In my community one remains a child in the eyes of their parents till death comes knocking. Nobody considers your dreams, your feelings, weaknesses or strengths as factors that could be considered in your upbringing. In short parents think, decide and act for their children. This phenomenon is disturbing because many young people end up frustrated because a wrong decision was made, career chosen or education denied since they were considered non-grata in the decision making process.
Basically, parents are the alpha and omega, reason why they are either blamed or praised for their child’s conduct. What has caught my attention particularly is the domain of sexual and reproductive health rights education. As a young girl I had a crude abortion because I wanted to avoid being disowned or shouted at by my parents. What an irony? Instead of my parents who have failed in their duty of educating me to feel ashamed and apologize to me the situation would be the other way round.
Young people of today are in a worse situation. Their parents are quiet, social media exposes them to a lot of uncensored material or sexually explicit media as well as a high level of peer pressure which no one seems to notice. I find this a gross violation of their SRH rights, a basic human right that either makes or mar their future. Parenting to many means giving a child formal education, food and religious upbringing as a result see no reason for a child to misbehave or complain.
Following my interactions with over 600 young people I realized that many of them are trying to correct these misconceptions. They wish their parents were a little more tolerant as well as understanding towards them for they too are human beings. They say blaming them for everything will never make their parents flawless. Summing their parents’ faults the young people said there is no parent-child interaction which has elements of trust, respect, commitment and timing. As a matter of fact parents talk at them not with them.
In order to make the voices of these young people fighting for their rights heard, our organization organized a parent-child interaction platform where we had frank discussions between parents and their children. Following customs and traditions children don’t have a say or an opinion but they were able to talk. We made them understand their rights and responsibilities as well as the need for partnership between them. Considering the success registered during this forum we plan to hold many of such meetings to break this glass ceiling over the young people.
I dream of a community where we will incubate young people who want their voices heard and groom them into the great voices for change. If young people are future leaders we should break this culture of parents thinking and deciding for them by accelerating the development of their full human potentials through youth led advocacy programs.