It takes teamwork
ONE SATURDAY while standing in the cafeteria line in a supermarket, I overheard a little voice behind me say: “Gran-gran, I want water.” Immediately, I heard a woman, whom I assumed to be the child’s mother, say: “You must learn to wait.”
The grandmother looked at the mother and said: “Give the boy some water, nuh.” The mother repeated, “He must learn to wait.” The little boy went back to his grandmother and said: “Gran-gran, I want juice.” The grandmother looked at the little boy and told him: “Go and call for it.” In the end the little boy succeeded and got the juice.
I shook my head. Normally, I would have said something to the guardians of the child but I decided to wait and do it via this column.
Here we have a situation of a mother who, while trying to teach her son patience, had her authority challenged by a grandmother, who either didn’t recognize the lesson being taught or totally disregarded the mother’s position, and a child who clearly knew who was in charge.
Honestly, I was more upset with the mother than I was with the grandmother. I thought the mother was not persistent enough and allowed the grandmother’s kindness to get the better of her.
This situation caused me to reflect on the importance of teamwork as it relates to raising children. On reflection I recognized some challenges that could and probably do arise when parents and guardians do not function as a team.
Children need, and I emphasize need, consistency and repetition. I believe rules and guidelines need to be formed, recognized, agreed on and practised by all parties involved in the child’s life.
Children know when there are no set guidelines or codes of conduct established between their guardians and often use this to their advantage. They know what they can get away with in the presence of mummy that they wouldn’t risk in the presence of daddy and vice versa.
Single parent homes are more susceptible to children who will take advantage of a situation where there is no teamwork through an established and practised code of conduct between their separated parents. More often than not, children who spend weekdays with one parent and weekends with another often see one as “Beauty” and the other as the “Beast”.
I taught a child who lived with his mother during the week and stayed with his dad on weekends. The mother allowed the child to do as he pleased. The child would frequently arrive at school late, fail to do homework, hang on the block with the boys until late at night, and he had no chores or other responsibilities. Basically, this child was out of control and mummy was seen as Beauty.
On weekends, it was a completely different story. Daddy was seen as the Beast. Daddy had allotted television time as well as set times to be in the house after recreation on evenings and to go to bed. The child had to attend church with the family and properly complete homework before the weekend was up.
As a teacher, I now understood why this student’s behaviour, deportment and academic performance were below par. I am not saying that the lack of teamwork between the parents, along with inconsistency in relation to guidelines, was the only contributing factor but without a shadow of a doubt it was a huge contributor.
The Bible says that children are a blessing from God. I believe any blessing that isn’t cared, loved and protected will eventually become a curse. The nature and culture of a country are defined by its people. We parents have the power to determine whether our country’s future will be cursed or blessed. Let’s team up, even if it is only for the benefit of our children.
• Corey Worrell is a former Commonwealth Youth Ambassador. Email firstname.lastname@example.org