Are you a parent or you just pay rent?

Kobina Ansah Op Kobina Ansah

Wed, 12 Jun 2019 Source: Kobina Ansah

Giving birth to a child makes one either a father or mother but making a responsible adult out of that child makes them a parent. Being a father or mother doesn’t make one a [good] parent. Every mother or father has the responsibility to be a parent; a good one for that matter.

Today, the bond between some parents and their smartphones is tighter than that between them and their children. Some spend more time on social media than they do with their children. The irony about today’s parenthood is that… the easier technology tries to make family life, the harder it turns out to be!

Parenthood today is a full-time job. Well, it has always been. However, one needs to work even harder in this 21st century. Mind you, as a parent, you are battling with competitors such as TV, radio, books, your children’s friends and almighty social media/internet for your child’s attention.

The earlier you outdid your competitors, the better. The earlier you earned a chunk of your ward’s attention, the better… lest your influence on them be absolutely negligible! If you give your children too much freedom, you lead them to slavery. They become slaves of their wanton desires.

Many marriages are crumbling on their knees today because of children who had too much freedom; too much freedom to go wherever they wanted to, too much freedom to wear what they wanted to, too much freedom to choose whether to do household chores or not!

We need to restrict our children. Guiding them in their choices is expedient. Above all, we need to teach them how to live right by living right ourselves. An exemplary moral life is what a child needs! A child will be tempted to live the corrupted life of a parent sooner or later.

Some parents today are like ATMs at home. Their children only see them when they need money. Others have become like salaries. Their children only see them at the end of the month!

It is risky to leave a child’s destiny into his/ her hands with the excuse of being busy. Busy for what!? If you no longer have time for your children, my dear, you’re too busy. A badly raised child becomes a debt you will keep paying till death comes knocking!

What is wealth when all our children are prodigal because we had no time to raise them up well? What is a fat bank account with children who have a slim destiny!? What is a big house with children whose affection for each other is small?

Being a good parent is time-consuming. It is dedication. It is a conscious effort to raise children today who we can be proud to call our own tomorrow. It is a great commitment.

Many parents today barely know their children. It would amaze you someone doesn’t even know the class/grade of their wards. It is not enough for a child to bear your name. It is a duty; a responsibility. Don’t leave that responsibility to television. Don’t leave that responsibility to a nanny or maid.

Today’s world is depraved. Our children are not mature enough to screen right from wrong. They are not old enough to know how cunning the internet can be. They are exposed to all manner of deceitful content just because they have access to a phone or computer.

The world is gradually inching closer to that place where accepting wrong is open-mindedness and correcting wrong is being judgmental. Before you know, your child may have accepted some nonsense and will boldly put it to you, “Hello! I am open-minded!”

Well, morality today is relative. It is up to you to teach your child what the standards are. An awkwardly brought-up child will be an awkwardly open-minded one. They will think it is okay to be involved in manner of ills. They will experiment all sorts of weird sexual behaviors in the name of being in vogue. One night, one may sexually pounce on his mother and say, “Let’s try it. I saw it on TV and it was fun!” That’s when you will know what a ‘monster’ you had successfully molded at home. But… it may be too late.

Get to know the friends of your children… in a good way. Get to be a friend of your children, too; a very good one for that matter. No matter how uncomfortable it may be, especially in our African setting, try to create that environment where they would share with you all their escapades and especially those of their friends. Can your children confide in you when they are abused sexually? Are you a friend enough?

Know the books they read. Know the TV stations they watch. Know how they spend their day. Don’t be too inquisitive but try to know every detail about their lives. Talk to them about sex. Teach them about it. If you don’t teach them first, someone else would wrongly.

Be their friend on social media. Follow their every step and move in cyberspace. Children don’t become bad all of a sudden. They give us hints. Their social media posts suggest where they are gradually heading towards. They hint us by what they post on Facebook. They give us a clue by the kind of pictures (and captions of those pictures) they post on Instagram and other social media platforms. They give us a clue by their WhatsApp statuses. If your teenage girl starts posting on heartbreaks among others… your guess is as bad (good) as mine.

We are influenced by what we see, read, hear and feel. The pollution of a child’s mind might only be a click away so you better control that button. Some children were all good until they heard, read, watched or felt something. Their parents never saw the hints because they were too busy trying to pay rent instead of being parents.

The family is the building unit of society. Paying for utilities is not enough. Parenthood goes beyond just paying the fees of your children. Don’t just pay rent. Be a parent!

Kobina Ansah is a Ghanaian playwright and Chief Scribe of Scribe Communications (www.scribecommltd.com), an Accra-based writing firm. His new play, THE BOY CALLED A GIRL, shows on July 20th at National Theatre. Call 0269654873 for details.

Columnist: Kobina Ansah