Mmachi, a fifteen-year- old boy could not but wonder at his mother’s response when he came back with soiled clothes because he had to assist in pushing out Odia’s car from the ditch.
“Please go and change your clothes. It was good that you people were available to assist him,” was Mmachi’s mother’s comment.
As Mmachi changed his clothes, he pondered on the story his cousin, Kachi, told him in school. Kachi told him that her mother attacked her verbally and almost flogged her for giving some of the firewood she gathered from the farm to a sick woman from Mr. Odia’s compound. Kachi explained that her mother said that no one from that compound deserved any help in whatever form because of some family conflict.
Mmachi’s mother was obviously too focused on the support she was providing him for a positive and responsible personality formation to be distracted by extended family conflicts. That was a healthy parenting attitude and a sure foundation for peace in the home and the community at large.
The attitude Kachi’s mother manifested, however, has no place in a healthy parenting relationship. This wrong attitude releases hatred in trickles into the child’s psyche and lays a wrong foundation for negative emotions that could degenerate into indiscipline, resentment, communal conflict and even wars. Can we imagine the enormous resources that are applied to combat crime, communal clashes and terrorist attacks and the colossal waste of lives and properties from such incidences?
Great parents raise children who can show love and care in interpersonal relationships.
This topic, Healthy Parenting Relationship: a Necessity for Raising Godly and Disciplined Children, is really making waves this period at women conferences! The effect of the message on the audience is usually so compelling that they have no option but to desire to put the healthy parenting principles in practice. Like a wave stirred up in a part of a sea spreads, so is this new apostolic teaching spreading.
The topic usually takes my audience through an introductory discussion on how much indiscipline our children manifest. Most of the women would almost scream that stubbornness and disobedience are on the increase despite all their efforts at correcting them! Hmmm! This obviously implied that most of them were at the turning point.
It should be recalled that 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. 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 realised. No wonder my audience would always listen with keen interest when I explain that the discussion would help them achieve improved and effective parenting skills.
The next stage of the discussion would expound in detail the hallmarks of a healthy parenting relationship, and help to create a benchmark for self-appraisal of performance in the parenting task. By the time we are done with the symptoms and consequences of unhealthy parenting relationship, many women would breakdown with remorse and self-pity, asking for help on how to retrace their steps and take the right path to achieve enduring discipline in their children. Many women would out rightly confess their excessive use of the cane and request to be helped.
The summary of the counsel to parents who have ignorantly applied the parenting skills that emphasised flogging, punishment and threats of aggression is the withdrawal of all the pollutants to the right atmosphere of discipline and the embrace of healthy parenting principles. The healthy parenting principles require that parents should prayerfully get closer to their children with love. It is important that the two actions of withdrawing the wrong and ineffective approach and introducing the right and effective approach must be done concurrently otherwise an atmosphere of confusion would arise. Simply put, I have advised such parents to ignore their canes and stop the threats of fire and brimstone each time obedience is demanded from the children. They should, instead, patiently establish a free and love-driven flow of communication with their children. Once this is done with hope and faith, they would have testimonies of improved discipline and obedience in their children and may never have need for recourse to their weapons of aggression.
Parents achieve their parenting targets when their desires are right. It is wrong for parents to desire commendation from neighbours and relations on how much efforts they make through the physical and emotional abuse of their children in the name of disciplinary measure. Ironically, such parents struggle more with indiscipline in children!
Healthy parenting relationship should be the desire of every parent. Let’s meditate more on it, learn it, practise it and share it!
–Uchenna N. Nduka
It is irreconcilable when schools that apply belligerent disciplinary strategies brag about how much ‘discipline’ they instil in children and yet they increasingly allocate a lot of time and resources daily to meting out punishment to students who disobey school rules and regulations. In such an environment, people’s consciences have become so deadened that it would make no meaning if a child devotes a whole week of learning to serve series of punishment as long as children are punished thoroughly for every little offence.
Anyone who has taken time to follow up on parents who emphasise punishment and violence in child training would discover really how illusory achieving discipline can be. It is still the same frustrating story of applying punishment in increasing measures without success. Some of such parents have ignorantly released their teenage children to be maltreated and some have been put in school prisons and raped in the process.
The fact is that the level of discipline manifested by most adults in a community is an indication of the success of the collective parenting efforts of that society over a period of time. A society or country in which unhealthy parenting approach is prevalent would likely raise adults who respond to the demand to obey rules and regulations only when war drums are beaten or the armed forces are deployed. No wonder the penal code in such countries have only functioned to get the prisons increasingly congested! The reports of jail breaks among prison inmates in such environments are also pointers to the rebellious mindset of the prisoners.
Countries such as Sweden and Netherlands who banned the use of corporal punishment on children are shutting down some of their prisons due to lack of prisoners, while countries like Nigeria are bedevilled with prison congestion. This is a confirmation that enduring discipline is not achieved through the whip, cane or other forms of corporal punishment.
A healthy parenting relationship is the key to raising godly and disciplined children. Such children grow up to become adults who will likely not end up in the prisons because they would conduct their affairs within the confines of the law. Countries who are burdened with prison congestion should therefore make efforts to establishing the right approaches to child upbringing in schools, communities and homes.
-Uchenna N. Nduka
Izunna’s story of how he survived as an orphan always sounded interesting each time he shared any part of it with me. As at the time I first met him as a neighbor, he was a lecturer in a higher institution. The last time I had a chat with him, some years ago, he already had his PhD and was doing well as a lecturer in a university. He was orphaned as a young child with a humble background. His disposition to giving a helping hand out of love was one attribute of him that endeared him to his relations he lived with and his community at large.
The part that has stuck to my memory was how the elderly women in his village would look forward to having him around during the holiday periods in his undergraduate years. He said he assisted them in various ways such as farming, compound cleaning, fetching of water and general welfare. His story actually reminds me of how Moses in the bible survived his sojourn to Midian when he ran out of Egypt in Exodus chapter 2:15. Moses obtained favour in a strange environment through his act of love to girls who needed help.
A healthy parenting relationship is a sure foundation for nurturing children who would understand the indispensability of love and discipline in any form of interpersonal relationship. Children who are products of such love-driven parenting relationships learn that love and discipline are not applied only when they are deserved, but are fundamental requirements for any relationship to bear good fruits. Such children are therefore able are to elicit positive responses from people they relate with.
Wrong foundations of fault-finding, hatred and revenge are laid in unhealthy parenting relationships through hate-building communication and use of children to accomplish revenge missions. Except through the mercies of God, such children would develop into adults who would expect love from people they relate with, but have none to give. For such people, favourable outcomes in interpersonal encounters and relationships may remain elusive until the faulty foundation of hatred is repaired.
Great parents who desire that their children obtain favour and mercy in their future interpersonal relationships have no other option to parenting approach than that which abides in love and gives no room or justification for hatred and aggression. I can’t imagine how much peace the world would have in place of the terrorism that is currently threatening humanity if parents would adopt the proper and godly approach to parenting. Effective parenting skills are indeed indispensable for great parenting outcomes.
-Uchenna N. Nduka