Parents are those people with the special job of nurturing us and bringing us up in the right way. They provide food, shelter, clothing, education and other essentials. They do their best to make sure we don’t lack the vitals. When we are born, there’s no instructional manual attached to our bodies from heaven that would show our parents how to raise us up. So all the parents have to do is try; and learn through their mistakes.
Especially with the firstborns, very often parents would seem to be in a daze regarding milestones in their child’s life like the child’s first birthday, his graduation from primary school and entry into secondary school, his teenage years (puberty, issues with the opposite sex and all that), his final exams and subsequent graduation from both secondary school and the university, and so on. This is because they would be experiencing those important events for the first time and they can only go with their gut instincts (so to speak). They take decisions based on what they feel and think is right and when they do make mistakes, some take a different approach with the next child.
Now the issue of discipline is a serious one in family life; rarely overlooked. And when it comes down to it some parents are too lenient with their kids, giving them too much freedom, while some are unreasonably too strict. Yet other parents try to find a balance, knowing that they have to dangle a carrot sometimes, and at other times wield a big stick. The funny thing is that some parents who are too lenient assume that by befriending their kids, they (the kids) would always go to them when they need advice, and would never ‘let them down’ (so to speak). But there is a reason why they are called ‘parents’, right? This group of parents often find it hard to discipline their kids because their kids rarely take them seriously in those situations.
At the other end of the spectrum are parents who are too strict and who sometimes end up pushing their kids away from them. These kids seek answers outside and they are usually more comfortable talking to adults other than their parents. These are the kids that are always eager to try out stuff with friends, and any little chance they get to be away from the home and their parents, they often tend to overdo things. We have heard stories of kids who are always locked in the house by their parents and when they finally get the chance to go out, they are sometimes unable to control themselves, becoming ‘drunk’ with their latest freedom, even though temporary and return home with the bitter evidence of their escapades, like a pregnancy, stolen stuff or even an arrest.
It is really sad to know that parents still ‘cage’ their kids. Some might argue that societal behaviours today call for even tighter nooses to be ‘deployed’ on today’s kids. Well, we used to have these neigbours; strong Christians, who still do it to their kids. It became news recently that their youngest daughter, about 15 or 16 years of age, left home to be with her boyfriend. It’s been more than a month already and she hasn’t returned home. Anyone around that heard the story mostly had a reaction of, “Good for the parents”. Even though it is never right to encourage that kind of behavior from children, it is hard to deny the fact that such parents sometimes ‘deserve’ things like that. When I heard the story of the teenager running away from home to meet ‘man’ ,
I immediately told my parents, ‘thank you’ for not bringing me up in a cage. My dad was and still is the stricter of my parents, and he made good (and I mean, really GOOD) use of the ‘tools’ then: his hands, the belt and the cane’, you name it; but certainly not to the point of not letting me go out when it was necessary. In fact, my dad would always say, “Go out, meet people, and see places”. He knew the importance of socialisation to the mental (and otherwise) development of anyone, especially a young adult.
Seriously though, it is disturbing to note that over-strict parents continuously look the other way and fail to realize that ‘caging’ their kids does more harm than good. They always think that by doing so, their children would never be influenced by bad friends and as a result, could never be bring shame to the family. Sadly, many have learned the hard way that it doesn’t always work that way. I am not advocating for children to be given 100% freedom, but as with most things in life, there has to be a balance. It is in that way that one can truly get the best of both worlds.