JAMILA'S MEMO: Back to the basics of parenting

  • The mid-term holidays came about after a wave of unrest was experienced in secondary schools across the country which resulted in school fires, injuries and loss of property.
  • Such and such a school has been closed indefinitely has been the order of the day lately.
  • Several students have also been taken to court on suspicion of being involved in some of these incidents.

My memo is a letter to my fellow parents.

Our children are home for an unscheduled or planned mid-term break. When the school calendar for this term was released, it did not include a mid-term break, students were to be in school until 23rd December when they would break for Christmas Holidays.

The mid-term holidays came about after a wave of unrest was experienced in secondary schools across the country which resulted in school fires, injuries and loss of property. Such and such a school has been closed indefinitely has been the order of the day lately. Several students have also been taken to court on suspicion of being involved in some of these incidents.

The government has declared that the cost of repairs to school property will fall squarely on parents’ shoulders. Of course many parents were not amused by this declaration, as some of them were still struggling to clear fee arrears and now have this added unexpected cost.

Fellow parents, our children are home for the next few days and this is a good time to find out what is going on with them, how are things in school, what are the issues that are causing this destructive wave? The schools were allegedly burnt by students, students who are our children. Imagine the shock when a parent is informed that their child was involved in burning their school…Eh! Mtoto wangu hawezi kufanya hivyo!

There is no right or wrong script on how to be a parent, the reason many mistakes are being made is because there is this mistaken belief that there is a standard script to good parenting. Well, I have news for you and it is this, there is no standard script for good parenting. There are perhaps as many parenting scripts as there are parents and indeed as there are children. So let’s quit this expert parenting, much of which comes from theorists who imagine the ideal rather than live the reality.

My own reality even as a parent is that, you are your own best chance to good parenting. While I will not dismiss tips especially from those who are experienced in the science of bringing up children, I think the first opportunity falls on each immediate parent to do their best the best way they know. Parents of this generation should perhaps consider as a first step ditching the notion that old times were wrong, old fashioned or outdated. This generation and others after it will never replace children with adults and adults with children because the order of nature would not make that possible.

So quit making excuses, you’re the adult, they are the children. There will be a time they will be adults and after them there will be children.

Inexplicable guilt trips have in my view been eroding the confidence of good parents. You hear some say maybe I shouted too loudly, others say, I am harsh, others claim they overreacted and even others decry missing a moment of an all adults dialogue with their children. 

When most of us here were growing up, the one thing that stands as an enduring memory; I remember parents were just parents and they had absolutely no apologies to make for being parents. What if we started with that simple non apologetic parenthood during this mid-term break? A tried and tested method, I may add. Maybe this is the solution we have all been looking for, simply going back to the basics.

And that is my memo.