HomeOpinion & AnalysisBringing up children not a stroll in the park

Bringing up children not a stroll in the park

Events of recent days have left Zimbabweans bewildered.  The alleged brawl by first lady Grace Mugabe in South Africa and the inconvenience caused by the grounding of planes both in Zimbabwe and South Africa Zimbabwe have been dominating print, electronic media and social network sites.  Thank God there seems to be a lull, but a few lessons have to be learnt from these debacles.

the Bornwell Chakaodza columnRev Dr Levee Kadenge

Some people have sought to link the events, only to add to the confusion. Our purpose in this article is to look at what our unhu/hunhu/ubuntu makes of the goings on and what we can learn from the perplexing events that have left the nation shell-shocked.

What has taken place is evidence that something is wrong with our nation at the present time.  Why is it that people seem to celebrate when others are suffering? Local wisdom says mugoni wepwere ndeasinayo [One who claims to be a good parent does not have children]. Those who have children know the difficulties of raising them. There is no one who is an expert in bringing up children and the same applies to Grace Mugabe as she tries to keep Robert Jnr and Bellarmine in check. 

Because of the complications that come about when raising children, African wisdom has come up with many proverbs that try to caution against rubbing it in when one is in dire straits. What is happening in one household may visit yours the next day.

When the Shona say afirwa haatariswe kumeso, what they mean is when someone is grieving, it is not the time to load them with poking questions. Whatever status we may have, the bottom line is that we are all human and we face such challenges when our children are growing up.  What the parents need most is counselling.  The children too need counselling.  We are all vulnerable beings irrespective of status.

The worst any person wants is to be jeered at when they are experiencing problems, especially those that pertain to children’s behaviour.  Such a time like this, is the time for those who are close —be they clergy or pastors — to take the opportunity to give counsel.  No one knows it all.  Parenting is a life-long career.  In such cases, they do not need to be invited. 

One’s behaviour in public is reflective of what is happening in the privacy of their home. When strife persists, one can be permanently affected, leading to what psychologists refer to as compensatory behaviour.

The busy schedules of most of our leaders leave them with little time with their children.  On the other hand, even those with all the time may not raise perfect families.  “For what profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his soul” (Mark 6 v 36).  Peer pressure takes over as children seek to emulate others.

Bringing up children is not a stroll in the park. Those who come from rich families may be spoilt by having plenty, while those who come from poor families, are deprived and suffer from lack of everything.  These two extremes may not be the best conditions of bringing up children.  Even those who are in between may not be the ideal circumstances of bringing up children. 

When a fellow man is facing challenges in their family, it is time for all of us to rally behind them.  The assumption that all is well in our families at all times when we bring up children is not true.

Maybe when our situations are different, there is this belief that those who have everything are brought up well.  Yes, in some cases it may be true but it may only be in our minds, when the reality on the ground is different.  Often those who are bringing up children are first timers and they make blunders in the process and these may be detected at a stage when they are no longer able to control the children.

The other factor that makes people unsympathetic is that the society is so polarised to the extent that if anything happens to those who are perceived to be rich, powerful families, because of their status, kindness to them is out of question.  Yet these are the people who are most vulnerable. 

We see across the world in some dynasties that there is a pattern of raising children of nobility or royalty.  In some cases, there will be special schools and special advisors in the form of counsellors — be they religious or professionals who are hired to stabilise these families.  This, however, is no guarantee that everything will be alright.

Riches have their advantages while poverty has its own.  A balancing act may be something we cannot fathom easily. Being super rich has its own risks while being in abject poverty is also risky.  The two extremes make people victims of their circumstances.  While we all want to be rich, if we are not very rich, we may not be aware of the dangers that go with it. 

The Shona wisdom has it rine manyanga hariputirwe [nothing can be hidden forever]. Our local wisdom maintains that whatever is being covered up will one day come out. It may be a question of time but the truth will eventually come in whatever form fate will bring. The events in South Africa are a cry for help.
Let those with ears hear.

Levee Kadenge is a theologian based at United Theological College.  He can be contacted at leveekadenge@gmail.com

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