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February 17, 2019

When good parenting does not bring desired results

He appears to be very comfortable with breaking rules, being deceitful and taking shortcuts
He appears to be very comfortable with breaking rules, being deceitful and taking shortcuts

Last week, just after the release of the 2015 KCSE results, I happened to chance on a radio show where one caller was sharing her tribulations following her son’s results.

A few months before the national examination, the boy and his three friends had participated in some truant behavior that had led to their expulsion from the school. They were therefore required to sit their final exams as ‘outsiders’.

According to this parent, her son had, just before the examinations, managed to get in touch with someone — who knew someone, who knew someone — with access to the real examination papers. All he was required to do was pay some fee and he would then receive the authentic examination paper through his phone. He would just be required to download it. But since he didn’t have the money to pay for this purchase, he had desperately approached his mother about it. But his mother, appalled at his audacity to even think about engaging in this illegal practice and informing her about it, had refused to give him any money, instead imploring him to work hard and earn his own results — whatever they would be.

So when the results were released last week, the young man had scored an average grade of B minus. He was not pleased with his results, especially because many of his friends had scored much better grades.

“My son is now blaming me for his results, saying that had I agreed to pay whatever was required for him to gain access to the examination papers, then he would have performed better,” she told the radio presenter.

Her main worry though was not even his grades. What disturbed her most was her son’s attitude about life, his decisions, his actions, and his complete lack of desire to do the right thing and take responsibility for his own actions.

“We did our best to raise this child well, and we fail to understand how he has turned out. He appears to be very comfortable with breaking rules, being deceitful and taking shortcuts — as long as the end justifies the means. He never hesitates about doing what is morally wrong — as long as it suits him, no matter who he hurts in the process. This is not how we raised him and his siblings. My husband and I are distraught at his behavior,” she cried.

Her experience touched me. It made me feel very sad for these parents. This is because, as much as we would be tempted to begin laying blame on them and implying that there must be something wrong they did somewhere for the child to turn out that way, the truth is that even the most diligent parents who do their best to raise honest, responsible and hardworking children do not always get the results they expect.

I know of children who have been raised in healthy environments, where their parents were ever-present, nurturing them in the ways of virtue, and who have siblings that have turned out to be model citizens in society, but yet they themselves turned out to be complete opposites. Children whose actions bring shame and disgrace to the family. Individuals who have no regard to ethics and morality. It often makes me wonder to what extent parents are responsible for how their children turn out. Are they always to be blamed if the kids don’t turn out right?

The reality is that there is only so much a parent can do. We can guide our children well, nurturing and raising them in healthy environments and offer them all the support they need, but ultimately, they are the ones who will make the decision about what kind of person they want to be, and the kind of life they want to live as adults. The most important thing is to offer them a good foundation, the rest is up to them.


The writer is a motherhood blogger. Follow her on


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