Who’s To Blame for a Dysfunctional Family?
You may have given your children all the material comforts they asked for, but you didn’t give them your time and your love.
By Janvir Joshua
Mr. Tamo had almost everything a retired man could have asked for by way of material comforts. But yet, he was very unhappy. The reason for this was that he knew that his three children didn’t care for him, and nor did they care for each other. His family was a completely dysfunctional one.
“We did so much for our kids,” Mr. Tamo would complain to anyone whom he could latch on to. “We sent them to the best schools. We took them on holidays abroad. We gave them everything they asked for—toys, fancy food, gadgets, contraptions, clothes, parties—what have you! Our house was like a restaurant in a five-star hotel. Every day, my wife would ask them what they wanted to eat, and they got just that—food from around the world! I can’t think of any other children who were so pampered.”
Just About Tolerate Me
“But despite all I’ve done for my children,” he would continue, “I
know they just about tolerate me, out of a sense of duty, not love,
and that they just can’t stand each other. I never knew they’d turn
out to be such ungrateful wretches.”
One day, Mr. Tamo was reciting his usual litany of complaints to his neighbour, Mrs. Satey, who knew the Tamo family for many years.
When Mr. Tamo stopped for a breath, Mrs. Satey spoke. “Stop blaming your children,” she said sharply. “Do you know something? It’s your fault, and that of your late wife, that your children have turned out just the way they have.”
“What do you mean?” said Mr. Tamo, taken aback.
“Well, you may have given your children all the material comforts they asked for, but you didn’t give them your time and your love.” Mrs. Satey explained. “Your children would often complain to me about that. They would say, ‘Papa and Mummy don’t speak
much to us. And, Aunty, they keep fighting among themselves. If at all they talk to each other, it’s only about things like money and stocks and shares and food. And even then, they snap at each other, like enemies. Maybe it would be better if they would divorce.’”
A Loveless Graveyard
Mr. Tamo was furious when he heard this. He was about to interrupt Mrs. Satey but she continued firmly. Surprised at her own boldness, she added, “Your house was a loveless graveyard. So, how do you expect your children to be loving towards you and towards each other?”
“But we gave our children what they wanted. We did it out of genuine concern for them,” Mr. Tamo protested.
“You’ve overindulged and totally ruined them,” Mrs. Satey shot back. “Material comfort just can’t take the place of character development.
You and you wife completely neglected helping your children develop good character, stupidly thinking that giving whatever they asked for was the right way of parenting. But how could you have helped them with character development when your wife and you didn’t model good character yourselves?”
Mr. Tamo tried to cut Mrs. Satey short but she continued undeterred.
“You and your wife are to blame for how your children have turned out.
I’ve been wanting to tell this to you all these years but I was too
scared to. I am so glad I’ve at last been able to speak my mind!” she
Mr. Tamo couldn’t believe his ears. “How dare you talk like this! Mind your own business!” he barked and turned to go.
For the rest of the day, and for several days that followed, Mrs.
Satey’s words kept echoing in Mr. Tamo’s mind as he mentally waged a heated battle with her. He desperately tried to convince himself that what Mrs. Satey had said was ‘utter rubbish’. But after some time, his defences gave way and he was forced to reluctantly admit that she was right.