Sat | Mar 23, 2019

Reflecting on child rearing in decades past

Published:Thursday | May 7, 2015 | 12:00 AM

Hello mi neighbour! As we celebrate Child Month, permit me to rehash one or two principles which guided child rearing in Jamaica back in the day, when misbehaving children were strongly scolded at school and strapped at home by parents or older siblings.

Of course, there were the uncles, aunties and neighbours who helped to enforce desirable behaviour.

Actually, the entire adult population watched over the children.

A phrase commonly used back then was "children should be seen and not heard", meaning that children were to be well-behaved in the presence of adults. They were expected to listen, learn and carry out instructions without question. This sentiment was widely accepted during that era when the typical family consisted of six children and two adults.

The 1950s and '60s prescribed that every facet of a child's life should be governed by his/her parents or guardian. Whether they were from uptown, downtown or no town, impeccable manners were expected of all.

And so "haad eaase pickney" used to feel the heavy/loving hand of the parental law. Parents were adamant that their children would not end up in jail due to the absence of home-style disciplinary actions, which included mandatory attendance at family morning prayers.

"Don't spare the rod and spoil the child" was another popular phrase used to justify flogging. This was an interpretation of the biblical injunction, "He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes." (Proverbs 34:24). The fact that a child could be scolded by every and any adult in the community ensured discipline. If Ruth reported to her parents that she was spanked by Uncle Mack (all adults were uncles and aunties), she could end up in further trouble because mamma and pappa believed that she must have done something deserving of spanking by Uncle Mack. Of course, those principles had their drawbacks, but children showed respect and manners!

With that 'archaic' way of enforcing discipline through the window, the tables have turned - children are now 'in charge'. Indiscipline has become the mainstay in most schools; teachers' hands are tied and the rest of the society looks on with dropped jaws.

But we must move on to another critical matter: our children are being robbed of their basic human rights of becoming adults and "Wha wi a guh duh?"

Think... think... think.

In the meanwhile, in observance of Child Month, a National Day of Prayer and Fasting has been planned by the National Child Month Committee for Wednesday, May 27, 2015 at the Faith Chapel Apostolic Ministries, 1 Renfield Avenue, Kingston 20. Let's join in and pray:

n that our children will be compassionate to one another

n that they will resist evil desires and embrace love and peace that those who perpetrate violence against them will be stopped in their tracks that they will become balanced adults who cannot be 'bought or sold'.

Let's pray also for those who are troubled, lonely, homeless, motherless and fatherless, hungry, diseased, misguided and unforgiving.


1. Neighbour, for offering a bed and a TV to a needy neighbour.

2. Georgina, Westmoreland, for offering household items to needy neighbours.

3. Marva, Westmoreland, for offering to assist Maria, St Mary, with school fee for daughter.

4. Claudia, St Catherine, for donating cement to Jocelyn, St Mary.


n Simone - St Ann mother of 2 - 'cotching' with a friend - asking for zinc and plywood to set up a room.

n Eulalee - St Andrew. Stroke victim - asking for assistance to purchase water tank.

n Gwendolyn - Child is still not in school due to financial difficulties - asking for help.

n Racquel - Asking neighbours for wheelchair for 12-yr-old daughter.

n 12-yr-old neighbour - Mother is blind and diabetic and needs a refrigerator for her medication.

n Lurline, St Catherine - Asking for bed linen and dresser.

n Annemarie, St Andrew - Caring for autistic child - extremely difficult for her - asking for a washing machine to help with the washing.

n To help, please call 334-8165, 884-3866, 299-3412 or deposit to acct # 351 044 276 NCB. (Bank routing #: JNCBJMKX) or send donations to HELLO NEIGHBOUR c/o 53 Half-Way Tree Road, Kingston 10; email