Growing up as a child, I would hear several adults in my home and community say a child that would be responsible, would be responsible regardless of the quality of efforts parents put in. Usually, this conversation will come up every time there was a story of a child of great parents who was now irresponsible or the case of a man or woman considered irresponsible for example a drunk, whose son will carve out a whole new admirable path.
Well, I heard a lot of those conversation as a child and I still hear them today. From a cross section of people of different generations, work life etc. Its there in society. The questions of whether one’s effort can really mold a child or not. Will children really turn out right by themselves?
I find this trend rather disturbing for several reasons. For one, it can turn a well meaning parent docile. It can introduce fear. It can change the way we see and believe our children to be. Infact, it already has.
First and foremost, the fact that parents are great or irresponsible does not give a reflection for what a child would become. This is because parents are TOTALLY different from their children. As adults we are a sum total of several learning, formal, informal as well as experiential. If well engaged, your parenting value on your child becomes a part of the learning that will form the adult your child is becoming.
Evidence: ALL children, good or bad, have a value or trait they picked from their parents. Sometimes, they may even pick from a parent they are displeased with.
Parenting is greatly about modelling. But unlike the run way models, it involves a lot more that catwalk, mannerism, swag, fashion sense or even courteousness. Parenting is about providing the “why” and creating scenarios and room for children to experience the “why”. Its not also the instructions but what we are trying to achieve with the instruction. For instance: why we don’t eat while we talk, why we go to Church, why we are honest etc. Build conversations around principles and not a set of instructions. When children default on an instruction, they have an apology almost automated without much reasoning being involved. But when they default on a principle, they have a narrative on lessons learnt, how it could have gone differently and lastly and perhaps the least will be “a well intended and communicated apology”. When children understand the “why” from a tender age, you can measure if they have imbibed it simply by picking their views when communicating with peers.
Evidence: The “whys” form the idealogy for which each human being lives by. Whether good or bad. So empty instruction, leave a child with no direction to live on.
This brings me to the core in this post. All children are attracted to a phenomenon. Let me rephrase that “All human beings are attracted to a phenomenon”. I started by saying children have something they pick from their parents knowingly or unknowingly. When your children find a phenomenon stronger than what your personality offers or the “whys” you have build their lives with it causes a pull. Now, the pull can be a positive one or a negative one.
Let me capture two scenarios:
A drunk guy, who is the laugh of the community, has a son who is sorely ashamed of him. He doesn’t want that kind of life. He also doesn’t know what he wants. So if he encounters a positive phenomenon, he will bury himself with new friends, the new vibes etc.. Networks will build and so on and so forth and years down the line he is admirable. But then he has picked his father generous spirit with people. He loved to see people not laugh at him at the points where he is not drunk. He craved that part of him where people seemed to respect him a bit.
In a situation where he finds another phenomenon, that reinforces more of his shame for his dad and the need to get rich quick and earn himself some respect, then he falls for it. He may never become a drunk like dad but he is becoming a different kind of bad.
This applies to parents of strong character that raise children in an atmosphere of instruction alone. “Don’t do this! Don’t do that!”. No core, no basics, just respect for Dad. It takes almost nothing for them run into children who call their parents bluff. In the same vein, he can run into people who have deep, purposeful conversations in an atmosphere of mentoring and he navigates towards them and pitches his or her tent. Truth is when this happens, parents begin to compete for attention with a third party.
Bottom line, know that your children will ALWAYS take a trait from you for which they will grow with. No matter what they become, there is a part of you inside them.
Secondly, do more than instructions, create relationships, room for dialogues, debates, experience sharing and provide creative opportunity for children to learn by experience. Finally, lead the phenomenon that your children are attracted to.
We are responsible for what our children become. Whether we act or not, whether we allow others influence them or not. Truth is that children do not evolve by themselves. There is always a pull of influence that redirects or guides them to become whatever it is. Hopefully, it should be parents or the right kind of influence.
Pikin wey go good, fit no good!!
Whatever our children become, is a direct reflection of the influence we have allowed over them, whether positive or negative.