Children Holiday Homes: a Common Channel of Pollution

Sometimes I recall the real-life stories students told in our secondary school days. The events in some of the stories are still clear, especially the stories in which the children were harassed. Many of the stories of harassment occurred when the children spent their holidays outside their homes.

A girl once recounted how she had a full view of the bedroom intimacy of a couple she spent her holidays with several times when they thought she was asleep in the night. It was obvious that her parents were careful to keep such private marital affairs from their children. They would be shocked to discover how much damage a few days or weeks of holiday their daughter had outside their home has caused to her proper physical, social, psychological and cognitive development.

There were many such stories. A girl recounted how a cousin who spent a holiday period in her house sexually harassed her during the day when her parents were not around. A boy said he was hit with a stick and he lost an eye in a relation’s house during a holiday period. There was also a story told by a girl on how she was quickly recalled by her parents after she was harassed by her sister’s husband during a holiday period.

My opinion is that every child’s holiday opportunity should be thoroughly reviewed before it is accepted. The review will throw up some critical questions that would beam parents’ search light on the intending holiday home environment to reveal its suitability.

  • Does the intending holiday home have family values that are consistent with the child’s family values?
  • Will a responsible adult be available to take care of the children (night and day) during the holiday?
  • Is the holiday home environment properly regulated and restricted in terms of access to television, movies and telephones?
  • Have the children been educated on how to quickly identify, firmly resist, and urgently report sexual advances? Education against sexual abuse is a necessity for children of all ages before embarking on any holiday.
  • Is the holiday environment child friendly? I am sure no parent will expose a child to a holiday environment where he would lose an eye as a result of the beating he will receive for telling a ‘lie’.

A holiday opportunity will be worthwhile if the parents have a reasonable assurance that the children will be left in the care of a responsible adult with integrity in a safe and healthy environment. Parents should please refuse any holiday request that may expose their children to harmful experiences.

 

-Uchenna N. Nduka

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A Parent’s Solemn Easter Thoughts

I was reminded during the Easter sermon that everyone, including me and my children, are mortals with bodies that tend to resist discipline without God’s help. This resistance, if not divinely dealt with, exposes us to thoughts and actions that attract the anger of God and the consequential ‘rod’ of discipline. No wonder Prov. 26:3 says ‘A whip for the horse, a bridle for the ass and a rod for the fool’s back.’

The rod is a divine disciplinary intervention and does not mean a parent’s whip. A whip is not meant for human beings and does not lead to repentance. It rather drives rebellion, heartlessness and poor mental development. It pollutes the proper atmosphere of real discipline.

Easter is a time for Christian parents to ponder more on how to achieve godliness through the resurrection power of Jesus Christ so that they will be enabled to model obedience, faith and godly virtues for the balanced development of their children. Godly parenting is not anger-driven and has no room for anxiety or violence. It should be faithfully done in environments that are filled with love, self-control, selflessness, forgiveness, endurance and other godly qualities for children to feed on.

Happy Easter

-Uchenna N. Nduka.

Increasing Accusation of Gang-up of the Children and Mums against the Dads: Are there Solutions?

I was in a discussion session on the role of mothers in the home. The mothers were vehemently criticised and admonished on areas that improvement was expected. Towards the end of the discussion, a question was asked on why mothers “gang up” with their children against their fathers. All the contributors ended up strongly expressing their feelings on what they termed evil deeds by the mothers. It was condemned in strong terms and the only solution they proffered was that mothers should repent from their sins.

Well, a comprehensive approach to any issue would always produce better results. Proper diagnoses would deeply analyse and give attention to every possibility. In interpersonal relationships generally, factors that determine whether a person will get close or avoid another person include the love and care he receives from that person, the availability of peaceful personal interaction and his/her perception of that person from the comments that others make about him.

