How Not To Raise A Child

Feb 1st, 2012 – The other day I had a conversation with a friend of mine and we were talking about African children, especially Nigerian kids. We realised that our children here are brought up to be quiet, reserved and are only allowed to speak most times only when spoken to especially the girls.

They are not allowed to freely ask questions, mix freely with other children. For instance you take your kids to a party and you find other kids their age there, it takes a while for them to get to know themselves before they start playing. Most of the time we tell them “ah ah go and say hello and tell her your name, why don’t you shake hands, go and play with your mates now”.

We need to start allowing our kids to ask questions, express themselves, develop their own character as well with our guidance.

We also need to help their development by balancing their academics with social activities, talents and creativity. It’s a good thing that most schools are beginning to embrace extracurricular activities as this helps the child to come out of his shell, mingle with other kids, build his self esteem and become more confident.

It is evident in Nigeria that we pay 80 per cent attention to just academics and the remaining twenty is shared between their creativity and social lives. Research has shown that children can’t get to their full potential with that ratio.

As parents we owe it to our children to let them express themselves and their talent so we can identify the areas we need to look into. A lot of us do not know how well our kids can do in the area of entertainment. In fact, their teachers know more than we do. The only time we get to find out is when we go to their end of year party or a school concert, then we open our mouths in shock.

When we watch E True Hollywood story we see that most of the most popular actors started as kid actors from TV commercials to theatre productions and then grew from there. Some musicians such as Alicia Keys started playing the keyboard at the age of five. We have also seen videos of Beyonce as a little girl singing and dancing in a group.

This is not saying that the artistic side should be greater, I am just saying that we should also value their talents the same way we value their academic performances.

My older daughter was singing Hannah Montana’s song in front of the television at home one day and lost track of time. I got angry and told her to put it off and go to her room to study. In my anger I said Hannah studies hard and her grades are good, that’s why her parents let her do her own show. She is not wasting her time watching other kids on TV. She is busy reading and when she is not studying, she is working.

She is a star now and is making money for her whole family. My daughter looked at me and said: “I am really sorry mummy. She walked away to her room to read. The next day she came to my room and said: “Mummy do you realise that each time I say I want to sign up for a singing class, dance class, drama club or scriptwriting club, you keep saying, ‘read your books first and when you are older you can do whatever you want.’ If you don’t let me do these things how can I express my talent like Hannah Montana?” I really felt bad because she was right, and from then on I signed her up for those clubs in school. I found out later that it opened up her mind more and that helped her even in her academics.

Let your children express themselves when they need to, it will help you understand them better. Good luck.

Quote of the day: You attract to you the predominant thoughts that you are holding in your awareness, whether those thoughts are conscious or unconscious.

By Michael Bernard Beckwith.

No matter what anyone says, you are the only original copy of yourself. Love yourself, love God.

—Stella Damasus