In Summary
  • Many of the emerging wealthy people are known to swear that they will never allow their children to experience the kind of life they grew up in.
  • Such statements undermine long term sustainability of the family.
  • We are failing spectacularly in parenting. In fact, some children have started dictating instructions to their parents and often throw tantrums whenever they are denied their way.
  • Raising children is a complex matter that we should constantly revisit and redesign in a changing environment that has far greater implications than what we ever experienced before.

For the first time in the history of the world, half of the World is in the middle class or wealthier.

Africa too is making progress. What we have not paid attention to are the consequences of wealth and raising resilient children.

Many of the emerging wealthy people are known to swear that they will never allow their children to experience the kind of life they grew up in. Such statements undermine long term sustainability of the family.

While I have seen parents protecting children as old as 15 years from boarding a matatu to some destination in Nairobi city, at 14 I could travel from Kisii to Nairobi, and change buses to my final destination in Nyeri for secondary education. I then stayed the entire semester in school and somehow showed up at home without ever communicating to my mother if I got to Nyeri in one piece (there were no mobile phones at the time and landlines were rare).

I know that my mother loved me but she wasn’t modern enough to be highly protective of me with her love. In her own way, she was modelling resilience in me. By this I mean the capacity in me to adapt successfully to the challenges that threaten the survival, or future development of myself as a person.

Without it, I will never have been who I am today. Although many of our parents then had little or no education, they were great parents that natured us into useful creations not as eminent psychologists but by wisdom.

Through my own observations, we are failing spectacularly in parenting. In fact, some children have started dictating instructions to their parents and often throw tantrums whenever they are denied their way.

Research by Psychologists say that we must never accommodate every need the child demands. They say that overprotecting children only fuels their fretfulness.
At some point even when they become grownups, it becomes difficult to reverse laissez faire privileges of running the family unfettered.

The Swahili say Mtoto akililia wembe mpe (When a child cries for a razor, give it to him/her). The import of the saying is that a burnt child dreads fire. We invariably learn from experience or what we live.

Hence, parents should never eliminate all the risks from the lives of their children although it is our responsibility to keep them safe. My mother once exposed me to danger but it was the best learning experience that I have ever had in my life.

VILLAGE BULLY

There was this village bully called Mathayo (Kisii for Mathew) who always bullied me. With his many fights and a couple of teeth gone from his mouth, he looked mean and not someone you want to be nearby. One day he chased me to our home. I thought my mom could intervene. She didn’t.

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