I knew John as a worker in one of the primary schools my children attended a long time ago. He was always actively involved with musical events in that school. He was the one who was always in charge of the musical equipment and public address system. The radiance and fulfilment on his face each time he worked with the children was what attracted me to him.
He told me that he was also performing that role in two other schools. He was working on a musical album with some children and had other albums in the pipeline which he was very passionate about. He said that his love and talent for music manifested in all that he did from his childhood days. His regret was that he could not be employed by any of the schools as a music teacher because he had no academic qualification in Music. He said that he had a university degree in Engineering.
I told him that I was surprised that his talent for music and passion for teaching it to children were not given consideration in his choice of the course he studied in the university.He said that it was difficult to convince people around him when he made his career choice that music was a lucrative career. When I asked him this one question I always ask people with such talent/passion versus academic qualification inconsistency, I got the same answer I always get.
“If it were possible to turn back time so that you can have another opportunity to make your choice of a university course, which one will you choose engineering or music?” I asked.
“I will choose to study music” was his solemn and resolute reply.
Optimal career choices are made if people are developed along career paths that they are cut out for. Every career has unique opportunities, challenges and rewards. Without passion, unnecessary emphasis is placed on reward to the detriment of career fulfilment. For a person whose career is properly blended with his/her talent and passion,
- Career opportunities are easily identified and harnessed.
- Passion and competence provide the inner strength to cope with every career challenge.
- Financial reward is achieved in addition to the higher reward of innate satisfaction for accomplishing the essence of life.
Parents should therefore be properly guided when providing support to their children in the area of career choices.
-Uchenna N. nduka
Scene one I was driving along a busy road when I saw a young woman angrily dragging along a boy of about five years who was screaming hysterically. I horridly packed my car when I observed that she was still giving him several strokes of her cane. I pleaded with her to tell me what the problem was. Her allegation was that the child was careless! The shoes he wore when they left home could no longer be found because he lost them as they trekked along that road! He was therefore careless and deserved to be severely punished! The thoughts of the possibility that the lost shoes were too big for his legs and the fact that the shoes might have been lost in his struggle to catch up with the pace at which his mum was moving flashed through my mind. Although I was new in that environment then, I understood that the incidence was a normal occurrence since the people around were all unperturbed.
Scene 2 (culled from the passion in parenting post of 26th Feb, 2017) I was with a class of children aged between three and nine years. I relocated newly to that environment at that time. The class was in progress and effectively controlled when my attention was suddenly taken away from the class by a pressing issue. Just in ten minutes, about one-third of the children in the class were hitting each other with angry fists!
I took time to ask some of them why they were fighting. They all had one flimsy excuse or the other to justify why the other person deserved to be beaten. I was initially confused and was not exactly sure of the sources of that pollution. It was obvious that the children learnt physical aggression as a method of conflict resolution from the environment they grew in. It became clearer when I later understood how much the children were exposed to very aggressive parenting processes. It was a free-for-all situation. Parents, school teachers, church teachers, neighbours, bigger siblings, other relations and in fact every adult was free to hit children at anytime for whatever reason.
Scene Three I could barely see through the mammoth crowd. The incidence which attracted the crowd was a common one. Two adults were engaging each other in a serious fight because one was provoked by a traffic offence committed by the other. One of the two fighters slumped and became unconscious.
One thing that is common to the three scenes above is the resort to violence as the only means of communication and conflict resolution. Terrorism is currently wiping out many communities. As Nigeria celebrates children this week, all lovers of children are still concerned with the protection of children against violence and other harmful practices which truncate proper and gradual development and etch violence and sadism in the hearts and minds of the future generation.
Effective parenting seminars should be organised for parents by churches, schools, communities, NGOs, other religious groups and everyone as Nigeria celebrates children’s day on the 27th May, 2017. Everyone should speak out and condemn violence against children whenever it is observed.
Violence and bullying undermine the proper personality growth process of children, and pollute their eventual interpersonal relationship skills, while effective and positive parenting develops them properly to withstand the ever evolving challenges of life.
Happy Children’s day in Advance Nigeria
-Uchenna N. Nduka
At a point, the thought of getting my seven-year old child to complete her home work became a nightmare. She was always sluggish and un-cooperative. She would just cry with little or no result.
One day, I remembered to apply a parenting skill I read in a book. The skill was a motivational technique of ordering children’s activities in a way that the activities they have reluctance for what would come after the ones they have preference for. I then swapped the timing of watching her favourite television station with her home work time. It worked like magic! I was surprised at the speed and zeal with which she completed her home works before watching the television. I learnt to make play and entertainment activities come after the less preferred chores.
I have observed with regret the wrong application of the reordering strategy on occasions where children have been starved or denied education because they were ‘stubborn’ or could not complete domestic chores that were obviously beyond their abilities. It is therefore necessary that I state clearly that the essential necessities of life such as education, water, food and moderate rest/play should not be denied any child for any reason. Such denial would be inhuman and would not yield any positive result.
Children really need a lot of support from teachers and parents. Excellent results are obtained whenever the right support is provided in the right direction in the right peaceful and lovely atmosphere.
-Uchenna N. Nduka
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
Lucy was a girl of about seven years, the only child of her parents. A lady of about twenty five years old called Helen, was also living alone in an apartment in the building opposite Lucy’s compound. Helen started by calling Lucy pet names. She called her ‘my baby’, ‘my Lucy’, ‘my darling’ and’my sweetheart’. Helen also gave Lucy gifts on many occasions. Lucy’s parents understood Helen’s actions as pure show of kindness. They therefore allowed Lucy to freely visit and stay with Aunty Helen whenever she wanted. Over time, Helen’s house became a second home for Lucy and a strong affinity developed between the two of them.
Lucy’s parents created time on that day to honour the invitation for a private and urgent discussion by the headmistress of Lucy’s school. After exchanging pleasantries, the headmistress expresses her gratitude to them for arriving early for that meeting.
“Do you have a neighbour called Aunt Helen?” The headmistress asked.
“Yes.” They responded.
The headmistress then explained that a child in Lucy’s class reported to the class teacher that Lucy kissed her at the play ground during break. The teacher had to tactfully engage Lucy in a heart-to-heart discussion. Her discovery was that Lucy had been engaging in some sexual activities with Helen and had been exposed pornographic materials in Helen’s house.
Lucy’s parents broke down and wept profusely. They learnt the hard way the danger in the kind of intimate relationship between their daughter and Helen. Lucy’s mum went down memory lane to recall scenes that should have excited her suspicion! She regretted that she was not able to follow up on them properly.
“Will my daughter ever be the same again?” Lucy’s mum asked as her tears flowed freely.
After condoling with the child’s parents on their plight, the headmistress expressed optimism that Lucy will be restored if she is properly taken care of. She explained that they surely have a great role to play in her restoration process. The headmistress advised them to hold nothing against the child so that she would not be eaten up with guilt. They were counselled to create time to be more available for their daughter.They should get closer to her and embrace her with more love and attention.
The counsel from the headmistress obviously highlights the position of the passion in parenting blog that in all parenting challenges, parents should prayerfully get closer, listen more, talk more and love more.
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