Does the end justify the means?
“Oh, Yes! I think that you have to adopt this philosophy sometimes when it concerns the raising of children,” says a woman that I know. She explains; “I still remember a graduation day, many years past-it seems such a long time ago.
“We had just completed a short course in clothes making. Personally, I did not see the ceremony as an event big enough to drag my mother out from her office to see me. I had left secondary school a few months earlier, so the course was one of those designed by parents as you waited for the school leaving result and the admission into higher institution. The very day we finished the examination, my mother had declared with tight lips,
‘we will learn how to sew’ and not to long afterwards, she told me that she has enrolled me into a private vocational school.
“University matriculation was the ultimate as far as I was concerned and that was what I looked forward to; many of us looked forward to it too.
“But this particular girl, we all agreed, had no such anxiety. She was so confident of herself and we were sure she was not going further than that certificate course. She was younger than many of us in our class, she was the youngest. But we generally related with her with caution because although she was young, her wisdom and knowledge and exposure was beyond those of any of us. So we kept out of her way and looked at her as if from a long distance most of the time.
“Then came graduation day, the day we were more enlightened about her. The woman she introduced as her mother with her usual bright smile was her exact copy. She was her exact copy, very pretty, smart; you could have thought that they were sisters.
“Then the event started and the moment the girl’s name was called out, her mother in the same brassy manner got up, clapped longer than was necessary, just to be noticed-just like her daughter. When the daughter went to receive her certificate, she made so much fuss about as she took photographs.
“What caused her loud applause? Some of us hissed. Her daughter was not the best in anything and got no prizes and she was not at all a brilliant learner.
“As we marveled at her mother’s beauty and charm, she told us that the gift that her mother has given her for ‘passing’ was a trip to London-it comes out as ‘Lonton’ when she says it. New York was part of the package and she was to stay sometime before coming home to start university. In our chummy way, someone would asked her; ‘what did you achieve, exactly?’ We dared not; she was clearly not in our league.
“I would not call her a close friend but we were in touch enough for me to know that when many of us were still trawling the streets looking for employment, she had a job that took her to many parts of the world. Whenever we met she would tell me of the exciting trips she made. The last time we met she had married, became a mother and owned a filling station. How has she managed all these? I calculated and saw that she did all these within 13 years.
My other classmates would exclaim; ‘Don’t you see her mother? She is like her! I agree. But I think she pushed her daughter gently but in the right way.
“We agree here too. The mother, going by the story, helped her to make it. Going by what my friend told me, the girl had not been a particularly easy child to train. She was headstrong. The parents’ separation when she was 10 years old made clashes common between mother and daughter.”
According to my friend’s opinion, the girl was ‘spoilt’ by the expensive things her mother gave her. She wore gold jewellery to secondary school. The teachers found it difficult to enforce discipline because she was aware of her advantage. Her mother said she had no one to give her wealth but her daughter.
When the mother realised her mistake in allowing the girl so much liberty, it was too late. Both family and school teachers have stopped to interfere, according to the story.
But she could not throw her child away.
We need to point out that she saw the good points of her daughter and refused to give up on her. Before she finished secondary school, she had been forced to leave one and was suspended from another for insubordination. She left one because the teachers ‘victimized’ her.
Nobody tolerates a disobedient child, a teacher, least of all. The mother knew she would not get consolation from another child. So she went ahead to make some corrections.
The trip abroad was a gift she withheld from her daughter who was a British citizen because of her issues at school. She was addressing the problem in her own way while she encouraged the girl to study harder and behave well. She knew when not to undermine her mother.
So while some parenting styles may have drained you before you get the desired result. Generally, positivity could work. Being positive is not agreeing to every demand, but getting involved in what your child does. Go to school events and cheer her on. If she is taking part in a sports competition, be as enthusiastic she is. The mother of the girl did not expect the certificate to be the pinnacle of her daughter’s schooling but she praised her effort and congratulated her even when her mates and school authority might not have agreed.
Look for the good points of your child even when the wrong ones are so glaring.