Purifying the parenting process has been the focus of the Passion in Parenting blog this year. Truly, great results would usually be realised if purity is improved on the part of parental and societal values as well as parenting approach. These three key factors in the parenting process are very much dependent on the knowledge and good conscience of parents. It is now clearer to us that the true test of discipline in children is not the uneasy calm they manifest when they are within the sphere of attention/influence of bullies. What should count in assessing parenting results is the extent of self-discipline a child acquires and applies as part of his daily life. On a wider perspective, what should count in assessing the parenting results in a community is the extent of discipline and creativity most adults raised in the community are able to apply in their daily lives. Therefore, the emphasis of child-training should not necessarily be on defending fragments of cruel age-long traditional parenting practices.
Events around us are really playing out in a worrisome manner. If flogging and other forms of corporal punishments of children is done without restraint in our schools and homes and yet street children who are evidences of broken parenting relationships litter our streets and various media reports show that insecurity, corruption, communal clashes, drug abuse, exam malpractice, kidnapping, indiscipline to regulatory and statutory procedures by adults and other forms of criminal acts are on the increase, then there is urgent need for a serious overhaul of the prevalent parenting practices. Stories are even told of communities and schools who operate illegal prisons for juvenile offenders where they are freely maltreated. It has become obvious that there is the need to sincerely remove the parenting practices that are retrogressive and embrace the progressive ones.
Progress is gradually being made. Informed parents and good schools are really showing interest in the improved approach to achieving real discipline in children, but the negative pressure from tradition-oriented adults to blindly follow the path of traditional parenting practices has been enormous. This pressure has been a thorn in the wheel of progress.
Therefore, the focus of the Passion in Parenting blog in year 2018 will be to reveal the nature and extent of the pressures against effective parenting approach and standard teacher-children relationship by traditionalists and how the institutions and peoples involved can cope with them.
Compliments of the season to all our readers!
The experience of being waylaid by evil men at the full glare of people who seem unperturbed is fast becoming a norm in some cities around us. Anyone who has passed through such harrowing experiences would understand well the extent of the frustration of the evil ones and their desperation to transfer same to their victims. The urchins on the streets and motor parks are not alone in this frustration. The depth and magnitude of the news of corrupt practices among many people occupying sensitive public positions and even civil servants also indicate rebellious frustration. Insecurity of lives and property is on the increase. If evil is fast advancing its frontiers and is getting bolder and more resistant, then urgent actions are needed to properly realign people’s thoughts and action and ensure that children are developed to acquire self-discipline as a way of life.
A child possesses self-discipline on an issue if he/she manifests restraint without being told or prodded or threatened by anyone. Self-discipline is enduring because it is not coerced or controlled externally, but proceeds from a spiritually, intellectually, socially, and physically sound mind. That should be the target of every parenting process. It is achievable if parents are sufficiently available to ensure that right values are communicated to children, possess effective parenting skills and provide the right support and learning resources. Most times when a parenting process fails, a dysfunctional person is produced who may eventually become a nuisance, not just to his/her parents, but the society at large.
Therefore, all hands should be on deck to ensure that disciplined children are raised. No informed person should be complacent. The efforts of NGOs who mobilise and provide support and guidance to children who are on the streets are commendable. I feel that the number of street children will reduce if the issues that lead to broken parenting relationships are clarified and dealt with. NGOs should also be encouraged to include parenting education to adults in our communities. Schools and religious organisations should organise parenting workshops and training. Parenting programmes should create opportunities for the right values to be propagated. Efforts in this direction will surely ameliorate the issues that threaten societal peace and security.
-Uchenna N. Nduka
A man once told his story. He was ready to make sacrifices to ensure that his children were well-developed morally and academically. He realised that he was greatly handicapped due to his upbringing. Conscience as well as proper cognitive development of children was not given attention in his society. He said that he and most other children in his neighbourhood grew up with the understanding that life was a game of chance. As children, their consideration in taking any action then was whether one would be caught in the act and the severity of the punishment that would be meted out if caught. Nothing else mattered! Most of them ended up becoming dexterous in performing wrong acts without being caught and stronger at enduring the punishment when caught.
By the time he grew up, he felt on top of the world. No one could intimidate him into taking any action against his will. That was the beginning of the woes. He became very excited at his freedom from the clutches of his parents and moved at a very high speed. Not quite long, before his twenty-third birthday, his bubble burst – he got sentenced to prison. Although his body was filled with scars, each telling a tragic story, none could be compared to the emotional torture in prison for the whole year he spent there.
It was in prison that his restoration to normalcy commenced. It was there he learnt he could willingly put his hands and brain to positive use, trusting God. His heart learnt to understand and give love. He learnt respect for and obedience to the prison authorities. He understood he had a choice to make between good and evil. He needed no further proof of the consequences of evil, but the reward of good choices was consistently revealed. He was happy that the discipline he could not acquire as a child due to his upbringing was achieved in prison.
When he came out of the prison, he took a critical look at the children in his neighbourhood where he was raised and became convinced that most of them were headed towards the same calamity that befell him. He was so dissatisfied with the degenerated societal values that he made efforts to make a difference in the lives of his children. He limited his children’s interaction with the bad eggs in his neighbourhood and ensured that they were separated from the environment that almost destroyed him. His children stayed in boarding houses in good secondary schools.
He has tried to be committed in his relationship with his children and hopes to learn more effective parenting skills so that the output of his parenting efforts will be fruitful. He was willing to learn and adopt an improved approach and not insist on any traditional parenting practice which confused him and most of his friends as children. He has understood that for him to get it right with his children, he has to make love and discipline his lifestyle and firmly and consistently communicate same to his children.
Yes! Great parents are ever learning to achieve great parenting results.
