Parenting is not for quitters. Neither is parenting for only one of the genders. Quick question you need to ask your teenager: what do you do when a friend asks you for a nude picture or video of yourself or if you are already sexually active, asks you to allow a sex video with him/her?
I believe that the saddest part about the “progress” we have made today; is that children are being raised by the internet which has proven to be a very terrible role model. That and the fact that we somehow seem to think that our parents did a horrible job at raising us because they were extremely strict with us. So, we have decided to show that we can “do better”; mainly by taking the extreme opposite of our parents’ parenting positions.
We are now so lax and so uninvolved in parenting. So much that we believe our children should do whatever they want to do without any supervision or involvement from us; or any other adult for that matter. And that is a sad thing.
The opening question for instance; is one that I believe every parent needs to sit down and talk with their children about; before they hand over a mobile phone to them for the internet to commence with attempting to reset whatever values the parents may have installed in them prior to that.
Oh wait, today’s parents – especially internet “intellectuals” who have not yet had any children; believe that values are a dying practice that should not be instilled in children.
That is why today’s parents appear to shy away from things like leaving their children to make mistakes. And learn from the consequences of those mistakes; while in a convoluted way, attempt to instill enough values in them that they do not even consider those mistakes as a remote possibility in the first instance. You will not understand if you haven’t parented before. But let me try to break it down for you.
Your two-year-old toddler sees a candle flame and attempts to “catch it”. You yell out to scare him off the flame and explain that if he touches that flame; it will burn him, and try to move the candle away to a safer place.
But you know the thing about toddlers and boundaries?
They do not exist. So every time your toddler sees the candle flame, they want to reach out to it. Each time, you are quick to move the candle out of reach. However, you are not fast enough one time, and they grasp at the flame; and NOW they understand why you keep smacking their hands away from it.
Now, expand that to everything a child wants to experiment with. Over time, they begin to understand that their parents are acting in their best interest. Thereafter, you may not need to say the word “no” more than once; for them to understand that you are looking out for them, and not against them.
So, why does it appear like something went wrong somewhere. Why does it seem parents are hesitant to either speak values with their children; or instil them strongly enough that if not for any other thing; the thought of “what would my mother say if she heard I am doing this”; would be enough to stop them in their tracks.
I am not the world’s best parent. I do not even come close. Nevertheless, I am aware that if I do not instil some values in my daughter; the internet at large would be more than pleased to help me out. Then by the time I come to take corrective measures, it would be medicine after death.
So, my first parenting rule, is that there are no holds barred on what we can talk about. Yesterday for instance, we had a long and hilarious conversation about “Plan B”, the morning after pill.
I also consistently play the “remember the daughter of whom you are” card a whole lot; because I not only need her to take pride in her background. Also, I want her to stop and think before she takes any decision. And ask herself how that would tie in with whom I have told her (and she has seen) that she is on both sides of her parentage.
Yes. Sometimes, us parents try our very best and still the child like the Igbos say; “would fling their head inside a bush”, but give it your best shot.
Involved parenting means don’t hand a phone over to your child; and think you have done the world for them. So much goes on in that phone that if you do not befriend your child; you will log on to an X-rated site one day, and see their picture sitting pretty there. And the funniest thing?
Today’s children of the internet – Naija Branch – may not even understand how much of a disaster that is. They will try to milk all the politics out of the situation; that you wonder if there was no way to prevent it in the first place.
Talk with your children about the dangers of the internet before you hand over that phone. And while you do so, remember that “stranger danger” may be one of the world’s biggest misconceptions because most times; the danger lurks close than you may anticipate. It may be their best friend who asks them to send a boob picture “as a dare”; and your child obliges.
What could be the harm in that?
It may be a crush that asks for nudes as a “proof of love” and your infatuated child obliges. It may even be a 47-year-old man lurking behind that social media profile of a 14-year-old; sexting your child and luring then into sending a short video of them touching themselves.
Yes, there are apps to monitor your child’s internet usage. But don’t dumb yourself down exponentially as these phones and apps get smarter – be involved.
Have that talk with your children and let them know that “no” is a total and complete answer. Also, it should even be the default in EVERY situation that gives them room for pause.
We can do it.