During my early years in basic school, one learned about the offsprings of living things and the names used in reference to them. For instance the offspring of a dog is a puppy and that of a cow is a calf (and not a baby dog or baby cow as I used to think!!) This was in the 80’s….
A couple of decades down the line however, I have personally witnessed the adoption of a particular word in context to human offsprings which I find very worrying…. In modern times, we find people misusing words on the basis of having adopted certain “western cultures and languages” – and one of such ‘worrying adoptions’ is the reference to the offspring of a human being as ‘kid’.
According to the online search engine Wikipedia the word ‘kid’ in terms of living things refers to the offspring of a goat. As one may well be aware a goat is a domestic animal closely related to sheep, and having had firsthand encounters with this breed of animal life I would say that goats are extremely curious and intelligent, but are not known to be trainable. I am yet to encounter a livestock breeder who has been able to rein in his herd of animals, particularly goats, to behave in a desired manner and at a particular time. Goats are well known to be notorious and destructive if some of their behaviours are not curbed. They will eat where you least expect them to, go where you do not wish for them to be, and simply put – almost ‘deliberately’ act in a way which will ire you. These behaviours are innate, and it is impossible to alter them regardless of the efforts of its owner.
Wikipedia further explains the word “child” to mean a human between the stages of birth and puberty, and further describes the relationship with a parent, guardian, etc. A child generally has fewer rights and is stated as being unable to make serious decisions. Thus they are required to be under the care and nurturing of a responsible adult until they attain the age of 18 years (as stated by the UN Convention).
A throwback to previous conversations with other adults over the last few years, I can recollect several instances where I have had to bite my tongue from quickly correcting people in mid-sentence on the misuse of the word ‘kid’ in reference to a young human. And believe me, it has required something beyond superhuman effort to hold my peace until the speaker is done, before I actually correct this anomaly.
I may be wrong but I strongly believe that in the days when parents referred to their young as children, the latter were more receptive to instructions from adults and found to be better behaved socially. The child in such instances had some commendable reverence for authority figures both in the home and outside the home. Using my nuclear family as a case study, (and this family has the youngest offspring being more than two decades old), where the young were referred to as ‘children’ and not ‘kids’, has repeatedly shown a better oriented group of now adults with commendable character. In contrast, the present day nuclear family of about half a decade old where children are referred to as ‘kids’, often cannot boast of the same reverence for authority as existed some time ago.
Society has looked on passively as the word ’kid’ gradually crept in and began to replace the ‘child’. Even educationists who should have insisted on the use of the right words have also shamefully watched this anomaly to take root, and further enhanced its use by adopting it too. A brief study of the present day nuclear family where the misuse of the word ‘kid’ in place of ‘child’ has been adopted, more often than not reveals various challenges related to the upbringing of young people. But as always, most adults/parents today brush off such issues pertaining to the effects of words as insignificant. Recently, I visited a colleague at home (one who has frequently referred to his children as ‘kids’ and whom I have repeatedly admonished for same) and was quite embarrassed to witness his daughter of four years retort in a rather disrespectful manner, “Ebei, I have heard you oo. It is okay. Abah!!”, when her father cautioned her to desist from a particular behaviour. Note that this is just one of several experiences…..
Digressing into spiritual insight, I noted that in no part of the Bible was the offspring of a human referred to as ‘kid’. The choice word in each instance is ‘child’. In the book of Proverbs chapter twenty-two and verse six says “Train a child in the way he should go; and when he is old, he will not depart from it”. This verse in a way communicates that a child may be trainable…..but then, can same be said of other offsprings of living things? I would want to believe that this is not in reference to only people of the Christian faith.
The professions of women in my family lean towards education and human development in that, most of them have had to work in an environment involving children between the ages of 2 to 15 years. Sharing my experiences with my mother who is presently a Sunday school teacher, I have come to realise that we have encountered similar challenges in our field of work with regards to children….and particularly the influence of words in their lives. This issue I believe pertains in several homes in Ghana today and inasmuch as the idea of a universal language has been proposed, I believe that there is the need for the right words and phrases to be maintained especially with regards to the upbringing of the next generation.
Instead of wondering why your ‘kid’ is out of control and does not seem to accept sound advice and instruction, maybe you as a parent or guardian could be proactive in referring to the child as a ‘child’ and not a ‘kid’. Remember that a ‘kid’ can only display the innate behaviours as is expected of the breed or family ‘Bovidae’ to which it belongs….