We were all in a happy mood that evening relishing the family reunion in our big family house when we heard a cry from the children’s corner. Shortly afterwards, the crying child walked in, still sobbing, towards his mum. He was about six years old. Immediately he walked in, everybody’s attention was on him to find out was the problem was.
“Victor hit me on my hand and my ice cream poured away” the child explained.
On hearing his name, the countenance of Victor’s mum fell. In a twinkle of an eye, she discussed her son’s faults without restraint and the efforts she has made in futility to address those faults. Victor was about seven years old. She told us how mischievous and incorrigible Victor was. She also said that Victor the worst among her four children.
My heart skipped when I realised the possibility that Victor could be around listening to his mother’s negative comments. I actually walked around and it was true! Victor was in lonely corner, quietly listening to our discussions!
The scene described above is a common one in my environment. Any time I observe parents commit this blunder, my thoughts are provoked in many directions. In the case of Victor’s mum, was she trying to confirm the child’s claim against her son even without hearing her son’s version of the story? Was she trying to prove to us, her relations and neighbours that her son is always wrong? Would her constant condemnation of her son at that age in that manner help achieve improvement in the child’s behaviour? Would her open declaration that her child was a bad child be in her child’s interest?
The reaction of Victor’s mum above showed frustration. It is possible she was frustrated because the ‘efforts’ she made to help her son did not yield the desired result. Who knows if she was making the right efforts? The clouds created by sibling comparison are also an issue that could cause confusion and frustration in the parenting relationship between Victor and his mum. Whatever the issue was, it was unnecessary to discuss a child’s faults openly in that context and manner because of its negative consequences. It may lead to low morale and self esteem, negative branding and formation of negative personality traits, false accusation and unfair treatment of the child by his teachers and other adults, abandonment and neglect by the child’s caregivers.
We should recall that our recommendation for discussions to correct a child’s wrong behaviour is that parents should talk more with the child, listen more to the child and pray more for the child in privacy. Even rebuke, when necessary, in child-training is effective when it is done in privacy.
Yes, passionate parents go for the parenting methods that are effective.
-Uchenna N. Nduka
There was a mammoth crowd at the conference centre at the end of a women’s conference I attended some time ago. I was about to leave the premises when I observed a woman yelling hysterically at her little daughter ofabout four years old . I had to get closer to assist the child who was already looking traumatised. I was a few steps away from them when the woman slapped the child angrily on her head asking her what she was doing when her younger brother she was taking care of wondered off. The little girl only cried sorrowfully and still looked up in fear, expecting more slaps. When I noticed that she was beating her, I quickened my steps towards them and tactfully distracted her attention from the child with some questions that could lead us to finding the missing child. The boy was later found within the conference premises. He was about two years old.
I walked away from that scene wondering if the woman’s expectation that her four-year-old child was capable of controlling her brother in such a place was realistic. Isn’t it also possible that that girl is exposed to such challenges in other aspects of her daily life? I agree with the line of thought that lack of proper understanding of children’s developmental limitations is a common cause of anger and violence towards children. Our traditional parenting environment had a structure which provided a guide on each child’s ability.
The environment where I grew up as child was an exciting one. Although it was an urban area, it was also a highly populated residential area with large number of children of all ages. There was a palpable level of communal interaction. It was really interesting how every child was identified with an age group. The socialisation process was so apt that even a new child in the neighbourhood would immediately be identified with an age group. Each group had its own expected developmental attainments, limitations and issues.
As children, we observed that the age group issue was applied with more seriousness in our village than the urban community. It really provided a parenting advantage because the behavioural as well as developmental dispositions of each child could be understood by making reference to his age group. For instance, it was easy to spot a child who was slow to talk or crawl or walk. It was also easy to understand the expected maturity level of a child by reference to other children within the same age range. Also, the age group a child belonged to provided him or her with a bench-mark for self-assessment of performance.
Parents in the traditional parenting environments had the respective age groups to serve as guides to the expected developmental abilities and peculiarities of each child. Many parents in today’s world have access to more information about child development from seminars, good books, web sites and the social media. Passionate parents therefore should not ignorantly abuse a child in whatever way as a result of the child’s failure to achieve tasks that are beyond the child’s ability.
-Uchenna N. Nduka
Educators who have sound knowledge of the pedagogy of education would agree with me that children learn from practice and experience. No wonder proven educational philosophies such as Montessori lays emphasis on a prepared environment for learning. Therefore, children will be developed to exude love in interpersonal relationships if they are raised in environments where love is encouraged and practised and they are exposed to experiences outside their immediate environments where love is expressed and hate is discouraged.
There were many admirable features of the olden days’ communities where people appreciably found peace with themselves and accommodated strangers with love. Two are discussed below.
