Behaviour is a reflection on parents

2008-02-01 00:00

I could not help but be touched by the article titled “A product of their upbringing” (The Witness, January 29). I come from a single-parent household. My mother raised me and is still raising me, although I now have a son of my own. I worry endlessly as to how my son will turn out. I wish child rearing came with a self-help book or clear indicators of what you should do.

My mother is a very strict woman but not unreasonable. I remember clearly that as a teenager I was expected to come straight home after school. On getting home, I would wash my socks, do my homework and, while my mother was at work, watch a little TV. When we heard the car in the driveway we would quickly run into our bedroom and pretend to be busy with school work.

As a child I feared and respected my mother, and I think that is what is lacking in our society today. Children no longer respect their parents and these new laws that are being passed are not doing a lot to assist the parents.

Children act out for different reasons and divorce has been cited as one of them. My parents were divorced when I was about seven years old. I have clear memories of my father beating my mother but, strangely enough, I do not remember him ever being a father.

I do not hate men. My mother is a Christian and she brought me up with strong values. I always listened when she shouted at me and that was effective because there was never a war of words. I am in my thirties now and have never backchatted my mother.

I am a product of my mother’s parenting. Democracy has never been a part of my growing up. I never voted for my mother, I am her daughter by nature’s default. She brought me into this world and my character and the way that I behave is a reflection on what kind of parent she is.

Maybe the mistake that is made by parents is that they do not draw lines in their relationships with their children. At times our parents want to be our friends in an attempt to foster better relations but then it causes problems and it becomes hard to instil discipline if you view your child as a friend.

Democracy cannot be blamed for how children turn out. It is hard to understand that children do as you do and not as you say. It is, therefore, important that as a parent you behave and carry yourself in a way that your child will be proud of. Discipline within the home is important in that it needs to be consistent. Children must know that for every action there is a consequence.

As a child you can be forgiven for misbehaving or throwing tantrums, but by the time you are a teenager you know the difference between right and wrong, and bad behaviour can no longer be excused.

At times it just boils down to an attitude problem and believing that the world owes us something. We blame our parents and our parents blame the laws. Parents need to take responsibility for their children and not assume that the schools and the outside world will equip them with life skills.

I hope I can become half the parent that my mother has been to me.

• Nandipha Ngomane works for the Department of Land Affairs and writes in her personal capacity.

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