A story was told on a television programme about how a couple flogged a child of about 9 years old to death because she was wasting kerosene when she left the water boiling for too long. A picture of her corpse just after she was killed was shown on the television. As usual, I cried all through the night and woke up with a head ache the next morning.
I can still remember what was said when the couple was interviewed. They were obviously overwhelmed by the reality of the death of that girl who was a niece to the woman. The husband was speechless, while the wife managed to give an explanation.
She said that her death was not intentional. Of course it was not! I believe it was a case where wrong parenting approach was ignorantly, zealously and excessively applied. It was also reported that their neighbours tried to intervene at a point when the girl’s screaming got too much. But no! Their determination to so flog her that she would never waste the kerosene again was all that mattered! Then suddenly, there was an unusual quietness…
It was too late! The world had lost a girl who was created to serve humanity in a specific need area! Her story pained me more when I imagined that she contended with deprivation, separation from her biological parents as well as domestic violence. It was too late to offer the couple assistance! They were already in the police net!
Although I didn’t know her personally, I mourned her death for a long time. I even soliloquized, addressing the embattled couple who committed this murder:
If you had meditated deeply on the challenge she presented, talked more and listened more to her with love you would have had a clearer understanding and a better approach to confronting the challenge.
You should have understood that she would not have intentionally left the kerosene to waste.
You should have understood that her attention span could just not cope with your expectation. The girl might have needed support and would definitely have improved with maturity.
One way of supporting her would have been to let her use the stove only when either of you was around.
You could have been more patient with her.
It would have been a better option to have taken her alive to her biological parents at the point when you were no longer coping with the parenting challenges she presented.
You should have recognized the turning point in your use of the whip to correct the wrong behaviour! That is, the point at which the floggings she received were not able to make her remember, next time, to put off the stove immediately the water boiled.
You would have…………….! You ought to have………………! The better approach could have been…….! You would have asked for help when you were not coping instead of resorting to violence!
Indeed, I was lost in my passionate thoughts, imagining the possibility that the accidental death could have been avoided.
Great parents show empathy when relating with children. It is really of no gain for parents to inflict pain on children in the name of disciplinary action when the desired discipline is eventually not achieved. Effective parenting skills are worth trying out. Parents should learn it and practice it for great parenting results.
-Uchenna N. Nduka