Older persons still have a role to play in parenting
What you need to know:
Older persons act as models and are expected to pass on knowledge to younger generations
In most contemporary families, older family members are often not given a chance to participate in parenting and nurturing of the younger ones.
In Uganda there is an ever growing disconnect between young and older members of society. Some of the younger parents stop their children from interacting with their grandparents, believing that their children will be spoilt and backwards if they interact with their grandparents.
They think that children need to be modern, speak English and use modern technology like smart phones. To most, grand parents have totally nothing to offer.
In societies such as Greek, Native American, Korean and Chinese, the concept of old age is revered. Older family members are held in high esteem and viewed as a source of wisdom and custodians of knowledge.
Most of the contemporary parents unfortunately, do not have quality time with their children to mentor, model and correct as part of their parental obligation. This is due to heavy work schedules or opting for permissive parenting style, allowing children a lot of freedom and space. No wonder the increasing moral decadence among the younger generation like indecent dressing, disrespect, theft and other forms of immorality.
Older persons are a fundamental resource to any society and as the saying goes “old is gold”. These people have a wealth of experience and knowledge from the past which is essential for the present and future. There is a need to go to our roots and tap on the values that were emphasized in the past. Older persons act as models and are expected to pass on knowledge to younger generations. However, it is incumbent on the younger generation to make out the treasure embedded in the older persons if they are to benefit from this boundless resource. As the Christmas festive season kicks into gear the children are going to their ancestral homes to visit the grandparents. The latter have a critical role to play in instilling values, of teaching children how they are expected to dress, talk and behave. On the other hand, the young parents need to encourage and ensure that their children interact with and learn from grandparents.
Grandparents are great instructors of moral education; they clearly understand the behavioral expectations for each individual as dictated by the cultural norms. It is quite easier for grandparents to notice and comment on indecent dressing or behavior of grandchildren than it is for the contemporary parents. Older persons are an encyclopedia of familial heritage and a great source of indigenous knowledge such as nature and the workings of the world. Both forms of knowledge are very fundamental to youngsters who need to be abreast with family lineages and blood-lines, so as to avoid ending up in incestuous marriages occasioned by lost family ties and ignorance of kinship. The youngsters only need to tap into this knowledge bank.
The younger ones can learn a lot of oral literature and its associated wisdom from the older persons during this festive season. The folksongs, folktales, sayings and riddles that the grandparents know yet not documented anywhere in books, is so enriching and carries moral lessons. The young ones only need to listen more keenly and learn.
This Christmas season, the younger generation should not only concentrate on making merry but also reinforcing cultural identity and pride to appreciate their origin and roots. The older persons in our society should not be taken for granted or ignored. By valuing and respecting older persons in our society, the young folk will not only benefit immensely from the countless pages of experience but will also help older people age gracefully by appreciating their existence. The older persons too ought to have contributed to proper upbringing of the young generation and continuity of knowledge in order to feel gratified and age gracefully.
Sister Mary Wasagali is a member of the Equal Opportunities.