One of the challenging duties in human life is parenting. It is a sacrificial duty which knows no rest or annual leave.  It calls for total commitment 24 hours a day.

Most parents would forgo some of the pecks of life just so that their children may enjoy it better.  They see the satisfaction that may arise from such sacrifices as the ultimate.

It is, therefore, painful to see people who have been blessed with children neglect the basic duties expected of them.   These would have been the same parents who would have had cause to lament barrenness should they have had that misfortune, in view of the stigma that sometimes society places on childlessness.

There is a Sunday morning religious programme on one of the television stations that I accidentally tuned in to a couple of Sundays ago which I watched right to the end with particular interest.  The programme was mainly on testimonies from new mothers who had initial problems with having children several years after marriage.  Through the religious intervention of a man they call the “Prophet”; these women had had babies and were at the programme to show their babies to the glory of God as no medical intervention had brought them the fulfilment of pregnancy and perhaps safe delivery.

It was a pleasant feeling watching those new mothers proudly holding their babies and with delight and testifying to the beautiful creature God had blessed them with through the “Prophet”.  They recounted one after the other, the mental torment they had had to go through with no child several years after marriage.  But how many of such women are ready to face the challenges of parenting?

The series of questions I asked myself watching the programme again last Sunday brought my mind to two stories that appeared in last Friday’s edition of the Daily Graphic.  Both stories made disturbing reading while revealing some serious lapses and neglect of duties by some parents.

The first story which made the front page headline: “50 children swallow caustic soda”, reported that the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH) in Kumasi was grappling with unusual incidents of children being rushed to the hospital for treatment after they had mistakenly swallowed caustic soda and some detergents.

The story said 50 children were currently on admission in critical conditions with some of them having their oesophagus completely damaged.  The correction of those injuries required between GHC400, 000 and GHC500, 000.

The other unfortunate story was about a nine- year- old Class Four pupil who shot himself dead with a pistol he found under his father’s mattress.

Accidents, they say, do not just happen; they are caused.  Here, the question one is tempted to ask is; why would a parent, knowing that there are small children in the house, load a pistol and leave it within the reach of the children?

We all are aware of the inquisitive nature of children.  They would ask questions until you feel worn out.  They would try their hands on anything in their sight and try to imitate things they see on television.  It behoves on parents therefore to always think ahead while being extra careful with what one leaves around especially when it comes to harmful items.  That is why in many cases, drug manufacturers put a distinct warning on their packaging: “Keep out of the reach of children”.

In the case of the 50 children who swallowed caustic soda, Doctors at KATH are said to have attributed the situation to the negligence of parents who put the corrosive element in bottles and place them within the reach of their children.  There are a lot of pet bottles around for assorted drinks and water.  An innocent child might get tempted with such bottles refilled and left lying around.  Even some of us adults get attracted to pet bottles.

Economic pressures have sent parents out of the house in search of their daily bread, sometimes for as long as 12 hours each day leaving the children in the care of unqualified people.  Sometimes too when the parents are at home, they are busy doing other things and not necessarily keeping vigilant eyes on what the children are up to.  So, where there are younger children, it is always important that harmful items are either kept under lock or on shelves that are not easily reachable by the children.

Good parenting requires being smarter and watchful all the time around the house.  The unfortunate incidents involving children that are happening in homes sometimes to the extent of fatalities are regrettable.  Parental negligence accounts for many of these tragedies and it is time parents revised their notes.