Parents or guardians expect a child to achieve specific goals in their life. If the child shows signs in their early childhood years that they are not heading toward the straight path to these life goals the parent or guardian can become terrified of the unknown and deem them a disappointment. Additionally, this child is often treated unfairly, isolated, and neglected by the same people who are supposed to support him or her with unconditional love and understanding; that they will not conform to the life that their parents expect. In The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo, the main character Despereaux is a non-conforming individual who naturally is not born with the mice-like instincts that his mom, dad and two siblings ascribe to. His mother states very early in his childhood to “please look for crumbs. Eat them to make your mama happy. You are such the skinny mouse. You are a disappointment to your mama.” (Di Camillo, 18) Despereaux, being a non-conformed mouse, is expected to be like all the other mice and follow all of the mice rules. When he does not follow the rules she and the rest of the family fear that he will become a disappointment and shame the entire family. This leads to Despereaux’s brutal treatment, isolation and neglect. Why does his family treat him negatively? Their expectations of Despereaux are not met and therefore, they fear that he will bring shame to their family. The author explores the ways in which Despereaux is treated when his parents and siblings don't accept the rambunctious mouse.
And then I hate you. I hate you because you took everything that was us out of that house. Everything that was us — that was our family. You went and you tore it down and tore it out of our lives, out of my life, without a second thought, without any concern or understanding of what you had really done.
It's weird how one day your perfect little life seems a distant memory. The days when you'd wave out of the window every morning mouthing "I love you" to a father who loved you back. Each Sunday being "daddy and daughter day." Dressing up in that England football kit that he loved and going down the pub to watch the football with him. Maybe it's oblivious to a child, or maybe he truly did love me. I'd never know. I'd never know if I could trust his words, trust his actions. And that's what I hate most. There is still loyalty for him. He is my father. His blood is mine. Even if there is no loyalty returned.
My parents were not scholars. They were not socialites. They were not bright, optimistic, souls with hope for their futures. They were, in fact, kids who grew up too soon with ugly pasts and sad, sad scars, not knowing how to function in a hapless world that moved too fast for their liking.
As promised in my last article, I’d like to share some ways of parenting children without using physical punishment that I learned both as a parent and a grandparent. This article is not designed to change your beliefs about smacking children: if you believe physical punishment works, then my goal is not to change your opinion, because as I stated in my first article I too used to hit my children. However, I do believe there are many parents out there who are looking for an alternative way of raising their kids. This one is for you!
The debate on smacking is an interesting one in as much as there are not many fence-sitters on this subject: people either have no problem with it at all, saying “I was smacked as a child and it didn’t do me any harm” while others are vehemently against violence of any sort against children. Just using the word “violence” evokes very strong feelings in many who hit their children because they don’t consider smacking a child to be violence. The “no hitting” camp generally believe that we hit our children out of instantaneous anger, frustration, and basically because we don’t know what else to do.