Parents must never give up on their young ones

I have received a considerable amount of feedback from concerned readers of Sowetan after reports at the weekend that detailed the escalating number of teenage pregnancies, particularly in our schools.

I have received a considerable amount of feedback from concerned readers of Sowetan after reports at the weekend that detailed the escalating number of teenage pregnancies, particularly in our schools.

Most of the callers were shocked parents who expressed their disgust at the high pregnancy figures and their fears for the welfare of their children - and what they see as the the compromised future of this country.

Predictably, the majority of the respondents were parents who took personal responsibility for not providing proper guidance to the youth.

Others, of course, were quick to point a piercing finger at the apparent lack of political leadership. Particular emphasis was focused on the Congress of South African Students and the ANC Youth League.

The president of the youth league, Julius "last man standing" Malema, did not escape unscathed. His "reckless" and "childish" utterances were cited as a clear indicator of the state of our young nation.

As a parent as well and I am not an exception to the rule because I am from the same community. I do not only share their worries and fears but have now also found myself in a similar situation: my daughter, who turned 16 in September, gave birth to a bouncing baby boy more than two months ago.

In my specific instance, I feel overwhelmed by her pregnancy because I have dealt with this issue on more than one occasion through my column.

As you know, I interact a lot with young people all over the country in my role as an Aids activist and I see young children with inflated tummies all over the place. It was therefore ironic that I could not prevent my own child from falling into the same trap.

Obviously, when I heard the news I became afraid that she might have contracted HIV in this unplanned pregnancy. Happily, it was a huge consolation to learn that she is completely healthy.

However, while no sane person can condone the prevailing situation, I am of the opinion that parents, including myself, should not take the behaviour of their children too personally, as they are wont to do.

The majority of parents hope for the best for their children.

We sacrifice our own pleasures, joys, life preferences and our personal ambitions for their wellbeing.

And we strive so hard to provide for their education and future that we automatically expect that everything else will follow.

I suppose the biggest lesson for us parents is that we must continue to support our children because the experience of a young mother is bitter-sweet.

My grandson has brought so much joy to my life that I have already forgiven my daughter.

In the same breath, my daughter has promised to make up for her giving birth so young by working harder at school - and hopefully she can maintain her focus. I sincerely hope that taking responsibility for her son will inspire her to accomplish her full potential.

My message to all parents is a universal one.

We must never give up on our children - especially when they need us more than ever.

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