A viral video of a Ugandan family living overseas has provoked a heated debate around family dynamics after the children appeared to wash their father’s dirty linen in public.
The father stood accused of having an extramarital affair with a woman supposedly based in Uganda, who was plainly saved as Tracy Moreen.
At what appeared to be their mother’s prompting, the children—all girls—in the family projected texts from their father’s phone on their home TV. As one of the daughters read the oftentimes sexually explicit texts, another recorded a video of the entire drama.
“Everybody is going to know,” one of the daughters warned, adding, “You should be ashamed of yourself.”
Since its release, the video has split Uganda down the middle. While some people have applauded the father of the house for staying calm throughout the situation, others have called him out for not being ‘man enough’. Elsewhere, Ugandans who hold traditional values have expressed their disgust at the tone that the children used to address their parents.
In fact, the view points shifted from an allegedly philandering man to why would one wash their family’s dirty linen in the full glare of social media’s prying eyes.
“These children don’t know about the dynamics of their parents’ relationship and their first instinct was to bring the situation to social media, what happens after the social media bashing?” questioned someone from Nigeria.
Soon, the question came down to how social media and technology may have changed the dynamics of parenting over time or if the family as we have always known it has changed.
Ms Evelyn Khorono, a counselling psychologist, says such videos are proof that the family system as we know it may be breaking down. She says going back to the times of the Bible, children always learned a lot from their parents, something that is changing at the moment.
Ms Khorono says there is a reason why the parents are usually two.
“It is in the best interest of the mother to see that her children respect their father,” she says.
She, however, notes that in case of disagreements, some parents tend to use children as scapegoats. Those who get to spend a lot of time with the children—she further opines—may actually end up poisoning the children against the other spouse.
“Parents, most of the time, are supposed to handle issues as adults. Their children may not have the ability to process that information,” she says.
While commenting about the viral video on social media, author and activist Stella Nyanzi said the children’s actions were in error.
Ms Khorono says to avoid such episodes, parents should keep their phones away from their children.
“If your phone is going to be children’s business, it should be clean. He was caught with another woman’s texts, but at times there could be mature content,” she says, adding, “Remember, at times these children may be too young to know how to react to a text message that could be from another woman and their immediate reaction could be telling the other person.”
A 2020 research by Pew Research Center in the US noted that parents with children said they are anxious about the effects of screen time. Seventy-one percent of parents to a child under the age of 12 said they are somewhat concerned their child might ever spend too much time in front of screens. And some parents with a child in this age range already believe their child spends too much time on certain devices, including a smartphone.
Experts say the attendant effects of this could include an increased belief in social media as a real place.
The daughters in the viral video, for instance, had the mistaken belief that people on social media have their best interests at heart. The crowd on social media was, however, quick to act as jury and judge.
Ms Evelyn Khorono, a counselling psychologist says it is important to note that there is life after something goes viral. She concludes that the children in the impugned viral video—much like their parent—need help.
“They may choose to separate, but healing is needed,” she says of the family.