After a three hour stay in town we boarded a bus and were homeward bound. We had a lovely day! Now sitting down in the bus, I felt relaxed. I was taking the weight off my feet and thinking of what movie we could watch when we got home. Suddenly! The very quiet bus journey became a battlefield with verbal abuse coming towards me like bullets being fired. It was frightening but it presented a teaching and learning moment of which I was to be both teacher and learner.
It was the 13th of February 2008. Our son, Javin, had asked to have a bus ride into town as part of his holiday treat. We got ready and walked to the bus stop. Javin and I had Less than five minutes wait before the bus arrived. The journey into town took approximately fifteen minutes and he was enjoying the scenery. We visited the Early Learning Centre, bought some school clothing that he needed, picked up some essentials from the dentist and of course it wouldn't have been a real treat without a stop at McDonald's. On the return bus journey we sat towards the back. Behind us was a teenage couple, having a pre-valentine argument. Another female was the cause of the argument.
Couples will argue, regardless of their age, so I wasn't alarmed in any way. The argument died down, just as I thought, but only for a brief moment. After that period of silence, the young man was at the top of his voice again. He was mad! He didn't take lightly to being called a 'cheat' and his solution was violence. He threatened her with a slap in her face. That rang alarm bells for me. I could see that young man's life being destroyed by the anger that raged within him. I could see him spending time behind bars and the young girl hospitalised if things got out of control. Immediately, I turned around and said, "No, don't do it." Although, I was gentle, appealing to his better nature, he wasn't having it! He looked at me, and told me it was none of my business and that I should stay out of it. Well, that certainly did put me in my place. I respected his wishes and turned around to mind my own business. I was with my five year old son who was sleeping. His protection was my priority, at that point.
With a little experience of working with the youth, I also knew that it was fruitless trying to share wisdom with one who does not desire it. Once the damage is done, it takes years of hard work and some serious therapy to undo. Both the young lady and the young man were heading down the wrong path and there was nothing I could do as a concerned person, at the time. It bothered me that I couldn't do anything or rather didn't know what else I could do to help those young people. I then started to think about parenting and the following flowed as I put my pen to paper that day.
Parenting is hard work. Depending on life circumstances and support or the lack of it, this journey can either be a struggle with one challenge after the next or an enjoyable process of embracing the challenges and rewards along the way.
So what can I do to help?
As a mother, I know the value of good advice so I pray that the following will be of help to those who need it.
Mothers: Teach your daughters good values by your words and actions. Through that form of teaching they will be able to recognise people of good character and therefore, will choose well when they are old enough to choose a partner.
Fathers: Train up your sons to be leaders, not abusers or doormats. They will learn this not just through verbal lectures but also by the way you treat your wife/their mother. If you are not married to their mother then they still need to see that respect towards their mother as well as towards the woman you are now married to.
Parents: Instil confidence in your children. Give them the love and attention they crave so that they won't end up seeking it elsewhere. Teach them also to respect themselves and others. We are losing that element of respect in society and in some cases we have already lost it. This lack of respect will contribute to most of what leads to violence.
Domestic violence has a root. Unless we tackle the issue from the root, it will continuously spring back to life. Therefore, no amount of facilities provided by the government, as an aftercare system, will work. That only kicks in after the damage is done. We need fathers to take up their rightful roles as leaders in the home and the lives of their children. We need mothers to take their caring responsibilities more seriously. The teachers and youth leaders cannot do for the children what parents are designed and commanded to do. Train up a child in the discipline of Christ. Educate yourselves on your responsibility as parents and then exercise your rights.
Janice, a freelance writer, lives in the UK and enjoys spending time with her husband, Vince and their son, Javin. She uses her gift to encourage others towards a deeper relationship with God, through her inspirational pieces while her travel articles provide general advice for the holiday-maker.