I think it important to acknowledge the humanity in our children, treat them with respect and dignity they deserve, validate them, believe in them be their cheerleaders, their advocates and be there for them. Love them even if and no matter what.
We need to parent them with the understanding that we have so much power over them, we are in a position to influence how and who they turn out to be.We can make or break them. We can parent, teach and discipline without belittling them, comparing or putting unnecessary pressure on them, let them be themselves. We can guide them without trying to live our lives through them.
We need to recognise that while they are our children they are their own persons, individuals with the need for autonomy and needs like our own.
We need to realise that parenting is not easy, it is not straight forward, kids do not come with a manual. They go through phases, they will push boundaries they will test limits, they will test you in each and every way possible, and not once or twice. It is part of growing up. We also went through these phases. Recognising the complexity of today’s world and adjusting our parenting approaches as necessary to allow flexibility, as suits, could help them navigate the transitions through these growing phases without stripping them of their dignity, breaking their confidence or causing them anxiety. Our goal should be to equip them with the necessary tools function in the world out there. They only need us for a while, we are their ushers into the world, their guardians and stewards until such a time they no longer needs us.
They do not owe us their lives, we are not doing them a favour by loving them, providing for them, educating them or ensuring their security and safety. It is our job and responsibility as parents to do that, it is their right to have all that. Yes, the kids owe us respect, courtesy, good manners and all, that however does not mean control, manipulation or threatening to withdraw our love while reminding them we brought them into the world, we feed them or blaming them for our negative experiences in life. The reality is we chose to have them they didn’t, we wanted to have them they didn’t ask.
So I think open honest conversations with our children are necessary and important. Especially on matters sex. It is a natural act and shouldn’t be mystified or made taboo. It is our responsibility to educate them about it. It is our duty to help them understand the difference between physical vs meaningful relationships. We need to teach them is OK to have safe sexual relations with consent.
The legal adult age in Kenya is 18yrs, ideally that’s when they should be thinking about sex. But we all know kids become sexually active quite young, given this age of technology, they have access to all manner of information.
It is important we teach them about safe sex and consent, they should not be pressured or coerced into doing anything they are uncomfortable with.
It is especially important to teach them it is not OK to have sexual relations with adults. Adults who by engaging in inappropriate illegal relations with under age children are taking advantage of them.
So when people say that the Lugulu girls students are crying foul because teenage girls seduce teachers and what not, stop and reflect for a moment, what are you endorsing?
Here’s is a thought, before you go dehumanising those girls just remember they are someone’s daughter, sister, cousin, niece and aunty. Before you go blaming victims keep in mind, It might not be your daughters today but tomorrow the shoe might fit, you can rest assured it will pinch.
Here’s another thought, what are you communicating to the women in your life?
So, rubbishing these claims, is essentially saying these girls are lying. Discrediting them tantamount to protecting the alleged perpetrators, it is equivalent to shifting blame and placing it squarely on the girls’ shoulders.
Saying the girls are manipulative and tempt adult men, well that’s a load of crap, I think.
The teenagers are not the adults, the adults are!
The adults have a fully developed brain, they have life experience, and in the case of professionals in their capacity, ideally, have training to aid in critical thinking and reasoning to make clear, appropriate & ethical decisions, teenagers (boys and girls) are not.
How about we normalise treating our young as humans, they are the future of society.
Our children, who and what they are, reflect on us as a society. When we fail them we are failing ourselves, when they fail, even if one, we all fail. When they succeed we succeed and that also reflects on us. They are us!
©️ C Akui 2020/12/11