INGRATITUDE: Ungrateful kids who abandon their parents

Author:  Tony Robinson
“Pickney … first dem break yu pocket, then dem break yu heart.” Now, doesn’t that paint a graphic picture of children’s ingratitude? King Lear said: “How sharper than a serpent’s tooth it is, to have a thankless child.”

CARTOON Oct2017Children should be a blessing in people’s lives and, in most cases, they are. But so many turn out wrong. To add to this blessing, many parents of yesteryear put faith in their children to be their pension, hoping as they grew older, those kids would take care of them.

Many parents were bitterly disappointed, as those children who they invested so much in - financially and emotionally - failed to deliver on the returns they hoped for.

A lady I have known for a long time told me a story that almost broke my heart. She’s a poor vendor who sells on the streets. By hard work, discipline, sacrifice and the help of the Almighty, she managed to put her daughter through primary, secondary and eventually law school.

That was the good part. I hadn’t seen her in many years, so when we spoke a few weeks ago, I enquired of her daughter, hoping to hear good tidings. Well, I got the shock of my life when she told me how her daughter had come back from overseas with bad attitude, started to berate her and put her down, and eventually stopped talking to her, giving her the cold shoulder even while she lived with her in her modest home for a few months.


The mother could not believe this behavior and neither could I, for I knew the sacrifices that were made with no father around and little money to spare.

As old time folks would say: “She just get too high and mighty and too big for her britches.”

I could not believe what I was hearing. “After all you did for her over the years?” I queried. “Yes sir, and now she move out and I don’t even know where she lives,” the lady added.

What a painful experience it must be to have an ungrateful child, I thought. The lady is not alone. I tried to console her, but it was scant consolation. When it’s your child who inflicts those wounds, the pain must seem unbearable.

I know of cases where mothers have multiple children and not even one of them would offer assistance. Instead, they say: “I have my own life to live and my expenses are high, so I can’t help at all.”

Times are hard, but to totally abandon your parents in their old age is a sin of epic proportions. I have seen it in so many families. Children who got so much when they were young, turned around and totally abandoned their parents and never looked back.


Thankfully is some cases, other siblings took up the slack and cared for the aging parents. That’s another thing, it usually falls on one child to bear the burden of caring for parents. As soon as that child steps up and does the right thing, all the others back off, leaving that offspring to carry all the weight.

What is ironic is that in many instances it’s not the eldest who takes on this huge mantle of responsibility, but oftentimes the middle or even the youngest child who does all the running up and down and bears the financial burden. What’s ironic, too, is that it’s usually the child who got the most that turns out rotten.

“Imagine, she was the last one who got more than the others, and that’s how she treat me,” many mothers cry.

Now, I’m not saying that children should drop all that they’re doing and starve themselves to care for their aging parents. That would be unreasonable and impractical. But to totally abandon parents, especially those who are in need, is an abomination.

Yet it happens so frequently. It tends to occur a lot when children go away to foreign lands. They somehow think that their lives began when they first stepped off that plane and then forgot all about home and the sacrifice that parents made. Upon graduation it’s a new life for them, a life that does not include momma back home.

“As soon as dem touch ‘merica dem forget dem roots and feel shame of dem parents,” is what I have heard.


Back in the day, Caribbean children were never like this and would always be satellites around their parents and grandparents. Some were called sandwich children, as they cared for their own kids, plus their parents too. They get caught in the middle of an emotional, mental, financial and physical whirlpool.

But these are modern times and many children nowadays don’t think they owe their parents. Strangely, this seems to occur more among daughters than sons. Sometimes those daughters will have a child and expect grandma to raise it, as they are off to greener pastures. Try and remember how many children were raised by granny or aunty as the mother leaves.

So many mothers invest so heavily in their children, making sacrifices just so they can get the best education and be fed and clothed during those challenging years. For those children to not only neglect their parents, but to be abusive, must be heartbreaking.

Kudos for those children who do not forget the sacrifices that their parents made and stand by them in their darkest hour.

“Thank you mamma for the nine months you carried me through. All the pain and suffering. No one knows the pressure you bear, a just only you. Give you all my love, oh yeah. It’s my words and uttering. Mama I would never let you down. I’ll never go away, I’ll always be around.”

So sang Sizzla. I wonder how many people can say those words with sincerity?