Parenting is what all animals do, but human beings are exceptional in their approach to raising their children.
Experts believe that parenting must be intentional in order not to lose the fundamental values, culture, and even the child. Values are what humans use to decide what is right or wrong, what is important in life, and what it means to be a good person.
Value-driven children are raised with clear messages about the values of their families so that they can learn and apply them in their own lives.
Ekua Abudu Akinsanya, co-founder of Greenwood House School affirming the need for value-based parenting in a society reiterated the necessity of those involved in the exercise to learn to navigate the complexities of parenthood and raise happy and well-adjusted children.
According to Akinsanya, “Parenting is one of the most rewarding experiences in life, but it can also be challenging.”
And because of the peculiarities of parenting, it is an exercise that cannot be handled haphazardly or else the result would be disheartening.
Many parents make the mistake of assuming their children know how to behave and what the family rules are. Yet these parents have never clearly spoken about behavioural expectations or family rules to these children.
Research has shown that few parents actually discuss their family values with their children. Normally a Nigerian parent will wait until his/her children are doing something he/she does not like or endorse before correcting them towards a different behavioural trend.
In these cases, children are left to do as they please until they reach a threshold that their parents will not tolerate. This does not provide sufficient structure for children to identify their limits or understand why their behaviour is irritating or inappropriate.
It can be even more confusing when the tolerance threshold changes depending on the day such as the weekend, location such as home or somewhere else, and/or who is present whether it is the father or mother.
Interestingly, parenting is a lifelong experience which suggests that even adults sometimes need parental guidance in times of difficulty.
Like an adage in southeast Nigeria would say; “Okro can never be taller than the farmer.” This literarily means the crop no matter how tall, cannot grow to a height where it will not be possible for the farmer to harvest.
Because no matter the height, the farmer will always bend the okro stem when he wants to harvest the crops. Parents can always bend their children to do the right things through relationships.
Buttressing this philosophy, Folasade Adefisayo, former commissioner for education in Lagos State, speaking about the importance of building strong relationships with one’s children, at Nigeria’s first parent conference an initiative of Greenwood House School, said; “Parenting cannot be outsourced. Let your children know that their lives really matter to you.”
Experts believe that some of the key factors for value-based parenting are establishing clear guidelines, being active listeners, encouraging and keeping the children safe from harm, good discipline, and ensuring purposeful time.
Olajumoke Adenowo, Africa’s most influential female architect, and the Forbes Woman Africa Entrepreneur 2020 aligned her words with this when she insisted that parents must be intentional in the training of their children.
“To me, the challenges of parenting today stem from parents carrying the baggage of their past, the changing demographics of society, and the rising lack of mentors, amongst others.
Parenting is a process of training or raising a child from birth to interdependent adulthood. You raise a child to be interdependent.
We are all on this journey together interdependently. Real maturing is knowing you need others and leaving your egos aside to learn and unlearn from one another. You never stop parenting in life,” she said.
In order to balance the need to instill values in children, and setting boundaries, parents must ensure there are family cultures.
Values are thousands of decisions upfront. If we have a family culture, it will be easy to strike a balance between values and boundaries.
And to achieve this, parents must go beyond words and imbibe actions.
It is wrong to just rely on what you tell your children because they learn more from what they see you do. What you do is more important than what you say.