By Faith Ndungu
In the month of October we saw a sharp rise in unrest in our school and greatly saddened to imagine that it is our “innocent” children who might be behind the fires.
So really, what is going on? Is it that children do not want to be in school? Is it fear of exams? Is it erosion of our value systems? Or is it just the tip of an ice berg, tip of much more that is ailing our society? Is it the “kababa and kamama” syndrome finally exploding?
When I look at this situation my heart breaks for a generation which we are laying foundations for, a generation of our leaders of tomorrow. So where is the problem? What is my perspective as a parent, a parent who is learning on the job, a parent who has made some mistakes and also achieved some great parenting.
When I think about these indiscipline and unrest, the first thing that comes to my mind is, who is bringing our children up? We live in a fast paced world, we have bills to meet, life goals to meet, work trips and targets, social obligations to meet, and much more.
This at times takes much of our time to a point that we wonder if we need some more additional hours per day, maybe 25 hours a day is better, maybe we need 30 hours a day. Ooo, I have so much to do…..but never enough time.
We actually struggle to get time to relax and unwind, so how will we really have time for kids as well as provide for them? This might be the unspoken words in many parents’ minds. Imagine with all this, we still have children to take care of and yes we do take care of them, but unfortunately we focus on the financial and material provisions and not the emotional and quality time for sweet nothings like talk about the “good old days”, our own childhood, how we used to spend time in our childhood, our childhood games among others.
How do we as parents impact on our children especially in instilling value systems? Are our children bringing themselves up with the support of internet or the nanny? As we think about this, let me give a few things I think are concerning to the current situation.
- Discipline has been made to read caning. Since the abolishment of caning in schools, we never as a society looked at the role the cane planned and replaced the cane with another form of disciplining. You see nature has a way of filling voids, in this case the void brought about by the abolishment of the cane was not filled deliberately by most of us hence unstructured discipling, this in turn has brought about kids who do not understand boundaries, respect or social values. I have heard many people talk of the good old days, oh you could be beaten, but honestly is the cane the solution? We need to be firm as parents and need to replace and form our discipline system.
- What is our value system? For some years we have seen many young people say that the end justifies the means, implying that we can use whatever means to get rich. What happened to our value system? What do we hold dear? Have we portrayed life to be all about money hence made young people think that money is all that matters?
- Monkey see, monkey do. My former Bishop Joseph Kanuku used to give us a story of how monkeys imitate us hence do what we do. Our children are the same, they learn more by what they see than what we say. In this regard, what value system do we portray to the kids? Are our kids a reflection of who we are as a society? Do we need to rethink how we interact, our value system, respect for property?
- Have we assumed and ignored our children? Are our children trying to gain our attention by being indiscipline? A story is told of a child who used to scream a lot, when the child was asked why he did that, he said “it is because daddy only listens to me when I scream”. Are we this father that unless our children misbehave we don’t have time for them? Do we need to be responsive to our children at all times?
- Are children stressed and this is the only way they can behave so as to release some stress? Or are the children punishing us as parents for our absenteeism, hence destroy property because they know that the cost will be transferred to parents?
All of the above a few of critical questions which need to be reflected on by our society. I know that the Ministry of Education had to give children mid term break so as to re-strategize and plan. However, we need to be intentional as parents, we need to be present in our children’s lives. Yes, we will always have some rotten fruit here and there, however let us do our best as parents and society because our future is in our hands. Our future is our children hence the future we will have is dependent on the values we in still today.
Lastly, I would like to congratulate each parent because in your own way, you are doing your best, we can better our best and leave the rest to God and fate.
I look forward to a community which respects each other and values property and harmony.
The writer is a parent a social scientist with a big interest in mentoring teenagers