A Dutiful Child

Written by Martin Juma

Founder and Lead Consultant


As the weekend comes to an end, many parents seemingly have run out of patience, money, and ideas on how to keep their children engaged through the endless weekend, oh no !! and Tuesday is Public Holiday. As a father of a “threenager” I totally share in this frustration. My daughter nowadays calls herself “Police Bunny” and refers to me as Fox. I blame it on Zootopia, we have probably watched that animation seventy times seventy times. My friends, when I was growing up if you dared call your father a fox or any other animal for that matter, the slap you would have received could probably get you back to factory settings. It is mind-boggling as to how parents with five of these “bundles of joy” manage to remain sane during weekends.

The other day a close friend of mine, a father of three boys, confided in me that he was at the brink of strangling his own son, I asked him what happened? He grunts, “Boss, the other day while at the supermarket, after informing Jayden my 5-year-old son that I had no money for ice cream, the boy told me kama hauna, kaa na mama yako. Translated to mean, if you don’t have anything, you might as well have stayed with your mother. Holding back laughter, I consoled my friend telling him the child must have heard it while watching the news, it’s a famous adage by the West Pokot Governor. After the incident my friend resorted to sending the boy to his grandparents for the remaining part of the December holiday for him to learn some manners and responsibilities, he feels that children of today, especially from the city have too many rights, are entitled and lack a sense of responsibility.

This got me thinking, do children have a duty or responsibility in ensuring that their rights are upheld? For those who may not be in the know on what children’s rights are, please, google is your friend. The African Children’s Charter, under article 31 or The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child under Article 29 imposes a range of duties on children. Some of these rights include the right; To be alive, To be cared for by parents or caregivers, To have a name, To have healthcare, Not to be hurt, neglected or abused, To have a good education, For people to listen to what they think, To have enough food, Not to be used as a soldier in wars, To play, To practice religion, To have clean water, To be protected from danger, To receive special help and education if I have a disability, To know about rights and responsibilities.

However, the Charter also refers to the responsibilities of children, to respect the rights of others, especially their parents. Each right has a corresponding duty. Article 31 suggests that children should be required to play a role at the family, community, national and continental levels, in accordance with their age and maturity as they grow up, as part and parcel of their heritage, empowerment and developing citizenship.

I took some time to pen down some suggestions for the responsibilities that could accompany rights. Since every child, regardless of their sex, ethnic origin, social status, language, age, nationality or religion has rights, then they also have a responsibility to respect each other in a humane way.

    • If children have a right to be protected from conflict, cruelty, exploitation, and neglect, then they also have a responsibility not to bully or harm each other.
    • If children have a right to a clean environment, then they also have a responsibility to do what they can to look after their environment.
    • If the child should attend school and then she should do her best; complete homework, study for exams and stay in school.
    • For people to listen to me: the child should also listen to others.
    • Children have the right to be adequately fed … and the responsibility not to waste food
    • Children have the right to be taken seriously … and the responsibility to listen to others
    • Children have the right to quality medical care … and the responsibility to take care of themselves
    • Children have the right to a safe and comfortable home … and the responsibility to share in keeping it neat and clean

Therefore, as you begin this week and as you diligently play your parenting role ensure you encourage your children to become “a dutiful Child”. Have a blessed week.

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