Matters Of The Moment – Effective Parenting: Col (Rtd) Eddie Nawurah Writes…
As Catholics we already know the three (3) essential pillars of holy matrimony; mutual faithfulness, permanence (indissolubility or no divorce) and procreation (child bearing).
Of these three (3) pillars, the third is probably the one, which most couples are more comfortable with.
Indeed, it is the one most people are more concerned about and look forward to with (sometimes) impatient enthusiasm and expectation.
This is quite normal in our society, which considers children as the logical consequence of marriage… that children are a gift of God is true to the core.
This is so because when husband and wife come together in the natural way to make a baby, unless and until God cooperates with them in their conjugal act, no conception can take place… and let us remember that conception is the beginning of life. But so much for the details of procreation.
Being special gifts of God, children bring enormous joy to their parents and the entire extended family.
However, their upbringing often comes with its peculiar challenges, which may include a wide range of financial, medical, psychological, social, academic or disciplinary factors.
While family support systems (if they still exist) and formal social structures could be of help in these areas, parents should realize that ultimate responsibility for the development of their children lies squarely on their shoulders.
It is a responsibility they cannot (and must not) shirk or even delegate to others under any pretense.
Whether couples have only one child or many, they soon come to the realization that the challenges of parenting are enormous.
As children continuously seek attention in one way or the other, parents should make time for this and make themselves available to address their children’s needs.
This is why effective parenting is a shared responsibility between husband and wife unless, of course, the parent is single.
In this era of full time working parents, the problem is further aggravated, but that is still no excuse for failing to give children the attention they need (and deserve).
As the children grow and begin to talk and behave intelligently, the time has come for basic rules of behavior to be clearly established by the parents.
These rules are essentially about what they can do and what they cannot (the dos and don’ts). There should also be consequences for those who disobey these basic rules.
Depending on the prevailing culture, these rules should embody accepted standards of behavior, speech, manners, dressing, courtesy, telling the truth, table etiquette, personal hygiene and so on.
Children who cross the line should be promptly warned or punished in a loving, corrective, rather than punitive way.
Parents should not allow their children to have their own way, lording it over their siblings and taking over the whole family… that is dictatorship and it must be nibbed in the bud.
This situation comes about when parents adopt a passive attitude, stay aloof and loose control and discipline in the home.
We should not only be active participants in the affairs of our children, but more importantly, we must be living examples of all that is good in the eyes of the Lord.
We should make time to play with our children, eat with them, pray with them and go out with them. Indeed, we should be their best role models.
On the other side of the coin may be that extremely timid and shy child, often the of bullies. What do we do about this type of child?
We need to build in such children the self-confidence they need to assert themselves and to cope with the harsh environment they are likely to encounter daily.
This can be done by setting them practical non-academic assignments, playing with them more, inspiring them by word and deed and encouraging them to mix and play with more assertive children.
However, I have personally seen shy and timid children grow out of this situation to become strong, outspoken personalities without any conscious effort by their parents (or anyone else) to address their earlier problem.
But we as parents must not leave such a situation to chance, and hope that Mother Nature will fix it.
What about formal education; how often do we pay attention (close attention) to our children’s school work?
I am not only referring to their home work which requires our close supervision and assistance. The more important thing is for parents to know that their children are in school when they should be and that they are responding positively to every aspect of their school work.
Parents should scrutinize their children’s school reports, praise the kids when they score high grades and chastise them when they flop their tests.
An occasional chat with the school teacher, where practicable, should enable parents get a true picture of the performance of their children.
Attending Parent-Teacher meetings periodically also helps to get a good assessment of the school environment and the challenges confronting the school authorities in shaping your children and preparing them for the world of work.
Parenting is a life-long activity… You do not retire from it just because your children are now in college or university. This is probably when they will need your advice even more than ever before.
In spite of available counseling facilities in these tertiary institutions, children tend to rely more on the better judgement of their parents when it comes to choosing a career.
Then, of course, there are the final school bills to be settled, job lobbying to be done, and even arrangements to be made before and during their marriage.
In conclusion, it is necessary to stress the point that parents remain committed to the development of their children as a life-long assignment.
After all, we feel proud when our children do well in life and distressed when they do not.
It is our duty, to give them the good foundation they need to succeed in life and we should accept that challenge cheerfully.