Children learn from their mistakes naturally

A few days ago, I read an interesting story in a group chat.

“When I was about nine years old on a Saturday morning, my mum travelled and my siblings weren’t around. It was only me and my dad that were at home. I decided to do something great, first to make my dad happy and second to make my mom ask who did this when she returned. I decided to mop the house to make it clean. I took the rubber bucket in the house while my dad was in his room, put some water and was carrying it to clean the room. Suddenly, the bucket slipped from my hand and broke… I was sad, but I felt bad more because I couldn’t fulfil my dream … I had to first clean the spilled water… So when my dad came out and saw the splashed water and broken bucket … I was still explaining… He flogged me… I wept and so much bitterness filled my heart… As I was crying, I vowed that I will do evil… The experience is still fresh even after two decades”

Dear readers,

The correction process was already on course…

The ‘rod of discipline’ was obviously available and staring the boy in the face – to first clean the spilled water. That would have been an opportunity to improve his problem-resolution skill and his dexterity at mopping. He was lucky that he didn’t fall because of the slippery floor.

The grief of disillusionment, remorseful sorrow, was being excited to spur him to take corrective actions and work towards doing it better in the future. The correction process was almost completed before his dad arrived at the scene. The application of effective parenting skill was all that was needed from him to consolidate the correction process. He should have listened to his child, supervised the mopping and skilfully provided a guide that would help the child act with more wisdom in the future.

But no! His dad truncated the correction process ignorantly. His dad “spared the rod”. He just replaced godly sorrow that was correcting with worldly sorrow that was destructive (2 Cor 7:10). The child ended up in confusion and sorrow. I doubt if nothing much was achieved in terms of learning on the child’s part.

This story is a good illustration of how the cane, misinterpretation of intentions, condemnation, disregard for the feelings of children and punishments are applied to frustrate the proper development of children. Ironically, many adults mistakenly see these as necessities for good upbringing. This approach excites anger and rebellion in children, and develops adults who are strangers to themselves, cannot achieve much with their talents but merely exist.

It is becoming clearer that parents shouldn’t just quickly reach for the cane whenever the child is being corrected. Enduring discipline in children is achievable with the right parenting support. There is need for parents to keep learning for improved results.

 

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.

Purity in Parental instructions and Communication : A Necessity for Positive Personality Formation in Children.

I remember that the Children’s Sunday school of that day was particularly challenging. I was really bothered because I was going to teach children of ages between eight to eleven years a bible story in which a mother gave a nasty instruction to her daughter!

It was a story of how a child performed so excellently before her father’s guests that her father promised her a gift of her choice. Her father was ready to give her anything, even half of his kingdom. In her confusion, she went to her mother to guide her to choose rightly. Her mother utilised the opportunity to terminate the life of someone she was angry with. This woman told her daughter to request for the head of the person whose death she desperately wanted. Her daughter obeyed her and that person was beheaded.

The damages that are done to children through such vicious communication are quite enormous. It is usually difficult to correct an adult in respect of behaviour if he grew up believing that the wrong behaviour is right because he was introduced to it by parents or adults he looked up to for guidance. I believe that the spate of terrorism and communal clashes currently ravaging humanity may be connected to the indoctrination of children into evil by getting them involved in adult vendetta. This is a common channel of impurity that passionate parents should resist.

It is obvious that a healthy parenting relationship would achieve a good measure of purity in the parenting process because it has zero-tolerance for indiscipline and evil. In a healthy and pure parenting process, every interaction with the child is a practical learning activity. Also, every word a parent speaks should be a medium to communicate the virtues of love, hope, self-control, faith, humility, diligence and forgiveness. A resourceful parent ensures that godly virtues are packaged and expressed in every moment with children such as godly reactions to life challenges, bed-time stories, and instructions in righteousness.

Great and passionate parents should therefore utilise their position as instruments of positive personality formation in the lives of their children, to raise children who would give peace and not terror to humanity.

-Uchenna N. Nduka

Great Parents nurture children who are able to excite favourable outcomes in interpersonal relationships.

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

Healthy Parenting Relationship: A Necessity for Raising Godly and Disciplined Children.

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I facilitated the discussion on this topic in a diocesan women’s conference on Saturday, 2nd July, 2016. It really provided a guide to the mothers on how to develop effective parenting skills. Excerpts of the message are provided below.

Introduction: Marital relationship should be prioritised because husbands and wives are covenant partners and a good relationship between them will create the enabling environment to build a healthy parenting relationship. Parenting in an atmosphere of marital squabbles is usually very frustrating.

Mothers deserve commendation because in their attempts to support their husbands, they combine the parenting role with their career and other domestic duties. However, it is regrettable that their efforts seem not to be yielding the desired results going by the spate of indiscipline, delinquency and corruption in our society.

