Insubordination cause of child neglect?

Insubordination, has been identified as a contributory factor to child neglect in some communities in the Upper West Region.

This negative attitude has resulted in shirking of responsibilities by some parents towards their adolescent children in the area.

“My daughter is very stubborn; she has refused to help me on the farm from the day she entered Junior High School, and I cannot even scold her when she goes wrong without getting a reply from her”.

This was the lamentation of a parent from Gbegru, a community in the Wa Municipality of the Upper West Region when the Planned Parenthood Association of Ghana (PPAG) with support from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) organised a day’s sensitisation programme for people in the community recently.

The topic was, “Ending teenage pregnancies and child marriages”.

Again, the worried mother who did not see the need to cater for her stubborn daughter posed this question during an open forum: “How do you expect me to use my money on such a child when the money is coming from the farm she has refused to help me weed?”.

The aforesaid comments were triggered when the Field Assistant of the PPAG, Mr Joseph Aniah challenged parents to help eliminate teenage pregnancies by providing for their adolescent girls rather than transferring their parental responsibilities to men who took advantage of them(girls).

Mr Aniah noted that proper parental care would go a long way to help eradicate early pregnancies as many of the girls entered early relationships to get money for their basic needs.

He said if those needs were provided for by the parents, the girls would not have any reason to entertain men when they were still in school.

His comments did not go down well with some parents who expressed reservations that they were not neglecting their duties but were rather reacting to rudeness of their wards as “a way of punishing them”.

“I am into shea butter processing and that is what I do to feed the entire house. I have a daughter at the Junior High School and whenever I ask her to help me carry the nuts to Wa to mill, she will not, even when I go to mill and prepare the product and ask her to help me sell at the market, she will still refuse, so tell me why I am supposed to give her money after she has refused to assist me?” another parent asked.

Some of the men at the meeting also said that the girls were engaging in sexual acts for their own pleasure not because their parents had refused them their basic needs.

“My cousin’s daughter successfully wrote her Basic Education Certificate Examination and was awaiting the results but before we could say jack, she was pregnant. These days we are also overwhelmed by such incidents as parents and do not know how to handle them,” he said.

A facilitator at the meeting, Pognaa Amamata Mumuni encouraged parents to “engage their children more often in discussions early in life till they are of age”.

She believed that keeping the children as friends would help reduce animosity between them and as well pave the way for the children  to discuss personal issues with their parents without fear.

“You should not only engage the children when you are sending them on an errand, you should engage them frequently in conversations about their sexual and reproductive health, their association with peers and the opposite sex, among others, in a friendly manner,” she advised.

She again encouraged parents to exercise patience with the children but chastise them with love so that the discipline they were instilling would not end up creating more problems for the child.

From Lydia Darlington Fordjour, Gbegru

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