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A Word to the Parents…Your Children is Your Responsibility

Ndigo Naka - Tuesday, January 10th, 2012 at 9:27 AM

Sandra Phillip Hodge, Director, Related by Humanity

I don’t think that it’s out of order to state the obvious. My recent New Year Message to young people sought to engage them in the process of taking responsibility for themselves, but parents have a critical role to play in preparing them for that responsibility.

Many will recall the debate on whether or not to have a curfew law. It was a hot topic in the recent past. I’ve expressed my views on it before, and basically it is that parents should be able to do what is right for their children, and it should not have to be government’s responsibility to supervise and babysit for the population. With all due respect, the government has much more pressing matters to deal with, like fiscal responsibility and accountability in improving public services.

I am mildly amazed at how advanced technology and economic development has become the scapegoat for parental mismanagement. Parents need to understand that if they don’t have their priorities straight, their children will not have their priorities straight neither. That little list of ‘affirmations’ in the High School report says: “Children live as they learn”. It is never the intention of a good parent to send the wrong message to a child, but if you don’t take the time to correct your own mistakes, clear up misunderstandings, it will reach the point where your children won’t take you seriously and you will not able to have any positive influence in their lives. If your child has no confidence in you, trying to discipline him/her will be a waste of time.

So how do parents lose it? Being too busy. Too busy and too affluent (or busy trying to become that way). The first rule of parenting is that you should not expect others to do for you what you should be doing for yourself. Baby-sitting comes to mind. There are times yes when you would have to hire someone, or ask someone a favour to watch your child when you have to be away on occasion. But the reality is that most people work in the day and the children is at the Daycare Center or Pre-school,  or big school (for the older ones) and when night comes, instead of being home to catch up on the days’ events, and soothe their little tired souls with some motherly and fatherly comfort and support, there is only a baby-sitter who is not really a substitute for a parent.

Baby-sitters are known to watch TV all the while, chat on the phone, or have their boyfriend over when they are on the job. And if it wasn’t illegal to leave children home alone, some children would be left by themselves altogether on a nightly basis.

Sometimes it’s not even a matter of the parent having a night job, it’s just that they have an active social life; they have important meetings or church activity but this should not deprive the children of ‘quality time’. Raising your children the right way should be your number one priority. Over-compensating with the latest gadgets and games should be considered a sin.

The late night phenomena

I grew up in an era when outdoor activity ended at sundown, except on moonlit nights when you could stay in your yard a bit later and socialize with neighbours and friends. With the advent of ‘city lights’, being out up to 10pm was pushing it to the limit for a young adult still living with parents.

Nowhere in that world would you find a school child of any gender sauntering on the streets after hours without adult supervision. The tourism industry has created the challenge of parents working later hours at night, and young working adults have a legitimate reason for being out from home if it relates to their job.

But I understand that the late night culture begins in the home. Children are not put to bed at a decent hour anymore. You have two-and three-year-olds staying up until they literally drop down before they are tucked into bed. Why? Because everyone else in the household is up, watching TV and it is not the thing anymore to put a child to bed, turn off the lights and ‘make’ them go to sleep. People believe in burning lights all night, no matter the cost of electricity. Children develop the habit of staying up all night in the home. So it is easy to take that behavior to the streets.

Work ethics?

This might mean different things to different people but work ethics as far as I know, starts with parents giving their children chores to do at home. Affluence has seriously undermined the teaching of work ethics in the home. It is necessary yes, to have some sort of domestic help for some of the huge houses that people live in and if they are out working every day, just keeping the cobwebs at bay must be a real challenge. But a maid must not be expected to pick up the slack in personal responsibilities. Children should be taught to flush the toilet after they use it. A teenager (boy or girl) should learn to wash and iron their own clothes, or at least pick up after themselves, even if you have a housekeeper.

Teaching your children basic life skills is a parental responsibility. It does not mean that you are training them to be the tail and not the head, but you will teach them that the head cannot function without the tail. If you cannot take care of your own mess first, anything else you might be capable of doing later is likely to fall in the realm of the superficial. Your children may be the beneficiaries of all that you have worked for and you may tend to spoil them with the material wealth you have acquired, but as Mary S. Calderone puts it: “Our children are not going to be just “our children”- they are going to be other people’s husbands and wives and the parents of our grandchildren [some day].”

Did I mention that your children will also be the senior civil servants, managers, construction bosses, merchants and politicians of the future? Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter once said: “We need better family life to make us better servants of the people”. And Elbert Hubbard puts it plain and simple: “Where parents do too much for their children, the children will not do much for themselves.”

Tell children the truth

This is a tricky area, because half the times parents don’t have the answers to all the questions children sometimes ask. Sometimes the answer might be complex and they don’t know how to break it down to the child’s level of understanding. But in all you do, don’t lie to your child. Sometimes the questions they ask are so unexpected parents are caught off guard and don’t know what to say, so they invent a lie, or they ignore the question. Ignoring breeds ignorance.

I was quite a curious child myself, and I recall once I asked my mother a question, and she gave me a parable for an answer. She said: “Little pig ask its mother why her mouth so long, and the mother said, when you get bigger you will know”. I think this is a clever way of dealing with difficult questions. It makes the questioner more curious, yes. But parables sound good to small children. It makes parents seem wise, that they know all these ‘sayings’. It makes the child feels good to be given this precious piece of ‘cultural wisdom’. And it is not a lie.

People complain about losing their culture. How can you lose your culture unless you yourself cease to practice it? Caribbean people have a rich history of the ‘oral literature’ in the parables that our forebears uttered down to us. It is passed on from generation to generation through usage…like how my mother passed that ‘little pig and mother pig’ parable on to me. It is my turn to pass it on to my offspring and others of the younger generation. It is not something to be treated as a museum piece; to be brought out once a year during a special week or day. Use the opportunity in everyday household activities when you can pass them on to your children.

