• Sunday, May 26, 2024
businessday logo


Children become what their parents are

Children become what their parents are

“I’m sorry Sir and Madam, but we’d really have to let Patrick go this time. He has become a risk to other children and other parents are complaining bitterly, especially with the current situation and his past history of violence. I have tried my best and you know that. I would recommend that you see a child psychologist so that we can get to the root of the matter since all our words seem to be falling on deaf ears.”

Mr and Mrs Idehen muttered some words of apology, said thank you and left the principal’s office, with Mrs Idehen smiling stoically behind her dark shades to hide the pain she felt. Yesterday had been a particularly rough day, she had come in late from work and her husband who was not happy with that had hit her as he customarily did. He’d reminded her again that she was lucky that he allowed her even work in the first place, and that she had to be home every day before 6pm inspite of the fact that she worked quite a distance away.

She always looked well put together with impeccable makeup but nobody knew it was just a mask. Nobody knew anything about the hell their marriage was, to the public they were the perfect couple that made many ask ‘God when’ admixed with lots of ‘awwwwwwnnn, so sweet’.

However, it seemed that Patrick was being affected by the way her husband beat her even though she wasn’t sure how. He was only 11 years old and really despised his father for maltreating her the way he did. In the past 2 years, Patrick had changed schools four times on account of beating his classmates upon the slightest issue. He wasn’t always like this. He had been a bright bubbly child until 3 years ago when he’d become withdrawn and angry with plummeting grades.

The issue at hand was that he had hit a classmate AGAIN and dislocated her shoulder, and this was the culmination of several other incidences where he had beaten somebody warranting his parents being invited to see the school authorities. On each occasion both parents would dutifully show up, but this was the first time that anyone had recommended seeing a child psychologist. “Is it that Patrick is going mad, there is nobody with history of madness in any of our families now?”

They eventually found a therapist that Patrick was comfortable with and after a few sessions with Patrick alone they were invited to see Dr Eluka, a kind-looking giant of a man with friendly eyes. He knew how to put people at ease within a few minutes of being with him.

After pleasantries were exchanged, he dropped the shocking revelations. Patrick was not running mad but simply replicating what he saw his father do to his mother. He had come to see that conflicts are resolved by violence without even leaving any room for discussions. He told them that he expected some kind of cover-up, defence, denial or explanation as that was what most people did but that if they wanted their little boy whom they really cared about to be fine, they needed to come clean and also get help.

For the first time since their marriage Mrs Idehen saw her husband crumble and cry, with deep heartwrenching sobs. Dr Eluka asked him to let out all the emotions that had been bottled up inside him since his childhood. Later, he began to tell the story of how his own father used to beat his mother. He also hated his father and had vowed never to beat his wife, but here he was doing the very thing he vowed to never do and his son was copying it all. He was broken and ready for help. After six months of fruitful family therapy, joy and normalcy have returned to the Idehen household.

Children learn by modelling the behaviour of their parents and other adults around them, whether good, bad or ugly (monkey see, monkey do). We can only raise whole decent children when we ourselves MODEL wholesome speech and behaviour for them to copy, not mere verbal instructions. Cheers.