Oh no! She lost three of her fingers in such an avoidable circumstance!

As a prefect in my secondary days, I was coordinating a school activity for junior students when I noticed that a particular student had ugly scars in place of three of her left fingers. My heart was stirred. When I came into close contact with her, she told me about the incident that resulted in the loss of her fingers.

“The story I heard was that the incidence happened when I was a toddler. I was with my senior sister who was breaking a raw bonny lump of beef with an axe. I was told that she warned me not to collect the pieces of meat until she finished cutting. She had already hit my hand with the axe before she noticed that I suddenly put out my hand to collect a piece of meat. I lost three of my fingers” she explained.

Oh no! She lost three of her fingers in such an avoidable circumstance! Although I tried to control my emotion, I could not but ponder over some confusing questions. Was there no responsible adult around to take the necessary safety precautions? Was a toddler capable of obeying the instruction in that story?

It was a case of child neglect.  It is wrong to blame the child in such incident for disobedience to the given instruction.  She was yet too young to comprehend the implication of disobeying such an instruction. As a toddler, the will power and concentration to obey the instruction was beyond her ability. A safe option a responsible adult should have in such a circumstance would have been to keep her a safe distance away from where the beef was being cut.

Parents who understand the developmental peculiarities and limitations of children have realistic expectations in their interaction with their children.  Such parents struggle less with their children and take necessary safety measures against accidents. Their children are allowed to gradually develop, and are not distracted with unnecessary blame and criticism arising from targets that are beyond their abilities.

 

-Uchenna N. Nduka

My parents would not have believed me if I had told them about it…

The boy’s countenance fell when I asked him why he did not report to his parents the first time his vice principal coerced him into sexual practices in his office. We were interviewing him in respect of his involvement in sexual activities in the school.

“My parents would not have believed me if I had told them about it” He said pensively.

“Really?”  I enquired.

“My parents would usually be very angry that I did a wrong thing. I was afraid of telling them. Some teachers have already told them that I was a stubborn child. They believe that I am a bad child.” He said mournfully.

After his first experience, the boy got deeper with the activities of a group in his school, a group supported by the vice principal. For several months, they carefully swept their immoral acts under the carpet with the support of the vice principal. Their bubble however burst one morning when a child who faced sexual harassment by a member of the group in the night daringly put a distress call to his father. The immoral activities were then investigated and dealt with by the managing directors of the school.

There are many parenting lessons from this story.

  1. Isn’t it wonderful that while one child was afraid to communicate a challenge to his parents, another child made that same communication effectively with boldness? A healthy parenting relationship makes communication between parents and their children easy and effective. The communication breakdown in an unhealthy parenting relationship is a disaster!
  2. Negative branding of children with such names as evil or stubborn should be avoided because it reduces self-confidence and negatively affects proper bonding of parents and children. Teachers should be detailed enough when communicating issues they have with any child so that parents can understand the child’s challenges well. It not right for a teacher to just tell a parent that a child is stubborn.
  3. Parents should always exercise caution with teachers and other care-givers who desperately communicate that children left in their care are stubborn. There could be serious issues of child abuse and neglect that such communications are meat to shield. All complaints by teachers or care-givers about a child should be carefully investigated.
  4. It should be noted that the fact that a child is wrong or stubborn on an issue does not imply that the child will always be wrong or stubborn on all other issues.
  5. Parents who achieve great results with their children will always prayerfully love more, get closer and listen more to their children in dealing with any parenting challenge. Parents should always let their children know that they will always be supported.
  6. No matter how bad any child gets, he or she will always need his parents’ prayers and support. Abandonment of children is never an option because it will only make the child’s situation worse.

-Uchenna N. Nduka

The Children’s Playground: Not a Safe Haven

We were about four adults waiting to be attended to in an office. Then suddenly, one of us received a disturbing phone call about his child which sparked off a discussion on child training. Unknown to us, one of us was actually battling with the dramatic negative result he got after all his ‘efforts’ to train his children. No wonder he didn’t participate much in that educative interaction on the proper parenting approach.

“The peer pressure will eventually make a mess of all these efforts you people are making” the man said pensively. All the comments he made implied disillusionment and frustration with the whole parenting process. His children were all either adults or in their late teens. He was not happy that most of them abandoned parental instructions and chose pervasive ways.

When I pried further into his situation, I discovered that the environment he stayed in when his children were small was a hamlet where children interacted without any restriction. Parents were mostly artisans who struggled to make ends meet. When they were not in school, the children were usually gathered either on the playground or in any house or place in the neighbourhood which had facility for watching films or playing with electronic toys. The undoing of the man in question was that he underestimated the extent of the peer pressure influence and pollution that could exist in such environment even among the toddlers!

