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Most persons in their sixties who grew up in Jamaica will tell you that they were raised by their grandparents. Yes, Mommy and or Daddy were around, and would ensure the children went to school however Grandma was the person who was most in charge of the children. In those days, Grandma either worked from home or not at all while grandpa worked in the fields raising crops and or animals. For those families where the grandparents did not live in the same house, the children spent weekends and definitely all holidays by the grands. Grandma would be sure to spoil you however the girls had to learn to take care of the home and cook while the boys had to learn how to take care of the yard and animals which most homes were sure to have.
Back then communication was by word of mouth and telegraph. Television for the few who had them was black and white. Neighbours would gather to watch shows such as Ring Ding, Bonanza, and Payton Place. Children played outside with each other and with whatever they could find to amuse themselves with. For example, a juice box made an excellent ball or toy car, a banana bow made a sturdy bat while a pear seed made an awesome gig. Dandy shandy, jump rope, jacks, marble, kite flying and gig throwing were just some of the popular games children would enjoy playing.
Everyone knew everyone in their neighbourhood. Children were raised by the community. Adults corrected and scolded children whether they were theirs or not. In fact, if a child had to be reprimanded by an adult who was not their parent, chances are they would get a good beating from their parent. Not only for whatever it is that they did, but also for shaming the family.
Then the children of the sixties became parents. The focus then was for their children to have the things that they never had. They moved to the cities to make a better life for themselves and their children. The grandparents were still very important in the upbringing process, however Mommy and Daddy tried to be more involved. Education beyond high school was a major factor and was the key to success. Of course, higher education is very expensive, so both parents are caught up in the drive to earn enough so that the children can realize ‘their’ dreams.
The children are now left to the nannies to raise. They ensure the children are supervised, clean and fed. Some are hardworking motherly individuals who will love and care for your child as they would their own. However, for most it’s just a job. There is no time to sit and play or teach the children.
By this time televisions are in every home. Luckily then there was still some moral guidelines by which the entertainment industry operated and although Tom and Jerry or Tweety and Sylvester did take a swing at each other the lewdness and violence was not so prevalent. Children still played outside on weekends and holidays but only in their own yard or by family or very close friends. On school days, they had to stay in and concentrate on school work. Parents struggled to buy actual toys for the children so the art of making them began to fade.
As the grandparent were still living in the rural areas, the lessons from the them were reserved for holidays. There was not enough time for the ‘duppy’ stories from grandpa or to learn those medicinal herbal bushes from grandma. Mommy only kept that broad leaf mint and the tuna plant at home. Adults in the communities minded their own business unless they personally knew the child’s parents. Communication was made easier as the telephone came into its own, however as it was still very expensive at that time children were not allowed to use it without permission.
Now the children of the sixties are the grandparents. Most are still having to work in order to support themselves and have little time to help in the upbringing of the children in the family. It is the age of technology and things are changing constantly. Most parents today are still trying to educate themselves in order to keep up in the work places. At the same time, they are trying to provide for their children, giving them like their parents before them, all the things that they never had. Now both Mommy and Daddy are competing for those top jobs that will afford the family all the luxury that they crave. Higher education is no longer a nice to have, but a must have if a child is to make it big.
From as early as a baby’s eyes are focused they are placed before the television to keep them quiet. They are given the latest gadgets to keep them amused and occupied as soon as they can hold them. There is a Jamaican saying, ‘Children learn what they live’. Most of the games today on these gadgets contain violence. Even the cartoons on the children stations are quite unpleasant and violent, but anything to keep them busy. Most children today are unable to talk to other children as it’s not something that they practice.
As they get bigger, they must have a computer, after all it’s the way of the future. Do not forget the smart phone an essential tool for all young or old. Children today are constantly glued to these gadgets. They have access to all kinds of information, good and bad and they know how to use them. Unfortunately, there are many evil persons out there devising ways to attract your child. Social medias such as Facebook and Tweeter has the world connected in a way that is unbelievable. Our children are so bombarded by all the technology that they cannot help but be influenced by them.
Recently my husband and I went out to dinner. As we left the restaurant there were four teenagers waiting at a table. All four were busy on their individual phones quite contented to talk to whomever is was at the other end of the line while they totally ignored each other. What a waste. For all we knew they were properly speaking with each other the only way they knew. LOL.
The question is, who is raising your child? The grandparents are no longer in the picture, Mommy and Daddy are much too busy earning the finances necessary to provide all they never had for their children and the nannies really don’t have the time. Our children learn what they live. How is your child living? Who or what is teaching your child? When was the last time you sat with your children around a meal and talked about the day’s events? Do you know your child’s friends or what is important to them? Is your child studying to be a doctor because that is what you have told them to be instead of a hairstylist which is their true passion? Why is it so important to give our children what we never had, did you turn out so badly?
Somehow that manual on how to raise your child always gets misplaced. No one that I know has ever received it. I guess because each child is so unique they keep having to change it so it never gets out. Either way it is a parent’s responsibility to raise their child. Yes, it is not an easy job. What works for one child does not work for the next, however please do not leave it up to technology. Children need their parents love to give them confidence. All they really need is you.