Too late! The turning point signals were ignored!

A story was told on a television programme about how a couple flogged a child of about 9 years old to death because she was wasting kerosene when she left the water boiling for too long. A picture of her corpse just after she was killed was shown on the television. As usual, I cried all through the night and woke up with a head ache the next morning.

I can still remember what was said when the couple was interviewed. They were obviously overwhelmed by the reality of the death of that girl who was a niece to the woman. The husband was speechless, while the wife managed to give an explanation.

She said that her death was not intentional. Of course it was not! I believe it was a case where wrong parenting approach was ignorantly, zealously and excessively applied. It was also reported that their neighbours tried to intervene at a point when the girl’s screaming got too much. But no! Their determination to so flog her that she would never waste the kerosene again was all that mattered! Then suddenly, there was an unusual quietness…

It was too late! The world had lost a girl who was created to serve humanity in a specific need area! Her story pained me more when I imagined that she contended with deprivation, separation from her biological parents as well as domestic violence. It was too late to offer the couple assistance! They were already in the police net!

Although I didn’t know her personally, I mourned her death for a long time. I even soliloquized, addressing the embattled couple who committed this murder:

If you had meditated deeply on the challenge she presented, talked more and listened more to her with love you would have had a clearer understanding and a better approach to confronting the challenge.

You should have understood that she would not have intentionally left the kerosene to waste.

You should have understood that her attention span could just not cope with your expectation. The girl might have needed support and would definitely have improved with maturity.

One way of supporting her would have been to let her use the stove only when either of you was around.

You could have been more patient with her.

It would have been a better option to have taken her alive to her biological parents at the point when you were no longer coping with the parenting challenges she presented.

You should have recognized the turning point in your use of the whip to correct the wrong behaviour! That is, the point at which the floggings she received were not able to make her remember, next time, to put off the stove immediately the water boiled.

You would have…………….! You ought to have………………! The better approach could have been…….! You would have asked for help when you were not coping instead of resorting to violence!

Indeed, I was lost in my passionate thoughts, imagining the possibility that the accidental death could have been avoided.

 

Great parents show empathy when relating with children. It is really of no gain for parents to inflict pain on children in the name of disciplinary action when the desired discipline is eventually not achieved. Effective parenting skills are worth trying out. Parents should learn it and practice it for great parenting results.

-Uchenna N. Nduka

The Turning Point in Parenting: Recognise It and Make The Necessary Changes

The parenting task is no doubt a demanding one. People who have nurtured children from infancy to the teenage years would readily recall those moments when desperation would give way to anxiety, anger and frustration. Many parents would rather not voice the inordinate thought of taking the child somewhere else for a while or even forever! This might have been the experience one of the parents in the Passion-in-Parenting home page stories.

Hello friends! After exchanging greetings with one of the parents of my children in the children’s church, I asked about my little friend who just finished her secondary education. “She has just entered the university,” she said with a strange smile. When I asked further about her course of study and university, she said indifferently, “She could go to whatever university was available and study whatever course she could secure. I just could not stand her unruly behavior at home anymore!

The turning point is that point in the parenting process when the parenting efforts at correcting a child become obviously ineffective and generate feelings of resentment between the child and the parent. The signs of this turning point are obvious, and would usually include disenchantment in the parenting relationship which would keep degenerating and increasing unresponsiveness of the child to the usual parenting strategies. It is called a turning point because it is a point at which the need for re-strategising becomes very obvious for the desired target of achieving discipline to be achieved.

The first thing to do at the turning point is to discontinue with the approach that has been ineffective. It should be recalled, from our recent posts, that the next will be to prayerfully get closer, listen more and talk more with the child. This closer interaction will create a cordial atmosphere that would properly position the parent to get a clearer understanding of the child’s feelings and actions so that support can be provided in the right direction.

The turning point philosophy is also applicable to the whole parenting approach when a parent realises that his or her skills have been ineffective. The parent in our post of 27th January, 2016, titled She changed her parenting approach and got better results with joy got to the  turning point in her relationship with her children when she had the realisation and conviction that her aggressive parenting approach was ineffective. Her children were unresponsive to her former punishment-oriented approach and she could not achieve enduring discipline. Her testimony after she changed to the love and conscience-driven approach was that her children were more willing to obey her instructions.

