On Friday afternoon, Stella
Amitu, a mother of five and resident of Bukoto ran into the neighbourhood
in the scorching in search of
“I told you not to leave home, where are your
siblings?” Amitu told her
older daughter as the rest of her siblings dashed
into a corridor possibly to hide for their
that being a parent has
never been easy. She, however,
says that parenting has become a nightmare during the unprecedented
long school closure. She says that she has
to keep a keen eye on each of the children at all times to ensure they don’t learn ill behaviour.
“It is a very hard time, with schools closed, we
have to look after these children all the time, but it’s very difficult,” she said. She notes that children
in their neighbourhood
have become too spoilt with
many engaging in different immoralities.
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that with children spending a lot of time literally doing nothing, many have fallen victims to bad peer
influence since parents can’t stop them from socializing.
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Just as Amitu struggles to take control of her
children in a volatile area, other parents across the country are losing grip
on the youngsters, which has fueled juvenile
delinquency, child to child sex, child labour and child pornography.
Experts on child health and development have
observed that although parenting has been a challenge to many parents and
guardians in the past, the pandemic has worsened the situation. A recent study
by Makerere University also showed that over 70 percent of the parents have
challenges nurturing their children.
Johnson Mugaiga, one of the parents blames the parenting
crisis on work. He notes that many parents, more so those in urban and
semi-urban areas are busy looking for money at the expense of caring for their
children whom they leave untended to
or with maids.
In the absence of options, Mugaiga
says working parents often leave children alone and this can lead to risky
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Many other adults interviewed for this story blamed work for their failed
this is not representative
of the general picture across the country especially in rural areas where parents remain at
home or work with these children on the farm.
Some children in the rural
areas have also been affected by immoralities leading to high teenage pregnancies. Elizabeth
Kisakye, an early
childhood development expert, says parents cannot use working as an excuse
for their failure to nurture their children. To he, school closure has just unveiled the big
elephant on poor parenting in
“The lockdown presented our children a very big
opportunity of being with their parents. But, many parents are still
unavailable to their children. That is absurd and it has a very big effect. If these parents had a role in their children’s
lives we wouldn’t be discussing this,” she observed.
Mustafa Ssebalu, a parent of seven, says that the lockdown has presented the
biggest challenge to all parents as many had no idea how they can spend a long
time with their children. He says that
right now parents just don’t know how they can play their roles in the
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Ssebalu extends the blame on parents whom he says have failed to be good
role models for their
children and instead practice immorality in the face of their children.
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To Geoffrey Bamu, the blame is not on individual
parents as it is an indicator of a broken community. Bamu, who is a grandparent, recalls that in their infancy, child upbringing was a communal obligation
where all older persons were equally responsible.
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Bamu says that parents have also failed to have time with
their children as it used to be done over fireplaces. He says that such moments helped the
parent to create a bond with their
children and also understand their challenges in addition to moral counselling.
Dr. Godfrey Sui, an expert in Early Childhood
Development at the Child Health and Development Center in Makerere University
College of Health Sciences
argues that regardless of the
factors that are limiting parents from playing their roles, they are
supposed to equip the children with
life skills that can enable them to resist immorality and bad behaviour.
“First, parents need to readjust and think on how
they can juggle work and their parental roles, but equipping children with life
skills is the best since these skills will help them control themselves, resist
peer pressure among other things,” Dr Sui noted. Dr Sui also
advised parents to constantly
communicate with their children.