In an ideal world, every child would grow up with his/her own parents. In a less than ideal world, family members raise some children. The possibility of these children being abused is high and the tales are never ending.
A friend of mine was raised by an aunt and the only memories she has of childhood are very traumatic. She was mistreated and abused almost every single day of her childhood.
Another friend of mine, who had to move from the north to Windhoek for her studies, was accommodated by her uncle. She narrated how the uncle’s wife would hide washing powder from her and how she was made to choose between breakfast, lunch or dinner because she was only given one meal a day. My friend Menette has been raising her nieces. After graduating and getting a job, she immediately became the aunt who is now a mother too. This she did not because she was asked to, but because the mother of her nieces is her younger sister. As the older sibling and with a career and decent salary and of course out of love for her family, she took on the responsibility of mothering her nieces and she has done a great job.
Raising your own children is challenging and even more so when the children are not biologically yours. Raising other people’s children is not as easy as it may seem and many times adults are thrown into being responsible for children in a short period of time.
At times, it is not because these caregivers do not want the child because they do not like the child, but rather because their own circumstances are deplorable and adding another mouth to feed is stressful. Yet, they accept the child anyway! Sometimes adult plan out their lives, including the kind of lifestyle they want to lead and the number of children they will have, if any at all. Having to throw this great plan out of the window to accommodate a child you didn’t even make is challenging. At the end of our conversation, we pondered around the question: why do people take in children they do not want? This may seem like a silly question, but it is one that no one ever asks.
Another friend said, “people do not want to look bad by refusing a child. And so they take the child in even when they know they do not want that child.”
If you cannot say no to the requests of raising a relative’s child, you should make the effort to answer these questions:
How do I bond with someone else’s child?
How do I discipline someone else’s child?
How do I assimilate this child, especially if already grown, into my family’s dynamics?
Having a well thought out plan may be useful.
*My name is Paulina N. Moses (PRP), mother to my four-year-old daughter, Naneni. This column hopes to create momentum for positive parenting by candidly discussing everything about parenting, while creating a network of millennial parents who support and cheer one another on. email@example.com