The signs of the urgency of the turning point experience are obvious in many parenting processes. Ignoring the warning signs could lead to situations where the child would die or get permanently disabled during the ‘disciplinary processes.’ The parenting relationship could degenerate to such an extent that the child would prefer the streets to his home. Parents should be guided properly to recognize the danger signs on time and embrace the necessary change to the effective parenting approach for great results.

  • Uchenna N. Nduka

Healthy Parenting Relationship: A Necessity for Raising Godly and Disciplined Children.

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I facilitated the discussion on this topic in a diocesan women’s conference on Saturday, 2nd July, 2016. It really provided a guide to the mothers on how to develop effective parenting skills. Excerpts of the message are provided below.

Introduction: Marital relationship should be prioritised because husbands and wives are covenant partners and a good relationship between them will create the enabling environment to build a healthy parenting relationship. Parenting in an atmosphere of marital squabbles is usually very frustrating.

Mothers deserve commendation because in their attempts to support their husbands, they combine the parenting role with their career and other domestic duties. However, it is regrettable that their efforts seem not to be yielding the desired results going by the spate of indiscipline, delinquency and corruption in our society.

The required changes and improvements in parenting approaches were the focus of the discussion. Hence the purpose of the talk was to learn how healthy parenting relationships will help reduce this stubbornness. The message thrust was that discipline is achieved in children without stress if parenting relationship is healthy.

Message Outline

  1. Definition of healthy parenting relationship.
  2. Hallmarks of a healthy parenting relationship.
  3. Symptoms and consequences of an unhealthy parenting relationship.
  4. Self-appraisal and interactive session.
  5. Conclusion.

 

Definition A healthy parenting relationship is one in which the parent is sufficiently close to continuously provide support towards the physical, mental, spiritual and social development of the child in an atmosphere of love, until the child is released into a disciplined adult life. In situations where parenting is effectively done, the foundation of this relationship is so strong that it is never severed even in the child’s adult life. It manifests deeper love and maturity as the child gets older. This should be the desire of every parent!

Hallmarks of a Healthy Parenting Relationship

  1. Divine heart-to-heart closeness with God in between: Children hear their parents and understand even the non-verbal communication and the words spoken in whispers. This closeness creates an enabling environment for effective transfer of faith, family values and other godly virtues through every word, action or inaction of parents as they relate with their children.  Parents create time to hold family devotion and share testimonies and folk tales with their children.

It is recommended that God must be at the center of this relationship for godliness and discipline to prevail. The fear of God is a great driver of discipline in the lives of parents and their children. The bible story of how Joseph effectively resisted the demand for sexual immorality made by Potipher’s wife depicts the effectiveness of the fear of God when children are tempted. Examples of parenting relationships in the bible with God in between are Job and his children (Job 1: 4-5), and Jesus and his parents (Luke 2:41-52). Job was not distracted by his many children. His had each of them in his heart and offered burnt offerings for each of them.

Where parents achieve closeness with their children without the presence of God, indiscipline and stubbornness are inculcated. The case of Herodias and her daughter in Mark 6:14-28 is an example of a close parenting relationship that was unhealthy because it lacked godliness. In this kind of relationship, a common way of transferring wrong parental values is through the use of children in accomplishing revenge missions. Herodias used her small daughter to accomplish the murder of John the Baptist. Hatred-building discussions and comments are common. The result is that wrong values are transferred to the children, which predisposes them to indiscipline, disobedience, wrong results and regrets.

  1. Unending mutual love between parents and their children: In a healthy parenting relationship, love is reciprocated. This love drives obedience and discipline without the stress of threats and punishment. With the right skill, parents achieve this love through godly closeness (Rom 5:5), and commitment to the parenting duty. Parenting challenges such as delinquency would always put this love to test. It should get stronger with every parenting difficulty it surmounts. Love does not end (1 Cor. 13:8).

It is not one-sided as in the case of David and his son Absalom. David’s relationship with Absalom manifested the symptoms of ill-health because David loved his son Absalom, but he could not get Absalom to reciprocate this love. Theirs was a case where poor parenting relationship ended up with the death of the child.

