Sunday, 28 June 2015
PARENTING IN THE 21ST CENTURY
Life in the 21st century is generally easier than what our forebears had to deal with. We have all sorts of technological innovations to ease our work, the world is now truly a global village and there's easy access to information at our fingertips. The standard of living is also generally higher. Unfortunately, parenting isn't one of those things that has gotten easier.
Not that raising kids was not a walk in the park for our parents, it just seems like the parents in this generation, have their work cut out for them. What with increased access to the internet, social media exposure and the worsening depravity of mankind; not that the first two are bad in themselves, it just means that parents have to be extra vigilant.
I don't have kids yet, so this is not from my 'wealth of experience' but I have read quite a number of articles on the matter, and have listened to parents share their struggles and methods that have yielded good results. One method will obviously not work for all but here are my thoughts on what I think the present day parent has to give a good amount of thought to.
1. To give birth in Nigeria or abroad.
Factors influencing this will include finances of course, because it ain't cheap. The average middle class family will probably have to save for a few months in order to afford this. The main reason for this trend is that the standard of care in your average government medical facility leaves a lot to be desired. If you need further convincing, compare the maternal mortality rates of Nigeria and any first world country. So, in order to avoid stories that touch, those that can afford to do so, have their babies abroad. A reputable private hospital here is a suitable alternative.
2. To get a nanny or not.
Omo, with all the stories one hears about physical and sexual abuse of kids, including kidnapping, it's enough to make you swear off nannies. Unfortunately, we aren't all superwomen and so the majority would need to source external help at some point. Maybe a suitable compromise would be to go through a reputable agency, so someone can be held accountable if the nanny misbehaves or a relative. Please do a full medical screening before bringing anyone into your home. Be extra vigilant, encourage your kids to talk to you and look out for any behavioral change, also be nice to our help.
3. To discipline or not.
And by discipline, I mean spanking not naughty corner things. Most of us grew up with parents who didn't hesitate to spank if they felt that was what was required to reset our brains. We on the other hand are a generation that is becoming increasingly westernised and we are also adopting their disciplinary methods. This means spanking is barbaric and grounding and the 'naughty corner' among others, are the methods of choice. I have nothing against these, especially as I believe that the punishment should suit the crime. Meaning spanking and other disciplinary methods have their place, for instance a child could be sent to the naughty corner for throwing a tantrum and spanked for stealing from your purse. It's important to let the child know why he/she is being punished and that it doesn't mean you have stopped loving them. I agree with scriptures that in sparing the rod you will spoil your child. Also, that children should not be spanked in the heat of passion. That's the point at which you will cross the line into child abuse. Allow yourself to cool off before acting.
4. The bees and birds conversation.
I don't know how parents do it these days, but I'm pretty sure its not the talk you had with your mum when you had your period for the first time, and she called you into her room, locked the door, and carefully explained to you that having your period meant you are now a big girl and so you shouldn't play with boys any how because if a man touches you, you will get pregnant. Seriously, its a talk that should be had early, otherwise, they will source the info elsewhere and I'm pretty sure you wouldn't want your kids hearing about sex for the first time from their school teacher or your nanny.
5. Co-ed vs single sex schools
I attended an all girls school and contrary to what most people say, lesbianism wasn't so rampant then. My kids would only attend co-ed schools. Or maybe, they will be home schooled.Honestly, as parents there's only so much you can do. You'll just have to trust God to keep them from evil. Also while we are on this, boarding vs day school.
6.Makeup for girls and age appropriate dressing.
The first time I ever used make up was after my JSCE, when I borrowed my mum's eye pencil to fill in my brows. Because I was sneaking around, I didn't even use a mirror and came out looking like a masquerade with two lines above my natural brows. These days, six, seven, eight year olds paint their finger nails, wear revealing outfits etc. I believe kids should be kids. They have their entire adult life to do adult stuff so dress your little girls in those pretty flouncy dresses, put her hair up in pigtails. You can only do this for a limited amount of time, so enjoy it. And with the world being so perverse, you don't want people looking at her like a little adult.
7. Smartphones, Tv, Internet.
I think there should be a phone at home so they can reach you if there's an emergency. Also, get them to memorise your home and office address and personal phone numbers in case there's an emergency outside the home, so a responsibe adult can reach you on their behalf. I wont give a kid a smart phone until the university and also internet access shouldnt be without supervision and also install necessary security to restrict access to questionable sites. Regulate TV watching times. I strongly believe that this is one of the main reasons for childhood obesity, because kids spend after school hours watching TV and using various gadgets, they don't play outside anymore. Even some schools don't have playgrounds. It is your responsibility as a parent to ensure that you raise healthy kids.
As we say in Nigerian parlance, raising children is not beans but God who gave them to you will also equip you to raise them properly. There's wisdom, direction and grace in abundance to all who ask. Build their self esteem, seek and nurture their talents, cultivate openness and friendship, speak blessings over them always.
As usual, I would love to hear from you.