- Children observed and participated in actions that depicted care and love for domestic animals. It was common to acquire chicks and have each child take the responsibility of caring for and nurturing one to maturity. I can still remember my little friends then crying when their chickens or goats were slaughtered during festive periods. Some would have so cared for such animals that they would actually refuse to eat from such meals because of the affinity they establish with them. Such natural resources were helpful for emotional and intellectual development of children. Children were also privileged to acquire skills that could be commercialised in their adult lives.
- Most children were available to care for their old grandparents and other aged relations in their neighbourhood. Caring was indeed a way of life which children effortlessly imbibed. There were enough activities, events and practices that etched care and love for nuclear and extended family member deeply in the minds of children. We should recall that parental guidance was almost always available since aged grandparents were around even when young parents were busy with economic and other activities. Children did not have access to violence and hate-infested media reports and electronic resources.
Parents are now facing a lot of challenges in the area of developing children to love and care for other people because the social, economic and political environments are getting quite confusing and hatred prone.
Parents who are passionate and committed to giving their children their best should therefore not toy with the ‘prepared environment’ concept and accept the fact that they should create time to be available to guide their children properly. Parents who are busy with their career should take time to select child-care centers and schools that have what it takes in terms of educational philosophy, physical and well-monitored managerial structures to establish and sustain the right ‘prepared environment’ for proper child development emotionally, intellectually, socially, spiritually and physically. It is advisable for parents to spend holiday periods with their children or be sure to conduct proper integrity check of people and environment in any intending holiday home before releasing children to spend holiday periods outside the home. Children should not be allowed access to hate-infested materials, groups and activities.
The olden days’ traditional parenting environment was rich with natural learning resources on love. This is no longer obtainable in our environment of today. Parents are therefore now challenged to be available and establish strategies to provide the right love-enriched environment for proper development of children.
-Uchenna N. Nduka
Happy New year everyone! Year 2018 will be great!
The year-end break was really fun in the village. People in my part of the world look forward to the usual family reunion during the Christmas and New Year celebrations. We really made the best out of the remnants of the erstwhile communal living in an atmosphere of love and trust in the village environment. Communal interaction is gradually becoming individualistic. Divergent emerging religious persuasions are gradually creating mistrust, suspicion and divisive tendencies in different aspects of our communal life, even among members of the same family. Increasing crime rate has worsened this situation.
The traditional communal parenting structure has also been negatively affected. In the olden days, the aged grandparents in every family were the custodians of family values and also the key drivers of the parenting process, while younger parents were busy with economic activities. The aged parents were great storytellers and children learnt a lot from them in an atmosphere of love. Child-training then was a communal responsibility. Presently, the aged parents are either not available to provide the necessary parenting support or have lost their grip on the process due to the increasing negative socio-religious sentiments and the struggle by the younger generation to keep pace with modernisation.
It is expected that over time, improvement would be achieved in the traditional practices in every field of human existence such as health, technology and education. Effective practices are retained, while harmful and ineffective ones are dropped. For instance, our traditional health attendants have improved a lot in their medical practices. My worry is the lopsided insistence on stagnation in the traditional parenting practices. Is it not surprising that most people who argue about traditional parenting practices only remember violence to children?
Well, our blog posts this year will expound the positive aspects of our traditional parenting process, and provide a guide on how to effectively resist and deal with adults in our institutions, families and communities who are desperate and insistent on violence against children.
-Uchenna N. Nduka
Purifying the parenting process has been the focus of the Passion in Parenting blog this year. Truly, great results would usually be realised if purity is improved on the part of parental and societal values as well as parenting approach. These three key factors in the parenting process are very much dependent on the knowledge and good conscience of parents. It is now clearer to us that the true test of discipline in children is not the uneasy calm they manifest when they are within the sphere of attention/influence of bullies. What should count in assessing parenting results is the extent of self-discipline a child acquires and applies as part of his daily life. On a wider perspective, what should count in assessing the parenting results in a community is the extent of discipline and creativity most adults raised in the community are able to apply in their daily lives. Therefore, the emphasis of child-training should not necessarily be on defending fragments of cruel age-long traditional parenting practices.
Events around us are really playing out in a worrisome manner. If flogging and other forms of corporal punishments of children is done without restraint in our schools and homes and yet street children who are evidences of broken parenting relationships litter our streets and various media reports show that insecurity, corruption, communal clashes, drug abuse, exam malpractice, kidnapping, indiscipline to regulatory and statutory procedures by adults and other forms of criminal acts are on the increase, then there is urgent need for a serious overhaul of the prevalent parenting practices. Stories are even told of communities and schools who operate illegal prisons for juvenile offenders where they are freely maltreated. It has become obvious that there is the need to sincerely remove the parenting practices that are retrogressive and embrace the progressive ones.
