Hilarie: This parent needs to read the job description
Oct 9 2010 by Hilarie Stelfox, Huddersfield Daily Examiner
IT’S funny how the same old stories go around and around.
More than 25 years ago I was working for The Sunderland Echo when the paper foolishly become embroiled in a controversy over the wearing of earrings to school by a teenage girl.
The editor at the time, a man who had previously struck me as a sensible sort, foolishly decided that The Echo would get behind the girl’s father in his campaign to fight for her ‘human right’ to have her ears pierced.
The editor badly misjudged public opinion and found himself at loggerheads with the vast majority of readers, who wrote in to tell him in no uncertain terms that we should have been supporting the school, not the girl and her father.
Wind forward to last week and another ear piercing controversy popped up. This time it was the tragus piercings (opposite the earlobe) belonging to 15-year-old Dakota Kilner, who chose to stay at home and miss a GSCE exam rather than remove her studs.
The Examiner correctly reported this story in a neutral fashion, allowing readers to make up their own minds on the right and wrongs of the stance taken by this family.
But I’m guessing that many will have felt there was some bad parenting at work here. Not so much because Dakota was withdrawn from school on a point of principle, but because the girl herself was given the final say in the matter.
Mum Rachel Firth says she asked Dakota what was more important - the ear stud or her exam and the teenager chose the stud. On the basis of this decision Dakota stayed at home.
Who, I’d like to know, is the parent in this family? If my daughter had been asked to remove an earring, she would have been told in no uncertain terms (by me or her dad) to comply with the school’s wishes.
Part of the job description of being a parent is to make the best decisions we can for our children until they are old enough and wise enough to take responsibilities for their own lives. Of course this does depend somewhat on parents having sufficient common sense themselves.
This week The Examiner’s Mailbag page featured a kindly-written letter from a 90-year-old reader expressing her sorrow that a mother should put her daughter’s wish to wear an ear piercing above her education.
It was a heart-felt letter from someone of a different generation, someone who left school at 14 grateful to have had a basic education. “I would dearly love to have had the same opportunity to learn what’s on offer at schools today,” the letter said.
In the end, of course, it all boils down to a simple truth - education is vastly more important than earring wearing and always will be.