|Image: Parent Pump Radio|
First, congratulations on having that child or those children. It must have been nerve-wracking going through the process of carrying and birthing your children. It should even be scarier trying to raise those kids to be stellar individuals who you can be proud of. Well done indeed.
Having said that, there are some things you need to learn if you are to be a wonderful parent. This has nothing to do with changing diapers or effectively calculating sleeping and eating pattern. No; let the books educate you on those.
This has to do with developing your children’s personalities and temperament.
1. You are your children’s FIRST ROLE MODELS;
While this is self-explanatory, it begs to be explained.
You need to show your children how to be responsible by doing your share of house chores and contributing your share of the finances. Let them know that whether they are boys or girls, they each have duties and responsibilities to the family. If you do not, your boys will learn to expect women to take care of them and your daughters would think their lives should revolve around taking care of their men.
Do not hit your spouse or be violent in any way to them. Of course there are days when you will quarrel and have heated arguments but as much as you can, do this away from the children. Let them learn to respect each other because you respect each other and yourselves. Don’t go about fighting each other in public when you can sort out your issues privately. Don’t go teaching your children that it is okay to be deliberately taunting and nagging and rude. It is not a good look for anyone.
Get a job, or a business or an advocacy organization and spend your time on more meaningful things than house chores while watching Telemundo, ZeeWorld or Super Sports. Teach your girls to aspire for more than being a kept woman who depends on her husband for every single thingshe needs. That is no way to live and that is no way to raise your daughters. It is also no way to raise your sons who might grow up to expect women to depend on them for all they need. Teach your children that marriage is a partnership, with each partner contributing time, energy, and financesto the process.
2. You are the first to BUILD YOUR CHILDREN’S SELF-ESTEEM AND WORTH;
Many parents are okay telling their children that they are ‘stupid’, ‘foolish’, ‘a dunce’ or even more derogatory terms. This is wrong! No child is stupid. They may do stupid things but that doesn’t make them stupid. Understand that each child is different and learns at their own pace. Don’t force your children to all excel at mathematics when one may love French more. Find out what each child is capable of and reaffirm their self-worth by making them better at it.
Also, you need to let your children learn to do things by themselves. You should allow them try to solve problem without needing you there. These problems could be algebra or bullying. What you should do is tell them that you trust their abilities and their decision and help them understand that sometimes, it is okay to be wrong.
There are parents who tell their kids that they are ugly or too black or have long or wide mouths or slit eyes or are too fat and stuff like that. Well…don’t! These seemingly simple utterances go a long way in cementing your child’s self-worth. As they grow up, these words will make them feel insecure in a society that thrives on insecurity. And when your kids are insecure, they become susceptible to all sorts of vices to make them feel better about themselves.
3. Your child should NOT HAVE TO EARN YOUR LOVE;
It is a known fact that parents do not love their children equally and have favorites but never show your children that! Love each of your children as equally as you can and better than that, your children should not have to earn your love. It is unnatural for children to do things to make you love them. Loving them should come as naturally as breathing. This means that you shouldn’t threaten to withdraw your love when they do wrong and even worse, tell them as some parents do, that they wish the kids were never born. How is a child to feel loved when these are done? How is a child to thrive?
And yes, some children can be very trying but that is no excuse to make them work at getting your love. You should be able to understand the dynamic nature of each child and use that dynamism to make your relationship with them better.
4. Your child should respect (NOT FEAR) you;
Most African parents thrive on instilling fear into their children. Their children are not allowed to have opinions of their own and must cower when these parents talk. Well guess what? They are your children, not your slaves or puppets! When children fear their parents, they hide things from them and in some instances, hate them. Such children cannot wait to leave their homes and when they do, they almost always never return. They will also keep communication at the barest minimum because no one likes to constantly have to face their fears.
Respect is very different from fear. It is respect that will make a child do what you ask. And this respect has to be mutual! That you brought that child into the world is no reason to be disrespectful to them. You must treat them like fully functional human beings who have a right to their own thoughts, opinions and ideologies. The plus side to this is, if you respect each other, your children and other people you meet, your children will most likely pick your ideologies as theirs too.
5. Tell your children YOU LOVE THEM;
African parents are not comfortable saying they love their children. They feel that providing their basic necessities is enough to show their children that they love them. Well, showing is good but tellingthem is even better. Telling them would prevent these kids from going out to get others to give them validation. This will prevent them from opening themselves to really dangerous people. And dangerous may not necessarily mean a person with a gun or knife.
These are relatively simple points but they go a long way in determining the temperament and self-worth and esteem of a child. When a child feels loved and respected at home, they can go through their lives unbothered by who loves them and who doesn’t, and best of all, they are better able to deal with peer pressure and the need to conform to the general norm. These will make children much better adults and even better parents. This is because, almost three quarters of the time, children replicate the model they grew up with.
So if you want loving children, be loving parents. If you want respect, give it to your children. If you want them to be excellent, show them excellence in your everyday words and action. And in like manner, if you want broken, dysfunctional or abusive children, put them down and break their self-esteem and worth.
And even if your kids are grown and all the damage has been done, you can always start again! As long as there is life, relationships can be repaired. Talk to your kids, apologize for being a crappy parent and start over. It is not a lost cause unless you think so.
Families are the building blocks of society. If families are messed up and dysfunctional, it will reflect in society, in her laws, her values and ideologies and worst of all, it will cycle back to affect families. It is an unending cycle. Wouldn’t you rather have an unending cycle of progress, productivity and family paradises?