The Home Front: Positive Parenting
By Olajumoke Adenowo ~
I tell my sons that their sweet grandmother, as they lovingly call my mum, did not need to contend with the tsunami I have to fight with for their share of mind. I refer to the tidal wave of the pop culture: The media, the songs, the reality shows, the celebrity culture of being famous just for being famous, school shootings, teenage serial killers, … the list goes on and on. It’s a far cry from my pre-cable TV childhood and the tiny ripples of sitcoms their sweet grandma and grandpa had to contend with.
In the past, it was almost a foregone conclusion that the parents’ influence would naturally be the overruling influence in the children’s lives. Now influencing our children must be deliberate: Parents must have a plan. As a working mother I have found out that nothing replaces time spent with the children. I can only comment from my own experience.
How on earth am I to know if the movie is really a 12 or 13 unless I actually watch it? I have seen some movies labeled 12 that would make me turn purple even at my age.
How do I know if their friends are a good influence if I don’t meet them? How do I know what they are thinking or going through if we don’t talk? I have boys and it’s tougher getting boys to talk. You ask your son how was school today? You will get a monosyllabic answer: cool. How did your science project go? He rolls his eyes. A girl will give you a blow-by-blow account of all she did but not a boy. Unless you hang out with him and do something together with him, then slide in your question at some point, perhaps while throwing hoops together he will start off the conversation a bit at a time. And if you don’t appear too eager and stay in the game bit by bit he would let it all out. But it takes time.
Integrity and consistency are what your children need to observe in you as they spend time with you. You do what you say, you say what you do, and there is no short cut. You must be what you want them to be. Parents are their introduction to human interaction and the values they esteem shape their children.
Humility is a prerequisite to parenting. You learn on the job. You can’t get it right 100 percent of the time. So sometimes the child needs to her the magic words: I am sorry.
Never forget you are a parent first and a friend secondly. Not their chum. They look to you for boundaries. I have seen children as young as two go exactly where they were told not to, then cast a glance at their mums as if to say and what will you do about it? We can’t be afraid to set boundaries. If the foundation of trust and love have been laid in the formative years, they know no matter how uncool your boundaries are, it’s really for their good. Be assured that no matter how much they resist you, even teenagers interpret pre agreed boundaries as an act of love.
Hear them out. The cry of every teenager is you just don’t understand. Mirror their emotions, listen reflectively. Be fair but do the right thing.
At the end of the day, tons has been written on this subject. I believe the key is love. Love that does not give up, love that sacrifices, that believes in the child. Love that the child knows is completely unconditional; not a reward for performance but the reward of just being yours, knowing that your open arms await them regardless of what mistakes they make. That sort of love is the key to being a positive influence on the child . When the chips are down, the child will follow whoever he believes loves him more. Will it be his daddy or puff daddy?
About the Author:
Olajumoke Adenowo is an alumnus of the University of Ife, the Lagos Business School, IESE and University of Navarra, Barcelona. She is married to Olukorede Adenowo and they have two sons. Adenowo is a practicing architect and author with a passion for social reformation. She has been the principle partner of AD Consulting Limited since 1994 and is the founder of Advantage Energy. She also founded the Awesome Treasures Foundation in 1999 to raise transformational leaders. For more information, visit www.olajumokeadenowo.com.