By Nimi Stephanie Ekere.
Last year, we were woken up to the news of a student who tried to poison his colleague because she was doing better than him, academically. This was to say the
least, frightening. That for me, set my mind wondering what the home environment of the said student was. If a child in Secondary school could think of something so terrible, it clearly showed that his family, which is the smallest unit of the society was in a wrong state. The reason is that the family forms most of a person’s values, at least at that tender age.
Recently, the suicide rate in the country has become so alarmingly high and particularly scary amongst young people. Young people take their lives for the flimsiest reasons. It’s either you hear that they took their lives because they were heartbroken in their relationship, they failed an exam or someone spoke to them badly.
In the past, we were known for our resilience and ability to adapt to even the most unfriendly situations, so what suddenly changed?
I would like us to look into the family setting and review our parenting styles and strategies. A lot has changed. Yes, I think a lot has changed so much; and this does not mean that our parents were perfect in the past. They made their mistakes but to a very large extent, they did a lot of things right.
Many modern day parents are so concerned about pleasing their children that a lot of areas are left unattended to. There seems to be no standards and values which are the bedrock of effective parenting.
The twenty first century parent is caught up in the web of an extremely busy schedule in the pursuit of money and when they make it, throw it at the child and fail to invest quality time with their children and lose the opportunity to discover their children and what they are growing up to become.
For many of these children, integrity means little or nothing, and the child having nothing to emulate, seeks help from his peers and the television.
Nannies have taken over the place of mothers in the lives of these children. And because parents are not always visible, and even if they are visible, they are unavailable, there lies a wide communication breakdown. And if a child cannot talk
or discuss everything with his parents, there usually are deadly alternatives for them.
Parents try to compensate for these deficiencies with wonderful vacations, gifts, expensive clothes and shoes and other luxuries. While these are wonderful, they do not take the place of deliberate, intentional and effective parenting.
Also, a lot of children are suffering from low self-esteem because of the unrealistic expectations and pressures from their parents. ‘Have you seen Linda’s results?’
Why can’t you come first place like Jonathan?’ This is all the child hears and gradually, his self-esteem completely gets eroded and he starts seeking for validation from external sources. He begins to have envy, hatred and unhealthy competitions as part of his everyday life.
This begins to manifest in his behaviour towards others. An example is the case of the seventeen year old boy that was left to drown by his friends because they were jealous of him. There are multiples of examples to buttress the fact that we must go back to the basics.
Parenting must be done right if we want to see this generation of children do better than us. There is a vacuum that must be filled. We must listen to these young ones. We must try to create time for them. Our values must not be thrown out, they must be instilled in our children. We can love our children without necessarily giving them everything they want. There should be discipline
in parenting. Sometimes, giving them all they want is not to their advantage. We must learn to know when to draw the line.
Their strengths should be celebrated while their weaknesses worked on. Unhealthy competitions are really unhealthy for them. We must know that every child is unique and is created differently with a special gift to change her world.
Prayer is an inevitable tool in effective parenting. Every word of prayer said on our children’s behalf is a seed that will germinate and yield fruits, good fruits. This said, prayers must go hand in hand with hard work as even the Bible admonishes us to intentionally, train up our children in a way that they should go and when they are old, they would not depart from it.
Thank you for reading this, I hope to get your feedback.
Dr Nimi Stephanie Ekere is a wife, mother and Family Physician. She enjoys writing, reading and attending to her patients. She is a life coach and teacher, who is passionate about children and young people walking in the right course and path to achieve their full potential.
Her Foundation, Ekom Charity Foundation mentors young people and also cares for the less privileged.