My interaction with Andrew, a disciple of the effective parenting approach is worth sharing. Andrew grew up in an environment in which bullying was the predominant parenting tool in the homes, schools and society. Expectedly, he commenced its application immediately his first child arrived. He believed that he had to necessarily drum instructions into a child’s ears in order to achieve results. He therefore started yelling at his first daughter even before she started talking.
“It was really frustrating because most times I had to scream my head off or use the whip to get my children to obey simple instructions” Andrew confessed.
“At first when my wife and I got tips on how to effectively raise disciplined children, we thought they weren’t going to work for our children. In fact, my first attempt at talking to my children with my ‘chatting’ voice was like a joke to them. I didn’t get the result I wanted because they thought I was not serious!” He further explained.
Andrew said that he explored more learning opportunities on effective parenting strategies and achieved improvement in his parenting skills. Eventually, he and his wife were able to gradually withdraw bullying and abusive parenting practices and replaced them with the preferred ones. Over a period of time, his children understood and embraced the improved parenting relationship he introduced. His children are becoming increasingly responsive to his chatting voice and instructions. It is a big relief to Andrew that the era of always talking harshly when relating with his children is over.
Parents should never yield to the discouraging thought or argument that a decent and effective parenting practice will not work in their homes. The reality is that children helplessly react or adjust to whatever approach parents adopt, and can always adapt to any change. How swiftly children will adapt to a change to improved parenting approach will depend on how much parenting skill and knowledge parents have acquired.
The window of learning should never be shut as far as parenting is concerned. Parents should keep learning, practising and sharing the preferred and more effective approach.
-Uchenna N. Nduka
I strolled down my street to buy something from a nearby shop on a Saturday morning. When I got to the shop, I observed that the owner was a woman who was assisted by her teenage son. The boy was holding a broom to sweep the surroundings of the shop. He was about to start sweeping when his mother instructed him to start from the opposite direction. The boy hesitated and then ignored his mother’s instruction and continued sweeping. When his mum noticed that her instruction was not obeyed, she yelled at him to stop sweeping from that point and go over to the other side. The boy stopped sweeping and murmured while making daring gestures. Suddenly, his mum picked up a big aluminium scoop and charged at him.
“If you don’t go over to the other side I will throw this scoop at you!” His mum roared hysterically. The boy quickly ran to the other side of the compound and started sweeping as if he was remote-controlled.
Even though the boy’s quick response almost forestalled my objection to his mother’s threat, I still expressed my reservation. Her explanation revealed further the extent of her struggles with her son. She said that it was almost impossible to get her son to obey any instruction without such threats. I wondered at what she was really saying. Did she teach him how to sweep correctly and why he should sweep from a particular direction? Was she saying that her son’s personality was so underdeveloped (spiritually, mentally, emotionally and socially) that force and threats of violence must be used to make him obey instructions? If that was what she was saying, then there was real danger looming in the air.
The danger in this kind of situation is that if nothing is done to intervene and achieve improvement in the boy’s relationship with his mum he may develop into a rebellious and violent adult personality. At a point, he may stop responding to her threats and damn the consequences. On the other hand, his mum may become frustrated, throw in the towel and abandon him to his fate. The street children in our environment are evidences of such mishaps. I therefore left that shop with a big burden of how that woman could be helped to improve on positively communicating with her son and adopting a parenting approach that will ensure that her son is effectively developed physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually and socially into a responsive and responsible adult.
There is an urgent call on every informed parent to mentor adults in his/her neighbourhood and community. Schools should also be diligent in providing proper parenting guides for parents through the PTA meetings. Religious organisations should also be involved in preaching and teaching proper parenting skills.
Uchenna N. Nduka
Children may easily be shackled into whatever behaviour adults deem fit, but the paradigm for reckoning in any society on the propriety of its parenting beliefs and approaches is the extent of discipline achieved in the adults that have been raised over a period of time. A studied look at the disciplinary content of the average behaviour of adults raised in a particular society will surely inform the way forward on the necessary improvements to make on the prevailing parenting practices. It may be necessary to ask such questions as: Are political leaders disciplined? Are government ministries and parastatals administered with honesty and discipline? Are adults so disciplined as to willingly obey law and order without being seriously closely marked by various law enforcement agencies? What is the trend in prison congestion? What is the trend in crime rate? Is that society generally secure and peaceful?
It is really worrisome where the personalities of adults in a society are formed in such a way that only a few can be trusted to manage public funds without the mass media being littered with news about corrupt practices and looted fund recovery. The prisons are congested and crime is on the increase. If in security is rising and peaceful coexistence is elusive, then the heart of such a society shouldn’t just bleed and her tears freely flow at these alarming dimensions of rebellious manifestations. Such a society is truly at the turning point and its parenting and educational processes require urgent overhauling.
This is food for thought for those who passionately administer wrong violent and abusive parenting practices for mainly cultural purposes. Societies that have established standard parenting and educational laws and practices have better stories to tell. A parenting approach will be effective if parents are sufficiently available to model discipline and provide the right support and guidance for the proper development of their children. Therefore, our little individual efforts at ensuring that the parents in our respective communities apply effective parenting skills will surely help in reducing crime, violence and corruption. Workshops and seminars should be organised to teach the right standards of practice to parents, teachers and care-givers of children. Yes, it will greatly help in achieving the kind of improvement that will transform a dysfunctional society into the kind of societies with admirable and functional systems.
Uchenna N. Nduka