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Rev Njue: Children are better imitators than listeners

Rev Njue: Children are better imitators than listeners

The birds and bees analogy just got more complicated.

Photo credit: Pool

It’s often said that an African lizard can never become an American frog. In this case, how one behaves at home will be reflected in all aspects of one's life, even if the location changes.

I have been asking myself, where are all these problems of social discontentment among the youth originating? Why are the same ostensibly innocent young people becoming intolerant in schools? Why is there such a high rate of delinquent behaviour?

We are all striving to process the severe and terrifying unrest among students that has resulted in the burning of schools, exposing once again doubts about their future and professional path.

It is unfortunate that some of our educational institutions, which are supposed to sharpen skills and impart knowledge, have turned into battlegrounds between teachers and students, with some students displaying their rebellion prowess, and openly rejecting the order that has been set by the schools.

Yet, this not a new problem in our streets; we've had examples of disturbance in schools, violence, riots, and strikes that resulted in the damage of property and, in some cases, premature death since the early 1990s.

Although experts suggest that negative peer pressure, drug and substance misuse, exam anxiety, and students' poor nutrition are the leading reasons of school unrest, I believe that the primary causes are a lack of healthy parental modeling and divided homes.

Show them the way

The primary home environment is the starting point for a child’s development, the family environment is regarded as a significant predictor of child development. Family ties have a huge impact on the attitudes that children develop later in life in their interactions with others.

Men and women who are deemed successful or failures by society originate from a family background. The foundation of a good or bad society is the family. "Train up a child in the way he should go," the Holy Book says, "and when they are old, they will not deviate from it."

It is the obligation of the parent to continuously discipline and train their child. The majority of youngsters who grow up to be social failures did so due to a lack of effective mentorship from their parents.

However, this is not conclusive because there have been other instances where parents have modelled the appropriate values but the children have chosen a different path.

Indeed there are numerous factors in society that influence children's conduct, but parental participation is one of the most important. The parent is the child's initial point of contact following birth, serving as a guide, teacher, counsellor, mentor, and disciplinarian. When parental participation is insufficient, a child's natural tendency is to seek inspiration from erroneous sources.

In Kenya, indulgence parenting appears to be on the rise. In the false notion that they are being supportive, we are seeing an increase in parents who try to give their children whatever they want. The problem with this is that it creates a fake world for future generations of children. They expect to have all of their wants and needs met without doing any work, which fosters a sense of entitlement.

Resistant to rules

In life, we don't always get what we want. Children raised with this parenting style are more likely to have behavioural issues at school. This is because there isn't enough structure and guidance at home.

They aren't accustomed to their parents telling them what to do. It is tough for them to follow school rules since they are not familiar with submitting to any kind of structured authority. Also, they resent the conditions at school. They haven't learnt to manage their emotions in effective ways since they are accustomed to obtaining whatever they desire.

Interacting with adults, unfortunately, means reaching out to others and recognising that you may not always get your way.

Although teachers, pastors, and other caregivers play an important role in raising students who are not only academically vibrant but also morally upright, parents must acknowledge that they are their children's primary carers.

As a youth pastor, I've had parents on several occassions tell me that I should be severe with their phone-addicted children.

"Was the smartphone purchased by the pastor or the parent?"

People who have only a tiny influence on the child's behaviour are frequently blamed. Please keep in mind that children are better imitators than listeners. This idea of giving instructions and having your words not match your deeds is harmful.

Our children are growing up with a distorted view of the world as a result of broken families, parents who are too busy trying to make ends meet, and other causes. It is a high time for parents to start developing morally strong and socially responsible children. Parenting is not something that can or will ever be delegated.

It is our responsibility as parents to protect and preserve this generation for the greater good of humanity.