A mother shares her hopes and dreams for her baby boy born in a township
"It's not until I had a child of my own that I understood the significance of raising a boy in the township": Wendy Kobe shares her hopes, dreams and fears of raising her boy child in the township.
I want my son to understand these few things in life: (iStock)

The journey from hospital back home is a reality check for most parents. You are no longer in the care of experienced hospital staff and your baby is not looked after by nurses at the hospital nursery.

You are tasked with the role of taking care of this person, at least until he is able to look after himself. To keep him healthy and to protect him. When you think you have made it all possible for him to be comfortable, then something bigger strikes you — the township.

If you are familiar with townships, then you know that they are not spacious. It's noisy, they have a distinct smell and crime is a daily threat — at least where I come from.

Now if you have a boy child you will understand the hard job you are actually tasked with. You have to decide what kind of a man you want your child to be. Your parenting style can play a big role in this one.

However, some aspects of what shapes that man has to do with the environment that influences his idea of manhood. It's not until I had a child of my own that I understood the significance of raising a boy in the township.

Also see: ‘My partners are extremely supportive’: what it’s like raising children in a polyamorous relationship

On my first day coming back home from the hospital my sister told me about how a boy she knows had been struck by a panga wielding gang of boys. And the reason was for "wearing good clothes and keeping himself out of trouble". 

That to me was shocking enough to send my mind thinking about my fears of having a boy child in this environment. Among my fears is the fear of the toxic masculinity that he will come into contact with.

I cannot possibly shield him from this.

Obviously, no one would disagree that all parents have hopes and dreams for their children. Regardless of where they come from we all have high aspirations for our kids. Ask anyone with a child and they will tell you that they probably want their child to be some very accomplished person in a certain field.

But I want my son to understand a few things in life...

That it doesn't matter what you become, my deepest desire for you boils down to the simple concept of happiness. 

I want you to love yourself, love God and love others. 

I hope you learn to see the good in others, even when it difficult to do so.

You will not be a Messiah to everyone's problems and I don't want you to have the pressure to be a world changer, but if you can, go for it. The world needs people with a better mindset: one of love and integrity, empathy and honesty.

Also see: Raising polite children

Find love and give love

My wish for you is that you find love and give love, but I also hope that you don't feel the pressure to fake perfection in return for love.

I hope that you find happiness in respecting women.

I hope you understand that every decision we make for you comes from a place of love. 

I hope you get to live a life with people who accept you for who you are, not for what you have.

Question everything

My son, I cherish the day you start school because only then will you be exposed to the greatness and the awfulness of the world.

I hope you learn to understand that not everyone will have your best interests at heart but you should give people the benefit of the doubt anyway.

Before anything get yourself educated. I would break my back working for you to get a proper education, but it all depends on you.

Question everything, nothing is as simple and straight forward as ABC.

You are unique

I hope you are proud of who you are. You represent a diverse culture; Xhosa and Zulu.

Luckily you are born into a diverse country. I hope you learn to accept people for who they are. Tolerate another person's difference from yours.

I hope you enjoy the life you have because there is so much to enjoy.

For you my son, more than anything, I hope you lead a healthy life that is full of opportunities that you will use.

Also see: "What is your biggest regret about how you raised your kids?": Parenting advice from moms and dads who've been there

I hope you live by these quotes:

"Infuse your life with action. Don't wait for it to happen. Make it happen. Make your own future. Make your own hope. Make your own love. And whatever your beliefs, honor your creator, not by passively waiting for grace to come down from upon high, but by doing what you can to make grace happen... yourself, right now, right down here on Earth." - Bradley Whitford

"If you have a dream, don’t just sit there. Gather courage to believe that you can succeed and leave no stone unturned to make it a reality.” - Dr. Roopleen

"Waste no more time arguing what a good man should be. Be one." – Marcus Aurelius

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What have been your challenges with raising your boy children in the township?

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