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Now and then, we hear news of sad stories where nannies or house helps left to take care of children cause harm to them. What an irony! Cases of this nature range from the children being sexually molested, kidnapped or even killed. Sometimes, the children are even a danger to themselves, they pick up habits; which if not watched, become hardcore addictions. What is the cause of these recurring incidents? The family is one important unit; it’s a school on its own. We all start our learning from there as toddlers.

In singlehood, no one gives a thought to planning how family life would pan out. After the boisterous preparation of the wedding, entertainment of guests and all, the assumption is to take married life one day at a time. Do you think this is the best approach?

Sometime ago, I happened to be in the midst of three gentlemen whose topic for discussion was about having a child immediately after the wedding or two years after. Each of them aired their views quite alright. It is a known fact that everyone is entitled to their own opinion. You see, having a baby isn’t the issue—It is entirely up to you whenever you want it. The question is what happens when the child comes? As a parent, what do you do to better shape the behavioral and attitudinal inclinations of your child?

THE PIVOTAL ROLE OF PARENTS
The role of parents in their child’s life cannot be overemphasized. Have you seen a child whose first word is ‘uncle’ or ‘aunt’ ? Of course not! It’s either ‘Dada’ or ‘mama’ in their baby tongue. What does that tell you? Even this is only possible when the parents are around, because the baby becomes familiar with who he/she sees most of the time.

The child is taught etiquette; good behavioural patterns and character in the home. Who do you think makes this possible? Sadly, it’s at that stage that some become too busy, leaving the baby in the care of the nanny; sometimes for weeks. It’s a norm for most families, so they might not see how this can affect the child while growing.

EFFECTS OF PARENTAL ABSENCE
Parents whose career have more priority over the children would see the effects sooner or later. Their relationship is estranged. Even when they are around, there’s no difference; it’s like the elastic cord of family holding them together, after being stretched lax, suddenly snaps.

How would you feel when your child discusses their intimate issues with someone else instead of you? They will find solace outside the home, sometimes in the wrong people. Would you blame them? You do not have a family bond!

What about children who are exposed to sexual molestation from the nannies or even other members of the family? They can’t speak up because the same person who they’ve been close to, is the one who molests them. They loose their sense of trust and develop psychological trauma at an early age. Some become addicted to drugs, pornography, etc. They struggle with this internally even when they become adults.

Whatever action exhibited by the parents, whether positive or negative, always have an effect on the child; remember the children quickly grasp whatever they observe quickly at that tender age.

No one teaches you how to train a child in schools, it’s a responsibility which comes on you on arrival of the baby. You have to consciously make time, let your child watch you and learn from you. Like it or not, apart from inherited traits, we pick up certain behaviours from our parents. Ask yourself this question if you’re already a parent, what are my children learning from me? Or if you’re either single or married, what would I want my child to learn from me? This goes a long way.

What about children without parents? We are not unfamiliar with these special ones, we call them orphans. Imagine how children who don’t see their parents most of the time turn out, what would you say about children who have none?

WHAT CAN YOU DO?
Who wouldn’t want to have a close knit family; a family with a strong bond, that can withstand all storms of life, a family that eats, prays and stays together? Yes, we all do; but this isn’t just a word of mouth declaration, you should work towards this! No one is born with all the knowledge intact. We learn everyday!

And so, it’s imperative that you seek this knowledge. Read books on parenting, learn from others; no man is an Island. It’s true that no family is perfect, but as a family, over the years, you’ve gotten experiences and you know what you could have done better. You can help others to learn from your mistakes. We rise by lifting others!

For those who already have children, if you haven’t been doing it, please create a close relationship with them. Show them how much you’re interested in their well-being. Know what they spend their time doing and who they spend it with. Make sure they are aware that they can talk to you about any issue they’re facing.

When I was little, I wasn’t close to my dad, I couldn’t share anything with him. We literally always ran to our rooms whenever he came home. Imagine that, whenever I needed something, I had to write a letter and keep it where he would see it. That was what he required. I understand that he wanted to help us build our writing skills but he didn’t see that it didn’t encourage a relationship between us and him. This is important, know what your actions are doing to your children. As time went on, my dad saw that we weren’t close to him and he was perturbed. It’s a good thing that we can all learn from our mistakes and others too.

Learn to compliment your children. If this isn’t important, I don’t know what is o. Don’t be a standoffish parent. If your child does something you are impressed with, show it. Don’t only express disapproval when he/she does something bad. Don’t make them think you are unimpressionable.

You’ll make them crave for your approval and they won’t get it. Appreciate them, it boosts their self confidence. You know, if they go out with a low self esteem developed from home, people leverage on that and make it worse.

A friend of mine encountered this while growing up, she was constantly berated, sometimes for no reason. Worse still, she was very skinny. She was laughed at, not given attention, etc. Because of this, she felt ugly and unwanted, her self worth was at its lowest ebb. She was depressed and tend to seek love in places where she won’t get them. And of course, they were the wrong people.

Do you know this kind of situation could lead to suicide? You’ll be surprised at how your actions can affect someone. Please make a conscious effort to build your families in love. Make time for them now before it’s too late.

For the orphans, extend a hand to them. From time to time, show love. There’s so much love to give, don’t limit it to your family. The little you can do goes a long way. You can make time for them too, they are our children.

What are your ideas about how parents can build their homes? Please share in the comment section.

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