Hands-on parenting

Walter Daniels, Bokmakierie, Hazendal

Maybe it’s a given fact that parents are considered to be the first teachers.

Every parent, despite the circumstances, wants the best for our children. As the first teachers we have a meaningful role to play.

Having been involved in sports, and particularly football in Bokmakierie, Hazendal, over the years, I always wondered what kind of adults the young energetic children would grow up to be.

Through sport, like any other social intervention programme dealing with children, we do our best to bring out the best in the youth.

However, most times we have to deal with the children’s discipline and disobedience and disregard for authority; the same situations confronting educators.

We don’t always knows what happens at home. However, as managers, coaches, administrators and project managers, even educators, we have to change our perceptions about dealing with difficult situations regarding disobedience.

Through our interaction with the youth we act as caregivers, guardians, educators, and try our utmost to be their role models.

We control our emotions and how we as coaches, managers and administrators express ourselves in order to achieve the desired results and to bring the best out of the young people’s “hidden potential”.

Through sport, we try our utmost to provide structure, routine and safety, which fosters teamwork and allows for friendships to develop .

We create an environment with “boundaries” to ensure that the rules are followed as a form of discipline, as without rules there can be chaos.

I’m a parent and realise that parents are their children’s first teachers.

In sport, the coaches, managers and administrators are acting in the best interest of your children outside of the home. You are the parents, the disciplinarians, the authority figures.

As parents, you are the most important people in the lives of your children.

While we try to bring across a love and respect for sport, you have to teach, sometimes enforce, at home the importance of respect for authority.

In sport we don’t reward disobedience, because it’s a clear form of disregarding the rules and authority.

I think it’s fair to say failure to deal with discipline at home creates problems outside the home, and what’s happening outside in the community is the result.

It’s time for parents to step out of their comfort zones and challenge their children’s negative behaviours in the house or in the public space. If parents fail to deal with the challenge of disobedience in the house, the lack of discipline spills over to our schools and in our communities.

I challenge parents to go on a walkabout in their communities and ask themselves why there’s so many children in our streets and why they prefer spending time there.

Yes, one can make an excuse and take into consideration that there is a lack of recreational facilities in our communities, which is a major reason and concern, but I think there’s more to it.

The other reality is most hard working parents leave children unsupervised during the day as, in most cases, there’s financial implications attached to this responsibility, with bills to pay.

The other harsh reality is, of course, overcrowding, with most youth living in homes where there’s more than one family in a household excluding the family in the backyard dwelling. So this does not leave much room and is certainly not an ideal environment for any child. This I think in most instances forces many children to the streets from after school until parents and guardians return from work at night.

While we cannot control the outside environment, we have a choice to manage and control our immediate “inside” environment.

I urge parents to spend quality time teaching, educating and fostering good and positive relationships with their children in an attempt to undo some of the bad behaviour picked up and seen on the streets.

We must “address” or treat the “unacceptable” societal signs in our homes. Understand the needs of our children and more importantly, lead by example.

Raise responsible children so they can play a meaningful role in the very society they live and grow up in. For in doing this, we have the ability to save a young life and reduce the number of young casualties including young men dying on the streets due to gang violence.

Let me leave you with a piece of scripture in Proverbs 23 vs 25: “Let your father and mother be glad; let her who bore you rejoice.”

It begins with the first teachers.