Let kids be kids

Let kids be kids

Dear Editor


Re: The truth is staring at us unblinkingly

It is unfortunate that our society blames others for our shortcomings. But the reality is, life in Samoa is no longer as simple as it was. We send kids to be educated for a better future. But the future is bleak in terms of jobs awaiting them

Our cultural demands have changed. Villages and districts have setup new rules to abide by what takes away a person’s freedom. We expect so much from our kids nowadays that it’s becoming harder for a kid to be kid. We place so much responsibility on them at such a young age that we lose sight of what is most important - developing a proud and productive member of society in the future. Kids nowadays also act and feel privileged without earning it.

I remember fondly when I would come home from school with my sisters. Mama and papa would have a sit-down lunch with all of us kids before we buried our heads into our homework. Most cases, kids included others from the village. After homework, we were allowed to play volleyball, rugby field hockey, or just relax on the field with other members of the family or villages before shower and dinner. Older adults were given the responsibilities of getting dinner ready and other daily chores. The uncles, aunties and school drop outs were given that full responsibility to care for all other members of the family. We were given daily chores such as helping out with cutting grass and picking up trash on our land and participating in village clean-up weekends. It was arranged for Saturdays at around 7 so we could beat the heat. The afternoon was for us kids to be kids.

Sundays was church, followed by Toona’i with bible reading before the afternoon service. Ice cream for the nice walk/stroll home. Again, adults performed all the chores. If you didn’t go to church, you were helping the adults. Simple rules but very effective. Playtime after the evening supper was frowned on if we created too much noise.

Throughout the week, it was routine. As we grew up, we volunteered to help out more and more without being told. In college, the routine never changed but we took on more and more responsibilities as long as it did not interfere with our school work. Life was simple. When we became young adults, we were treated like young adults. We took ownership of our day to day responsibilities.

The two most important roles in our family are school and church. Our parents gave what they could without sacrificing our family. We were taught that. It didn’t matter that others were whispering about the lack of our family donation to church or to family venue or what not.

In our society today, we try to see who gives more than others in fear of people talking bad about you and your family. Giving is becoming a competition with our society nowadays.

Its almost like people are trying to buy their way to heaven with church donations and family venue. That is the mindset that is putting pressure on our kids today. The pressure and the responsibilities on these kids today have far exceeded the capacity of any Christian society. Kids are expected to attend school and hurry home to provide and serve members of the families. This creates depression and thoughts of committing suicide.

When you force undue burdens and responsibilities onto a generation, there are only two outcomes to be expected. A revolt, which is more likely or they will accepted.  I am noticing evidence of the latter in our communities daily.

Roles and responsibilities are completely reversed from my days as a young man. Kids are becoming caretakers while adults are expected to be provided for. Additional evidence of this is all over the streets of our capital with Kid Vendors. This trend will continue unless we revert back to our traditions and values. Parents and adults care for the young ones. Our kids are losing their innocence at a very young age due to the amount of responsibilities that are expected from them.

Allow them to grow. Let the mind grow at the pace it is meant to. It is the only way they can process right from wrong. We never had a long talk about right and wrong. Our parents, uncles, aunties and village practiced that daily and we learned from watching them. When we committed a wrong, we were told and disciplined accordingly. We got spanked with the aute branch which is a favorite choice of our parents and other adults to dish out punishments. It was short, quick but effective.

I remember when we visited families on either side of the island in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s. We marveled at people working the land in those days while kids were in school. If you take the time to drive around the island now, you will see people sleeping in the open fale while kids are in school.

Perhaps it is just me but it is my point of view on the violence that is becoming all too familiar with other poverty stricken nations. It is time to force parents/adults to be parents/adults and let the kids be kids. Let them crawl before they can run.

Final thought. 

The saddest part of what I witnessed or read about this issue, is that we claim the Church as our salvation through the Bible but we fail to follow the Bible and the teachings of Jesus Christ. The Bible teaches us to protect the innocence of a child and nurture them until they become adults.

I apologize for the long post but this subject is very important for the growth of our island nation.


T. Samatua 

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