On the 12th of November last year, the burden I have always had became so heavy that I could no longer bear it. On many occasions, I have had reasons to stop on the road to intervene where children were being brutalised at the full glare of other adults who were usually unperturbed. It was no longer enough spotting and stabilising children who almost took to the streets instead of facing their parents/guardians because money realised from the sales of the day were incomplete. Although I was encouraged by the result of the little effort made on those occasions when I reached out to families with wrong parenting practices in my neighbourhood whose stories changed from resentment and stubbornness to mutual love and obedience, I always desired to reach out to more parents. I was no longer satisfied with counselling children in school and in the church on how to cope with and live positively with domestic violence. It was obvious that I needed to do more than just cry each time the ugly stories of brutalised children were told.
At the time that this blog commenced, I only desired improvement in our parenting skills, but was not sure of what I was going to write. I chose not to rely on my experience and qualification as a registered teacher in the school or my training and experience as a children worker in the church because I have seen many people with higher educational qualifications supporting the futile aggression towards children which has only helped to produce unstable personalities. I need to clarify that the educational principles I was exposed to were sound and did not support senseless use of corporal punishment on children. I am yet to come to terms with why teachers still cling to wrong cultural practices even with their professional certificates. I was only persuaded that God was able to clarify parenting issues. I therefore relied on the inspiration and revelation that God would provide.
Isn’t it wonderful how much our parenting skills have improved over the past one year? Now the following issues have been clarified:
- It is not true that children should be flogged before they learn a lesson. Without legislative prohibition, flogging children is a personal choice and not a necessity. Passionate parents who have effective parenting skills have achieved great results without flogging their children.
- Every great parent should always remember to get closer to the child each time any parenting challenge gets tough. Parents should give no thought to separation from the child because it will definitely make the situation worse.
- Parents should firmly make it clear early in parenting relationships that crying will never be allowed to stampede them into taking sub-optimal decisions and actions. It is in fact a weakness on any parent’s part to be coaxed into wrong decisions and actions just because the child will cry. Principled firmness is required to instill discipline in children. Children whose parents are quick to make compromises and yield to pressure from such crying tend to employ the strategy to bring their own childish will to bear on most issues.
- Is it not therefore obvious that the illusory atmosphere of discipline, achieved with the belligerent parenting approach, would likely have difficulty aligning with the child’s enduring personality traits? Is it then not vanity for one to toil for ‘discipline’ that would vanish when the child is a few steps away? Should we not rather adopt the better approach that achieves real discipline which the child is able to apply on all issues of life at all times as he gradually matures, irrespective of whether or not the parents are present?
- Effective parenting is the preferred option for achieving enduring discipline in children because it focuses on properly guided and gradual cognitive development which is anchored on love, patience and good conscience. It should be learnt and adopted fully in all parenting methods and relationships.
- The adoption of any parenting approach is a choice. The right and effective approach works well with children of all races, tribes, religion and background. It is never too late to embrace it.
- In a healthy parenting relationship, the flow of communication between parents and their children is filled with love, patience, empathy and sound logic. Here, children are raised to be lovely, intelligent and conscientious.
- As parents, we should really be committed to protecting children from harm and danger so that they will gradually mature, but, sometimes, the imperatives of our responsibility towards them may require that we allow the rod of discipline. That is, we would stand aside to allow them the right measure of exposure to the harsh reality of their choices and actions. The biblical ‘rod of correction’ does not necessarily mean a cane or whip. An example is to ensure that they repeat the class when they fail their exams.
- 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.
- 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!
- This is not implying that children are angels. No, they are not. But it is a parenting blunder to call or describe children by their faults, weaknesses or past mistakes. It will yield no positive result, but would rather worsen any parenting case since children usually develop into what they are called or how they are described. For instance, a child who is always called a dunce because he failed an examination would likely not make good grades as long as he is called this name.
- 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.
- Parents should be visibly positioned in the lives of their children to censor the closeness of any one with the children, especially those who have sorts of pet names for the children such as ‘my darling’,’ my wife’ and ‘my husband’
- Application of good correction skills:
When a child continues to err on a particular issue, parents should first meditate deeply and consider comprehensively all factors at play in the child’s situation that could have contributed to the child’s behaviour. Parents should always remember to prayerfully get closer, talk more and listen more to the child before deciding of the best approach to correcting him or her.
In correcting children, parents should communicate love, logical reasoning, fear of God and the avoidable negative consequences of wrong actions.
It really takes the redeeming power of God to deal effectively with the depravity of man. (Romans 7:24). My personal experiences have proved the efficacy of God’s word and prayer in the correction of wrong behaviour in children.
Parents should not be too hasty in expecting result when correcting a child. A skilled parent should follow up closely on the child, rewarding every little improvement with love, hope and faith.
- Avoidance of pollutants to the right atmosphere of discipline:
Efforts at correcting children would not yield the desired result and would excite sibling jealousy if children who manifest wrong behaviours are condemned, hated, resented, called names, debased, compared with their siblings and told they would never get anything right. These and other wrong and ineffective approaches parents apply in correcting children were discussed in our post of 7th January, 2016 in the Reflections category titled ‘Pollutants to the Right Atmosphere of Discipline’. They should all be avoided.
- Prayer works!
I was really refreshed during my search for these principles in the blog archive. It will be nice if we all go through the archive as part of the anniversary activity.
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