This past Saturday, H and I attended a parenting forum that had been organized by one of our Church departments. They had sent out texts about three weeks earlier and has asked folks to RSVP to confirm attendance.
It was an early meeting, from 8-11am, So we were able to plan that day well in advance to be there on time. Not much information had been given, but since it had been billed as an open and free parenting forum, I assumed many parents would sign up. Wrong. We were exactly 12 people. TWELVE! Out of a church with many members, most of whom are young parents. TWELVE. And these twelve included the facilitators and church staff present. Never mind that the texts had been sent to all church members with kids aged 12 and below. TWELVE. To say I was shocked and disappointed is an understatement. I know some had work and urgent commitments but 12 is such a low number.
Anyway, those who did not come missed out on a lot. The forum was basically an open discussion on how we are raising the children we have now, to be the proper adults of the future.
A lot has changed in the world culturally, socially, technologically, scientifically, education wise, but there are still core issues that need to be ingrained in the children we are raising.
- What values are we instilling in them, and how will they be able to maintain those values? Exposure is key, but there have to be boundaries set on the same.
- What determines our children’s self-worth? How will they know who they are? From a young age, they are taught everyone is a winner, till they grow a bit older and realize it does not always work that way. We need to start celebrating the right successes in them and with them.
- Do our children have a relationship with God? This is taught by the parents, not the Sunday school teachers. They need to know how to pray and that God answers prayers. God does not make mistakes, and He listens, even if He does not answer immediately.
Are we appropriate role models? Who are your children’s role models? In our parents’ time, our aunties and uncles, even neighbours had a right to call us out when we did wrong. It is not the same these days. The saying “it takes a village to raise a child” has changed, or is no longer even valid in some places.
Fact is, as parents we NEED that village. You need fellow parents to encourage you, your child needs village members to learn from as you may not be able to do it all. You could have a grandparent, an auntie, an older cousin and an older friend who know your values, agree with them and are able to impart the same to your children in a way that it does not seem to come from you directly. There was even a great example given to observe how our children treat those younger than them, who look up to them. Observing such interactions speaks volumes on what our children are learning from us. Remember the saying, “Monkey say, monkey do?”
We need to be deliberate and intentional about the people around our children.
There are those things we can be able to teach our children to equip them for the world ahead:-
- Communication skills. Both verbal and non-verbal. When we teach them how to communicate, they are able to express themselves successfully. For younger ones, understand but do not encourage the tantrums.
- Taking Initiative. Do not decide everything for your child. Allow them to verbalize what they want.
- Creativity. That is, encourage free flow and expression of the ideas they come up with. Do not schedule their every minute, it is alright to allow them to get bored a bit.
- Integrity. How do we handle the first “white lie?” Do we lie to them?
- Attitude. “Talk to the hand” should be nipped in the bud as soon as possible, they need to learn how to have the right attitude.
- Work Ethic. Always think about the adult your child will become. Let them not think that work tires and is a drudge. Work can be fun, work is rewarding. Encourage them to learn and enjoy work.
- Team Work. Teach them how to work within a team, how to partner with others. How to interact well with others. Let each have a turn in doing something and celebrate the joint successes.
- Leadership.How to lead themselves and lead others. Also comes in with patience, honesty, attitude, taking initiative and working well in a team.
- Time management. We need to teach them how to divide time between different things. Schedule but do not overdo it. Routines are good and teach them there is a time for play, for chores, for others, etc.
- Listening skills. Reading to them hones their listening skills. Also listen to them as a parent, expect a response from them to know whether they are paying attention or not. Ask them if they understand what you have said. Use age appropriate language and terms so as not to confuse them.
- Personal Development. Appreciate the milestones. (Do not reward) Make them look forward to each stage of development.
- Research and Critical thinking. Let them find solutions, do not always give them the right answers.
- Information Technology. Let them know what it entails just limit the exposure.
There was a lot more and some of these skills were expounded in detail that each would probably need a blog post on its own.
It was a great session, H and I as well as the other parents in session learnt so much and agreed to another forum in future, but most importantly, agreed to share with others what we learnt.
It is never too early to prepare your child for the adult they will become in the future. We are not just raising future scientists, teachers, politicians, engineers, chefs, musicians etc. We are also raising future fathers, mothers, aunties, uncles, workers, and role models.
As I look at our two children right now and how H and I are raising them, we are now conscious that what we may not nip now, will rear its ugly head in a few years, and what we water now, will blossom wonderfully in a few years too.
Have you been to any parenting forum? How was your experience?