Jane Habiyaremye, 29, is employed in Kacyiru, Kigali. She has two children, both in primary school. She drives them to school daily in the morning, while her house help picks them later in the day, and sometimes she gets home when they are already asleep.
Habiyaremye rarely gets enough time to spend with them, and being a single mother, it becomes a no easy task to juggle both work and taking care of them.
“I work until Saturday; the only time I get to be with my children is only Sunday, which for me isn’t sufficient. Given a chance, I would like to be with them every moment just to make sure they don’t go astray, but sometimes circumstances don’t allow it,” she says.
Habiyaremye’s situation is a typical reflection of what most working parents face on a daily basis. But while many parents may assume that excelling in academics is the only precursor for a child to navigate the road of life successfully, this may not necessarily be the case. So many other factors contribute to a student’s success, and key among them is the role parents play regarding building a good foundation for their children and shaping their morals.
“The pressures and responsibilities many parents face today can easily deny them the time to guide their children on what to do in order to be successful in life,” says Diana Nawatti, a head teacher at Mother Mary Complex in Kibagabaga, Kigali.
She emphasizes that parents ought to be at the forefront of moulding their children, and not teachers.
“As the saying goes that ‘charity begins at home’, without that, a child will always be likely to exhibit poor morals in society. Parents should create a conducive environment for the child to open up to them about their needs, especially during adolescence and teenage-hood,” Nawatti explains.
She notes that parents need to be trustworthy, loving and considerate for their children to be free with them.
“Being trustable and the best friend to your child makes them flexible to ask whatever they feel like and seek help if they are in trouble. By doing all these, guidance becomes easier everyday, which at the end will boost good morals,” she says.
Eliaza Ndayisabye, a teacher at Christian School in Remera, Kigali, advises parents to empower their children in other areas and not just in academics only.
“Teaching your child to be successful is not only about academics but also on social aspects. For instance, teaching them how to live with others peacefully is essential. A child may hold a degree in a lucrative field, but fail to prosper because of lack of social skills as they may find it hard to even associate with their colleagues at work,” he notes.
Ndayisabye points out that without support from parents, teachers’ efforts to educate and discipline children may be in vain.
“With good parenting, some helpful attributes such as self-discipline and good attitude comes easy, which contributes to better relationships and one’s success in life,” he says.
According Jacqueline Iribagiza, a counsellor and matron at Martyrs Secondary School in Remera, Kigali, due to the tight work schedules of most parents, they expose children to risky information airing on TVs and the internet.
“I believe most vices like smoking, abusing drugs and all forms of indiscipline are caused by weak guidance from parents. For instance, a child who normally sees their parents in the wee hours only is likely to spend a lot of time on social media sites or searching for information that may harm their wellbeing,” Irabagiza says, advising that a responsible parent should at least get time to guide and converse with their children, as it is very important in satisfying and shaping their social and emotional needs.
She points out that children should be taught to serve others and not to expect to be served.
“Teaching a child to take care of some house chores prepares them to become independent in future. Spoon-feeding a child will make them love the life of dependency, and they will tend to carry on like that even at an older age,” she says.
Nawatti also advises that parents should also teach children how to express their frustration, disappointment and anger without hurting others, adding that this can only be achieved through effective communication.
“Communicating with a busy parent whom you only see at night can be challenging. If a child wants to get their parent’s attention, this can create a big challenge, thus leading to a student losing the right focus in life,” she says.