Parenting is not a function of age or the number of children that you have, it is much more than that. It is dependent on skills that you’ve got through deliberate learning and the knowledge you are able to acquire from your parenting experience.
Parenting is increasingly becoming more difficult because of the proliferation of uncensored information that has permeated through our households unnoticed. Have you noticed the upsurge in teenage suicide, rape and the explosion of illicit sexual activities among out teens and even the pre-teens?
Are you worried about this? Have you thought of the cause and possible solution? Have you envisaged what our next couple of decades will look like if the status-quo remains unchanged? These are questions that should bother the minds of responsible adults and get them worried too.
It is not time to blame the government because nowhere in our laws are we compelled to bring these children here, it is completely our responsibilities. Let me share an experience that will introduce us to one of the reasons that may be responsible for this catastrophe.
As a teacher, I took up a side hustle (tuition) to teach three children of one family, two boys and a girl. The girl is the eldest. One day, while I was teaching, the youngest boy was unwilling to learn which is quite unusual. However, I insist, you must learn, after all, that is what I was paid to do. I gave him a classwork and he took his notebook, pretending to be writing.
I later discovered he was doing everything else but to write. I approached him to know what was happening and he began to weep. Note: I neither spank nor scold him. When I became curious to know what went wrong that led him to shed tears profusely, he said in tears “no one wants to listen to me, I am the youngest”.
The boy is 8 years old. He went further while still crying; “my dad asked everyone to report me when I misbehave, but I cannot report them even when they do something wrong just because I am small”. I interrupted, but you are not small, you are a big boy and in grade 4. He responded, “That is the problem, my dad said he will buy me a puppy when I get to grade 4 but he has refused to buy it, he bought a puppy for my brother”.
To palpate him and give him succor, I said, you will soon become a big boy and enjoy what your brothers are enjoying now. He responded “no, my brother is 20, my sister is 14 and my last brother is 11, when will I get there”, he asked crying. I also went further to tell him that his parents are doing that to him because they love him and he interrogated, “is that why they are treating me like a baby”?
Throughout our conversation, tears were rolling down his cheek as he was expressing his innermost self to his teacher. After the whole saga, I was dumbfounded and thinking to myself, how on earth will the parents of this boy know what is running through his mind? How was he able to conceptualize all that he has in mind to the extent of being depressed and sad? Who will tell the father that the promise he made to the innocent boy without fulfilling it is tearing his last child apart? Who will tell the mother to listen more to the concern of the little lad rather than just hear him out?
These and many more are difficult questions to answer and are the bane of our poor parenting today, which is leading us to a ruin as a people. The parents never knew that the exposure of the boy to strange movies, uncontrolled access to the use of the internet, and unrestrained engagement on social media are few of the things that have exposed the young boy to a realm beyond his age.
At his age, he is not living for now but perturbed about the future. He is disturbed that it will take a long time to get to the age of his eldest brother and to reach his level of education. He is not enjoying his childhood because he has lots of fictions in his head and his parents are not helping his situation either. Unless he is tamed or the situation is reversed, what did you think the boy may end up doing? Suicide, depression, lack of self-confidence etc. are few of the possibilities.
Oh! Our mothers, we need you to rise, our children are now wayward, and we seem to have lack control because we are children ourselves. No thanks to the depletion in our community style of living. Now everyone is for himself and God for us all. We cannot eat our cake and have it. We cannot expose our children this much and not take responsibility for the effect of such over exposure. The result is suicide, child depression, illicit erotic activities, lack of self-confidence etc.
Arikowuyo Abdulrafiu teaches Physics and Mathematics at Al-Buraimi Private School, in Oman.