The required changes and improvements in parenting approaches were the focus of the discussion. Hence the purpose of the talk was to learn how healthy parenting relationships will help reduce this stubbornness. The message thrust was that discipline is achieved in children without stress if parenting relationship is healthy.

Message Outline

  1. Definition of healthy parenting relationship.
  2. Hallmarks of a healthy parenting relationship.
  3. Symptoms and consequences of an unhealthy parenting relationship.
  4. Self-appraisal and interactive session.
  5. Conclusion.

 

Definition A healthy parenting relationship is one in which the parent is sufficiently close to continuously provide support towards the physical, mental, spiritual and social development of the child in an atmosphere of love, until the child is released into a disciplined adult life. In situations where parenting is effectively done, the foundation of this relationship is so strong that it is never severed even in the child’s adult life. It manifests deeper love and maturity as the child gets older. This should be the desire of every parent!

Hallmarks of a Healthy Parenting Relationship

  1. Divine heart-to-heart closeness with God in between: Children hear their parents and understand even the non-verbal communication and the words spoken in whispers. This closeness creates an enabling environment for effective transfer of faith, family values and other godly virtues through every word, action or inaction of parents as they relate with their children.  Parents create time to hold family devotion and share testimonies and folk tales with their children.

It is recommended that God must be at the center of this relationship for godliness and discipline to prevail. The fear of God is a great driver of discipline in the lives of parents and their children. The bible story of how Joseph effectively resisted the demand for sexual immorality made by Potipher’s wife depicts the effectiveness of the fear of God when children are tempted. Examples of parenting relationships in the bible with God in between are Job and his children (Job 1: 4-5), and Jesus and his parents (Luke 2:41-52). Job was not distracted by his many children. His had each of them in his heart and offered burnt offerings for each of them.

Where parents achieve closeness with their children without the presence of God, indiscipline and stubbornness are inculcated. The case of Herodias and her daughter in Mark 6:14-28 is an example of a close parenting relationship that was unhealthy because it lacked godliness. In this kind of relationship, a common way of transferring wrong parental values is through the use of children in accomplishing revenge missions. Herodias used her small daughter to accomplish the murder of John the Baptist. Hatred-building discussions and comments are common. The result is that wrong values are transferred to the children, which predisposes them to indiscipline, disobedience, wrong results and regrets.

  1. Unending mutual love between parents and their children: In a healthy parenting relationship, love is reciprocated. This love drives obedience and discipline without the stress of threats and punishment. With the right skill, parents achieve this love through godly closeness (Rom 5:5), and commitment to the parenting duty. Parenting challenges such as delinquency would always put this love to test. It should get stronger with every parenting difficulty it surmounts. Love does not end (1 Cor. 13:8).

It is not one-sided as in the case of David and his son Absalom. David’s relationship with Absalom manifested the symptoms of ill-health because David loved his son Absalom, but he could not get Absalom to reciprocate this love. Theirs was a case where poor parenting relationship ended up with the death of the child.

  1. Unending support to enable children grow up in wisdom and stature and in favour with God and man (Luke 2:52):
  • Mentally: Children should attend good schools and be properly followed up. Engaging them in logical conversations makes them wiser, while shouting them down and other forms of aggression stupefies them.
  • Physically: Feeding, clothing and housing should be prioritized by parents so that children will grow well and be healthy.
  • Spiritually: Parents should be conscious that children, being human, are prone to sin (Job 1:5 & Romans 7:24-25). Children, therefore need redemption from the slavery to sin and its dreadful consequences. The fear of God keeps the consciences of children alive to think and act rightly (Genesis 39:9).
  • Socially: Parents should raise children who would obtain mercy and favour with whomever they relate with by teaching them sacrificial giving in love. The experience of Moses in Exodus 2:15-21 illustrates how this kind of giving out of love resulted in favourabe outcomes.
  1. Discipline is achieved as a way life (Jer.35:1-14): The Rechabites achieved discipline and obedience as a way of life. This kind of achievement is encouraged by the following factors:
  • Favourable outcomes would reinforce right actions naturally.
  • Parents in healthy parenting relationships are motivational in approach, and also apply rewards to encourage right actions. This will provide support and sustain the gradual development and maturity of children.
  1. Sibling love and affinity: Job’s children in Job1:4 manifested love and affinity.
  2. Indiscipline is not tolerated: Parents are role models of the discipline they want to achieve in their children.
  • Whenever indiscipline or disobedience is suspected, parents should prayerfully hear from the child through a ‘demand for explanation’. Mary the mother of Jesus applied this skill when Jesus was found in the temple after he had been missing for three days. Demand for explanation opens up a conversation for clearer understanding of the child’s thoughts and actions, and clearer explanation of issues and instructions by parents.
  • When necessary, correction should be made the proper way. A guide on how to do this was provided in our post of 12th June 2016, titled Minimising Siblings’ Rivalry: the Parent’s Role.
  • Rebuke should be given when it is necessary. Rebuke is very effective in a healthy parenting relationship because of the absence of the common pollutants to the right atmosphere of discipline. The pollutants were discussed in our reflections post of 7th January 2016, titled Pollutants to the Right Atmosphere of Discipline.
  • The rod is not spared (2 Samuel 7:14-15): The rod hangs at the back of every sinner. It does not necessarily mean cane. In the context of parenting, is the harsh reality of wrong actions without parental protective influence. For instance, allowing a child who failed a class to repeat the class without influencing his or her promotion to the next class. Parents are required not to spare the rod. Reference should be made to our post titled The Right Approach to Getting it Right with Discipline in Children on 12th December, 2015 for wider understanding on this.