  1. Unending support to enable children grow up in wisdom and stature and in favour with God and man (Luke 2:52):
  • Mentally: Children should attend good schools and be properly followed up. Engaging them in logical conversations makes them wiser, while shouting them down and other forms of aggression stupefies them.
  • Physically: Feeding, clothing and housing should be prioritized by parents so that children will grow well and be healthy.
  • Spiritually: Parents should be conscious that children, being human, are prone to sin (Job 1:5 & Romans 7:24-25). Children, therefore need redemption from the slavery to sin and its dreadful consequences. The fear of God keeps the consciences of children alive to think and act rightly (Genesis 39:9).
  • Socially: Parents should raise children who would obtain mercy and favour with whomever they relate with by teaching them sacrificial giving in love. The experience of Moses in Exodus 2:15-21 illustrates how this kind of giving out of love resulted in favourabe outcomes.
  1. Discipline is achieved as a way life (Jer.35:1-14): The Rechabites achieved discipline and obedience as a way of life. This kind of achievement is encouraged by the following factors:
  • Favourable outcomes would reinforce right actions naturally.
  • Parents in healthy parenting relationships are motivational in approach, and also apply rewards to encourage right actions. This will provide support and sustain the gradual development and maturity of children.
  1. Sibling love and affinity: Job’s children in Job1:4 manifested love and affinity.
  2. Indiscipline is not tolerated: Parents are role models of the discipline they want to achieve in their children.
  • Whenever indiscipline or disobedience is suspected, parents should prayerfully hear from the child through a ‘demand for explanation’. Mary the mother of Jesus applied this skill when Jesus was found in the temple after he had been missing for three days. Demand for explanation opens up a conversation for clearer understanding of the child’s thoughts and actions, and clearer explanation of issues and instructions by parents.
  • When necessary, correction should be made the proper way. A guide on how to do this was provided in our post of 12th June 2016, titled Minimising Siblings’ Rivalry: the Parent’s Role.
  • Rebuke should be given when it is necessary. Rebuke is very effective in a healthy parenting relationship because of the absence of the common pollutants to the right atmosphere of discipline. The pollutants were discussed in our reflections post of 7th January 2016, titled Pollutants to the Right Atmosphere of Discipline.
  • The rod is not spared (2 Samuel 7:14-15): The rod hangs at the back of every sinner. It does not necessarily mean cane. In the context of parenting, is the harsh reality of wrong actions without parental protective influence. For instance, allowing a child who failed a class to repeat the class without influencing his or her promotion to the next class. Parents are required not to spare the rod. Reference should be made to our post titled The Right Approach to Getting it Right with Discipline in Children on 12th December, 2015 for wider understanding on this.

Symptoms and Consequences of Unhealthy Parenting Relationship.

  1. Parents make complaints to people who will intervene between them and their children.
  2. Delinquency in children is common.
  3. Love turns sour and hatred overrides it.
  4. Lack of progress in the family.
  5. Children may take to the streets.
  6. God’s punishment on the children and their parents.
  7. Poor academic performance.
  8. Extreme forms of sibling rivalry.
  9. Aggressive and ineffective parenting approach.
  10. Hatred for parents. Some children are even reluctant to relate with their parents or care for them even when they get old.

 

Self-appraisal and Interactive Session

Questions and comments were taken and the mothers were told that that they would surely obtain the kind of positive result that would gradually and steadily reduce their recourse to flogging if they embrace the effective parenting skills.

Conclusion If the health of any parenting relationship is put on a scale we will find a stretch of values from negative to positive. On the positive extreme is the lovely, happy, firm, righteous relationship where the child is raised with discipline as a way of life right from infancy. Here, parenting is done with so much proficiency that a child will willingly choose to live a disciplined life where the whip, cane and all forms of corporal punishment do not find a place. On the negative extreme are parenting relationships that would break up completely with the child living on the streets without any form of parental guide.

The desire of every parent should therefore be to establish and nurture a love-driven and close parenting relationship which would be the platform on which discipline and godliness would be inculcated without unnecessary aggression and anxiety.

Uchenna N. Nduka