Mama’s World – Today’s Parenting Dilemmas

I have witnessed a very wide array of both functional and dysfunctional parenting behaviours such that we need to reflect a little bit more on how the gaps can be addressed.

It has been widely reported that the family unit which is the basic foundation of a nation is facing tremendous challenges. Part of the debate is how we as parents are failing to rise up to the occasion. Granted, no child is born with a manual that can guide the parents on how to operate, but a few sticking issues point to the need to be more purposeful in how we are raising tomorrow’s generation.

For instance, the gravity of punishment that some parents mete out to their children for minor offences is sometimes extremely exceeding and rather disproportionate to the offence in question. One wonders if it is a case of cruelty or insanity. Why would one burn a child for stealing Shs 500 or pour boiling water on a child for playing at the wrong time or place?

Take for example, the words we speak to our children when we are admonishing them for stepping out of line.

“You lazy boy,” “You fool”, “You silly child,” and so on and so forth. Do we ever stop to imagine that we are actually reinforcing those negative behaviours over our children?

We as parents are also good at instilling fear in our children such that they are afraid to reason with us. Short of being dictators in our homes we are the alpha and the omega. Our children are being denied the opportunity to practise democratic principles in our homes. How then shall they even grow up to challenge negative status quo?

Equally, our children cannot even be allowed to take risks and fail if they must. Our teens are not allowed to break up with a boyfriend or girlfriend to appreciate the emotional maturity that lasting relationships require.

On the other hand, our children are not even accustomed to hearing a No from us. Oftentimes we allow guilt to get into the way of parenting and let our kids get away with murder. Our children do not have to love us every minute.

I mean, if we say No to some ludicrous pleas the kids will not die but eventually get over the disappointment. We are raising some really spoiled generation. So, tell them “No” or “Not now,” and let them fight for what they really value and need.

What got us to this place, one may ask? I think it is both fear and lack of understanding. Each generation of parents is usually compensating for something the previous generation did. The primary adults in kids’ lives today have focused on now rather than later. It’s about their happiness today not their readiness tomorrow. I suspect it’s a reaction. Many parents today had mums and dads who were all about getting ready for tomorrow: saving money, not spending it, and getting ready for retirement.

In response, many of us bought into the message: embrace the moment. You deserve it. Enjoy today. And we did. For many, it resulted in credit card debt and the inability to delay gratification. This may be the crux of our challenge. The truth is parents who are able to focus on tomorrow, not just today, produce better results.

It’s important for us parents to become exceedingly self-aware of our words and actions when interacting with our children, or with others when their children are nearby. Care enough to train them, not merely treat them to a good life. Coach them, more than coddle.

Source : The Observer

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