As I was growing up, I took pride in being brought up the African way. A child was a child in every homestead far and wide, every parent had the onus of taking care of their neighbour’s children – they were real keeper’s of their brothers. While still as short as a gas cylinder, I was tossed between my aunt’s, grandmother and other relatives. They all taught me that life has knocks but those that live with integrity will always make it past the struggles. Every time I attempted or even thought of lying to any of my elders, my butt got repeated blessings from the bamboo sticks. I was taught that when elders are talking in the room and you are watching your favourite cartoon, you have to swallow your excitement and exit slowly out of the room because the words of elders were only meant for the ears of fellow elders. When I tried to cry for no reason, I was given a good reason to amplify my sobbing with the aid of some unforgettable sobbing. To a toddler, all that training seemed like military training and I was no exception towards that thought. But because of the iron fists that had a hand in raising me, I have a character that is beyond exceptional –thanks to the army generals that were deployed at the “military academy of raising me.” Besides, you can’t forge an iron sword by placing it on a pillow.

There has been a recent trend by the captains in parenting of this current era to have a soft spot for their children. One thing they forget is that children are not sycophants but people with their own intelligence. Kids in this era are now taking advantage of that weakness parents have for them. I one time saw a kid throw his parents phone and all the parent did was say, “Baby……!!!!! This is mummy’s phone, it’s not a toy. Ok? So don’t do that again.”  During my time of having a small shoe size, throwing the phone would send you to solitary confinement with a couple of punishments alongside it.  When parent’s go to a restaurant with their offspring, instead of building on the trust they have for each other the director of the child’s future hands the toddler a phone or some other form of electronic so that the kid may stay still. It’s as though on top of being busy most of the time, the parent has forgotten that to a kid it’s not about the presents you give them but your presence and quality time you spend with them. One thing that parents have completely put aside is the fact that they are a child’s first mentors and what they do now will be replicated when the child gets a chance at the steering wheel of parenting.

We (whether parents or not) need to remember the next generation in all that we do. So as you hand that kid the phone to play subway surfers, don’t think of the “now-effect” but rather think of the “tomorrow – effect”. The now effect seems satisfying but the tomorrow effect will bring everlasting gratification. Before you make any move, think of the aftermath from two dimensions. Would you prefer losing the trust and confidence of your child in the name of electronics so that you may get some peace and quiet after a hectic schedule or would you prefer to play with them, share stories, bond despite the exhausting and awful day at work? But as you answer that question , remember that an athlete keeps running even when he has no zest to keep going just because he knows what lies ahead so should you.

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