a hard time of life. You want to spread your wings but more often than not there is nothing to do. I despise the expressions “arts and crafts” and “do something cultural”; teenagers don’t want to go to a museum on Thursday night. They need to interact with their friends, but where to go? No really, you tell me.

The character who asked for the founders of the nightclub to be punished must be so far detached from reality that the pink elephant that sleeps under their bed must be looking for alternative accommodation. And then there is the person who states that the idea risked people hanging out in bars and pubs when they reach independence! Are they trying to suggest that once their offspring has turned 21 they will still be under parental duress? Going to a bar is a normal activity. You have a few drinks, you have a chat, you meet new people; what’s the problem? Shut it and let people get on with their lives. Not everyone is a raging drunk who goes round beating people up.

The key factor here is alcohol. We are in the UAE, an Islamic country that has very strict rules about alcohol consumption. That is a plus point, but at no point has alcohol been a factor in this case. No kids have been reported to have drank any and the club had very strict rules about that. What more do you want?  You’re worried about the future of your young? It’s not fair to blame delicious beer.

Nope, someone had a masterstroke of genius by providing teenagers with somewhere to go at the weekend where they could enhance their social skills. But thanks to a handful of narrow-minded, dogmatic elders the plug has been pulled and the kids are to be forced back onto the streets and into the abandoned villas to have illegal parties.

I’m not here to tell people how to act, that would contradict the preceding 950 words, but try to be rational before you start closing peoples businesses. If you have a wayward teen then really, blame yourself before you start blaming everyone and everything else. Don’t stop them having fun at the weekends. And if you do stop them going out to have fun and they get the hump, try to recall what it was like when you were that age.

I doubt very much that you spent every weekend at home watching TV in silence waiting to be old enough to go to a bar…

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