Parents' fear during festive season

Mr Cyrus Kamaru and his wife Leah Wambui Kamaru speak to The Standard on how they will manage their teenage children from negative effects this Christmas. [PHOTO: JAMES WANZALA/STANDARD]

The festive season is both an exciting and scary time for parents, especially those raising teenagers.

This is the season when, for the first time, teenagers indulgence in sex, alcohol and even drug abuse.

And given the stories of teen misbehaviours that have hit the headlines in the recent months, parents told The Standard they are not about to let their children out of their sights during the festivities.

Cyrus Kamau and his Leah Wambui are parents of two teenage boys and plan to keep a close eye on them.

"While here in Nairobi with them, we will create time to be with them and teach them the real meaning of Christmas. Many teenagers and youths think it is a time for just merry-making. Yes, it's merry-making based on Godly principles," says Kamaru.

Monica Kamau, a mother of a 15-year-old girl, dreads this festive season. She is so worried about her daughter, which has forced her to lay some ground rules.

"My worry is that she may decide to do whatever she wants regardless of whether I approve of it or not," says Monica, and hopes the rules will keep things on the sane side.

"If she wants to go out with her friends, I need to know who and where they are going and she must respect the curfew, which is 8pm latest," she added.

Namuleyi Wasike, a mother of five who lives in Bungoma town on the other hand is worried her teenage children may get into the wrong company, leading to things like drinking and irresponsible sexual behaviour.

"Among the precautionary measures I have put in place is speaking to my children. I have made it clear to them that they must keep the right company and explained to them the consequences of going contrary to my word," she said.

Going out unaccompanied is Albert Kipchumba's worry for his three boys who are at home in Eldoret for the holidays.

He pointed out that none of his children will be allowed to go out even to the shopping centre or any other place alone. Going to their rural home unaccompanied by either himself or his wife will also be out of the question.

"You can never tell what children may be up to. My two sons are aged 19 and 13 which is a very dangerous age if they are not monitored keenly. I ensure everything we need to use is in the house. I have also ensured that any amenities that will make them desire to go out is under our roof and compound," he added.

Nelly Opiyo, a psychologist at the Kenyatta National Hospital, says parents should not fear the season and advises parents to have a candid talk with their teenagers.

She said: "Most teenagers are not aware of the consequences of their actions, so I often advice parents to talk to their children. Start talking to them from an early age so that it is not so hard when they become teenagers."

The Rev Frank Kioko of the African Inland Church (AIC) Mowlem in Komarock, Nairobi, shares Ms Opiyo's sentiments on parents finding time to talk to their children.

He said that parents need to find out what is happening in the world of their teenage children and that can only be done by creating rapport with them.

He added that given parents and teenagers live in different worlds and may choose to celebrate the same occasion differently, parents should consider preparing their teens on what to expect if they for example plan on travelling with them to upcountry.

"You may travel with them and they may feel they will not have fun because they have left their friends behind but consider incorporating an activity they will enjoy in your travel plans," he added.

Eden Consultants Counselling Psychologist Joseph Nginya advises parents keep the communication channels open.

"Teenagers may want to experiment with all things, including drugs, after hearing from friends or media. If you keep the communication channels open, you will be able to explain to them what is real sex (sex at the right time) and dangers of drug abuse," says Joseph.