Symptoms and Consequences of Unhealthy Parenting Relationship.

  1. Parents make complaints to people who will intervene between them and their children.
  2. Delinquency in children is common.
  3. Love turns sour and hatred overrides it.
  4. Lack of progress in the family.
  5. Children may take to the streets.
  6. God’s punishment on the children and their parents.
  7. Poor academic performance.
  8. Extreme forms of sibling rivalry.
  9. Aggressive and ineffective parenting approach.
  10. Hatred for parents. Some children are even reluctant to relate with their parents or care for them even when they get old.

 

Self-appraisal and Interactive Session

Questions and comments were taken and the mothers were told that that they would surely obtain the kind of positive result that would gradually and steadily reduce their recourse to flogging if they embrace the effective parenting skills.

Conclusion If the health of any parenting relationship is put on a scale we will find a stretch of values from negative to positive. On the positive extreme is the lovely, happy, firm, righteous relationship where the child is raised with discipline as a way of life right from infancy. Here, parenting is done with so much proficiency that a child will willingly choose to live a disciplined life where the whip, cane and all forms of corporal punishment do not find a place. On the negative extreme are parenting relationships that would break up completely with the child living on the streets without any form of parental guide.

The desire of every parent should therefore be to establish and nurture a love-driven and close parenting relationship which would be the platform on which discipline and godliness would be inculcated without unnecessary aggression and anxiety.

Uchenna N. Nduka

Coping with Delinquency in Children.

A story was told by a woman of how an eight-year-old foster child who came to stay with her family refused to drop a bad habit of stealing despite weeks of frantic efforts to discourage the behaviour. She initially felt that if she could set a trap and catch her red handed, she would stop stealing. Even after she was caught, disgraced and terribly flogged, she still continued. The woman said that the event that frightened her most occurred around 1a.m. on a particular day when she was woken up by the sound of an aluminum pot cover. She hastened to her kitchen to find out what the sound was about. To her dismay, her girl was stealing a piece of meat from her pot by that time of the night!

This eight-year-old girl was obviously showing signs of delinquency because she did not respond positively to the disciplinary measures that were adopted to discourage her from stealing.

At this point, most adults would get hysterical, and mete out inhuman acts of punishment to the child. Flogging the child with wire, hitting with heavy objects, starving and cutting the mouth and fingers with a razor blade are some of the condemnable ‘disciplinary measures’ usually adopted in anger. Some of such children may end up being described as witches or demon-possessed and may be required to pass through inhuman religious processes for deliverance. Stories have been told of how delinquent teenagers are kept in home-made, school-made and community-made prisons under harsh conditions so that they would learn discipline from their sufferings. Claims of rape of female teenagers in such prisons are common.

Some of such children may be so traumatized by violence that their real selves would be shackled into hidden corners in their hearts. The children would therefore be coerced into an illusory form of compliance or obedience. Parents, teachers and caregivers who adopt this approach are really kept busy daily designing and applying punishment in increasing measures to maintain a desirable level of this illusory atmosphere of discipline. Regrettably, children in such environments, except by God’s grace would slip into indiscipline if given the slightest opportunity.

The unfortunate thing is that acts of brutality tend to worsen rather than alleviate the situation. The aggressive approach does not produce children who acquire discipline as personality attributes. Brutality has produced children whose consciences are dead. They would have rebellion tucked in their hearts awaiting convenient times for expression. There have been stories where such children waylaid parents and teachers in vengeance.

I am sure that we would all be wondering how to face the challenge of correcting a child whose conscience is unresponsive, who neither fears God nor his parents, who is not capable of guilt feelings, who may not care about other people’s opinion of him or her, who cares little or nothing about the consequences of his actions, and who would in fact be progressively unmoved by the punishment that would ordinarily discourage his or her peers. I am of the opinion that delinquency is really a spiritual rebellion.

