Comment: Lack of good parenting is the root cause of youth issues and a dysfunctional society

Dysfunctional families are a root cause of emerging youth issues in Maldivian society.

Adding complexity, youth lack supporting guidance in the educational sphere because school management and the teachers lack effective approaches for dealing with children from such families. While most families in Maldives are dysfunctional, Maldivians have a tendency to ignore problems and treat them as evils caused by others.

A child’s behavior reflects their experiences at home. When there is hostility or fighting among parents, this creates a lot of anxiety. When parents are rude and abusive towards each other, children experience insecurity. A cycle of competition, jealousy, rivalry, disrespect and forms of abuse starts amidst confusion and nervousness and thus creates the dysfunctional family. Dysfunctional families disconnect and neglect each other.

The Maldives has one of the world’s highest divorce rates. Many parents do not handle their separation maturely and can be seen to act with bitterness and revenge controlling their behavior. An unfair burden is placed upon the child during the divorce.

It is time to stop looking at where to put the blame. It is right there with parents as children learn firstly from parents. Relationships lose their magic overnight and love tanks empty out leaving a feeling of desolation and regret. Divorcing/separating parents are mostly self-centered and self-absorbed, forgetting the pain left in their children.

Children replay what they observe and experience. Children experience the feeling of loss, betrayal and being cast aside while parents tangle with resentment, sense of failure and blame, leading to self-victimisation and succumbing to revenge or silence and resignation.

In the aftermath of divorce or separation (where the father does not divorce the woman but takes a second wife), children develop identity issues as to where they stand and who they are, in relation to their parents’ foundation. Added to this confusion, children are treated as a financial burden when parents openly fight on alimony disregarding the sensitivity of the child in question. One common behavioral issue I have observed is a resentful parent labeling a child with the negative character of the other parent, destroying the child’s life further. This burden of guilt is poison that will last a long time.

Causing sibling rivalry

Sibling rivalry is often caused by parents. Conclusions are drawn in early childhood depending on the ease or stress experienced by parents. Hence a parent labels a child from the first experience of babyhood thus influencing the child’s life over the years to come.

The comparisons are voiced in phrases such as “an easy child”, versus “a difficult child”. Later: “Why can’t you be like your brother?”, “Why can’t you be obedient like your sister?” or constantly referring to the better performing sibling.

This a common occurrence at home, and puts children in competition with each other. Children are taught to compete with each other when parents consistently show favoritism or praise one child, and not another. This creates hostility and resentment. It’s difficult for siblings to be friends in adulthood when they were taught to compete as children.

Parents are the first tribe influencing their child’s belief

Most Maldivian parents do not realize they are the first and most influential role model for the child. Children shape up to parents. A child grows up influenced and shaped by the environment they live in. In the front line of tribes around the child, are the parents. Parents have a direct influence on the child’s emotions leading to behaviors and ultimately their lives, for better or for worse. If parents fail, the child will experience huge hurdles. These can only be overcome eventually.

The child is like a recorder, taking up the parent’s behavior and playing it back. How a child behaves in school or the environment outside home tells the story of what the child experiences at home. As children absorb and respond to what they experience, it requires the parents to behave with responsibility, love and respect towards each other, care for the people around them, respect the natural environment including animals, respect money and materials, being humble and grateful and be the child’s guide to become a fully developed individual to take its place in the world.

Most families have dysfunction in one way, shape, or form. It’s never safe to assume that a family is not dysfunctional just by how they act in public. This assumption makes people wonder why a child from such a “good family” or “good parent” is rebellious or resigned in class, in gangs, in drugs and crime.
The root cause of the aggression, lack of ethics, abuse and violence, power hunger and suppression, blind obedience, corruption, fear, envy and jealousy, greed or any anti-social or anti-human behavior (including destruction of nature) in Maldivian society is parents failing to be good examples and role models, to attend to the child’s needs, to stay connected to their children and nurture them to adulthood.

The vulture snaps up its prey

Disconnected from families, marginalised by social, economic and cultural forces, young people are pushed in the direction of gangs that provides peer support, sense of belonging, protections and strangely enough covers up for the relationships that they have not experienced at home and school.

Youth coerced into gangs and seemingly by lack of choice happens because parents have not been able to guide their child to make good judgments and have expected children to do what they are told to do (interpreted as a sign of obedience).

