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Tough love: When does a parent say enough is enough?

 When does a parent say enough is enough? (Photo: iStock)

A while back, I watched a disturbing interview of a mother whose son had been shot dead by the police when he, the son, was caught in a botched robbery.

In this age of frequent robberies, that should not be news, but it was because unlike your typical mother who will go to any length to protect their guilty child from prosecution, unlike your typical parent who will never admit that their child is a thug, this mother was relieved by her son's demise.

"I did all I could for him. I gave him money to set up a business, took him to the best schools, to counsellors, but he always went back to robbing people with guns. I was tired of being called the mother of a robber, tired of staying up all night wondering who he was brandishing a gun at, if I would be the next because he often threatened me. Let him die." That, was painful to listen to.

A few days ago, I was standing by a restaurant counter waiting for a take-away meal when I watched another mother in a quagmire, only this one was live. She is locally well-known kick-ass businesswoman having a meeting with who I gathered from their not-so-guarded conversation was a potential client. A few minutes into their meeting, the son literally staggered into the restaurant. He wore an obviously expensive suit that did nothing to hide the fact that he was skunk-drunk.

I have heard her discussed by people who have dealt with her and every one of those people fears her. She abhors lazy workers. She detests people who cannot keep time, or their word. She is a meticulous perfectionist and will make you repeat a job over and over until she is satisfied. She has been known to fire people, completely disregarding labour laws, kesi baadaye!

When the son walked in, I saw her tense and I saw her ice-queen smile. I looked at the client, saw the shock on his face as the son noisily took a seat.

"I am sorry... I am sorry for being late. Something came up..." he slurred his words. I looked at the mom, stoic to near freeze, and I winced. "I don't usually do this," me: no kidding. "Sorry...sorry..." me: how cute are drunks when they are apologising. "So, what have you discussed so far? Because I have a lot to say about this..." me: Oh, ooooh...

"Would you like some coffee?" the mother cut in.

"Mom, you know I don't like coffee..."

"I insist you have black coffee..." That icy smile was freezing me from a distance.

"I will have coffee when I want..." me: no, you didn't, gasp!

"I think we should all have black coffee...." The client said graciously.

"Okay, coffee...." Agreed the son, turning around to look for a waiter and I guess I looked as good as one. "Excuse me!" He actually snapped his fingers at me. "Could you please serve three coffees and bring me the bill..."

I chuckled under my breath. It was a sad scene. The horror on the mother's face. The embarrassment on the client's face. The drunk son taking everyone for a fool.

I have no idea if the son is a habitual drinker, but I shall assume that he is just for the sake of this article. And so I wondered, how does a self-made millionaire with only one child who turns up in meetings staggering like a village commoner deal with him?

How has she not been able to tame him the same way she has tamed everyone else she comes into contact with?

Would she, because she loves her son, be willing to risk the work she has done for years to build a business empire? Would she, like the woman in the first anecdote, get to a boiling point?

How could an iron lady be this soft on her son to allow him into such a serious meeting, knowing he could turn up drunk?

When does a parent say enough is enough?

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