The reality is that the children’s playground is not a safe haven. Every person or thing at  the playground could be an agent of pollution! Children therefore need parental guidance even at the playground and when films are being watched. In healthy parenting relationships, parents are close enough to immediately identify the nature and extent of pollution and peer pressure their children are exposed to in order to strategise towards checking and minimising their effects. To cope with this situation, parents should strive  to minimise the children’s contact with the agents of pollution and be available and close enough to immediately clarify and correct wrong information from such unavoidable contact.  The following parenting tips will be helpful in achieving this.

  1. Inculcate discipline in the children’s daily routine. The time and duration of play activities should be stipulated and enforced.
  2. The allowable play grounds should be well-defined. Safe play grounds are well-illuminated, close to the children’s houses and noiseless. Children should be instructed to avoid hidden and dark corners in a compound. Houses or corners in the neighbourhood with loud sounds from electronic equipment or generators should be avoided by the children while playing. Playgrounds that are far from the house should not be allowed.
  3. Parents should exercise caution in cases where a child’s relationship with any adult becomes intimate and private.
  4. Children’s play activities should be done on the allowed playground. Parents should discourage the practice of children playing in their neighbour’s houses.
  5. Film and electronic toys available to the children should be carefully examined by parents in order to exclude pollution from evil contents.
  6. Children’s access to the internet should be restricted and guided.
  7. Parents should spend time with their children daily. Children learn a lot from the stories of life experiences of their parents, folktales and intimate discussions with their parents.
  8. Housemaids or hired helps who have questionable characters should be disengaged. Relations should be of good characters for them to be allowed to stay with children. Such people should not be given unrestricted right to punish children so that the children can effectively resist any negative influence from them.
  9. Parents should be careful in selecting schools for their children. Schools with antecedents of producing rebellious children should be avoided. Also, schools that emphasise corporal punishment instead of professional student-teacher relationship should be avoided.
  10. The negative influence from the mass media will be reduced if parents are available to monitor the programmes that their children are exposed to.

It needs to be emphasised that a healthy parenting relationship positions a parent well in a child’s life to win the struggle between the establishment of the right behavioural values and the negative influences of peer and environmental pressure. Surely, through the mercies of God, a skilled parent will win this struggle.

 

-Uchenna Ṇ. Nduka

Children Electronic Toys Should be Properly Examined by Parents Before Use

Our decision to buy that toy for our five-year-old child was an emergency because of the need to take her to work for a whole week because her school was on mid-term break, and we had no one to stay with her at home. The toy had a lot of exciting children games. On sighting the toy, our daughter got hilarious. She explored it with concentration and excitement throughout the whole day. I felt​ very relieved because the toy kept her really engaged so that I could concentrate on my work.

My husband made a strange discovery later after taking a studied look at that toy!  One of the games had in the back ground, naked figures of a man on top of a woman whose legs were wide open. The figure of the man was in constant motion, moving back and forth on the woman. It was embarrassing to discover that behind the beautiful façade that the exciting games presented was a mind-bending pollutant! Evil would have crept in unnoticed!

It is therefore very important that parents who are really committed to purifying the parenting process of their children should ensure that all children’s books, television programmes, electronic games and books pass through proper scrutiny before they are made available to the children. Children’s access to such things should be withheld until their propriety is certified by parents. Parents should create time once in a while to watch regular television programmes with their children to be sure that they don’t have polluted evil contents.

 

-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

The Revelation that her Award was not Meritorious was a Worrisome Development

I used to admire Gloria’s academic excellence each time she was called up to receive her award for best academic performance during her school’s end-of-year award ceremony. It was a private school. I was still basking in the euphoria of one of such awards when I engaged one of the teachers in that school in a casual discussion. I could not help but express my admiration for Gloria’s intellectual sagacity. In the course of our discussion, the teacher made a startling revelation. He told me in confidence that Gloria always got that award because of her mother’s insistence that the first position must be awarded to her daughter. Gloria’s mother was a close relation of the school proprietor.

This disclosure turned my admiration into worry. I was worried when I realised the extent of pollution and confusion her mother’s influence on the teacher’s assessment of her examination performance would introduce in Gloria’s developmental process. Of course, Gloria’s academic performance since she left that primary school is a clear evidence of the negative outcome of her mother’s action in ignorance. Gloria was haunted by that development even up to the higher institution. Children of school owners, administrators and teachers may be exposed to this challenge if their parents are ignorant of its damaging effect.

Reward is a motivator because awardees are encouraged to continue in the direction of the behaviour or effort that yielded success. Therefore, award will promote hard work and good behaviour if it is meritoriously given. On the order hand, complacency and mediocrity would be promoted if reward is received when it is not earned.

Children tend to develop well and gradually improve if they are able to relate their efforts and actions with the results they obtain. Great parents allow children to get what they deserve.

-Uchenna N. Nduka

The Child Believed His Mum Has Been Doing Everything Alone! An Avoidable Channel of Pollution in the Parenting Process

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