Happy second year anniversary to all lovers, readers and followers of the Passion in Parenting blog
Uchenna N. Nduka
It is usually a huge struggle for teachers as well as children in schools with disciplinary confusion. The management of such schools are usually at their wits end strategising for improvement. Improved staff-training resources and opportunities are provided. Workshops and seminars for students to improve their knowledge and competence on challenging areas are also helpful. The desire of every professional educationist should be to develop children who are morally and academically sound without recourse to abusive practices, even in environments without legal restrictions against corporal punishment of school children. Schools which are able to achieve this are those that have competent and principled administrators, standard and well-monitored school policies and teachers who are qualified and well supervised.
I have realised that teachers who were physically abused by their teachers and parents when they were young tend to cling tightly to their belief that children must necessarily pass through the same experiences. Most of such teachers would boldly describe the various effective child development methods such as Montessori as mere theories. Their unfavourable disposition to any improved method is obvious from their negative comments and rhetorical questions even during workshops and seminars. In fact, it can really be so bad that the only classroom control skills such teachers are willing to accept are corporal punishments and use of negative and abusive words. The undoing of a school at the turning point of embracing any improved method would be to underestimate the extent such teachers can go in frustrating the positive move for change, even if they are in the minority.
Stories have been told of how dissident teachers in such circumstances have done a lot of things to frustrate a good purpose.
- They have exaggerated the children’s behaviour to parents to ginger them to kick against the school’s improved method.
- They have completely dropped the old violent method but refused to apply the new method. Such teachers have even withdrawn their support to the children and lied against the children so that issues would really be exaggerated.
- They have blamed any challenge by any child on the change in approach.
My advice to schools in such situations is to be focused and insist on establishing a better approach in order to achieve improvement. No school should be overwhelmed by the activities of such dissidents. The school should take an inventory of such teachers, ensure that they apply the right standard of practice in line with the new prescribed school policy and monitor them closely. The option they have is either throw in the towel on their own or otherwise be subjected through the school disciplinary procedure for misconduct or negligence. It is important that the orientation programme of new teachers should include programmes that equip them to relate with children in conformity with school policies. A better approach is always preferred. No school should therefore be frustrated into giving in to cheap blackmail by dissident teachers and abandoning the good purpose of embracing an improved approach of achieving moral and academic excellence.
-Uchenna N. Nduka
A story was told of a boy named Isa who was taken to his village to live with his maternal grandparents at the age of five years. Isa’s father yielded to this request because of his confidence in the moral standards of his wife’s parents. In the first few years, it seemed as though everything was alright because Isa gradually became responsive to his traditional value system. His parents were quite impressed to hear him speak their native language perfectly.
Their bubble, however, burst at a birthday party Isa attended when he was on holiday with his parents in their township house. There was a sudden uproar and children were screaming. The few parents who were around ran towards the direction of the noise. It was an unbelievable sight. Isa was on top of a slightly bigger boy on the floor in a serious fight. It was a struggle separating Isa from the other boy. Isa’s mother was ashamed and embarrassed when she saw the ugly injuries her son gave the other boy on his neck and face. The other boy’s mother could not hide her feelings.
“Madam, from where did you bring this beast into this decent environment?” she asked pensively.
Isa’s mother apologised to the host and the family whose child Isa fought with and hastily left the party in humiliation. His father was also embarrassed by the horrible incident. Isa’s parents therefore took a studied look at their child’s personality formation and value system. Their findings revealed Isa as a child who would go to any length to violently attack anyone physically and verbally as long as a wrong is perceived. The boy he fought with at the party only stepped on his new shoes mistakenly.
Isa’s parents didn’t have to search too far to understand the environment Isa acquired the aggressive attitude from. His siblings were decent and emotionally stable. The need to ensure that their son was properly located in a decent environment for the necessary value re-orientation was obvious to Isa’s parents.
It is noteworthy that children urgently and desperately absorb environmental values and attitudes through the practices and experiences of people around them. Parents should be conscious of this in deciding on the people they accommodate in their homes, the communal environments where their children are raised, the audio and video films and programmes their children are exposed to, the disciplinary measures their children are exposed to by their teachers and caregivers. It is good to raise children in environments with good values that children will feed on.
-Uchenna N. Nduka
A disciplinary confusion is not so easy to identify in a school because teachers in such schools are always seen coercing or threatening students with force and aggression to make them perform one activity or the other. School and class prefects have to necessarily bully other children to extract obedience to simple instructions. It is a common sight, and in fact seems right for pupils and students to always be found crying, pleading or serving one form of punishment or the other even while academic activities are going on.
This situation is even worse in primary schools where activity-based teaching methods are no longer used, while children are expected to behave like adults and always made to feel guilty of noise-making. I had to complain at some point to the school authorities because almost all of the children in a nursery class of school were always told to kneel down, close their eyes and raise their hands up when parents came to pick their children after school. The teacher’s explanation when I asked was that they were always making noise.
Teachers in such environments are always heard making negative comments about children and talking in anger and frustration. Love and confidence in student-teacher relationships are usually at the lowest level. Students resent their teachers and learning is negatively affected. Despite the ‘efforts’ of teachers, acts of rebellion are common among the students in such a school. No wonder such schools would usually always describe her graduating students as ‘stubborn’ and also accommodate one form of exam malpractice or the order from the students during external exams.
The way forward for any school at the disciplinary turning point is a reorientation of its educational philosophies and methodologies, change to the non-abusive and acceptable disciplinary approach, training and re-training of teachers, and close monitoring of teachers to ensure that they fully comply with the prescribed improved method. A school in transition to the better method should be ready to contend with the actions of some teachers who would device strategies to resist change and make comments that would imply that the improved method would not work.
Readers should watch out for more on this topic.
-Uchenna N. Nduka
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