Parental responsibility is a serious matter for both mothers and fathers, but mothers have a special role to play that no other can substitute. It behooves all mothers to be ready for this challenge. Be willing to make the necessary sacrifice to raise your children with love and principles. It is a big challenge because you have to compete with the media, the neighbours and peers, but you should be firm in letting your children know what is in their best interest, even when they hold it against you because they think you are being mean-spirited.

Remember that “What the mother sings to the cradle goes all the way down to the coffin (Henry Ward Beecher).

Contact email: rbyhumanity@hotmail.com

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12 Comments

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  1. Ray
    January 10, 2012
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    Have read the article in its entirety, and I absolutely agree with its overall thesis. It’s unfortunate that the message is being lost over grammar, albeit grammar is important. But we should not lose sight of what is being said.

    Mrs. Hodge has made some very valid points that should any parent take the time to consider & practice, they could raise productive citizens of tomorrow of whom they will be later proud. I personally believe in family planning and definitely parental responsibility BEFORE day one.

    A closer look at troubled kids and adults can be traced right back to the way they were raised. Any parent who does not conduct themselves responsibly does their kids a great disservice in this life. The lack of appropriate parenting and responsibility places kids at a tremendous disadvantage in this very competitive & unforgiving world.

    So my hat is off to you, Mrs. Hodge, for your attempt to educate us on the importance of parental responsibility. For someone like me, you are preaching to the choir, but for others, If am sure your words may be beneficial and appreciated. I encourage you to keep writing.

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  2. ms wise
    January 10, 2012
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    ur grammar ??????????? brush up on it….65%…C+

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  3. Simpson
    January 10, 2012
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    To the Author. Don’t mind the noise, they darn well understand what you are talking about.

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    • The Author
      January 10, 2012
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      Thank you, Simpson. Maybe I said the wrong thing to the first critic…I should have said it was intentional just so the article could pick up petty comments, which are unfortuntely the norm on these newsites, regardless of the topic at hand.

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  4. The Truth
    January 10, 2012
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    Mrs. Hodge I must say I can relate to every inch of this article, and you are right on. In this society we do have many mommy and daddy but not much fathers and mothers and very little parenting. There are broken homes being built with selfish values, and marriages as a result of this that fails. Then those children grow up and pass on the same values to their children etc. What is happening is that people(through knowledge, not wisdom or understanding), have learned how to pass on responsibilities to others. How did this happen? Well it is called “SIN”. In the garden, when GOD asked Adam if he ate the fruit, he said “the woman that you gave me, gave it to me and I did eat of it”. When the woman was asked, she said “the serpent beguiled me”. Neither the man or the woman took responsibility for their actions, and it was what I call hiding the shame of being lied to and living the lie. Today we have the multiplication or manifestation of SIN. GOD gave man dominion over all things and set things in order from the beginning. Man has failed GOD completely in this society, because he has strayed away from the source that created him, and chosen his own destiny, to be a god(for the lie was you will become as gods). When things are not in order, confusion is the result. Now man really believes another man leading him will make life easier. When you unplug a phone from the source, one day the power runs out unless you plug it back in. Well, unless man turns to the source who created him in his image and his likeness(which is GOD), we will continue to see this degenerate society being manifested. The pacification of governments, parents, pastors etc. in the world we live in, and the rewarding of people for bad practices will continue to make society a degenerate. E.g giving children gifts for bad report cards and throwing birthday parties for them even though they are not well mannered. Governments do the same thing around the world. A good example is America where banks gambled the savers money and the government rewarded them by giving them a blank check for Trillions of dollars. If there is to be any change, we all need to be responsible for our actions and just handle our responsibilities. “We can all ignore reality but we cannot ignore the consequences of reality”. And our reality is a degenerate society!

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  5. Grammar
    January 10, 2012
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    Children is plural. We really need to teach our people proper English. It’s embarrassing to see people writing ignorant headlines like this.

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    • The Author
      January 10, 2012
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      As a literary artist, I take ‘poetic licence’ in manipulating the English Language, I also write in ‘dialect’ when it suits me, despite the fact that I have my qualifications for mastering the “Queen’s version” of the language. You are free to say what you like, but I am also free to write how I like, as long as I know the message will be clear to who wants to understand it.

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      • Correction
        January 10, 2012
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        Madam Author, You manipulated the English Language to make it grammatically correct in all areas except your headline – and choose to defend incorrect grammar as saying you took ‘poetic licence’?

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      • OKAY
        January 10, 2012
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        Love the article!!! However, “literary artist” or not, Children IS PLURAL. Speak properly, write properly……..

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      • The Truth
        January 10, 2012
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        You all want the woman to be grammatically correct because you all well know that this article touched a nerve, especially if you have a child. Grammar will not fix a degenerate society, positive actions will. Everyone wants grammar to be correct when it touches their conscience. “Dem seh the truth hurts,who can’t tek it mek dem splurt run left them pants and shirt”. How is that for my grammar!..LOL! I bet ayu will understand that though..LOL! :lol:

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  6. January 10, 2012
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    Interesting article! Thanks for sharing! I think the time has come for us to focus more on the plight of our children. While I do endorse the need to address the social problems related to abused women and men in society, far too often we ignore the plight of the children who are being neglected and destroyed by both ‘abused’ men and ‘women’. Let 2012 be a year when we really engage in serious discourse and take the necessary corrective measures necessary to address the plight of the vulnerable children in our midst! Thanks again, for sharing!

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  7. Nurse T
    January 10, 2012
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    Love this

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