Hey guys. Happy new month, where did 2018 go?? Now, I’m sure you’ve seen so much on social media about how Millenials don’t seem to appreciate their parents and their ways. And there’s study after study saying “don’t hit your child, don’t criticise your children, infact making any expectations on them leads them to mental depression and anxiety”. But how then do you prepare your child for a life which will definitely have Disappointment and Harsh Truths? How do you criticise without destroying? How do you nurture your offspring so that Criticism doesn’t leave them paralyzed by fear?
We all felt the sting of Naija Parenting style: nothing like those harsh criticisms!
“Why did you come 3rd and not 1st in class, does the other child have 2 heads?”
“See your mates, they can wash their clothes and take care of themselves, you’re still acting like baby!”
Whilst some were mildly amusing, others could be quite hurtful. And usually send the child in the opposite direction of where you wanted them to go. But now, we’re overcompensating. I watched a mum with a 4 year old in church recently, everytime the girl got angry, she smacked her mum. Her mum wouldn’t stop her but talk to her. Nah, fam. If it were me, that child would catch some hands. You can throw a tantrum but not get physical.
A Fine Line
So, how do you bring up your budding flower in a world where the University of Manchester’s Student Union is advocating not clapping in encouragement because it increases “Anxiety” and the other side is people calling youngsters “Snowflakes” for being too soft?
You criticise with sense. Remember, one day, your voice (as their parent) will become their inner voice. Guiding them all through their lives until they discover their own voice (just like in tv show “Westworld” #CoolSciFiReference!!).
If it sounds hurtful to you, it will sound hurtful to them. There’s a thin line between the speaker being too vicious (comments about stuff they can’t change e.g., “you’re just too short! See how you roll your okpolo eyes!”) and the listener being too sensitive (comments about behaviours that can be worked on “Try and introduce a broom to your room biko”).
I think Competition and Comparison can be healthy if used in a positive manner. I followed the first class students to read during exams (no I still got a C), but that was healthy competition. And I compared myself to them (unhealthy at that time), but it made me realise now (as an adult) that if I had discussed this with someone older, we would have trashed out why their techniques worked for them, acknowleged that everyone was different and picked one or 2 things from their study method which did work.
Critique is necessary for improvement. No great athlete, Businessman, Artist or Scientist ever grew up constantly being told how wonderful everything was and made it in life. Life will knock you off your feet and sideways and you really don’t want to bring up a child who runs away from every adversity, never taking chances because they are so used to be told how amazing they are, that they become afraid of failure.
“You can do better” is not an indictment. It doesn’t mean everything they did was rubbish, it just means, they should put in more effort. And when they do, praise that extra effort. Cheeleaders don’t jump up for mediocrity. Be their Coach and Cheeleader.
To the future…
One of my most memorable moments in life was the day I lied to my dad, implicating someone else in my mess up. He found out, and told me how disappointed he was in me. I whipped myself into a righteous anger, “how can he criticise me, don’t I catch him lying sometimes?!”. But I didn’t say it to his face.
Now, I realise that an imperfect person is still able to point out your flaws. So you’ll never achieve perfection in life, but don’t let that stop you from correcting your child in a loving, healthy manner. Remember, your voice will be their inner voice till probably their mid-30s, so let it be a guiding voice, not an indulgent voice or a nagging, harsh voice. Let it be a voice of Reason, Truth and Love.