In one of my previous articles entitled ‘When I grow up’, I touched on the subject of child rearing and how it shapes our level of ambition and determination as we grow up. Coming at an age where the issue of getting married and having children is high on my agenda, I have started to seriously think about how one can raise their children in a manner that is rewarding both to the child and the parents. The way most of us above twenty or thirty years of age have been raised focused, in my opinion, on the disciplinary way. This top down approach where the line of communication mainly goes from the parents to the children ignores, in my opinion, the fact that children have their own opinions and justifications for their actions. Back in my days, children do not get to talk back (even politely) to their parents, to express their feeling openly, to ask for their preferences, and to explain their sides of the story. It’s almost like they are domestic animals or some object that you can turn around as you deem fit, and all they have to do is obey. Parents did not have to justify and explain their actions towards their children say for instance when they punish them for something the children did. The result of this is that, since the children are not convinced about the justifications behind the punitions they received from their parents, they will keep doing what they were told not to do the moment the parents turn their backs.
A few days back I saw an advertisement on TV by some NGO the name I can’t remember right now about how treating your children with love and respect that they deserve can win them over. Instead of rushing to yell at them and physically punish them, controlling your emotions and trying to explain why the children shouldn’t do so and so things is the best way to convince them about the harms of their actions.
Young parents nowadays are much more closer to their parents than back in my days. Children are more relaxed and lively in front of their parents and other adults, and they better converse with adults, which I believe is a good thing. Nevertheless, I also believe that young and modern parents tend to sometimes miss the thin line between creating a child who is free-spirited and one who is rude and disrespectful of others. Today’s children are given what they want and get to behave as they want when they want to. And the effect of this goes to the extent of disrespecting their own parents.
I always wish that my children are very polite and very respectful of others, and at the same time be free-spirited, outspoken and confident. So I always wonder what a parent should do not to miss the thin line between letting your child be free to talk and think as they deem fit but at the same time keeping them within the Ethiopian norms of respect of others and politeness. Sometimes I think the key is in how openly you talk with your children. Talking to them like an adult, providing clear and unemotional justifications for your actions towards them can help, I believe, in increasing their confidence but also in increasing their ability to use their own brains and conscience to distinguish the good from the bad.