I have had real-life experiences of the attitudes and feelings of fathers, mothers and children in families where such accusations were made and my observations are as follows:

  1. Children get closer to the parent who is more available and responsive to their needs. Mothers, especially the stay-at-home ones have all the time to care for their children. This is why most children tend to be closer to their mothers. This does not necessarily imply that they are not close to their dads. It is just that they are closer to their mums. Ordinarily, this is harmless to the dads. It does not imply a gang-up by the mothers!
  2. Children get closer to the parent who is more skilled in the parenting function. The traditional role of a father in our environment, as the police who receives reports of offences by the children, and metes out punishment, has worsened this situation. The little time the dads have with their children are spent in agony and pain. When children in this situation resent and avoid their dads, it is not a gang-up by the mums. Great dads can still correct and guide their children using effective parenting skills.
  3. Children get closer to parent whom they perceive as fair to the other parent, especially in situations where there are marital conflicts. The perceptions of the children concerning marital squabbles by their parents are influenced by what they see as well as the parent’s comments about each other. For instance, words of commendation and praise by a mother for her spouse will encourage the children to get closer to him, while negative comments will discourage them. Also wife-battering and lack of attention for a wife by her husband will create negative sentiments by the children towards their dads. In peaceful homes, children should ideally be close to both parents.

Fathers who are anxious about children getting closer to their wives should just translate their anxiety to action by creating time for their children. It is necessary that dads also partake in feeding the children, bathing them, taking them to school and bringing them back, assisting in their school homework, buying their books and clothes, visiting them in their schools, reading bed-time stories and so on. Dads that excite peaceful and purposeful relationship with their children will always enjoy enduring close relationship with them.

-Uchenna N. Nduka

Controlling Pollution within the Home and School

When I heard the story of how the children in a home were made to engage in oral sex with their domestic help, many questions flashed through my mind. I was told that the doctor’s suspicion was aroused when the children’s mouth infection repeated within a short time after the first treatment was completed. Were they really all below eight years? How was the domestic help able to subdue them into obedience to such a heinous activity? Why didn’t the parents notice that something was wrong with their children’s behavioural pattern? Will it ever be possible to wipe out the memories of such abuse?

It is not a surprise that an overwhelming majority of those who abuse children are those who they look up to daily for care and attention, especially teachers and those who live with them. Such people include domestic help, friends, blood relations, neighbours and visitors. I believe that sexual abuse of children is as rampant as other forms of physical and emotional abuses. In fact, freedom of a caregiver to apply aggression on children without restriction anchors the evil of sexual abuse of children. This is because when children become overwhelmed by the extent of their unprotected exposure to be physically abused, they usually resort to submission and obedience as a strategy for mitigating such exposures.

This is why I would always boldly assert that parents cannot be in control of the parenting process of children in a home environment that is filled with persons of questionable characters, who have the freedom to inflict pain on the children in the name of training. Such persons would not stop at saturating the home environment with negative characters; they also enforce wrong thoughts and actions on children by doting on them, blackmailing them, and even punishing them under diverse guises.

Accordingly , the parental and school actions listed below communicate passion and focus on proper development of children.

  1. The PTA meeting of schools should demand the violent-free disciplinary approach.

Whips and all forms of corporal punishment actually predispose children to anger and rebellion. Parents ignorantly buy whips for teachers and domestic helps. Parents should not be deceived by the illusive discipline violence creates. Children may be shackled into misleading submission with coercion, but great parents choose the effective parenting approach which produces enduring results.

  1. The school should establish a school policy on aggression-free disciplinary measures.

Training and retraining of teachers on the ethics of teacher-children relationship should be a top priority. The school should set up a reliable monitoring structure to ensure total compliance. The use of surveillance cameras are recommended for children in the crèche, nursery and primary schools. The operation of a well-staffed inspectorate and compliance department in a school will also help. School inspectors patrol the school to monitor and enforce compliance to school policies.

  1. Establishment of a functional grievance procedure for children at home and the school.

It is unfortunate that adults and teachers in environments with prevalence of aggression to children are unfavourably disposed to attending to a child’s complaints about a teacher or a care giver. It is common for teachers to excommunicate such a child, and make the class uncomfortable for him/her. The child’s “offence” is usually exaggerated in the teacher’s struggle to justify a condemnable act.

  1. Parents should be available and close enough to perceive and appreciate the challenges of their children.

No sacrifice is too much to achieve this. Parents have been seen to give up jobs and be self employed in the interest of their children. It’s okay to adjust, earn less and be more available for the children.

 

Parenting is effective and without stress if the home and school environments are purified of aggressive practices and negative role models. Great parents undertake this task passionately.

-Uchenna N. Nduka

 

Uchenna N. Nduka