They Live Like They Have Split Personalities

Maze, mather amenibore. Kila siku ananiambia eti anajua sign ya bangi. Saa hizo nabehave tu venye niko na anafrikiri ni nguai…aende huko.

(Heh! Mum is such a bore. Every day she says she knows the signs of weed when I am just being me and she thinks I am on weed. Ah! She can go away.)

These were the words of a young man in a group of young people as we hang out in my home. They were asking seemingly foolish questions about life and I was honoured to be included in the conversation.

I slowly realised that they lived like they had split personalities. Their parents had an opinion of who they thought their children were and how they should behave but it wasn’t who they really are. He could be totally argumentative because he wants to debate every point to the death and understand all its angles and the implications yet the parent pegged him as rude. The other had a skill that could make a living with it but every time he came home with money the parents asked if he is dealing drugs.

It was the same with the girls who fought curfews they thought were too restrictive and every effort to negotiate a change in the curfews was met with so many questions and fear they felt stifled. They felt their parents didn’t even care about their opinions that their parents were fighting because of them. One was even contemplating running away to allow them to be happy without her. This group of the population is sorely misunderstood.

Yes, we need structure and obedience yet we need to grow adults who can make decisions and follow instructions, who can communicate their position without throwing stones, getting angry and fighting. We need leaders who will explore all options and even find unusual solutions to the usual challenges. We need a generation who honour, love and care for their elders yet they are able to stand up for what they believe. We need more balance.

This won’t happen by waving a magic wand but has to be developed in each one or at least a few who will then change the minds of those around them. Imagine how much better life would be if we were all working to build our young people instead of just complaining all the time.

My mother was super strict growing up but it helped us in the long run. We had a curfew and rules that applied as long as we were in her house on the premise, ‘Her House; Her rules.’ I say her because she was a strict enforcer and I knew one day I would be free but I decided to stay on and pick up a few bills until I was ready to leave.

As I look back today, there are key lessons I learnt from my parents that I am currently using with my young king and all the other young people who come to me.

  1. Responsibility: from a tender age, we were given tasks to complete with diligence or face the consequences. Consequences started early and we learnt that mum didn’t just threaten she acted. This taught us that everyone in the household was vital to the success and happiness of the home so we all pulled our weight.Give the young people more responsibility at home so they learn diligence and commitment in safe spaces.

  2. Honesty: we had to tell the truth and be willing to support our opinions with fact. If mum said there were consequences for an action and you still went that way, you encountered the full force of the consequences. If she promised a reward to the accomplishment of a task, it came no matter what and if there was a challenge to the delivery she explained herself. She took the time to be real and it paid off.Tell your children the truth and they will respect you and your word more.

  3. Communication: Our curfew was to be home by dark but, if we could see we would be late, we had to call home in advance, say where we were and when we expected to get home. If we needed something or they did neither side assumed the other side could see, so we had to talk. These build bridges to either side Say what needs to be said and accept their points of view or at least hear them out and use the information they give to make decisions.

  4. Trust: This is firm belief in the reliability, truth, or ability of someone or something. It is important to give reasons for our instructions and then letting them try life knowing you got their backs makes all the difference. When they trust you, nothing will be hidden and you will know their truth which will smooth life.If we have trained our children right we have to step back and trust them to make the right choices.

  5. Respect: Respect is giving due regard to another, is earned and is a two way street. If I want my son to respect me, I must also respect him too. Respecting your child doesn’t diminish you or give the child everything they want, it makes you stronger and closer to your children.Give the young ones respect and it will come back to you.

  6. LOVE: To love is to accept unconditionally, to correct, comfort, console, compliment and raise a strong balanced individual. This makes you the safe place for them even when they have failed because you provide guidance without judgement. LOVE will bring healing in this generation who have been judged, misunderstood and battered all their lives until they doubt true love exists. Love is the best healer we can give our children

The reality is we need to change our perspective of the young people and this is only possible when we remove our rose coloured glasses and just learn who they are, how they are wired and how we can help them navigate life.

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