It may sound very rhetorical but it needs an answer that will send the heartbeats of our hearts up to the memory for posterity sake. If the answers are thrown into the sea to drown in its dept, then how would we be able to know what roles you play in our lives as children? Everyone is a child to his or her parents no matter what age. So let’s talk…
The world over, in a bid to live a fulfilled life, everyone wants to have a child except for those under the oath of celibacy. This is the reason why Elizabeth Stone said in one of her quotes that “Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body”. From the day you decide to have babies, you decide to take charge and be responsible for your child. A child’s wellbeing, health, understanding, education, shelter, clothing, feeding, name it… these are some of the things you do to make sure that your child is well to do. You make them, or possibly, absolutely comfortable. No doubt, this is what every child wants. But your presents are never enough. Your presence matters a lot too I agree. My question is what do you tell your child when he or she is around you? It is not just your presence as well; it is the benefits they get from your presence. What do they learn from you each time you are around? Just pause, ask yourself “what have I really taught my child?”.
In tandem with what Elizabeth Stone said, as a parent, your heart is always at alert making sure your child doesn’t go astray and perhaps abiding by the principle of bringing them up in the way they should go so that when they grow they will not depart from it. On the other hand, have you taken your time to actually enquire about what they already know? Whether you were the ones that taught them? Some time ago, a thirteen or fourteen year old girl was shown on CNN pregnant. This emanated from what her own parents taught her. They only gave her sex education: abstinence. They told her the consequences. But the girl was bent on knowing whether it’s possible to get pregnant if she didn’t abstain. She saw it at the end. It’s glaring that what you teach your child and how you teach it matters. Then how they understand it should be your research because they are your God’s given projects. If you make a very good research and write a project well, in the end the eulogy belongs to you.
Again, what you teach is never enough. What about what you do? “Don’t worry that children never listen to you; worry that they are always watching you.” Robert Fulghum once admonished. They watch you even though you may say “he’s just a child… what does he know yet”. Beside the inherited constitution of personality, one’s development is determined by events in the early childhood as postulated in Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalysis. Childhood is where we learn so fast, from hearing or seeing. If you so think that what you do to an extent does not in any way concern your child, you are wrong, it matters to them.
A graduate was once called for a job interview; he was asked how much he wanted the company to pay him. He said “you should pay me nothing less than what my pocket money was”. He was asked how much it was and he stated 250,000 naira. “If you want children to keep their feet on the ground, put some responsibility on their shoulders” Abigail Van Buren asserted. It’s obvious he wouldn’t want to receive less than what his parents gave him while in school. It’s not as if the money is too big for a graduate. But then, how much does the managing director of the company receive? That you are wealthy does not mean that your child should be spoilt. At the same time, it does not mean that you should not carter for your child as it should be. But like the common parlance, “stop giving them fish, teach them how to catch the fish”. In this case, it is not just teaching them how to catch the fish but also teaching them on time.
However, sometimes you think they are not doing well, and they need to be changed, C.G. Jung, at the Integration of the Personality in 1939 said that “If there is anything that we wish to change in the child, we should first examine it and see whether it is not something that could better be changed in ourselves.” This is in line with what Sigmund Freud explained in his psychoanalysis; there is always an element of inherited constitution of personality in every child. As such, you have to make a u-turn because your child may have inherited or learned it from you. By then you have to make hay while the sun shines. If you are a philanderer, what do you think your child will possibly learn from that? Only the grace of God will save a wayward child who has the slightest inclination to break loose from doing so. Maybe you sometimes beat your wives, or let’s say you fight every now and then, what do you think they’ll learn? Instead of teaching them the right thing from the wrong ones they’ve done, you always yell at them thereby discouraging them from trying to attempt (see Ephesians 6:4).
If you are able to call your children together to tell them what your deeds were and that they should be careful, and as a child, it sinks into the medulla. Pray they don’t become the American girl who behaved like eve and tested the forbidden fruit. As a father, lead your son in a right part, teach your son to be a man, the mother ought to do same to the daughter and not the other way round.
Sometimes, having taken your time to bring your child up the way that is said to be the right way, you are scared to let them venture to see how the outside looks. Probably because of this False Evidences Appearing Real (FEAR), you think allowing them would be detrimental. Then you resolve to ‘movement restriction’. Unknowing to you, they always device other means to get out of the house. The little opportunity they get could be used to do those things they had longed for. You think they could become cultists if you allow them go to schools far away from home. You think their not being in the hostel or boarding house will get them exposed to negative influences from peers. You think going to mixed schools will get them exposed to boys or girls. What if they don’t go to mixed schools then they turn out to become lesbians and gays, what is your take on that? Once you are meticulous but not giving them destructive protection, I think they’ll make good children.
One vital piece of admonition I will give at this juncture is that no matter how poor you may be, learn to keep your child under the roof that you are. It is true that you should try to make your child comfortable. What if you can’t afford all the luxury? Some end up sending their child to uncle, aunty or even friend or someone from their home town. Now when the child comes perhaps for holiday, he or she may not behave the way you expected, you smack them. Whose fault? Their attitude may be a replica of the person they live with. The ones they ought to have inherited and learned from you have been diminished. The most important is what they learn from you. And so the question remains… what have you taught your child? What do you think your child should as well teach his or her own children? Answer this question for posterity sake.