PARENTING

As is the parent so also is the child

But they are too busy to spend time with their children.

In Summary
  • Two years ago when it was announced that the December holidays would be two months long, parents grumbled.
  • Parents do not want to be with their children. When schools close students are sent to their grandparents or relatives.

This is the week when students are going back to school and parents are doing all they can to ensure that—from buying books and essential items to paying fees. The children will be away for at least seven weeks.

One time I was invited to give a talk at a high school in Isiolo. After the presentation, the principal came to me, congratulated me and asked if I could talk to a student addicted to drugs. Being the problem solver that I am, I agreed.

He led me to a room where there was a student with bloodshot eyes. The student grew angry and said he did not need anyone’s advice, and started throwing objects at us. We had no choice but to leave. As we were going down the stairs I turned to the principal and apologised for not being of much help. He looked at me and said, “Sam, you tried your best. Many people don’t take part in their rescue mission.”

That statement changed my life. I started to ask myself whose fault is it that the student got addicted to drugs; the student? His parents? Teachers? When a child is born, the first person they interact with is the parent, then siblings, school, church/mosque, peers, in that order.

Two years ago when it was announced that the December holidays would be two months long, parents grumbled. Parents do not want to be with their children. When schools close students are sent to their grandparents or relatives. On the flipside, when a child is involved in a disciplinary issue at school the parent sides with the child yet they do not have sufficient evidence to prove their claim.

Sometime after last year’s KCPE results were released, I got a WhatsApp text from a student who had sat the exam and got 411 marks. She was asking me about high school life. I was curious how a 13-year-old girl was already in WhatsApp. I asked where she got the phone and she said her father bought it for her as a reward for her good performance.

I have interacted with many teen mothers, most of whom say they got pregnant because they were looking for love. Parents rarely tell their children they love them or are proud of them. So someone else does, and makes time for her. The result? Pregnancy.

The father might think he was rewarding his child, but to me he’s destroying that girl’s future. We all know the dangers of WhatsApp—the child can join any group by clicking on links. Talk about pornographic groups, wasting time messaging instead of studying, among other effects.

Parents never advise their kids. They have left that burden to the teachers. But are the teachers doing it? Children need to make informed decisions, but how can they if they don’t have information?

That’s why a girl gets pregnant in Form 2 and the mother says her daughter has been bewitched. The father is always sending his son to buy cigarettes, the mother takes alcohol in front of her daughter. They don’t know what they are planting in their children’s lives.

Parents force their children to go to youth camps but refuse to attend parental seminars. They are too busy to spend time with their children. They leave for work at 5am to beat traffic and come back at 8pm after spending two hours in traffic, then take a shower, watch the 9pm news and go to bed. On Saturday mum goes to chama, dad goes to watch EPL. On Sunday they wake up at 12pm with hangovers and go shopping at the mall. And the cycle continues.

I have interacted with many teen mothers, most of whom say they got pregnant because they were looking for love. Parents rarely tell their children they love them or are proud of them. So someone else does, and makes time for her. The result? Pregnancy.

The parent determines how their child turns out, consciously or subconsciously. University of Nairobi student president Ann Mvurya said she ended up in politics because her father liked watching political news so much that she developed interest in politics while in primary school. What a parent does determines their child’s future.