The strange look on the face of that teenager who visited my home early in the morning did not even prepare us for his shocking utterances. He said that he had a clash with his father and had visited us for intervention. He was about seventeen years old. Our interaction with him revealed that he and his other siblings were mixed up in the conflict between their mum and dad. He was obviously on his mum’s side. In the bid to explain how ‘terrible’ his dad was, he made this statement that has made an indelible mark in my memory because of its severity.
“Do you know that since I was born, my dad has never paid my school fees or bought my books? My mum has been doing everything”
Of course, we are close enough to his family to know that his statement is not true. His mum has not been doing everything! Of course she could not! Not with the nature of her job. We reminded him of the visible indications of care from his dad such as school runs and others. We told him that it was unfortunate that he and his siblings were mixed up in a marital conflict. The boy was obviously struggling with the pollution introduced by his resentment for his dad. He received wise counsel from us on the issues he was struggling with before he left.
When the boy left, my husband and I took time to ponder on the development. We couldn’t place our fingers on why he got the communication and actually believed that his father abandoned his care to his mum alone in that circumstance where his dad was visibly involved in the parenting process. Were there actions or omissions on his dad’s part that sent wrong signals? Was it possible that his mum ignorantly communicated such negative notions? Is it true that some spouses make such negative communications in vendetta? Whatever be the cause, the resultant hatred, confusion, rebellion and resentment were avoidable.
In an ideal parenting environment, parents should not be competing for children’s attention because their respective roles at any point in time are complementary. The spouse who is engaged in a job that brings in more money is as important as the spouse who is more available to attend to domestic issues. Parents owe their spouses a duty to make communications that will establish love in the hearts of their children towards each other. Where this is achieved, children are receptive to parental instructions and enjoy the synergistic benefit of the parenting efforts of both parents.The parenting environment is purified and virtues of love, peaceful co-existence and good interpersonal skills are available for children to feed on.
-Uchenna N. Nduka