Progress is gradually being made. Informed parents and good schools are really showing interest in the improved approach to achieving real discipline in children, but the negative pressure from tradition-oriented adults to blindly follow the path of traditional parenting practices has been enormous. This pressure has been a thorn in the wheel of progress.
Therefore, the focus of the Passion in Parenting blog in year 2018 will be to reveal the nature and extent of the pressures against effective parenting approach and standard teacher-children relationship by traditionalists and how the institutions and peoples involved can cope with them.
Compliments of the season to all our readers!
The experience of being waylaid by evil men at the full glare of people who seem unperturbed is fast becoming a norm in some cities around us. Anyone who has passed through such harrowing experiences would understand well the extent of the frustration of the evil ones and their desperation to transfer same to their victims. The urchins on the streets and motor parks are not alone in this frustration. The depth and magnitude of the news of corrupt practices among many people occupying sensitive public positions and even civil servants also indicate rebellious frustration. Insecurity of lives and property is on the increase. If evil is fast advancing its frontiers and is getting bolder and more resistant, then urgent actions are needed to properly realign people’s thoughts and action and ensure that children are developed to acquire self-discipline as a way of life.
A child possesses self-discipline on an issue if he/she manifests restraint without being told or prodded or threatened by anyone. Self-discipline is enduring because it is not coerced or controlled externally, but proceeds from a spiritually, intellectually, socially, and physically sound mind. That should be the target of every parenting process. It is achievable if parents are sufficiently available to ensure that right values are communicated to children, possess effective parenting skills and provide the right support and learning resources. Most times when a parenting process fails, a dysfunctional person is produced who may eventually become a nuisance, not just to his/her parents, but the society at large.
Therefore, all hands should be on deck to ensure that disciplined children are raised. No informed person should be complacent. The efforts of NGOs who mobilise and provide support and guidance to children who are on the streets are commendable. I feel that the number of street children will reduce if the issues that lead to broken parenting relationships are clarified and dealt with. NGOs should also be encouraged to include parenting education to adults in our communities. Schools and religious organisations should organise parenting workshops and training. Parenting programmes should create opportunities for the right values to be propagated. Efforts in this direction will surely ameliorate the issues that threaten societal peace and security.
-Uchenna N. Nduka
A man once told his story. He was ready to make sacrifices to ensure that his children were well-developed morally and academically. He realised that he was greatly handicapped due to his upbringing. Conscience as well as proper cognitive development of children was not given attention in his society. He said that he and most other children in his neighbourhood grew up with the understanding that life was a game of chance. As children, their consideration in taking any action then was whether one would be caught in the act and the severity of the punishment that would be meted out if caught. Nothing else mattered! Most of them ended up becoming dexterous in performing wrong acts without being caught and stronger at enduring the punishment when caught.
By the time he grew up, he felt on top of the world. No one could intimidate him into taking any action against his will. That was the beginning of the woes. He became very excited at his freedom from the clutches of his parents and moved at a very high speed. Not quite long, before his twenty-third birthday, his bubble burst – he got sentenced to prison. Although his body was filled with scars, each telling a tragic story, none could be compared to the emotional torture in prison for the whole year he spent there.
It was in prison that his restoration to normalcy commenced. It was there he learnt he could willingly put his hands and brain to positive use, trusting God. His heart learnt to understand and give love. He learnt respect for and obedience to the prison authorities. He understood he had a choice to make between good and evil. He needed no further proof of the consequences of evil, but the reward of good choices was consistently revealed. He was happy that the discipline he could not acquire as a child due to his upbringing was achieved in prison.
When he came out of the prison, he took a critical look at the children in his neighbourhood where he was raised and became convinced that most of them were headed towards the same calamity that befell him. He was so dissatisfied with the degenerated societal values that he made efforts to make a difference in the lives of his children. He limited his children’s interaction with the bad eggs in his neighbourhood and ensured that they were separated from the environment that almost destroyed him. His children stayed in boarding houses in good secondary schools.
He has tried to be committed in his relationship with his children and hopes to learn more effective parenting skills so that the output of his parenting efforts will be fruitful. He was willing to learn and adopt an improved approach and not insist on any traditional parenting practice which confused him and most of his friends as children. He has understood that for him to get it right with his children, he has to make love and discipline his lifestyle and firmly and consistently communicate same to his children.
Yes! Great parents are ever learning to achieve great parenting results.
Happy second year anniversary to all lovers, readers and followers of the Passion in Parenting blog
Uchenna N. Nduka