PARENTING: Have you ever visited a home and a child says or does something that has you dropping your jaw? Well, there are so many jaw-dropping moments from the children the modern parents are grooming.
For far too long, I have observed the modern Ugandan parent. I have observed the father. I have observed the mother. I have seen their parenting styles and wondered; “is this the meaning of modernity?”
Then it suddenly hit me, there is something about the modern parent that seeks out revenge against her own past. Many Ugandan parents struggled through life. For many of these parents, everything was a luxury, from eating chicken to drinking a soda. They lived at the other extreme of hardship. In revenge, they have chosen to swing the pendulum and serve their kids the extreme of luxury.
The modern Ugandan parent has raised their child in extreme entitlement. Just take time to have a conversation with a Ugandan parent about their child. They will over-praise the least of their child’s achievements. In the past, we would only be rewarded for scoring As. Today, the Ugandan kid is praised for scoring Cs. He is treated to a trip to the best of resorts, he is reminded of his greatness and how he is about to change the world.
No wonder, whenever PLE results are released, the struggle for the front page is real. The modern Ugandan parent is inflating the greatness of their child. Now get me right, I have nothing against positivity and speaking to the self-esteem of a young person. But positivity should not be misconstrued to mean raising kids on pure lies. Because in the end, kids will be anchored on shaky foundations.
You tell your kids they are amazing at this and that, then when they step into the real world, they face up with people who are good at the same craft. What happens? They end up with a burst ego. Everything they ever thought was true about them will come crashing down. We are raising our kids on false feedback, preparing them for super depressions.
Today you go to a home and kids are praised for performing the slightest of chores. The kid washes one or two utensils and the mother cannot stop praising them for their hard work. He lays his bed and that earns him some allowance from the parents. But hey, that is his bed. We are not responsible for laying it. It is his responsibility.
The modern parent is raising their child by amplifying their rights while downplaying their responsibilities. We thus have a generation that is good at demanding their rights yet sucks when it comes to their responsibilities. But what are rights without responsibilities? It is by performing our own responsibilities that we ensure the rights of others.
Then you have the parent that is insanely obsessed about the academic. The kind of parent in the middle of this lockdown that is more obsessed about buying all the textbooks, all the notes for their kids. Some parents will even go as far as taking their kids for illegal lockdown classes. Again, this is another strain of the modern parent. This is the kind that thinks life is defined purely by academic excellence, or for the sake of Uganda, purely by how one scores in their UNEB examinations.
If your kid cannot prepare a family meal, if your kid cannot travel from point A to B on their own, if your kid cannot run some errands on their own, of what use is the academic achievement? Wouldn’t it be better to use this lockdown to expose the kids to real life skills instead of pumping their heads with more academic stuff?
Your kids know about the Canadian prairies but have never witnessed an agricultural harvest in Uganda. They want to be engineers but have never visited a single manufacturing industry in Uganda. Again, the modern Ugandan parent stands on a bedrock of illusions.
We want to raise entrepreneurs while feeding them on employee meals. You want to create independent children while raising them in styles that steal this independence. Mummy goes to the bank to pay the school fees, mummy runs around looking for a hostel for their university kid. Mummy this, mummy that. We are thus raising a generation that is unable to survive without mummy.
Then comes the English, the death of culture. We have been raised to think that success is defined by how well we can Westernise our children. Our kids speak their tribal languages with sunken heads. On the other hand, they are praised for their fluency, for the ability to even speak the Western languages with an accent.
Now it is also clear that the modern parent seeks achievement through her children. Once upon a time, telling everyone that one’s kids were studying in Malaysia was the trend. Then South Africa. Suddenly we have upgraded to London. Then parents love to namedrop the workplaces of their kids.
My kid works for this ministry, for this multinational, the other kid is completing their master’s degree. But as the bayaye always say, “all this is in vain. Kyi kyolagawo?” What is the result from all these foreign university degrees?
The modern Ugandan parent needs to have a retreat, and perhaps realise that all the problems of this generation are his creation!