In seeking for solution to delinquency, aggression is ruled out since it is ineffective and will further debase the child. The optimum method to adopt should be such that will help achieve restoration and revival spiritually, intellectually, socially and physically. The target should be to restore normalcy to a personality who has helplessly taken to rebellion. The restoration plan should be such that will help the child achieve an inner set of stable positive values.

Parents of delinquent children should be properly guided.

  1. Parents should be more available to work with God for this special restoration role. Delinquency should not be a reason to abandon any child.
  2. Parents should prayerfully get closer, talk more, and listen more to the child to get more insight into the child’s problem.
  3. Parents should ensure that the child is patiently provided with the guidance and explanations he or she requires to obey instructions or carry out assignments properly.
  4. The child’s relationship with people in his environment should be properly reviewed to exclude frustration.
  5. Parental unconditional and unending love for the child should get stronger throughout the delinquency ordeal.
  6. The delinquent child should be truly and completely forgiven.

Parents should avoid the common mistake of always referring to the child’s misdeeds or interpreting the child’s behavior from the perspective of his past misdeeds. Such interpretations introduce hopelessness, faithlessness and stagnation to the child’s situation.

It is also unnecessary and will work against the desired purpose to discuss the child’s behavior publicly or with visitors. Other close relations of the child should be also be cautioned to avoid these mistakes.

  1. The correction skills that were discussed in our last post will be very useful in coping with delinquency.

“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 results when correcting a child. A skilled parent should follow up closely on the child, rewarding every little improvement with love, hope and faith.”

  1. The child’s teachers in school are also expected to relate with the child skillfully.

 

Delinquency should not excite hopelessness and aggression. It should be approached with prayer, commitment, love, hope and faith.

-Uchenna N. Nduka

Minimising Sibling Rivalry: Parents’ Role

Siblings are privileged to have a common heritage of parenthood, live together as children and be exposed to the same family, cultural and religious values and orientation. It is therefore absurd when they develop into enemies who utilise every opportunity to nurse ill feelings, backbite, and work against each others’ purpose.

It is note-worthy that incidences of sibling rivalry are usually preceded by negative emotions and feelings of being less loved and preferred as a result of endowments, position, achievements and other factors. I have heard such statements as ‘My brother is always right while I am always wrong’, ‘Of course, my mother loves him more than any one of us in the family’, and ‘My father loves her more because she is the only girl among us’. Such perceptions of unfairness are capable of producing very regrettable results.

Our environment is replete with the evil occurrences of sibling rivalry. It is a major cause of physical and emotional abuse of children at home. It frustrates overall family goals and achievements. Unbelievable stories have been told over and again of how people connived to sell their brothers and sisters to slave dealers during the era of slave trade. The bizarre developments where siblings take each other through judicial processes and vendetta in their bid to manage or share the properties of a parent who died without a will are evidences of how ugly sibling rivalry could get.

The evil outcomes of sibling rivalry also manifested in the bible. Sibling jealousy almost led to the murder of Joseph. He was eventually sold to slave dealers by his eleven brothers. Esau and Jacob, who were twins, ended up in strife and were estranged. In the case of Cain and Abel, sibling rivalry resulted in murder! There is really no limit to the evil consequences of untamed negative emotions.

Parents’ Role in Minimising Sibling Rivalry

  1. Parental love should flow and be seen to flow endlessly, unconditionally and equally among all the children in the family.

Children do not have to merit their parents’ love! Family resources should be equally applied in providing for the needs of all the children in the family.

Parents are bound to love their children in any case. In doing this, parents should remember God, and how He causes the rain to fall for everyone and the sun to shine on everyone, not minding how good or bad each person is. Parental love, when properly applied and sustained, even in the face of challenges in the course of child training, does not only prevent sibling rivalry, but assists greatly in recovering children when they derail into unrighteousness.

  1. Parents should acknowledge and respect the unique personality of each child.

Children are uniquely created with different talents and personality dispositions. For instance, they may be short or tall, dark or fair, fat or slim, fast or tardy, introverted or extroverted, timid or bold. Every child is uniquely endowed with resources to address unique needs of the nuclear family and the society at large. Parents should therefore recognise that children are respectively called to different professions and service to mankind.

  1. Comparing the endowments of children by parents is both unnecessary and ineffective in achieving parenting targets.

It usually excites wrong emotions and actions among siblings, especially when they are made in the process of correcting a wrong behaviour.

Parents should rather make efforts to ensure that each child’s unique personality endowments are positively communicated to his or her siblings in such a way that none would feel that the other is preferred.

If everything was right, Cain and Abel in the bible would have been raised so that they would each feel fulfilled in their respective careers, love each other and offer worthy appreciation to God. Cain would not have felt the way he did. He would have simply taken correction.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

 

Passionate parents raise siblings who respect, appreciate and support each other in love.

 

-Uchenna N. Nduka