“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” – Proverbs 22:6 (KJV)
During the last children’s day (May 27, 2016), I took some moments to reflect on my childhood and how I was raised up by my parents. In those days, respect and courtesy to parents and elders were the first (in)formal education a child was given. Greeting in particular was so drilled us, that I would greet a person repeatedly, as many times as I saw him/her in a day. (I was already in the university before I realized I didn’t have to greet an elderly person each time I saw him/her in a day to show my respect, lol).
Contrasting my childhood upbringing to that of most kids I see today in my neighborhood – family, friend’s families, church, school, market, events and literal neighborhood, it dawns on me, over and over, that some of the morals our parents focused on inculcating into us while we were growing up seem to be in-existent in present day parenting.
Of course, a lot of modernization has taken place from 19__, when I was born, till date, so naturally, I don’t expect parenting to remain ‘old-fashioned’. When you compare a 19th/20th century parent to a 21st century parent, one of the things that stands out is the career options available to either. Most 21st century fathers are not farmers, teachers/headmasters, lecturers or civil servants and most 21st mothers are not housewives, teachers or midwives which were the more common career options available to the 19th/20th century parent. The 21st century parent has more career options in the banking industry, oil and gas sector, engineering field, law chambers and lots of other time demanding careers. And if that isn’t bad enough, these parents combine their 9-5 jobs with other side jobs/businesses in other to gain more income. And those who ain’t combining work and side businesses are combining work and schooling or schooling and parenting – either way, the home front suffers.
The kids are left at the mercy of house helps/nannies, school teachers, church teachers, private lesson teachers, neighbors and the media. Now, these parents don’t totally neglect their kids. With the money they make from their job(s), they strive to give their kids the best the money they have can afford – they enroll them in the best schools for the ‘best’ quality education, they buy the most fashionable clothes and accessories for them, they give them the ‘best’ foods even if they will not be home made, they take them to happening events and places,… and the list goes on and on. But there is something these kids need and desire from their parents that most parents erroneously think/believe that money/luxury can satisfy… No amount of money or luxury can take the place of a parents quality attention to his/her kid.
There is nothing a child needs/desires like the attention of his/her parents. It is when you give your child quality attention that you can be able to:
- Train the child in the way he should go
- Know the child better – know when to praise and when to correct the child.
I’m not a parent yet but each time I observe some kids and think of how ill-mannered or how well-behaved they act, I ask myself what kin’of mom I will be? This is because, lot of youths – male and female, like me, who are eager to get married and have our own kids, give little or no thought/plan for our potential role as parents. Those who give it some thought merely focus on the financial/material needs of a child e.g., money for feeding, clothing and possibly money to enroll the child in a creche’ as soon as possible. They forget that a child needs much more than financial/material support. Most newly married or intending couples give more thought to how quickly they can get to the peak of their chosen careers rather than how best they can train up their kids in the way they should go. Then I ask myself again, if we want to train our kids right but give precedence to our careers, who will train up our kids in the way they should go?
Please don’t get me wrong. I am all for both parties working and having a decent means of livelihood but I am concerned that the training of our children are being sacrificed at the altar of making more income for the home front especially at these times of stringent economy. How you will go about balancing your home front and your career is not the focus of this post (I may do an e-Boost with suggestions on how to strike such balance) but for now, this e-Boost is focused on Dear Parents to train their children in the way they should go.
And just before someone tells me that child training is the responsibility of the woman aka mother, let me remind you that the man aka father is the head of the home. That is why God talking about Abraham in Genesis 18:19 said, “For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment; that the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him.” – KJV
And dear woman, just before you rejoice that it is not your responsibility, read Proverbs 10:1
“The proverbs of Solomon: A wise son brings joy to his father, but a foolish son brings grief to his mother.” – NIV
Parenting is the joint responsibility of both the father and the mother (check Proverbs 17:21 and vs 25)
Dear Parents, there is so much more to parenting than providing your child/wards material needs. It is failed parenting if your kids don’t see you as a role model. You should teach them by example. Your children should be able to watch you and follow your footsteps. If you won’t be proud of them following your steps, then don’t do it! Your children should see you as their role model.
Yes, the 21st century child is more self-aware, more educated and more techy savvy but a lot of them do not have the right foundation principles and morals and that is why they’re quick to copy any and everything they see on screen and in the internet. Dear Parents, there are lessons and morals you should primarily teach your kids. Don’t leave it for their school or otherwise teachers.
1.Teach them to fear God – If you want your kids to honor you, to be wise or to fear God, you have to teach them to fear God. Now teaching them isn’t just about reading/quoting scriptures like Psalm 111:10 to them. (The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding. To him belongs eternal praise.” – Psalm 111:10)
Whatever you teach your kids, be sure to practice it because children learn better and faster by watching and imitating the things you do rather than just doing the things you tell them.
2.Teach them Respect and Courtesy – I really don’t understand why most kids of today find it difficult to greet their seniors even when they are coming to ask you for something… makes me wonder the kind of homes they come from. Please teach your kids respect and courtesy.
3.Teach them to be grateful and show appreciation – This is similar to Respect and Courtesy. Teach your kids to show gratitude by saying “Thank you” when something is done for them. Teach them to not take ‘lil’ kindness received for granted.
4.Teach them to take Responsibility for their actions – The game of passing blame to others and giving excuses starts from childhood. Teach your kids to take responsibility and to also accept their wrongs no matter how small or big.
5.Teach them to have Self-Confidence – Appreciate and commend your kids when they do things right. Correct them in love without being abusive when they don’t do so well. Teach your kids to believe in themselves and to know that making mistakes is not the end of the world – there’s often room to try again and get it right.
6.Teach them to be content with what they have – Covetousness can be developed in the heart of a child if (s)he is not taught early to be content with the little or much (s)he is given.
7.Teach them honesty and integrity – I don’t know if to say telling ‘petty’ lies is the default nature of kids, lol. I stay with my nieces, and sometimes wonder on why they tell the lil lies they tell even when they know you’ll still find out… Please teach your kids not to lie (also teach them by example by not lying or asking them to lie to cover up for you). Teach your kids to own up when they are wrong, teach them the importance of honesty and integrity.
Finally, Dear parents, God’ll ask you to give account of how you raised these little ones someday. What will you tell Him then? That you were busy with your 9-5 job and several other businesses? or That you were busy doing ministry and making disciples of all nations while your own home ran amok?
To potential parents like moi, please remember that Parenting is serious business and 100% responsibility. So while fantasying about getting married to your significant other also put into consideration if your partner will help you raise godly seeds – children who will be blessings and not burdens to nations and generations, children who can fight the enemies at the gate. The life and self-worth of a youth can be tied to his/her upbringing and the training (s)he received as an infant.
Due to failed parenting, we have a lot of ill prepared youths to take over the leadership of our generation, Dear Parents, let us not add to this statistics.
Thank you for reading this lengthy piece to the end. May God give us the grace and ability to be better parents to our kids.
PS: Today’s e-Boost is specially dedicated to my parents, Rev. & Mrs Anoke for raising my siblings and I to be responsible young adults.