A celebration last week by Sam Tu’ivailala’s family has revealed a rare inspired Tongan parental discipline.
Sam is a professional baseball pitcher for the St. Louis Cardinals.
He was the first player of Tongan descent to be promoted to the United States major league in 2014.
His parents, Sione Lātū Tu’ivailala and wife Julie, hosted a family barbecue to mark an academic diploma awarded to the youngest member of the family.
She was Lile Tu’ivailala, who received her diploma from Aragon High School, in San Mateo, California.
Lile and Sam’s successes had been attributed to his father’s close relationship with his children’s discipline.
“I and my family are not going to church,” Sione told Kaniva news.
He said that did not mean they did not believe in God.
He said it was a result of how he looked at the social, moral and criminal problems which severely affected Tongan people in the United States.
He said he believed parents’ primary Christian responsibility was to look after their children.
This included making sure the children were educated, had good housing, good food and all their basic needs were provided with. He said their talents should also be supported.
Sione, who moved to the United States in 1986 said he was shocked to see Tongan children involved in criminal gangs.
He said most of these children’s parents were Christians, some of whom were involved in the leadership and management of their churches.
Sione said when he saw these problems he began to ask whether seeing their children end up as drug dealers, burglars and murderers was the rewards these parents got for being involved with religious activities.
Sione said when his son Sam grew up he watched him closely and tried to see what his strength was.
When he became aware that he had a talent in sport he was ready to give him everything that could help to support him.
This included making sure he had time to go with him to the gym, attend his games and be supportive of everything he did.
The 26-year-old pitcher from San Mateo played at Class A Palm Beach before joining AA Springfield and then moving to AAA Memphis in 2014.
Sione said he looked up to African-Americans and learned a lot from them.
“When I took my son to the gym on Sunday I could see these Black people just like me never go to church. They were busy exercising and practising for whatever sports they played,” Sione said.
He said he believed this was true religion and Christian practice.
“Most of these Black people did not belong to any religion. But they made use of their talents and worked so hard to get the best out of it, something Christians have written in their Bible,”.
He said his children knew him well since they were young and the kind of parental discipline he wanted them to follow including behaving appropriately wherever they went, to be good to people and honest in what they did.
Sione said disciplining Tongan children in the United States was a daily need and that parents had to be with their children most of the time and watch them.
He said some church ministers who were relatives often invited his family to come to church but he declined.
“I told them that’s fine but I am happy with my children and where we are.”
He said he was not bragging about his children, but he wanted to tell these church ministers there was something wrong with the way they promoted Christian teachings.
Tongans in the United States
According to the 2010 census, there were 57,183 Tongans in the United States.
An estimated 13,000 Tongans live in San Mateo County,
The San Francisco Examiner reported: “Nineteen percent of young Pacific Islanders in the county have tried to commit suicide, 11 percent carry a weapon for protection, 56 percent have shoplifted in the past 12 months, and 45 percent have skipped school in the last month, according to a 2010 presentation by officials in the county’s Pacific Islander Initiative Programme.”
According to the paper, statistics showed Tongans were worse off than other minorities in a number of areas, particularly obesity, and access to pre-natal care.
As Kaniva News reported last week, a 27-year-old Tongan man was arrested after his two-year-old son shot himself in the head with a gun his father owned.
The man has been charged with leaving the weapon accessible to the child, as well as obstruction of justice, drug possession and possession of a weapon by a restricted person.
The man has a criminal history and is not allowed to own a firearm.
As we reported last year, an average of 30 Tongan nationals is deported from the United States each year. Between 22 to 38 people were deported annually in the years 2004-2012, according to Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Immigration Statistics.
With an average age of 25, many of those deported have been engaged in gang activity since childhood. They are unfamiliar with their own culture.
The Tongan Crip Gang is active in California and Utah as well as New Zealand, Australia and Canada. Tongan Crip Gang members are primarily of Pacific Islander descent, mainly Tongan.
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