*Being a parent is an interesting task and there are some lessons I have learnt along the way that have assisted me and I would like to share them with you in this two part series.
STICKING TO ONE STYLE OF DISCIPLINE IS A BAD IDEA.
Over the years I learnt that adopting one style of correcting my children was a bad idea.
Probably because I grew up with a mother who was quick with her hands, I had resolved not to do much beating. Oh, I could yell and it had the desired effect or so I thought until an incidence happened. I had a new girl in the house who had worked with me for just about three months.
One day, I returned home from work to meet the girl looking like someone had died. I asked if she had received any bad news from her family and she said everyone was fine. I proceeded into my bedroom with my daughter walking in after me. She asked if I’d seen Aunty Esther (my help). I answered in the affirmative and asked what the problem was. My daughter responded, She broke the blender accidentally and she’s been sad all day. Mummy, I told her that you won’t beat her” (true, I do NOT hit helps). She continued, “I told her Mummy will only shout, shout and shout”.
I said “really? But in my mind the mummy will only shout, shout and shout”, kept resounding in my ears.
So, what I did was to change my tactics and become ‘unpredictable mummy’. I adopted different methods of correcting my children and I have not heard any “Mummy will only…..” since then.
EACH CHILD IS UNIQUELY DIFFERENT AND YOU MUST TREAT THEM AS SUCH
I’ve heard Parents wishing one child would act a bit more like another of their children.
At such times, I would smile knowingly because I have been through that ‘wishing’ phase. My daughter does something that pleases me and my son displeased me, I find myself wishing my son would be more like my daughter and the next day I’m wishing my daughter would act more like my son in some other areas.
On such occasions, (and they were really in the plural with ‘ssss’) I would tie myself up in a bad knot going from wishing one child to the next.
I have learnt – no, I must rephrase that, I am learning, to accept them as two uniquely different individuals. Each child’s uniqueness must be understood and properly harnessed to help child.
Comparing your children sows a canceroussows seed that fosters unhealthy rivalry. I have many people around me who are sworn enemies just because their parents deliberately or otherwise, created the impression that their sibling is better in some respect.
A child who is not a straight A student could be good in sporting activities.
Stop making statements like “Can’t you just be more like your brother/sister. .” Or “Thank God for your brother/sister…., “I wonder how I would have coped if your brother was just like you…”
MY CHILDREN CANNOT BE AS PERFECT AS I WANTED THEM TO BE.
I was guilty of wanting perfect children.
I wanted them to be well behaved at all times. I wanted them to make me happy always. I wanted their grades to be excellent whenever they brought their results home. I wanted children who would ALWAYS make the right choices in clothes, music, food, friends….
Oh please, I’m sure you know that “right” in this context means my idea of what all lists made above should look like.
I was moaning about them not measuring up to my wish list one day when someone said to me, “Bisi, you expect too much from your children,let them be, they will be fine.” When I stepped back to analyse the statement, I was shocked to see how tense my children were. They were not enjoying growing up rather they struggled to be perfect.
I had to relax and in the process, I even found myself laughing at their imperfections.
I prayed for change in the areas they were not doing well, rejoiced at the immediate changes that occured and grinned and bore the ones that didn’t work the way ‘I’ wanted.
I SHOULD NOT TRY TO RE-LIVE MY LIFE THROUGH MY CHILDREN
Many of us Parents are trying to relive our frustrated dreams thorough our children.
We want our children to study particular courses in the university; we want to determine who their friends should be. I found myself trying to impose ME on my children. Sometimes, it was subtle and other times it was forceful. One day I paused to ask myself why it was so important for them to be MY way and it dawned on ME that I just wanted another opportunity to live a second, third or fourth life – depending on how many children one has.
But now, I have come to accept that I have had my chance and it is appointed for a mother to live her life but once, after which is death. You must die to self, flesh and all the unfulfilled dreams. Your children must be allowed to live their own lives. You must only be there to guide them.
OTHER CHILDREN AREN’T NECESSARILY BETTER BEHAVED
I don’t know if you’ve ever looked at other families and assumed that they have it all together. I’ve spoken to my children using other families as benchmark only to have my children laugh and tell me I am in error.
A friend of mine sent her children on vacation to a seemingly perfect Christian family she’d always wanted her children to emulate. She believed sending hers to spend time with this “perfect Christian” family would teach her unruly children how to behave as Christian children ought to or so she thought. She believed the trip would open her childrens eyes to how other youths are living well despite the decadence in the society. Guess what? Her children returned from the vacation to tell her the “perfecr Christian” youths were doing hard drugs. This had a sobering effect on my friend and it made her realise that grass is NOT always greener on the other side. I have accepted that all families have issues, they only differ. So please STOP thinking that it’s just your children that have issues.
What lessons (s) have you learnt? Would you like to share?