MISEDA: How about discipline as a holiday gift to your child?

Tuesday November 19 2019

A little boy throwing a tantrum. If a neighbour tells you about your child’s unbecoming behaviour, you ask them to stop meddling. PHOTO| FILE| NATION MEDIA GROUP

This post might save a child’s future somewhere.

When you allow your children to sleep up to 10am but wake your house help up at 5am, you are training her and not your children. Spare me that look and listen up.

When you ensure your house help cleans the house, kitchen, compound and does laundry while your children waste time on computer games, you are training the house help and leaving your children in the hands of fate.

Growing up, our mum used to “whip us” awake. We would be up at the same time as the house help.

When it came to house chores, a time table was set for us. Our school, Muhoroni Success Primary, was miles away and the earliest you could get home was after 6:30 pm if you were in lower primary school.

Upper primary school pupils came home much later, sometimes as late as 9pm because they had to go for preps.


You had to complete your chores irrespective of the timings or day of week. If you failed, this resulted to some serious beatings which meant being reported to the school head teacher, Mr George Wesley Abayo.

This included cooking, washing uniforms and doing dishes as well as ironing.

During holidays, you would think we were in some sort of military training.

We woke up at five on normal days and the program needed no explanations: whoever was assigned to do laundry, clean the house, do dishes and prepare breakfast, did so without complaints.


Before anything else, you had to make your bed. These days, very few children can make their own beds. They get up and straight to the television or ask for breakfast. Even married women cannot make their beds, they rely on the house helps to do so.

During the planting seasons, it was hell. We had shambas where we would leave as a family to the hills of either Fort Tenan, Mariwa and Got Alai.

 We would be trained how to identify seedlings, sort them out and plant according to each season.

We planted sweet potatoes, sugarcane, maize or beans. This used to be a long journey and a whole day task. This meant that our lunch for this day was prepared in advance.

We would lament, cry and even utter things like: “When I get to college or have my own house, I will be free from such punishment.”

This program was well split. Days of visiting grannies both maternal and paternal could not miss during December holidays. It’s where we learnt how to cook using the three stones. Yes, you had to withstand the smoke and pains of fetching firewood.

But these days when you go to the village, it’s the house help who does this. She is even denied leave days for you dread holidays without her.

Little did we know it was for our own good. Yes, own good. To date, I see my siblings and even some cousins whom we went through this having it easy.

We knew how to prepare ugali while in Class Three. Woe unto you if the ugali was undercooked.

Back to you now, your house help does all the cooking ...your children do all the eating …when your daughters get married and can't cook and their marriages have problems, you blame the devil. You start praying going and to crusades to save her marriage. You don’t want to admit your failure as a parent.


If a teacher reports on an unbecoming behaviour of your child, you start complaining, saying the said teacher is against your child. You proceed to transfer them to another school. Problem not solved, only transferred.

If a neighbour tells you about your child’s unbecoming behaviour, you ask them to stop meddling.

These children cannot be corrected by the house help too: if she does, she’s sent home for daring to do what you don’t have the courage to.  

The truth is that it’s good to have a house help, but make her the main manager of your home. Many of us have indirectly trained the maid and left our children untrained and undisciplined.  

Let’s transform our society to what it was back then. Let’s bring up the admirable home and family set up.


Winnie Miseda is a journalist and currently the HR/Head Administrator at Track and Trace Ltd -ECTS. Do you have feedback on this article?Please email: [email protected]