Friday, July 19, 2013

The Role of Grandparents



A recent news item about a standard six-year-old girl who died while in juvenile remand in Murang’a County is quite disturbing. According to the parents, the girl had been sent by her teacher to the shopping centre to buy a book. Unfortunately, while she was at it, she landed in the hands of police officers. The teacher on the other hand, insists that the girl was in and out of school and even lived with the grandmother. The parents are seeking compensation for the loss of their daughter from the government because the standard six pupil died four days later in the juvenile detention centre.
                                                           Grandpa and Kids image by Debspoons from source


So many questions go through my mind about the young girl, the parents and the grandmother. I believe police officers would never take a child prisoner unless he or she has committed a grave offense. I stand to be corrected. My thinking is that the parents were hiding the offense of their child in their reports. In spite of that, did they have to wait to be called for her corpse four days later after their only girl child was held prisoner? Is it not natural for parents to worry when their child gets into such a mess? I know I would be worried sick if my precious boy was sent to the juvenile prison on the account he was hanging around the shopping center during school hours, in his school uniform. I would rush there and do anything in my power to get him out. Although the girl had gone missing only to be reported to be safe in the juvenile detention center, it is not okay that the parents were reluctant to go see her.

The poor girl was staying with her grandmother before she met this ordeal. On being asked why they allowed their only daughter to live with her grandmother, the parents said that the grandmother adored her. This is all right, but when do parents delegate their roles to grandparents to the extent of making them live with and educate them? Grandparents treat their grandchildren to all manner of goodies, stories and some maybe good disciplinarians but they can never be parents, period. Children need to spend most of their lives with their parents so that they can guide them. 

Although parents may argue that their children’s grandparents did a great job in raising them, it is not the same. The time and approach is different. Grandparents already have a mindset that they have grown children, who can make decisions on their own. When grandchildren are presented to them, they tend to forget this. A child needs love, care and direction from parents. Grandparents can give these too, but not in the same measure of parents.

While it is important for children to spend quality time with their grandparents, they cannot do it all their lives, unless the parents are dead. In my opinion however, when the parents of a child die, the grandparents still do not become parents but guardians. Parents understand their children best, their emotional, physical, and spiritual needs. They are also in a better position to provide these needs, because they gave their children life. Grandparents on the other hand gave the parents life, for whom they can only be well accountable.

I am not saying that the above ordeal cannot happen to a child who lives with the parents, but if parents are truly involved in their child’s life, any deviant behavior can be corrected early enough and with lots of love. Parents should be engaged in their children’s lives on a day-to-day basis. There is no taking leave when it comes to parenting, no matter how your child turns out. The first 18 years are compulsory for parents to smother their children with love. It is from the smothering that any abnormal behavior is corrected and
avoided. Therefore, let parents not delegate their roles to grandparents.  

*My two cents on parenting*