The Power of Unlearning Chaos and Claiming Responsibility

Jan 21 , 2023
By Eden Sahle

Those who think all parents could be good examples at all times should look no further than the teenage girl I met recently. She wrote to me in the email she found in this newspaper asking for advice. After reading her email, I was compelled to meet her in person.

The girl admits she has been rebellious during her early teenage years, often spending after-school time partying, trying illicit drugs and drinking alcohol. Unlike what most people would expect, she did all this with freedom as her single mother welcomed her lifestyle. Her mother financially supported and even encouraged her daughter's lifestyle.

What seemed to be a restoration brought chaos, turning 18 changed her life. Meeting new friends at school, influenced her to reexamine her life and desire to do better. She stopped going to the places that caused her to lose control, and instead focused on her studies. She joined a religious institution and got introduced to elders who became her mentors. The encouragement she expected from her mother, who sacrificed so much, was not there.

Her peaceful life with her mother suddenly lost balance, flaming into unexpected family drama. The girl feels like she is being pulled into the life she detests, by her mother, who should have protected her from the beginning. To my most profound shock, her mother wants her to continue the heedless lifestyle she was accustomed to and does not seem to portray the actions of a responsible parent.

Meeting and listening to the mother shocked me to my core. She says her disagreement with her daughter's new life is out of good intentions and for the greater good, as she believes chasing education and dreams will not bring more pleasure than having "fun". She is convinced that her only daughter will find a suitable wealthy partner who will settle in marriage.

She wants to stop her daughter's new lifestyle with passion and tenacity. She believes her child can do meaningful things with her life, reminiscing her old ways —chasing after a wealthy man to marry.

How ironic it was to witness a rational child and a childish mother. I was proud of the young girl for acknowledging that her previous lifestyle was not aligned with her long-term goals.

We all need responsible parents who can guide us through life at a tender age. They are the primary forces that are supposed to help us navigate through landmines in the world. My general belief that swirls around an assumption that parents would not lead their children in the wrong direction was proven wrong. I have witnessed a mother undergird her daughter's identity with awful intentions.

The young girl's ability to question her own actions and unlearn what she was accustomed to teaches us a lesson. She has embraced a life that allows her to choose what to retain and let go, creating a path on her own that is nuanced, with depth and confidence.

It indeed takes a village to raise a child.

How the girl's private school teachers and new friends helped her to bounce back is remarkable. Those people have had a more significant lasting influence on her life than her own mother.

Everyone's life is inevitably different, and not every parent acts responsibly. But as we mature, we must all evaluate our actions and change for the better. The young girl discovered her problem and found purpose through her struggle. She met children who were either neglected or peer pressured to the wrong path, even with the blessing of their parents. She now supports and encourages these young people.

Sometimes those we trust are the ones who throw us in life's unexpected way. This is why having several role models is essential.

The young girl's ability to speak openly about her struggles allowed others to lend their hand. Her story is inspirational and heals those around her. Through her fantastic story, we find meaning in confronting the darkest parts of ourselves and being open to unlearning the old ways and recreating new ones. This also helps inspire maturity in others.

She has no interest in blaming her mother but is out to prove to her that there is joy in pursuing education and dreams.

It feels irresponsible to speak about people whose own parents are mistreating them without discussing the culture of ignorance and lack of support for vulnerable children. There is a general assumption that parents are always right and keep the interests of their children. This assumed moral righteousness gets in the way rather than understanding children's struggles.

Generalising the concept that parents cannot harm their children is a trap. They may not be equipped to rise up to the challenge of raising a child.

Adults should be confronted the same way children need to be corrected. It is always the right thing to understand the situation instead of assuming that children are to blame.

PUBLISHED ON Jan 21,2023 [ VOL 23 , NO 1186]

Eden Sahle is founder and CEO of Yada Technology Plc. She has studied law with a focus on international economic law. She can be reached at

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