Opinion

Parents can learn from recent youth killings and suicides

30 May 2018 - 09:13 By Siwaphiwe Myataza
Parents need to introspect and reflect very broadly on how they groom and nurture their children.
Parents need to introspect and reflect very broadly on how they groom and nurture their children.
Image: 123RF/belchonock

“Leave! I’ll raise my children without you. Go cheat freely‚ we are better off without you anyway‚” a woman boldly uttered to the father of her children – in the presence of the kids.

The father responded furiously: “I want nothing to do with you anyway. I don’t love you anymore‚ so I’ll come visit my children when I can.”

A changing moment for the kids. Knowing their father is a cheater‚ their father is not the role model they thought he is‚ their father does not love and value their mother and‚ in return‚ the mother is chasing their father away‚ the parents have given up on each other. What a brutal experience for them.

The children may not know the reasons that resulted in their mother uttering those words but to hear the possibility of being separated from one of their parents is certainly a life-changing moment.

All of a sudden‚ you are raising angry children‚ bitter children‚ unhappy children‚ violent children‚ broken children and cold-hearted children.

And to prevent that‚ emotional intelligence is a precious gift that parents can possess. It’s a gift that gives clear direction on when to act‚ a gift that gives wisdom to choose words wisely‚ a gift that opens your mind and guides your steps.

Emotional intelligence is understanding one’s own emotions to handle interpersonal relationships and disagreements judiciously or empathetically. It involves your awareness to handle the emotions of the people around you or in your life. It includes being able to empathize with others.

How does one distinguish broken children from normal children? Normal children are confident‚ independent and motivated‚ they are open-minded‚ they laugh more and play more. Meanwhile‚ the majority of broken children are emotionally detached from everyone else in their social spaces‚ they are lonely and full of anger‚ they are always jumpy and scared‚ their level of school engagement is lower‚ they have poorer cognitive achievement and display bad behaviour and emotional problems.

Considering the growth and development of children‚ parents must always monitor the growth of their children to notice the changes in their behaviour when they do emerge. But more importantly‚ parents must be mindful of their actions and manage their anger in the presence of their children.

And with regard to the differences between a mother and a father – my belief is that they shouldn’t remain in unhealthy relationships because they feel helpless‚ fear economic security‚ or to protect the children‚ or because of culture and religious beliefs. If parents want separation‚ let it be‚ but children must not witness the bitter side of the break-up.

We must also take note of the fact that parents’ degree of emotional skill goes far towards determining their children’s level of emotional intelligence. If you are abusive and violent parents‚ you are likely to raise abusive and violent children. If you are loving parents‚ you will groom loving children.

Parents need to introspect and reflect very broadly on how they groom and nurture their children. We need parents who will question and scrutinize the words they utter in the presence of kids.

My fear is that we may be raising broken children and we are not even aware of what we are doing wrong.

In 2017‚ six and nine-year-old learners were found dead in what appeared to be acts of suicide in Limpopo and Mpumalanga schools. And in May 2018‚ a second-year engineering student from the University of the Witwatersrand died after allegedly jumping from the building in an act of suicide.

Meanwhile‚ two grade 11 pupils from Stella High School in the North West were found dead at a hostel‚ one hanging‚ another with a string around her neck. The ex-boyfriend of one of the girls was arrested in connection with their alleged murders.

With all these occurrences‚ it is easy to notice that young people are suffering mentally and I am not saying it’s because their parents have failed them. But in most cases‚ parents are not emotionally there for their children. In fact‚ they don’t even know what is happening in their children’s lives on a mental and psychological level.

The parents may be supporting their children financially but there are gaps when it comes to monitoring their children’s development and growth in life and this expands whatever brokenness the young people are facing. So‚ I believe parents should not expose children to negativity in homes in order to help us crack the brokenness of young people that has become evident currently. Parents’ emotional intelligence is a vital tool to grooming steady children.

  • Siwaphiwe Myataza‚ a political science graduate from the University of the Western Cape‚ is currently a content producer at the Media and Writers Firm. This is an edited version of this article. 
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