Names have been changed to disguise identity
SOME adults cause unseen trauma to children. They abuse and neglect them; shout and swear at them; call them derogatory names, and make them do degrading things. Their conduct towards children needs to be evaluated and corrected.
Behaviour change, however, takes time; it does not happen overnight, and it may not happen at all unless a person admits or recognises there is a problem that needs fixing. Only then can meaningful change occur. Today we hear Katherine ‘s story:
“When they sent me the leaflet to attend a parental skills workshop, I was vex. After all, I am a grandmother; I have plenty of other things to do with my time – what can they teach me? I have already brought up two boys and a girl. Is now they going to give me parental training?
My daughter Kay is the one they need. She is Keisha’s mother, not me – Keisha is her problem. I’m too old to be fretting my head about young people and their ways; before I drop down with high blood pressure, they should leave me out of their affairs.
Imagine, before Kay find a decent man who can help her get by in life, she pick up with a worthless boy in the next village who already had two children for two different women. The next thing you hear, she’s pregnant. I was disappointed when she came to me at 17 to tell me the news. But we managed the best we could and raise Keisha between us.
When Keisha was small, life was easier. She was a playful, reliable child; she could wash clothes, cook and clean by the time she was nine. It was about that time that things started to change in her life. Kay met a new man, and she started sleeping at his place – this meant she spent less time with Keisha.
The child stayed with me during these years, but as she grew older, it was more responsibility. Kay occasionally visited with a gift or some money to help with food and clothes, but I’d had enough. I told Kay to take her daughter. Keisha was thirteen years old and glad for the new arrangement. Packing some clothes in a bag, she left with her mother that day.
Her ‘stepfather’ welcomed her to his home, and I believed Keisha was content. She stayed with me now and then, but I settled down into a comfortable life; no full-time children to hurt my head or send up my pressure.
About eighteen months after this agreement, a distressed Kay came looking for Keisha. It is only then I realise things were not going well. Kay’s man friend was hardly ever home, and when Kay left in the evening for work, Keisha would ‘get away’ and be on the street with boys. On this occasion, she was missing for two days. Kay was overwhelmed with worry.
We made a police report, and soon a sorry, disheveled Keisha was picked up. The Childcare and Protection Agency became involved, and that is how I got mixed up in the parental skills workshop. Big old me who already bring up my children. I didn’t want to go, but it seemed like the only way to help Keisha, so I went.
Kay and I attended all six sessions. Reluctantly at first, but over the weeks, looking into our family dynamics became interesting. I could see the link between my relationship with Kay and her relationship with Keisha.
What guidance did I give Kay as a child? How could I have been a better mother? Where did I learn how to discipline my children? Did my methods work? Did I show affection to my children? Did I give them the attention and encouragement they needed when they were small? When they were pre-adolescent and when they were teenagers? Did I nurture their talents and provide them with a sense of direction?
I learned about children’s fundamental rights to a loving family, to a clean environment, an education; to protection and security. None of these things crossed my mind when I raised my children. I had no idea all these things mattered. Instead of hustling to get rid of my granddaughter, I should have been more supportive and perceptive of her needs.
When Keisha began counselling sessions, we learnt that she felt abandoned when her mother left to stay with her boyfriend. He disrupted the only family unit she knew and broke their bond. When vex, I would say to Keisha, ‘Girl, why you don’t go live with your Mother’. I didn’t mean it, but that broke her heart and made her feel worse.
Vying with her stepfather for her mother’s attention caused her more distress when she moved until she, like most vulnerable teenagers with no sense of direction, fell in with the wrong crowd. Kay had no father figure, a lack of affection and guidance during her childhood and Keisha had the same. It was time to put things right. As parents, we do what we can, but sometimes a helping hand is needed. None of us have all the answers, and we are never too old to learn”.
If you are concerned about the welfare of a child, call the CPA hotline on 227 0979 or write to us at email@example.com
A MESSAGE FROM THE CHILDCARE AND PROTECTION AGENCY,
MINISTRY OF HUMAN SERVICES AND SOCIAL SECURITY