The Jamaica Observer Editorial-Jamaican Parents raising Monsters

Before I go off on this post I must admit that I rarely ever read newspaper editorials nor am I an expert in parenting being that I don’t have a child. The editorial in the Jamaica Observer November 20th, 2008 issue caught my eye especially since it is on a topic I have been planning to talk about which is “parenting”, bored yet?

I am glad they discussed an issue because Jamaicans have long ignored it in the fight against crime. I think the editorial swayed a bit from the main topic of parenting and on focused other things. I don’t think most Jamaicans even realize strong families are the backbone of any society which is by extension good parenting.

As the debates rages on in parliament and the media about hanging we seem to be missing the most important in the equation for reducing crime over the long term which by extension produces a better society. In a sad way most, let me not say “most” but many Jamaicans think that parenting is “just mining di pickeney”. Providing for school, a roof over their heads just about sums up what parenting is to some. Many children are so called “barrel pickeney” meaning they were raised by aunts and grand parents while one or both of the parents are in North America working for the almighty dollar. For this group again all the sweet smelling “faring tings” are basically substituting the real roles of a mother and a father that no other person can replace.

What can we expect from a society where an eleven year old girl is downtown in the bus park selling banana chips on a school day or the young boys at the stop light with a soda bottle filled with soap water ready to wipe car glass for a change. Where are the mothers and fathers and even though times are tough it’s not the children’s job to provide for themselves, they didn’t decide to be here.

Some Jamaican men pride themselves in how many “yutes” they have. The fatherless family is a norm as in many case the father is nowhere to be found or the role is very little or not at all. Promiscuity is encouraged and admired and even accepted by the “baby madda”. It is masculine to do all these things but it should be even more masculine for fathers to play a role is parenting. Those who do play a role in parenting they are just the disciplinarian and the provider.

“Wait til yu fadda come home dis evening”

As a society we have long history of beating our children. “Picney fi get lick”.

The illiterate suggestion that if a father does not approach his male child in a rough way he might become sissy and even worst gay is not good. It is extremely hard for some parents to show affection to their children. No hugs nor kisses, not even encouragement. Even if love is present, it is assumed. Bear in mind that this is not universal.

The editorial made mention of the fatal stabbing of a student at the Dunoon high school in Kingston earlier this week. It also talks about the massive haul of ice pricks, knives, machetes and toy guns that were discovered in schools over a couple of months when searches were done at some schools across Jamaica. So what is this telling us?

With regard to Dunoon the boys were allegedly fighting over a cell phone battery and just a week earlier were fighting over a girl and had to be parted. This is probably the fourth death at school over a cell phone one was for a t-square. Let me find away to show how parents are ultimately responsible. Well they sure didn’t give the boys the knives and told them to be butchers. How do we solve conflicts and what do children learn in the home. A good beating might be in order if you didn’t do what you were supposed to do. If we have a disagreement/conflict then lets settle it in the most violent way possible.

The ministry of Education along with principals has agreed to remove cell phones from school to stem the killings. This again is not fully address this over all core problems.

Emotional intelligence is learned primarily at home. How do parents deal with their emotions and how do these emotions reflect in their children. Being self-aware is very important in keeping a cool head of reasoning. Instead of the “hothead” that some aspire to be.

Don’t you find it strange how some people are proud to acclaim that they got “grieve” or was upset as if getting angry is a good thing.

It might be a lack of knowledge that causes many parents to not talk about feelings especially as their children gets older and reach the turbulent teen years where most of the issues surface. Do parents value their consumer items in the home over their own children? If a child breaks the special crockery, handles the microwave harshly are they scolded to feel that these item is more important than them. When the latest wears or video consoles come out is it emphasized or purchased after much pleading and begging or even manipulating. Not that children should be denied these things but how important are these items and what signals are they getting.

With all of this, why are we surprised in this enormously capitalistic society that children will value a cell phone or a t-square over the lives of a fellow classmates. A short temper, coupled with the idea that things value more than people equal great tragedies like Dunoon High as it is at many other schools across Jamaica where children has died in similar circumstances.

Such a shame, such a waste

The enormous pile of cutting weapons taken from schoolers recently is an indication that they are ready for war. The editorial makes mention of engrave into desks and chairs of guns indicate the mind set in this classroom at Dunoon.

“In yesterday’s edition, our picture of Education Minister Andrew Holness at Dunoon High staring at a desk engraved with drawings of two handguns, gave us a scary indication of what occupies the minds of some of our children during the hours when their fertile brains should be engaged in scholarship”

—–Quote from the Editorial——-

But what else does this say. Maybe one feels threatened. Having already socialized that conflicts are resolved with bullets, insults, stones or whatever it is no wonder that children arm themselves to deal with these conflicts.

