Better than our folks?
On balance, are we better parents now than our parents were? asks Sipho
Are we better parents than our folks? I find myself pondering this whenever I interact with young people. I believe parents nowadays have it easy, raising their children, compared to their own parents.  We have disposable nappies, the plethora of information on the internet, cell phones, improved daycare centers, and more enlightened children because of the information age. All this should result in good products in the form of well-adjusted kids. Right?

Working for an audit firm, I was assigned to work at a high school for a week. The courtesy of the students made the assignment such a pleasure, and made me question if I’d chosen a wrong profession by not enrolling as a teacher. The boys would remove their hats and greet me gracefully when we met on the corridor. The girls were equally polite. What a refreshing difference from some of my young neighbours who, if I do not greet them first, will walk past me as if I’m invisible.  

My teenage neighbours have a habit of sitting on the edge of a 5 storey-building balcony- risking slipping to their deaths. I share with them a true story about a colleague who fell off a balcony to his death. Unrepentant, they look at me with ‘who are you to tell us what to do’ eyes and pretend not to hear a word I’ve said. Why should I care when their parents allow them to go free-range?

When taking a stroll, the other day, I noticed some kids, between the ages of seven and ten, playing in the middle of a busy road. After telling them to stay off the road, I got an unexpected reply: ‘Get lost,’ they said using earthy language. Agitated, I felt like running after the brats to give them well-deserved smacks. However, when I thought of the ugly scene this would create, I changed my mind. As I walked away, salvaging my dignity, I wondered what kind of parents had created such rude beings.

I overheard a 3-year-old boy, referring to the chairlady of the flats where I stay as ‘that bitch’. The boy’s mother, always at loggerheads with the chairlady for late payments of levies, doesn’t seem flustered by her son’s colourful language.

My 2 ½- year- old niece is playing with her friend, a little boy and they start fighting over a toy. Overpowered, my niece uses whatever ammunition she finds available. She fires an F-word at her rival. When I try to umpire the 2 rivals, the same ammunition is used on me. Who’s to blame for the child’s behaviour?

In my youth, children were taught to respect their elders. Have our parenting skills deteriorated over the years? Are some of us failing to adjust our child-rearing skills to fit the constantly changing world that our children are growing up in?

To answer the question: are today’s parents better at raising their kids than parents from the last generation? When a father tells  me how he helps wife to change a child’s diapers, I feel like answering that question with a big YES, humanity has come a long way.

But when I experience some children’s crudeness my ‘yes’ is mired in a sea of doubt.

What do you think? Are the gains we have made equal to what has been lost?

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