Below I’ll be examining the Salims from the TV Show 16kidsandcounting Shown on Channel 4 March 2013 9pm, all quotes mentioned below are as mentioned in the series on Channel 4 should you wish to watch this yourself. All non specific opinions given are my own.
We meet the Salims from Rochdale for the second time. “It’s the kids that are the masters,” Mohammed tells us, “It’s important to have routine or discipline – but that goes out the window in my house.”
Mohammed shows us how his laid back approach to parenting means that he still gets to enjoy life, and that by him not pushing his children learn self-discipline. How many people would agree that too many children are wrapped in cotton wool these days? It is the older children that help the younger ones with homework. Doing homework is hard, to get the quiet conditions, and finding a space to work. The older ones have to tell the younger ones to get out of the room, so that they can concentrate, and there’s not even any stair gates up, which we use to prevent our youngest bothering our middle two.
But Mohammed still wants more children: “When they are driving me crazy I still want more children.” One of the children say that they can’t afford it, and another says that it’s too much to handle there’s already a lot of us.
Noreen finds it hard to lay down the law and tells us, “They don’t listen to me.” There’s no set bedtimes and this results in it being “stressful getting them up in the morning because they have no proper bedtime routine.” Mohammed adds, “You don’t want to upset them but you have to because they have to get up to go to school.” Surely if you are upsetting them by getting them up, you can upset them to go to bed at appropriate times?
But their 17 year old Maryam achieved 5 of her 10 GCSEs at A or A*, and tells us that “my parents encourage me to do work.” That good schooling is needed so that they can progress. Marianne dreaming of University “I Have to motivate myself a lot and work hard,” she knows that she is a role model for her siblings. Mohammed used to work teaching Maths, Science and English to new arrivals from India for 14 years. He missed teaching and though it was really great. He’s been trying his best to get a job, and Marianne thinks that if he cannot get a job with 7 degrees then ‘what is the point?’ She knows he is not lazy just wanting benefits, because she has seen the paperwork and him trying to get a job.
I think this may be why Mohammed shows that the point is he is still enjoying life. It’s all fun, fun, fun. We see them visiting the fair on a school night, and told there is homework to be done, but they go anyway. Mohammed tells us that he has a great relationship with his kids “a lot of love, free of charge.”
Mohammed tells us that the “biggest challenge is getting them to listen.” But even learning can be through fun, and Mohammed organises an educational trip to a Science Museum for his children to learn in an interesting way. Although a 30 minute trip taxi journey to Manchester probably wasn’t the wisest of ways to spend their benefit money. It is because the van has been stood for a week – possibly he could have been better organised to sort something cheaper out.
Bilal, 15, tells us people think that he is sometimes annoying “ I’m the worst one out of the family,” but then there was nothing to entertain the children, only themselves. They are also a bit unruly in the museum. Mohammed says it’s like a school trip and you have to count all the children.
Mohammed is proud of all 11 children. “They are enjoying life. If I were strict and made life difficult for them all the time, they would be forced to be withdrawn.” “I hope to install in my children, my little darlings, is respect, and love for each other. And respect for elders.”
Maryam works hard and the Salims want her transition to adulthood to be memorable. Each child is made to feel important and involved – and they are allowed to pick one item of party food. Habiba 11, “my dad does spoil us,” but Mohammed still lets them know if things are too expensive. The Salims love an excuse to have a party. Maryam has told them not to make a fuss – she just wants to study. But the Salims are very proud of Maryam. Mohammed says, “The kids know we have nice fun easy time.”
“Nearly every month there is a birthday in this house.” “Birthdays are the best thing about big families” we all go crazy and have so much fun. Three of his children are now adults. Maryam is the first one doing her A-levels though – so the self-discipline approach didn’t work with the older ones.
Noreen calls Mohammed Buddha, which he explains means old man, when he talks of more children, and she says no now we can have the grandchildren. But you can see the love in their eyes.
I do think that this family were contrasted with the Sullivans whose children were also achieving academically (through home education). The Sullivans have a stricter parenting approach, whilst also having fun, and so their children were also more well-behaved when out in public, and listened to their parents.