As a father of three children sired over the last decade, I have been both a participant and an observer in the game called parenting. Having grown up in a family where Mom and Dad were tougher than the average Ugandan Cop, I was no stranger to corporal punishment when I broke the rules at home. The arrival of Daddy at home meant most of us taking cover and avoiding him otherwise he always asked the wrong questions at the wrong time and we nearly always had the wrong answers for them.
Becoming a parent meant a lot for me because I decided that I wanted to break that trend and ensure that I am a friend to my children. This view I later realized was shared by most of my peers. Unfortunately, along the way, I realized that how we defined ‘friendship’ with our children differed. While some believe that leaving the kids to do anything and everything they wished without raising a finger at them and at best trying to reason with the 3 year olds was the best way to remain friends; others believe that making sure the children have everything they desire anytime anywhere including the right not to eat certain foods like Posho (Ugali/Maize meal/Pap) and beans that are perceived as ‘food for the poor’ in Uganda.
We have chosen to do all to ensure that material provisions for the children are readily available but the one thing that seems to be missing out is the ‘Me Time’ for the children. We have chosen to relegate any form of learning to the schools and the rationale is that one gets an expensive and sometimes preferably International School to ‘teach’ our children on our behalf. Any form of home learning is left to the Mass Media and Maids.
The current perception is that a Good Education is now directly proportional to the money one is ready to fork out. It’s the reason why many schools are always under pressure to ensure that the students pass with flying colours irrespective of the means used to get them to do so.
Now that 2014 is on the roll, its time we took back our role of complementing the school based education with the home based learning especially in the Life skills area. What use is it for one to have a child that has scored distinctions all their life and even graduated with a first class only to start the ‘post school’ life without any understanding of financial management, planning, community engagement, culture, cooking, communication and many other life skills? I know we can always say that the schools will teach them that but you will agree with me that there is a lot that a parent has an opportunity to teach their child through daily interactions as opposed to what a teacher will achieve in a class room whose primary goal is to teach children to pass exams.
It took me close to a year from the time I got my first salary as an employee to get used to handling money. This was mainly because of how I had been shielded for long from it basing on the wide held fear by many of our Ugandan parents then that money would spoil the children. Today I ensure that my children by the age of six years are conversant with handling money, saving and planning their expenditure.
One of the sins I have been committing in the past is blatantly blame the Education system and raise the red flag about the ill fated destiny of our children because of Government’s failure to give us a better system in place. Today, I choose to put less blame on the Government and heap more blame on we the parents. We are not doing our part in educating these children and somehow expect the Government to come up with the magical bullet that will turn our kids into Einsteins. Globally there are complaints galore about the deteriorating education standards and this is not a preserve of Uganda alone.
The United States, Britain, China, India among others all have their tales as seen by the countless stories available online regarding their Education Systems and these are the countries that the average Ugandan Middle Class family is more than willing to send their child to.
My prayer is that we as parents can rethink our expectations of the schools to which we send our children and reduce the pressure we put upon them to focus on our children passing exams as opposed to getting an education. We also need to figure out ways in which we can complement their learning on a daily basis, only then are we likely to have a better workforce ready to take on the challenges that this world has to offer.
I promise to spend more time with my children and teach them something at every opportunity from now onwards. Its my belief that on top of the material provision, this is the best way in which I can be their friend and avoid the “Daddy is home, lets run and hide” scenario that I faced while growing up.
What about you?
@wirejames on #Twitter