The truth is, a joke has to be funny, a witch has to know her broom; some things just have their code. A laid down ‘how’ of some sort. But what’s the code for child training? How do we define the line between discipline and tearing down esteem of our little one? In hope that you’ll be generous enough with your time to finish this, you’re probably going to ask “what does he even know about parenting? He’s never even seen the pains of labour nor had to care for an overbearing teen!” You will be correct, but let me quickly add that I’ve been a child, I live near you and I’ve been around for a while.
Parenting is not a mere dance in the rain. It dwarfs the many troubles that comes with wooing a difficult girl. Parents go through a lot for their children, I see it every day. The selling of beads, jewelry and lace to pay the hospital fees of Odion and Ovbokhan; the last-minute borrowing that enabled you get Udoka’s Christmas and New Year clothes so as to save his fragile esteem; the swell times you missed with the guys to come home early enough so Osazee could see you before he went to bed. Parents are a wonder (of course there are exceptions).
The way I see it, you don’t deserve a medal for caring for your child. Raising children is not ‘OLIDARA’, your child should not pay you back. No child begged to be born, no child! If you had the ‘pleasure’ of producing children, it’s only normal that you summon the complementary decency to raise them joyfully and not grudgingly. Stop selling pressure to your children! Stop burdening young minds with the science of bread-winning. Our streets are heavily laden with broken children trying to pay their parents back as a debt for raising them. What nonsense! Isoken is spreading her legs like rumour in every corner of Elegushi because you told her she was your only way out of the slum. Now you wonder why Chris allowed them sell cocaine to him. Maybe, he would have trekked a more honourable route to limelight if you hadn’t made a chorus about how your neighbour’s son Imatitikua didn’t have two heads anytime he came second in his class. That day, you bruised the frail ego of your son. A child with a damaged self, will grow into a like adult. The heart of a child can be more easily reached by those they trust – Parents. So also are their dreams and self-esteem. When Farhan in 3-Idiots was asked by the interview board the reason for his consistent poor grade in college, he cited FEAR! He said in his own words, “my parents thought I would save them from poverty and that scared me”. The child whom the parents wear the guilt of parental debt, they scare to failure.
It’s quite unfortunate that you couldn’t achieve your childhood dream of becoming a doctor, pilot, novelist, lawyer, farmer, businessman, engineer, anything! I’m sorry, but your children can’t live your dream for you. They should not. Only you can do that. Maybe, you want Fabian Jnr to be the first Pilot in the family or clan or church or village, but he chose Photography. Now your love for him is now as dry as the flower betrayed by the weather. It will be hard to understand, but try. Maybe it’s a family tradition for Adesuwa to be a lawyer but she simply wants to teach dancing and poetry. A dream is a dream, no matter what! It’s better to be small and fulfilled than to be big and miserable! Teach them how to dream, not what to dream. When you know better, you do better. When know better that your children are full human beings, you’ll treat them with love and respect. Apologize to your children for the pressures, tell them they’re not perfect.
As you plan marriage and dream of childbirth also prepare for parenting. Let your children meet you ready! Assure them that your love and commitment to them is UNCONDITIONAL. Teach them to live a great life. Tell them that you’re responsible for them and not the other way around. Teach them to pursue excellence and not perfection, to cook their own dream not warm your own, to live their lives to the fullest and free of the guilt of parental debt. Preach to them personal greatness. Remind them that it was a privilege to parent them and there’s no debt whatsoever to be paid. Let them know that whatever noble craft they pursue; they have your blessing. Teach them that children are to bring honour to a home, not salvation. As you allow your children the liberty to live their life and say like Raju’s father, “go live your life my child’, you will save their children. And the children after them.
Osamu Ekhator is a farmer and he writes. He’s @samuhub on social media