In most African cultures including Rwanda, while growing up, children approaching teenagehood behave weirdly—they want to discover the world on their own; the world their parents never talked about or even showed them.
It then becomes quite tricky because some parents don’t quite understand their children’s new behavior, character, values, and mostly their friends. That’s when parents start taking different measures to restore the “parenthood ship” or “control” over them; then here the “war of liberty” begins.
Parents start grounding teens electronics, especially phones, they give them very strict hours of returning back home (curfew), limitations on visiting friends and hanging out with them, and so many other rules.
So, you find that these once lovely children begin to rebel and start fighting back. They begin to indulge in many wrong things like, sneaking out at late hours, quarreling with their parents, hooking up with older people who may provide for their materialistic needs at the expense of their bodies, and a few times consider running away from home.
Similarly, I tried to ask some teens (girls) if they felt comfortable and free to undress in front of their mothers and a very big number was like “NO WAY!” And that was the same response from the boys when asked if they could comfortably undress in front of their fathers.
I sensed some lack of openness and freedom but later on, I learnt that before all that, COMMUNICATION is vital and needs to be emphasized in building strong honest relationships between teens and their parents.
Despite of the little time parents spend with their children because they are trying to make a living for the whole family, they also need to find time amidst their busy schedules.
Parents need to listen to their children, exhort them and give them hope for the future. The teen’s initiative is to respect their parents, speak out their minds and share their experiences.
I am not denying the fact that some parents are still impossible (some teens too) but charity begins at home. It’s still a long journey in the Rwandan society but it’s possible. Teen’s need time and ears more than anything.
The author is a S.6 student at Lycee De Kigali Secondary School.