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January 17, 2019

At What Point Do You Give up on your Child?

  When I watched the news last week about a woman who killed her foster mother in Nyeri, many thoughts ran through my mind. I wondered what would have irked this daughter so much for her to be unable to control her anger. I wondered what state of mind she could have been in for her to make a threat and to actually go ahead and carry it out. The young woman stabbed her mother several times on the neck and chest with a knife, ending her life. She mercilessly took the life out of the woman who had raised her from when she was a three-month old infant. I felt sad, for both the daughter and her parents. Whatever angle you look at it, it really is a sorry situation.

But what somewhat jolted me was the reaction of the girl’s father. In television interviews, he was calm, poised in his demeanour -concealing any intense emotion he may have had. I wondered what kind of person he was, to be seemingly clear-headed enough to talk about the incident just moments after it had happened. Even more interesting was what he said. He said that despite the evil act his daughter had committed, she was still his dear daughter, he still loved her and he had forgiven her. Imagine that!  

His daughter had grown up with chronic disciplinary issues, having been expelled from several schools due to bad behaviour. Businesses her parents had set up for her had all failed, once again due to her indiscipline. Despite neighbours ‘advice’ that they kick her out, these parents never gave up on their daughter. I can only imagine the stress this woman had put her parents through. Makes one wonder –if they had given up on her, would the mother still be alive today?

This incident reminded me of other parents I had watched on television not too long ago. These parents had a son who was the village terror. He was rude, obnoxious; he spent his days beating up, tormenting, robbing and maiming people, and was even suspected of murder. He verbally and physically abused anyone he came across, including his parents. Since his childhood, he had chronic indiscipline -both at school and at home. He had over the years brought the family so much shame and embarrassment. He had been arrested many times, even jailed, but there was no reform in him.

I watched his parents disown him on television. I watched them say he was no longer their son, and because the justice system had failed to help him too, then they were handing him over to the village members to do whatsoever they wished with him. I saw pain and hurt in these parents’ eyes. I imagined what they’d been through over the years, for them to reject their son –on national television. As the father spoke, I saw a dejected man, a deflated man who had reached the end. Once again, this was a sad situation, whatever angle you looked at it –for both the son and his parents.

These two scenarios made me ask myself: at what point is it acceptable for parents to give up on their children –if at all it is acceptable? Can the parent-child bond survive intense feelings of hurt and betrayal? Is it possible for parents to withstand the pain of one disappointment after another, dealing with the same issues and attitudes over and over again, yet continue loving their ‘wicked’ child all the same? When does a parent say enough is enough? At what point should you wash your hands of your children? When do you know when it’s time to let go, and when to keep holding on? Or is it possible to love your kids enough to never give up on them?

You tell me.

The writer is a lifestyle writer and motherhood blogger. Follow her blog on


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