Although it may be hard to swallow, parents need to accept responsibility for what occurs in their child’s life. Poverty, low parental attachment to the child, and low parental supervision, lack of attention to child’s needs, all increase the probability of the child spending the youthful years in violence, drugs and gangs.

Additional risk factors are bad education systems leading to poor learning and consequent low success in school, low student commitment to school, and low attachment to teachers. The potential combination is associating with delinquent friends and unsupervised “hanging around” with these delinquent friends. Easy access to drugs and the lack of nurturing from parents (in additional to parents with resentful, violent attitudes) are high risk factors for young people’s involvement in gangs at a very young age. Drugs coexist with dealing and theft.

The point is lack of good parenting is the root cause for the increasing social issues arising in the Maldivian communities. The question is how do we bridge the gap, address the parent issue, support children, guide youth and create a better society.

Aminath Arif is the founder of SALAAM School

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17 thoughts on “Comment: Lack of good parenting is the root cause of youth issues and a dysfunctional society”

  1. I agree with the author to the extent that good manners and a good discipline starts from home and that parents have the first and biggest responsibility in ensuring that children, when they go to school and later become part of the workforce, have the necessary foundation to ensure that they become responsible members of the society.

    BUT having said that, the author needs to put just as much emphasis on how important a strong and fair disciplinary system is in schools and how important a role the regulatory and legal framework has to play in ensuring that good morale and ethics are instilled in our children not just at home, but outside in the society they live as well.

    Unfortunately, our schools management is too weak, the civil service teaches our children to be inefficient in their work and yet expect a high pay, the MPs teach our children that being a MP is not the capability and commitment to protect and promote their constituency's rights, but all about promoting and protecting their political parties and earning a fat pay check in return! And worst of all, the legal system, Human Rights Commission and Judiciary in this country has proved, that only the criminals' rights are important!

    So, please don't be too quick to lay all the blame on the parents in general, cause more than anyone else, its the parents who suffer when their children are stabbed, become drug addicts or become useless members of the society!

    To answer your question, what we need are a combination of good parenting and schooling, effective legal and judiciary system, MPs who actually give a damn about this country and a smaller government in terms of political appointees and civil service!

  2. It is not the parents who is the root cause of youth issues all the time. Most of the time its the government and the country with the lack of jobs / expensive rental etc that causes this

  3. Lack of good parenting is one of the root causes. There are other causes such as lack of moral and ethical values in our leaders. Do we want our children to be like Reeko Moosa and Anni?

  4. A very good article, and 100% agree with the author. FAMILY/ PARENTS, CHILDHOOD experiences dictates the future frame of a person!

    mariyam" u are doing the blaming game again" which is very common theme among all of us" but that said i agree there that legal system are dysfunction and corrupt as well!

    If only very single individual would take their responsibilities personally and does it to their best our society would thrive to become a great nation

  5. I disagree and say that our dysfunctional society is the root cause for bad parenting and youth problems.

  6. @susan
    we want our children to be be gayoom. we want them to be slightly overweight, we want them to lie and steal from public coffers.

  7. "Most of the time its the government and the country with the lack of jobs / expensive rental etc that causes this"

    Absolutely not! The "government" didn't bring you to this world. The "government" aren't your parents. The "government" didn't raise you from a newborn to who you are now.

    It's a total failure of good parenting that we can see in Maldivian soceity today. The country doesn't have enough money or jobs for all the people that are being produced!

    I guess what the government should then do is take the extreme measure of castrating parents who cannot control their kids! Love to hear what parents will have to say to that!

  8. So true. Parental education program to deal with the global society and information age is is our best hope to instill values in our youth.

    Parents are brought up on an old model and are not equipped to deal with new issues that are important to the new generation.

    Government should spend on a program of parental awareness..

  9. And also Susan, don't you want children to be like Dr. Aishath Shiham who runs PET (parent effectiveness training) course of Gordon International.

    She has robbed the Dhivehi translation of the PET course from Ministry of Youth and Sports when she was the minister and now conducting the program like no one's business. The course materials are the intellectual property of the government of Maldives. If Dr. Aishath Shiham disputes over this I am ready to give evidence.

  10. We cannot necessarily blame it all on the parents. Reasons:-

    1) What has the government in the past 30 years done to aware the parents with the proper things? Especially when most of the parents are with minimal education.

