Thu | Sep 28, 2023

Good parenting, discipline, manners, respect keys to survival

Published:Friday | December 16, 2022 | 12:07 AMPaul H. Williams/Gleaner Writer
Roy Smith eats what he grows and grows what he eats. He also loves to share the fruit of his labour with family, friends and neighbours.
Roy Smith eats what he grows and grows what he eats. He also loves to share the fruit of his labour with family, friends and neighbours.
Eighty-five year-old Roy Smith
Eighty-five year-old Roy Smith
Roy Smith
Roy Smith

Eighty-five-year-old Roy Smith of Byndloss in St Catherine is a very independent and happy man, who grows what he eats, and eats what he grows. But he is not selfish. He shares the fruits of his labour with family, friends and neighbours.

When he goes to play dominoes (a source of great joy), he does not go with his empty ‘long hand’. He carries little packages for his friends. And, after long hours of playing dominoes he goes back home with a belly full of beer and food. That is a “comfort” of his life after years of hard work, and taking care of his eight children.

Smith was born in the hospital in Mandeville, Manchester, while his parents were living in the district of Richmond. He eventually lived in Kingston for about 50 years. There, his survival was underpinned by manners, respect, discipline, “principle”, good parenting, and self-reliance, thus his long-term employment in the fields of construction, security and animal care. “A dem mi tek and run mi life,” he declared.

In the earlier part of his life, children were mannerable and respectful, but now Smith is bemoaning the disrespect that children and young adults have for their seniors whom they don’t even want to greet. “Dem jus tep pass yuh, no, a no suh mi grow,” he remarked. This has got worst since Independence, he noted, “An mi blame many of it on the parents.” Respect is key, he added, taking a swipe at “people using mental slavery to rule us”.

Smith also said people nowadays are afraid to reprimand other people’s children and report their bad behaviour because of possible pushbacks and reprisals, and nothing is going to change anytime soon.

“One thing we lose in Jamaica, and a don’t know if we going to get it back, is principle and manners,” he surmised.

Principle and discipline are second nature to Smith, and, as such, he applied them to his jobs, making sure that he accomplished his tasks. That is why when he had relocated to his mother’s property at Byndloss, having given up city living, he travelled to and from work in Kingston for several years, arriving before 8 a.m., before some colleagues who lived in Kingston, a place which has changed significantly since his youthful days.

In those days family values were high, but now it so low that “family destroying family, son killing father, father killing son”. These are “crazy” days he said, and is “surprised” by what is going on. He wants people to relate with their family, and share with them and friends, instead of the infighting that is going on. “Where mi see Jamaica really reach now, and even the years I spend in Kingston, mi frighten fi see what Kingston come to,” he shared.

It is not just Kingston; he is also concerned about the high level of lawlessness that is pervading the nooks and crannies of the land. And he again put the blame squarely at the feet of poor parenting. The parents of miscreants, he said, ignored the signs of trouble to come and joked with them. They did not show them the “danger” and the “judgement”, and not “curb” their ways. It’s about talking to and guiding your children, as he had done. And, “Tank God, none a dem no turn out dem way deh,” he declared.

Smith lived in Jones Town and Arnett Gardens, but he would get someone to cultivate food crops for him at Byndloss, and when times were rough he would visit and return to Kingston with food and fruits, because he did not want his children “to cry say dem hungry”. Yet, when they were old enough to travel he would let them go fetch their own food. It was a way of teaching them to be responsible and self-reliant. “We teach dem dat value,” he pointed out, “And tank God, tedeh day, none a dem no break after mi,” he said.

His children were taught to be independent, and part of the lessons was the importance of owning a residence. For, “when yuh put a roof over yuh head is one of the greatest thing yuh do in your whole life,” the grandfather and great-grandfather of many opined. It is the foundation of your independence. or, the first thing, if you don’t have love for yuh brother and sister, everything gone.”