There was a time when the rearing of our children was an act to be envied. It took the whole community, neighbourhood and the world at large.

If I misbehaved in school and had the misfortune of being flogged or given a dirty slap by a teacher; the incident had better not get back to my parents, especially dad! Dad viewed the punishment meted out as a slight to his parenting and oh, boy did I pray for heaven at such times!
Where I lived was demarcated by trees; we had no walls. This art of living fostered good neighbourliness. That wasn’t all; I was surrounded by at least four other mothers! Woe betide me if I was rude, lazy, disobedient or stubborn; the report didn’t have to get to my mother; either one of the four “mothers” would deal summarily with me!

Those were days of the smell of fresh bread baking, vanilla infused cakes or chocolate cookies permeating the air and our lunch boxes waiting to have them lovingly laid. During lunchtime, depending on the setting, we would (siblings and neighbours kids) sit down together to laugh, eat and even fight.

In as much as our parents were career oriented they had time to discipline. They did it so well most especially my mother. I would whisper to a relative or two my plans of escaping from this woman who obviously was not my mother. She would wake us up at 5.30am to sweep the expansive compound we lived on. Note, it had been swept neat by the gardener the previous day. I made my first “meal” eight. I was however, reprimanded for the match stick that ended up in my father’s mouth! Hey, it was my first attempt.

Birthday parties were a treat! We got to wear our Sunday best; those ballerina like dresses with lovely sashes as belts, complete with lace ruffled socks. The party songs were mainly nursery rhymes or just children sing-along songs.

Now fast forward to what we have these days. If your neighbour (in this sense, it just means someone who lives next door strictly), makes the mistake of trying to correct or reprimand your child; all hell will break loose; the teacher will get a beating from Daddy the Bull in front of the students, party times are mini clubs for kids-trashy inappropriate dressing; especially the girls at that young age, hairstyles that encourage early balding and was a torturous period for the girl, adult music danced to in such sexually suggestive ways it will shame your attempts! These parties have become self serving as it is all about the parents and their cronies. The financial lengths parents go to throw a “one in a kind” party, is embarrassing. The househelp/nanny/housemistress/housegirl/maid that during my time, took instructions from mummy and served mummy, now not only has Madam, but her brood as well to work for and take instructions from. Kai!

Portrait of Happy Family In ParkThe moral fibre of any society is foisted on the woman. Don’t argue. That is how nature determined it – the man is expected and required to fend for his family, he will spend long hours away from the home trying to create a comfortable life for his family. On the other hand, the woman being the vessel and the nurturer is expected and now more than ever to stay at home and nurture the children up till when they have wings to leave the coop. While some will argue that it sounds idealistic, others will fume stating equal rights and the emancipation of the woman, others will demand that a woman has dreams, desires and aspirations to fulfil; last but not least, this last group will question which part of the world I live in!! because as sure as hell, if I lived in Africa, no one has to tell me the issues the average woman faces.

Mummy is working equal hours as dad, so the kids are left with the nannies that need schooling and coaching too; the nannies are furnished with a tv, watching nothing except Africa Magic and Channel O. The kids are given everything they ask for and are not supervised: they can’t be-mum at work! When she does, she’s so tired she doesn’t have the mental presence to deal effectively with her kids. Anti-social behaviour is developed; their friends are their teachers and source of inspiration. TV and social network platforms are their mantra. Once the monster is formed and unleashed we blame everything and everyone (God included) except ourselves. Sexual promiscuity, permissiveness and perversion, abuse of drugs (remember the Codeine phase), smoking,(as if it is cool to have the stale smell of tobacco on your breath, hands and body), binge drinking(alcoholism), laziness, total bankrupt moral code(just look to the schools-cheating, bribing teachers, colleagues to pass exams), stealing, drug addiction(visit rehab centre Yaba, they have a waiting list), terrorism has recently been added. You will be shocked to know how early our kids are engaged in these acts.

