My beautiful and loving wife sent me this article and I felt I should not keep this great nuggets on parenting to my self thus the need to share it with my friends on this blog.
I have tried to locate the source of the article but I could not, but I ‘ll like to point out the fact that it didn’t originate from me.
This note is LONG! Bear with me… Although it is addressed to Nigerian parents in diaspora it applies to all parents in Western communities…
Dear (Nigerian) Parent in Diaspora,
Many months back I wrote a friendly letter to the Affluent Nigerian Parent, you can read it in my list of notes and a few of the readers requested a letter for you – the (Nigerian) Parent in Diaspora.
You live in diaspora, probably a Western country with all the benefits of constant electricity and water, healthcare, good schools and a stable work life environment. You are lucky but your children are doubly so. They are extremely lucky as compared to many other kids resident in Nigeria. Your kids will have the benefit of on-time readily available healthcare services, access to free or almost free education, opportunity and exposure to the many good things of life… the list goes on…
You are raising amazingly lucky children in the exceedingly rich, high exposure, science and process oriented environments of the Western world. You are raising your amazingly lucky children far away from the ideals, systems and communities in which you were raised; you are raising your children in an extraordinarily technologically advanced era. I believe there are certain things you must be very aware of.
You are in charge not your child
You are the authority in your child’s life, the authority your young child must learn to obey and the learning must start from as little as when the child is 18 months. This is because as your child grows older they will encounter other forms of authority – other adults, teachers, employers, bosses, the police; it is your job to help your children understand the role of authority in the fabric of society and they will only get it if they start out recognising the authority at home.
I have witnessed parents issuing orders repeatedly to children/teenagers who proceed to pretend the parent does not exist or is not talking to him or her. I have seen children/teenagers who call their parents names in public and in private. I am always irritated when I hear parents say – “oh we can’t get our 5 year old to go to bed at 10pm; she has a mind of her own” Yes your child has a mind of his/her own and it should be used to obey you.
Swiss Development psychologist Jean Piaget (1896-1980) used the label “egocentric” to describe children’s sense of omnipotent self-centredness. Children start out wanting to have their way, they will try, they will test limits and if you are a couple they will attempt to divide and rule/confuse but please remember you are in charge not your child. Your word is law not your child’s.
To quote John Rosemond in his book – Making the terrible Twos Terrific “the overall idea is not to make your child subservient but to create for him/her an authority upon which he can rely”.
You are not your child’s friend, you are their parent
Frequently in the western world, a lot of parents believe that the best parenting method/ way to show the children you love them is to be their friend; so they start out being friends with a 3-10 year old and later on become the enemy of their teenage child and then the adult child’s “annoying parent”!
Dear Nigerian parent in Diaspora, you are not your child’s friend, you are your child’s parent and your job is to parent your child; the time to be friends with your child will come, most likely when they are older teenagers.
It is important that you are a parent to your child and not a friend in order to ensure that a clear line of authority is established, a loving, firm line of authority. In order for you to establish this loving firm line of authority, there has to be an element of “parental fear”. Your child needs to be aware of your “omniparental powers” – You can do things! You can reward, you can punish, you can make safe, you can support, you can encourage, you can make right, you can provide, you can take away, you can make dreams come true, – you are the parent – a friend cannot do all of these things but a parent can, a loving parent can.
Just so you know, love for you may keep your child from disobeying you or from doing things that will jeopardise their future sometimes; but most of the time it will be fear – the fear of your disappointment, the fear of your response… there is a healthy form of fear and trust me this healthy form of fear will keep your children out of prison and hopefully off the dole.
Responsibilities and Chores
Children should have chores, activities they execute in the evening and on weekends that has nothing to do with the tv, games or school work. It helps children to have a sense of responsibility; a 9 year old can do dishes even if it might take forever; they can load the washing machine… there are little chores they can do, they are young not dumb.
If you are one of those parents who pay your kids to do house chores you need to stop right now. You are teaching your child to always ask “what’s in it for me?” and what’s in it for your child will not always be clear in every task. Secondly, having house chores helps your child learn the concept of contributing to a system, being a team player, after all we all live in this house and we can all help to keep it clean.
Please have a life… that doesn’t revolve around your child
I know you love your children, they are your world, your precious princes and princesses; all the amazing-ness you can ever imagine; so you decide to choke them with attention; to kowtow to their every wish.
Every activity, every decision revolves around the children and what the children want or like; not even necessarily what they need. The TV must stay on the kiddies channel all day because your children need to watch it, what you want to watch doesn’t count – afterall they are your world.
These children begin to suffer from excessive attention – a condition that only monarchs, CEOs and heads of countries should suffer from… you end up with a spoilt child that proceeds to behave like the ruler, CEO or President of an imaginary kingdom, company or nation i.e your home.
Please don’t get me wrong, I have not said be detached from your children, rather what I am saying is be involved with your children without becoming obsessive. Talk to your kids, read books to them, take them to piano lessons, painting classes, museums, spend quality time with them but you are NOT at their service. I feel very strongly that the French have succeeded in this regard and there are many books on the French parenting style.
Every child is unique but some rules still apply across board
Yes I agree very much that every child is unique and the same parenting styles don’t work for every child. This is why I won’t say no to “smacking with a rod” but I won’t say yes to it either.
This is because I believe not every child requires the rod. There are some children that need to be told things only once, kids who seem to understand your goal and your point and are almost helping you to parent them; if you have such a kid, you are lucky; put away the rod and have a conversation with your very mature child.
However most of the time, your kids will push your limits, they will disobey you, they will forget your instructions, they will remember your instructions but will choose to flaunt them… at this time I will say to you – don’t spare the rod – find what works for you and follow through. If you promise to punish a misdemeanour please follow through – keep your word to that child who broke the rule. Let your No be your No and your Yes be your Yes and as a parent the first answer is always No.
There are countless ways you can punish misdemeanour without resorting to the strokes of a cane – you must be an ingenious and firm parent.
You have a culture… tell your children about it
Your children might not be Nigerians, but you are and you are lucky because you have a culture to tell your children about, that your children can be proud of, tell them about it. Whatever your first/local language is, speak it to your children; even if they don’t end up speaking it, they will understand it, after all they are the offspring of Nigerians.
Be confident in your abilities to raise your child…
This is my final word to you, be confident, be assured of your ability to do an exemplary job of raising your child. A lot of people will tell you otherwise, they will attempt to tell you how to raise your child.
They will tell you that it’s wrong to encourage your child to make extra effort, they will tell you to let your child grow/study at his/her own pace (even if it’s no pace); let your child talk back (it’s called self expression), buy them every toy they want (even if you can’t afford it), be at your child’s beck and call, diagnose every misbehaviour as a condition instead of recognising it as pure misbehaviour. They will insist on telling you how to raise your child because parents are no longer trusted to do the best job.
This is the time for you to remember and sometimes tell them that this child is YOURS; that this child is priceless to you, is your future, your heritage, the continuity of your person and you are therefore in the best position to do well by this child; that you have turned out well and are able to pass on the ideals that produced you to your child; that this cocoa coloured child of yours bears your name and will bear YOUR name either as a successful adult or a drug junkie – you have more at stake concerning this child than anybody else and you know it well.
Well done so far in this thankless job of parenting… you really are the bravest best.
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