“Growing up, my siblings and I feared our parents and we hardly ever associated with them,” Shanir Ssemwanga, a 27-year-old businessman in Kiyembe Lane, narrates, adding, “Our mother was very strict and would yell at us over any small mistake. Our father behaved like a probing officer.
Whenever he called you, your heart would skip a beat. The first thought to cross your mind would be, ‘What wrong have I done this time round?’”
One day, Ssemwanga had visited the neighbours when his sister came running to tell him, “Police is back.” His friends quickly asked who ‘police’ was but none of the siblings answered.
“As I rushed home, I kept asking God for a miracle. It was so bad that whenever the examination timetable was out, I would fall sick because I knew poor performance meant a punishment. I felt like running away from home.”
Your parenting style matters
Moses Ntenga, the executive director of Advocacy and Action for Children, says before parents start complaining about the bad behaviour of their children they must realise that their parenting style could be wrong. “When a parent is ruthless and does not interact with the child, he or she erodes the child’s confidence and self-esteem.
This makes the child feel less important, even when interacting with other children.”
Lack of self-esteem psychologically tortures children, making it hard for them to excel academically, because even when they know the answers to a teacher’s questions, they may fear to speak out. “Such children are afraid that their friends will laugh at them in case the answer they have given is wrong. They do not associate with anyone since that fear turns them into loners. They believe anyone who gets to know them will rebuke them even for the slightest mistake.”
Authoritative but considerate
On the other hand, an authoritative but considerate parent will always share a great deal of warmth and interaction with their children. These parents manage to be friends to their children, sharing their lives freely with them. However, there are always a few rules and regulations that are necessary to keep the children disciplined.
Tracy Nabasa, a 21-year-old-student, enjoyed every moment of her childhood. “I knew my parents were strict when it came to home rules and one’s behaviour but before mother held a stick to discipline me, she would have first talked to me and warned me a couple of times. My parents were interested in knowing who my friends were, so I always invited them to come to my home. We shared our experiences with my parents and they advised us.”
Nabasa was particularly close to her father, whom she considered a good friend she could tell anything freely.
Sister Lawrence Nakiwu, a family counsellor, says children whose parents are considerate are always social. Such children learn good communication skills since they often speak to and interact with their parents or guardians on many occasions. This makes them more active in class and eager to learn new things. “Such parents tend to give their children increasing levels of independence as they mature, exposing them to leadership potential and self-control. These are qualities that make ideal employees, leaders, and life partners.”
Being cruel to your children might get the results in the short run. They will be obedient, only when you are around. However, in your presence they may take to whispering to each other – instead of holding conversations – wondering when you will be leaving for work, since your presence makes their life a living hell.