We are wondering what happened to our families. This is what happened. We copied the West and got an aberration. Ok partly. We abdicated our responsibilities because we have to make ends meet. Then employed a retinue of servants do to everything-cook, clean, and rear the kids! Wondering, why that sounds familiar.

Don’t get me wrong-it is okay to get help to carry out the cooking and cleaning but not when it becomes the primary responsibility of the hired hand. It is the reality of our society. I hate it when I see an 8 or 9 year old (a baby) brought to take care of another baby!

When I see a woman driving on the sidewalk with three kids inside, I wonder what else she is planning to teach them; since she has just taught them impatience, shunting, indiscipline and breaking the law!!!

Rearing a human being to become a valuable contributing member of society that can function as an individual is one of the toughest jobs in the world with no magic formula. It is also one of the most rewarding. However, with everything in life there are basic steps adhered to that puts you are on the path to achieving a positive result. There are some individuals, for lack of a better word to use; I would say are destined to fall by the way side no matter your best efforts.

When a stay at home mother states that she is; she is viewed with pity; when you take your next leave please be a full time stay at home mom-don’t cheat. Let’s know if they are to be pitied or given a thumbs-up.

Career and businesswomen or a woman working to help support the husband have to know when to start, stop, and continue. Find a balance; simply put. Below I have written a few simple pointers: im no expert but they came to mind.

Cultivate a healthy respectable relationship with your child. I’m not talking about the Oyibo (white man) kind of parent-child relationship where the child ends up calling parent by name and putting themselves on the same pedestal as you. Know their friends and their parents. Interact with them, teach them to honour, respect themselves, their bodies and other people and their bodies. It is very important. Know where to draw the line with material acquisitions for them. Look, X’s father can buy the whole of the world for him but does that mean you should?? Must they have cell phones at 9? An Ipad at 11, designer clothes from babyhood to the point the kids even know?? Tvs in their room complete with cable tv, must have summers. Did you have all these things at the incubation of your life? They have everything and don’t know the value of anything. When they grow up they expect that life will hand them everything on the same gold platter!! Alas, they are in for a rude awakening! There is a time for everything.

Teach them the value of hard, honest work.

Build their self confidence and esteem. Let them know it is okay to be different. Try and spend at least one hour of quality time with them (one on one) everyday. This calls for major adjustment and sacrifice but the reward is eternal.

Spare the rod and spoil the child still rings true. I have told you; no listen to Oyibo o. See what has become of their youth!! And it is gradually happening to ours. The key is moderation, timing and creativity in discipline. I hated mum’s wooden spoon on my knuckles which was reserved for the gravest of offences.

Mums, sorry but we will need to make that sacrifice. Society and even religion blames the mother for a wayward child but praises the father for a good child!!! Not fair in my opinion, but it goes back to the roles nature has apportioned to us. You must learn to love both the good of the child and the bad! That’s the only way you will gain the confidence of your child. After all don’t you make mistakes? Affirm, encourage, support, listen, seek to understand, be firm and consistent in discipline. Also have a common front with your spouse/partner during discipline and decision taking.

Pray for and with your children.

3 Comments

  1. Noni

    “We’ve copied the West”? Give me a break – I know more Nigerians with house help and nannies than any abroad. And some of these same Nigerians don’t work any longer or harder than their Western counterparts.

    The only reason the majority of parenting is left to the mother is simply because we often don’t think men can look after their own children. If you breed them, you can look after them – women did not hatch them on their own. My example was my own father, who was as hardworking as my mother, but my parents never left looking after their children to strangers or family. When my mother worked nights, my father took his parenting role seriously (even if his breakfasts weren’t on par).

    We have dysfunctional families not because we are copying the West but because we abdicate our responsibilities, all in the name of “providing” and think that, by leaving parenting to one person, our children will turn out fine. Can you buy your children’s affection, or the time you haven’t spent with them? What memories are we leaving with our children, what examples are we setting to them as to what it is to be a man and father, or woman and mother, what it is to be in a relationship or what love, care and support is?

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