Recently, we woke up on social media to find a clip of a father facing an avalanche of violence from his daughters who were reading text messages off his phone that he had had between him & his mistress.
Furious children confront their dad for cheating on their mom. ‘Mistress’ because his wife was also in his presence, quietly watching from the sideline as her daughters fought for her. The man, he was quietly sipping his tea. Calmly watching the world unfold before him. The language they used was foul & threats too were made. It was embarrassing, annoying & strange (for us who aren’t millennials or whatever they’re called these days.). There are lots more videos of children going gorillas towards their parents all over the internet. But, how did we get here? Kids attacking their parents. How did the parents start letting this happen? How come it was quite unheard of in our days? I am not siding with the man because what he was being accused of, cheating, is a terrible thing but, how did we get to the point where kids can express themselves violently to their parents like that? How?
I grew up in a family that never beat kids. However much you may have vexed them, the beating wasn’t an option. However, it didn’t mean that we would act like brats in the home. In that home, there was no problem with dad taking over lunch preparations on Sundays or doing laundry or cleaning the compound & yes, there was the wife & she also played her roles well. We also did ours perfectly. Anyone cooked, did laundry, swept the compound, etc. It was a model family in the hood.
Even when I came of age & started hustling on my own while still staying at home, it was all good. The only thing they required of me was to be responsible & thus I had to be it. However, I was the black sheep that came back at 3 or 4 in the wee hours & the door was opened for me, food & tea kept for me as well as warm bathing water on the stove. At 4 in the deadly morning. The responsibility came around in the form of doing my chores & then telling them where I would be whenever I stepped out so that in case tragedy fell out there, they could know where to start. Imagine telling them you’re gone to Club Venom in Kabalagala yet you’re somewhere in Kamwokya & if tragedy falls in Kamwokya, they’re not alarmed because they think you’re in Kabalagala as you told them. Even when I was done with my rounds & my team told me to sleep over & go back home in the morning, I would refuse & still head home, knock pun the door & it would be opened for me. Responsibility.
No hand nor cane was raised but we grew up responsibly. Concerning our parents, They were going through a lot raising us already, and putting our burdens of mischievousness was not a good thing to top up on the list. Just a few words of what would happen if my life went astray would be enough to put me in line. But then you see the kids of these days. Acting like demi-devils supported by parents. Undoubtedly, today’s kids are failed by their parents.
Whenever I would be in the wrong at home, mom would wait for me when I was alone, maybe in my room then she’d come in & address me in a low tone so that most probably mzee doesn’t get to know what the matter was. I was a foster child. She was my aunt so it was safer that her husband doesn’t get to know my mischiefs. Or, when I was in mischief & mzee got to know, he’d sit in his usual chair usually in the evening after tea, summon me over in the presence of my mom (aunt), then he’d read me my charges. Their type of instilling discipline was through talks. They’d ask you why you did what you did & tell you the possible negative outcomes of it. To me, that was enough to make me reconsider my deviant actions. No strike of the cane. Just talk & I’d fall in line. Maybe that African look moms give that tells you, “Child, don’t you even think about it!”
But I think the problem today is that many of you have ridden along the line of ‘make your child your best friend’ to an extent that the boundary between child & parent has become so blurred. Now your kids see you as just friends (Is that what they call urban parenting?) so it’s easy for them to throw that f-word at you or smack your head at any moment just as they would a best friend. I mean, they’re literary seeing you as equals. It is not a bad parenting style. I mean, it’s best for a parent & child to bond so well so that they could feel loved & everything as well as create an environment for them to express themselves & be heard. Also, we’re so lenient to them in that we literary live by what they want not by what we feel is right for their age and mental capacity. Imagine buying a 5-year-old kid a smartphone. For what exactly? Imagine when you get mad at them and the best punishment is to tell them to go sit in a corner? To do what there exactly? We shouldn’t grow them like it’s the military but parents need to show more power. Ya’ll don’t pay bills and provide for them to only be disrespected.
Disciplining a child doesn’t mean you should whip them till their bottoms can’t sit no more. Jungle justice will create a wall so hard & tall between you & the child that once they shut out from you, you will never know what’s happening in their lives & you’ll die a very sad parent asking yourself where you went wrong probably due to what they would’ve become after that as we’ve already seen that many of the hardened criminals have a history of abuse from their childhood.
You can discipline a child with just words as long as you put a boundary of respect between child & parent otherwise that kid will embarrass you in front of respectable audiences & you won’t have a comeback move from it. Tell them the disadvantages or the terrible outcomes of whatever they’re doing. Tell them about who’s paying their bills & why they should respect them. Why they should respect elders. Be the perfect example because they usually pick up from you. Set the pace of what you want them to be or better & understand them & why they want to be different (but better).
But yes, you can still whip that ass of theirs without breaking their limbs to insert some dominance in the house if at all things seem to be taking the worst turn.