It would be disingenuous to not acknowledge the out side influences in spite of the good intentions of some parents.

The influences outside the home are a like tsunami of negative messages reinforced with hordes of other negative messages almost working in synergies. It is no easy job competing with the music, DVDs, internet that preach, boasts about sex, murder and murdering. Our highly charged capitalistic society which affirms that if you are to be a full human being you must have the latest “things”.

“Undoubtedly, these unfortunate incidents in our schools are manifestations of the coarseness that seems to have engulfed the country because students take their cue from the adults who have direct influence over their lives.”

—–Quote from the Editorial——-

Recently in the United States, Nebraska passed a law called the “safe haven act”. The purpose of the law was to allow mothers who can not care for their children to drop them off at a hospital anonymously.

Why would anyone pass such a law you might ask? How many times have we heard on the news here in Jamaica of babies being found in the garbage? Apparently they have a similar problem in Nebraska.

So where am I doing with this?

Well the law exposed a dirty little secret. Parents were dropping off their teenage sons and daughters at the designated “safe heavens”. The law was intended for babies not more than just a couple days old but the lawmakers did not place an age limit in the law. What is revealed is the truth that many parents really don’t know what to do.

Sad but noting to be ashamed about.

The fact is that a first time even second time parent does not always know how to be a GOOD parent. This might be even more true for teenage mothers without the financial or emotional support to care for a child.

Maybe we need a special syllabus in Jamaican school to teach our children about emotional intelligence, conflict resolution or life skills. Parents who neglect their children should be responsible when that child gets into trouble or not in school on a school day regardless of hardships because again they didn’t ask to be here therefore they should be provided for. Some NGO’s or government agencies should invite parents to attend seminars about parenting and even educate parents in the electronic and print media about parenting.

The truth remains whether you agree with the death penalty of hanging or the abortion debate currently before our government. No amount of hanging can replace the manufacturing of monsters if we do not place more emphasis on the family. This is not to be taken that if all parents miraculously became good parents all our problems will be solved, but it’s a core piece of the puzzle.

We have seen police kill many in “shoot outs” or in an extra-judicial manner. but more are being born and socialized to be the nightmare we fear everyday.

To read the editorial click here


~ by RB on November 20, 2008.

5 Responses to “The Jamaica Observer Editorial-Jamaican Parents raising Monsters”

  1. Dutty, excellent piece!!

  2. The role of the family or the parents as the primary and crucial socializing agents for the transference of positive values and morals are extremely essential in the proper growth and development of children as you rightly contend, Dutty. So true! So True! Nuff respect star!

  3. ESTEBAN this week I read in the papers where the government is spending over 300 million to buy 5 armored vehicles.I think they are not focus on the right things to fight crime. These are vehilces used in combat zones used to carry personels into war zones (ghetto)

    This money should be spent on community programs, education, sports……..

  4. As a 21-year-old Jamaican-American (born here in U.S. but both of my parents came here from Jamaica), I can give a first-hand testimony to many of the horrors of Jamaican parenting. I even have Jamaican-American friends, all of whom, almost universally, come from broken homes and are (sometimes permanently) psychologically scarred from, to put it frankly, fucked up parenting. I do not wish to get too much into my own life, but I am currently dealing with a situation where I have just graduated from college and I’m trying to become independent so as not to burden/need my parents anymore, but they are working against me because they’re too wrapped up in their own unfounded paranoia and selfishness. What parent in their right mind works against their children finally becoming independent and leaving them? It’s every parent’s fantasy–their wet dream, even. Not a Jamaican parent’s, though.

    This type of poor parenting and all of its different variations and forms are far too common in Jamaican parenting (that I’ve observed in all the Jamaican families around me, my own most of all) to be coincidental. I feel there is something fundamentally wrong with the culture that needs to be addressed and fix before the society crumbles in on itself. This cycle cannot continue. We are not preparing our children for the future. They are simply raised by poor parents, who grow up to be poor parents themselves, and so on.

  5. Random Jamerican-It is always so sad when those who are entrusted to be your main guidance of support does not live up to the most important role. I have realized that personally its better to acknowledge the hurt and if ou are bold enough confront them in a non conflicting way about how you feel. The scares that you are left with is now a part of your core personality and you can not change that. Becoming aware of such feelings and the effects is the best approach especially for the negative sub conscious effects.

    Parents are not perfect, we realize that even more as adults, they themselves are products of imperfect parenting. They have things to deal with too.

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