    2) How can the parents know if their children are out in the streets with gangs in the city when actually they themselves are faraway in the local islands? Wouldn't the 30 years be blamed for centralizing education, health, employment, etc in the capital only?

    3) Can Mr. Gay-yoom, like he did in the last days of his long reign, blame all the addicts'parents saying: "lack of good parenting..."? (In a DRP speech in Giyaasuddin. Also he did promise to eradicate the drug problems in 3 months time- I recall.)

    4) Why is it that Maldivians always LIKE to chatter about issues and NEVER ponder about the ROOT CAUSES and SOLUTIONS?

  11. and one more... Last but not the least.

    5) Why can't the parliament pass a law that if a minor carries out a criminal felony; then the parents/guardian will be held responsible by fining upto MRf XX,XXX first and XXX,XXX if repeated by the same person. Also if the parents/guardians are unable to pay the fine, they should face the penalties defined in the law for such matters.

    (Mark my word, especially this will never happen due to some of the corrupt PMs/previous regime cronies who'd like to utilize the under aged in violent and terror crimes for personal/political gains.)

    The only hope for Maldives lies after 60 to 120 years. YES, that's about after one or two generations from now. When all the current rotten-heads (be them educated or not) are long gone or either on life support machines. (Maybe Gay-yoom would still on the life support machine would try to make a come back again. hehe)

  12. Maldives is not ready for the 21st century.

    We would rather be
    a) Spend time with no care in the world, swinging our legs in holhuashi, sharing anecdotes.
    b) When mother dies at child birth, the baby is crushed to death with a stone, before burying them both.
    c) Go fishing and live hand-to-mouh life style with no savings or future.
    d) The average life expectancy is 43 years.
    e) Men get married to girls when they are 14 years old.
    f) It takes 3 weeks to travel from Baa atoll to Male.
    g) The child life expectancy is record low.

    Maldives is not ready yet for the hectic life of today. Its going to be a very rough ride for the Maldivians.

  13. I agree with the author..the root cause of all evil starts from the family, most of the people getting married and having kids are not mature enough themselves , they lack the basic parenting skills...from my experience most of the maldvians are evil people...i mean really, maldivians lack humanity and good civilised manners, i have so many friends who cheat on there wives, who drinks alcohol and foulmouthing uncivilisec couths, even poeple in the high positions...i think its maldivian culture...I am a Maldivian but i am not ashmed to say the truth.

  14. mariyam is absolutely right in her/his comment above. Imagine...We are a closed society physically and ideologically insulated from the rest of the world, only recently freed ourselves from a dictator. Contrary to what we see in Tunisia and Egypt, our transition from a dictatorship to a liberal democracy is taking an entirely different route. When a closed community embraces or tries to embrace an open way of life, we begin to see the wounds and long rooted problems in the society. I believe we are witnessing this here in the Maldives. While the Constitution was amended to usher in a democratic system of governance, the elements of the former regime are still active and freely moving about and meddling in the nation's affairs and desperately trying to rewind the reform process. In this environment we do not need people pointing fingers at other people. We also do not require people standing up on moral high grounds preaching others on how to lead their lives. We do need reflection as a community and we will gain by the direct involvement of all kinds of people in making this work. Lip service is the last thing we need.

  15. In my opinion its not very fair to put all the blame on the parent. Of course especially early in the life of a kid the parents contributions are very important. Many Maldivians especially outside Male are not that lucky enough to educate themselves, or to get access to books or to go to classes or to have any resources on how best to parent or to deal with a divorce etc etc. Many of them have to make hard decisions , to send their kids at an early age to serve another family as servant in Male' to gain a better education. This happened a lot some years ago. A lot of those kids who grew up like this would have sad stories to tell you. What parenting can these kids get..and why does this happen. And Many families that move to Male' even today live in rooms with 5-6 people and parents work endlessly to make ends meet. And sometimes have no time to spend with their kids. But I assume they are making all the sacrifices working so hard to give a better education for the kids. Look around you will find many like this I think. When we live hard lives to just to make ends meet when we ourselves are worn out and stressed I think we can't be the best parents we can be. When we never had one vacation in years and when we have to live on the edge all the time...I assume there would be parents that might not care as much for their kids and might not make a big effort....

  16. really challenging... she was referring to my family so it seemed... Aminath, please expand on what a parent can do to ease the tension, the pain for sake of children


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