Who is to blame?

“He that spareth his rod hateth his son, but he that loveth him chasteneth him often” (Proverbs 13:24).

Proverbs 22:15 says: “Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child, but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.”   

For Christians, the Bible often acts as a form of guidance on some fundamental issues of life. The above verses serve to guide parents or guardians on how to raise children. There are no hard and fast rules about raising children, but those who have ears ought to listen. This Bible counsel is the bone of contention of my discussion today.

I the past week, I met two sets of parents who in my view have no clue about the whole process. They were ‘bragging’ (separately, of course) about their problematic children, both aged nine years. The boys, apparently, wreak so much havoc that leave the parents dumbfounded. Ironically, their tales seemed similar as they pointed towards the boys’ stealing  and general unruly tendencies.

Narrated one: “Today, he brought home a K100 note hidden around his waist. When asked, he claimed to have picked it from school. This boy will never learn. Just two days ago, his mother beat him severely for stealing K600 from her. You would think after such a beating, there would not be a repeat of the thefts. I am sure he stole the K100, too.”

The other complained about how her elder son used to steal, too, and abscond classes. He is repeating Standard One and is the type that will not do chores around the house.

“I beat him for refusing to help me cook. He woke up swollen from the beating, but that was not enough to deter him from repeating his stunts the following day,” said another.

Such has been the pattern by these distraught parents and it is obvious, for both, everything has become routine.

But all these things begin gradually before they settle in children. At first, some parents laugh off silly acts by their children, without reprimanding them early until they grow into nuisances. For a child to refuse to do something a parent asks there must have been a foundation to it. Of course, some children may be born unruly, but I still believe in discipline early in life so that the children draw boundaries between the friend and the parent you are to them.

Otherwise, subjecting the children to severe beatings as a means to pump some sense into them later in life may serve as a form of torture to both parties because it all becomes routine and fruitless.

It is my view that not everybody is meant to be a parent. Mending a problem is never a one-off thing or something you can achieve overnight. It is a process that has to start early. What I observed about the above instances is that all of their children are problematic, meaning it is the parents’ lack of knowledge on how to raise children that is back-firing. And one of them, actually, believed all his three children, including the month- old baby was troublesome, too. Who says things like that unless the parent is psycho too? n

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