When children bully parents

Wednesday, March 4th, 2020 00:00 |
When children bully parents.

Sandra Wekesa@wekesa_sandra

Gone are the days when you would cane your child to discipline and keep them on the straight and narrow.Or just give them a tongue-lashing when they mess up. 

Thrashing a child is now a no-no for most parents, particularly in the urban setting. And the rebukes have to be as mild and as sensitive as possible. 

Ironically, as the modern parent becomes more and more meek, the children are turning hostile, even violent towards their parents.

Recently, netizens were horrified by a video of a girl kicking, throwing punches and slapping her father.

From the viral video, the girl seemed to have arrived home after a night out and was confronted by her parent.

He was furious enough to try and beat her up; only that he was not prepared for the retaliation of the young woman who threw punches like a pugilist. 

The reactions to the video were mixed; some rolled their eyes and mumbled about the failure of modern parenting, while others hysterically poured curses on the girl who dared to throw a punch at a parent, a father no less. 

For many, it seemed like an open-and-shut case, but experts say there are deeper issues at work. 

Ken Ouko, a sociology lecturer at the University of Nairobi, says parenting in the new age carries with it myriad challenges, one of which is modern children are too well informed for their age, resulting in various taboos. 

“The digital era has opened up children’s cognitive space and they are able to grapple with aesthetic issues such as legal or human rights previously an exclusive domain and concern of adults. And this is sad,” he says.

Sparing the rod

He says children are now acutely aware of their rights, which has almost decapitated the parental role of discipline that has always been a key plank in the social training of children with a view to turning them into responsible adults. 

“Today’s parents have been forced to spare the rod because using it comes with immediate consequences that sometimes Generation Z refer to as self-defence that is permissible as mitigation against what they cheekily define as an invasion of their anatomical sovereignty,” he adds.

He strongly believes it is, therefore, not uncommon to hear of children fighting back their own parents under the guise of protecting their digitalised liberties such as the right to a free existence.

In traditional society, the extent of a child’s freedoms was only definable by parental standards.     

Social networks

“In every corner of human society, the most universally operant norm is parental respect.

This explains why whatever misgivings a child may have against the parent, that child has not even an iota of justification in physically assaulting or even confronting the parent.

In fact, in most cultures, children are socialised into believing parental curse or retribution is almost synonymous with a death sentence or a life of unexplained sufferance,” he says.

Also, by custom, the very idea of a child physically assaulting a parent comes with definitive cultural negativities that will harm the child’s ability to progress in life.

The immediate community typically reacts to violent children by ostracising and banishing them away from the social space.

In fact, in most communities, such children are ‘socially deregistered’ and classified as lost souls.   

Faced with such children, parents should exploit social networks available to them and bring such to the attention of the immediate community.

Cultural norms dictate likewise: that aggrieved children should notify the immediate extended family of their parents’ faults.       

But whereas we might want to blame the millennial parenting and consider this a taboo, it’s so obvious that there could be many triggers to children fighting back their parents, and that includes not learning to regulate their emotions and having witnessed violent behaviours as a toddler.

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