ONE FORMER president of Zambia had a son who was always in the newspapers for all the bad reasons, tarnishing the good work his father did and ultimately leading to his untimely death when the country needed him most.One manI know of was forced to sell his house and relocate to another place unknown to his delinquent son who always troubled him. The young man was a reckless drunkard and did not approve of his father marrying another woman. The Diggers Newspaper reported of a Lusaka woman who pleaded with the Magistrate Courts to jail her son, saying he’s better off in prison than outside. The Bible is full of stories of children of noble households who rebelled against their parents, even when they had everything they’d wish for. If you have not heard, Queen Elizabeth of Great Britain has stripped Prince Andrew of his royal and military titles so that the (accused) wayward nobility can stand trial as a commoner. This is in the wake of sex assault lawsuit against him. These and other stories go to show that truant children are everywhere.

Admittedly many children are very pliable and obedient when they are young, say infants; when they are totally dependent on older people. But when they start approaching adolescence age of 10 years and above, they start developing their own interests.

Truant children take many forms and their restoration also require multifaceted approach. Some children become rebellious by taking to substance abuse or dropping out of school or college. Girls may start going out at an early age when they are supposed to be in school, hence endangering their future. In a sense, wayward children are those who go against the set family values and in worse cases, even rebel against acceptable social norms. Ironically, some of the naughtiest children come from very sound homes where their parents do everything to keep them in check. So don’t freak out because your child is trying to be naughty.

Mothers are the most caring beings we have around and for a mother to give up on her son or daughter and asks the court to jail him shows that no one should take children for granted. Stories of unruly children are common and almost every family has one or two of their members who tend to be rebellious and take a different path altogether
What parents can do.

First and foremost, no parent desires that a child becomes rebellious or naughty. Society, bad company or misadventure sometimes tempt children to go against their family expectations. Because all parents love their children and wish them the best, it therefore calls every parent to do all they can to bring back a child to his or her senses. Umwana kasembe, kuti kakukoma, wabula wa senda. This Bemba idiom suggest that an axe, as an economic tool in village setupsis so indispensable that even when it cuts you, you’d still carry it to be used the next time. Equally, you don’t give up on a child because they have disappointed you once. Seek professional counselling when necessary and consult men of God to help correct your erring child.

We can group children in three categories.

1. Those we can call Saints. These are the ones that grow up with respect to parents and others and dutifully follow domestic and societal laws. They can complete school, go to college and have their own homes in future.

2. Then we have the prodigal children. These may start well but midway they change and want to live their own lives. They may drop out of school, take to drugs or prostitution and sometimes even end up in jail. Prodigal children later in life realize their folly and return to their senses and pick up where they left. We have testimonies of girls that drop out of school because of pregnancy but come back after they give birth and complete school and finally get their dream job.

3. Unfortunately we have children who don’t fall into the first two categories above, those whose folly lead to long term jail sentences or whose careless living ends in death.These are the ones whose conscience is seared and become unrepentant, and parents have no option but to let fate take its course.

Let’s agree, dear parents, that the above scenarios of children are not without challenges and that prodigal children can still be redeemed. Umwana kasembe kuti kakukoma, wabula wa senda. Children will always cause us pain and disappointments, sometime, even as we did to our parents when we were young. Children need a lot of patience and tolerance from parents and we must always give them room to err and correct them with parental love and prayerfully seek God on their behalf. Those who are still bearing children now, I’d suggest that you pray for your children even before they are born. Speak to them as they wriggle in their mother’s womb. They listen, trust me. Avoid quarrelling in the presence of your unborn child!

So here we go, munda ni muchabu, so goes a Bemba adage. It means you may have different children from one woman, but not all of them will be the same. But patience pays.
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