Sometime ago in a local super market, I saw a woman hit her young son, a boy of about four. The reason apparently was that he was annoying her with too many questions. And distracted by his questions, the woman gave him a good smack. The boy of course was embarrassed and piped down. He seemed to go into a trance.
I have seen similar incidents at airports and in other public places and they always bring on a feeling of dismay.
A child is born with an abundance of curiosity and creativity. But these springs can dry up in the face of repressive attitudes on the part of parents and even teachers.
Parents should encourage children to ask questions and the communication should be two-way. Children can often come up with accurate observations, hidden to the adult eye.
Richard Dart, an American painter says: "Everybody is potentially an artist" and what children need is some assistance in developing their imagination.
And this is what parents forget. They assume too much. They think they know everything. To keep the child quiet they buy useless and expensive toys, video films or too much ice cream. In the long run, this is not beneficial.
In small children the powers of observation are immense and if we deprive them of sights and sounds, how can they develop their intellectual powers?
Every year I see thousands of Arab children in London and other cities being dragged around shopping centers. I would love to seen them in parks, museums, cultural centers, children's concerts and other places where children of all ages increase and enhance their knowledge. Much of what they learn during this formative period sinks into the deeper regions of the mind, and will enrich their lives, and that of others too, in countless unforeseen ways. That should be the role of parents - to share with children the things we love in the belief that their lives will be the better for it.
And we as parents are responsible for discovering our children's interests and encouraging them. We should take an interest in life and look around us to discover the beauty of this world that God has made for us to live in and enjoy.
Is it not true that if we ourselves are ignorant of nature's blessings, if we have no interest in art or science, if we are oblivious to all around us, then we are useless companions to our children?
We must therefore make an effort. And believe me, these days with so many things to do, parents will not have an easy time but whatever the cost, they must not be indifferent to their children, their queries, their needs and their curiosity.
We cannot use television or video as a pacifier to keep our children from making a mess. Let us not shout at our children.
Instead, let us encourage them to write, to paint, to sing and above all to let them be themselves. Let us buy them a book that we can discuss in the family. Let books be entertainment so that reading will become a habit with them.
Yes, we must discipline our children - that is an important part of our duty as parents - but not at the cost of their mental growth and development.