By Hope Nwawolo, Ph.D
hile visiting at my younger sister’s home outside the country some years back, l was impressed with how she disciplined her little children who ordinarily would have reached for the phone to call up 911 on their mum. But no, they dared not because her slogan was, ‘’there is no democracy in my home’’. According to her, she was in charge as long as they were under her roof. They knew the punishment for any offence and just needed her to tell them to take a position, which they did with genuine remorse rather than tantrums. They understood early in their lives that their mother would not be intimidated either by their unnecessary tantrum or threat of 911.
Casting my mind back to the few scenarios I witnessed at her home and having raised four male children of my own, l agree with that stance for parents who want to train and discipline their children for a peaceful tomorrow. This is clearly different from parents who believe in just being friends with their children, without instilling the right morals and family values in them that will set them on the right path as they face different temptations in life. Even the holy book instructs parents to ‘’train up a child in the way he should go and when he grows old, he will not depart from it’’. It further encourages parents that ‘’the rod of correction will drive foolishness out of the child’’. This is the highest wand of authority handed to parents by the Almighty over his beautiful blessings of children for them to care and preserve. Love and discipline should go together in the upbringing of children. The absence of one spells danger for the future of the child, either as a teenager, youth or adult. It also brings worries and heartaches to parents when they should be relaxed that their children have turned out well.
Advisably, the period of no democracy in the home should start from the cradle to the age of 5 years when the brain is very magnetic. By the age of 10years, the personality of the child is almost fully formed. This is also the period of manipulation by either the parents or the child and the one with the upper hand at this forming stage may likely be in charge in their journey together in life. Unfortunately, most parents lose grip of their children at this stage out of fear that the children will not confide in them with issues of their hearts. This is misplaced fear! A parent should rather be worried of what the children will turn out to be without the right values, morals and discipline inculcated in them. It will always be a case of reaping what you sow in your children sooner or later in their lives.
Recently, due to the disturbing and unwholesome display of attitude by some of our young ones, blames and counter blames have flooded the media and society at large. Different manifestations of training gone sour in homes have surfaced in schools, relationships and marriages. There is palpable fear everywhere, even in churches. It is not out of place to ask; how were parents of past generations able to instil discipline in their children and why the lack of continuity with many parents of today? How could mothers of those days speak to their children by just coughing slightly or with a stern look and the children understood and behaved accordingly?
There is a difference between raising your voice and raising your hands. For the parents with the misplaced fear of losing their children to hard discipline, you can determine and strongly too, to be consistent in raising your voice and not your hands on them. At the same time, it is not advisable in this generation to consistently raise your hands on your children. You may end up hardening them which becomes counter-productive when they fully come of age. There should be a balance between raising your voice and raising your hands. My personal strategy when my children were younger and l had to beat some senses into them was to tell them immediately after that l did it because l loved them and wanted them to turn out well. It worked for me!
Be firm when you need children to obey your rules and do not accept any subtle negotiation from them that goes contrary to upholding what is right in the home. This does not rule out the need for free expression of their views on issues or family values. A home without rules is actually devoid of love. However, parents should be patient to explain the reason behind every rule and instruction in the home and the likely consequences of failure to comply. It pays to invest time, energy, tears, love and prayers on children at the forming stages of their minds, to reap responsible, God-fearing, parents-loving and fruitful adults that will add value to their schools, organisations, marriages and society at large.
Hope Nwawolo, Ph.D, [email protected]