Parenting The Child For Positive Rewards, By Gabriel Omonhinmin

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I have heard and read with pains the brouhaha about the Covenant University recent expulsion of 200 students have generated, in the print and in the social media. I am much more pained with the shoddy manner some newspapers houses have claimed to have handled this matter in the name of investigative journalism.

I must quickly point out, that I am not a religious zealot or fanatic; neither am I a member of Bishop David Oyedepo’s Living Faith Church Worldwide. I presently do not work in any organization where the controversial bishop has an interest; I am equally not looking for a job or any gratification from him. I am therefore doing this article in defense of nothing but the truth. The journalist instincts in me will not allow me look the other way when the truth is being distorted and murdered by most people who cannot pass the heavenly bar examination, but want to be judges in this matter.

The Covenant University is a private owned institution that has its own set of rules and regulations. From the name, Covenant, which literarily means “solemn agreement that is binding on all parties”, Bishop Oyedepo made no pretence about the fact, that his faith will guide the conduct of the institution. The institution’s rules and regulations, I am told right from inception, are shown to both students and their parents, before admission is offered. In line with this understanding, students and their parents are made to sign the school’s condition for admission. It is therefore very clear and obvious from the onset to both parents and students what the students should expect while still in the school. Students, who honestly want to go through Covenant University successfully, are left with no other option than to obey the school regulations no matter how rigid they might look. If this is the case then, I am surprised about the hue and cry that followed the recent expulsion of students who refused to attend the school’s departure service. In all honesty, this action should not be a surprise to anybody, because the institution is faith based.

Now to the heart of the matter, what simply has brought about these crises is nothing but the failure of some of our elite parents to guide and bring up their children properly. Most working class or very rich parents, who daily crave for their children to attend this institution, because of their fat pocket, have failed to give their children the right upbringing that will help them survive these types of institutions. It is therefore not the duty of the school authorities to help them bring up their children in the right way. This, I presume is not part of the contract. The fact that must not be lost, is that being rich helps more than anything else, but it is not all that counts; good family life, matters too.

I am reliably informed, that most of the students expelled were not only known for being uncontrollable, but are often times very rude, while others are outrightly deviants. Some of these students are known for regularly preparing their Indomie with a dose of India hemp which they consumed with relish to the utter consternation of the school authorities. Some parents of the students expelled, I am also told are in the habit of trying to influence some lecturers even when it is obvious to them that their wards were not doing well in school. This is not the way and manner to prepare children for future leadership. There must be some degrees of discipline if the school’s set out objective is to be realized. I am of the view that this is the point Bishop Oyedepo is trying to emphasize. From the records available, Covenant University can afford to do away with these groups of students, if that will help bring about the much needed sanity in the institution. The school is not looking for students. Records available also show that in last session alone, 13,000 students were interviewed out of the total number of qualified persons that apply for admission into the school. Out of these numbers, only 3,000 students were given admission. If this is the case, the school can afford to call the bluff of any student or their parents.

A lesson or two that must be learnt from all this, is the fact that most rich people must learn how to be good parents as money is not everything in life.

Being a parent is one of the most challenging but rewarding jobs anyone could ever perform. It is the longest task and responsibility that an individual will ever do. Parenting is an active process that demands that individuals use their skills and knowledge to plan, give birth, raise, and provide for children. The parenting process includes protecting, nourishing, and guiding the child. It involves series of interaction between the parent and the child throughout the life span.

Just as children go through the stages of development, parents also go through the stages of parenthood that require appropriate parenting and responsibilities. These stages involve changing task and roles of both parents and children.
Each child has specific wants and needs that require nurturing. By meeting the needs of the child, a positive relationship is built, which consistently sends messages of love and support. Expressions of love and affection, listening to the child’s ideas, feelings, problems and difficulties, kindness and sympathy, help the child to feel connected to the family and society. Parents build an attachment with the child and identify themselves as a parent, assess and understand what kind of parents they really are. Grandparents, parents in law, friends, and relatives find out how the parents handle this new role. This stage is critical in building trust, bond and close attachment between the parent and the child. Trust emerges as the child’s basic needs for warmth, food, dryness of nappy, safety, eye contact, and touch are satisfied. The child’s belief and trust of the parent as a dependable source forms the basis and establishes a firm foundation for all future relationships for the rest of the life. Numerous personal adjustments must be made by the mother to meet demands of the baby in terms of resting period, feeding schedule, managing the soiled clothes, maintaining contact, giving personal attention when the baby is at play. This is no longer the case, as most children of the wealthy are left in the perpetual care of house maids or nannies.
The maid or nanny becomes the persons in charge when the baby begins to walk and talk. This is the period when the parents are expected to set rules for the child’s action and behaviour decides when to say yes and when to say no and prepares the child for separation that is to be away for schooling. The parents exercise utmost care to discipline, maintaining consistency, and avoiding ambiguity in giving directions helps the child to conceptualize what is expected of him.
The child’s question from “what” turns to “why” and “how”. This requires explaining each of the queries; the number of such queries grows as the child’s language skills grow and understanding expands. Parents will have to respond satisfactorily with convincing replies. The child experiments with rules and social norms, examines the quality of treatment received and the relationship maintained within the family. The type of parenting used in such situations plays a significant role in determining the sort of adult the child will become. Acceptance, appreciation and affection expressed by parents equip the child to develop a positive attitude and approach towards life. It is at this stage children make harsh conclusions and judgements about parental intentions and actions as they struggle to understand relationships, meaning or realise that other people also have feelings. This stage necessitates parents to interact with the child in an appropriate manner. They may need to frequently revisit and revise their parental roles as the child continues to mature. The child may show special interest in materialistic possessions, and might experiment with unique clothing and accessories of dress, appearance and behaviours. Parents can attempt to alter adverse behaviours that occur by making rules age appropriate, modifying expectations when necessary, and by serving as a role model for the child to follow.
Children imitate parents and others adults whom they admire and respect. The relationships maintained between the spouses, with their respective parents, with the other family members and between the siblings bear a strong influence on the parenting.
Parents with genuine interest in parenting build healthy relationship with school, neighbourhood, and community groups.
Permissive parent gives too much freedom, set no limits or boundaries, and provide no guidelines for the child to follow socially accepted norms. They employ little or no punishment. Often these parents are uninvolved in parenting and spend little time with their children, giving excuses of stress and work. Such parents allow their children to face difficult situations in which they have little or no experience or skill to manage and to contend with the consequences. Permissive parenting may result in children who have less self-control, become aggressive and irresponsible, and have low self-esteem.
In the same vein, authoritarian parents employ explanations, discussions, reasoning; they balance their parenting style by using punishment and rewards appropriately. Punishment is never harsh or physical. Instead, it is given by way of deprivation of an opportunity or gifts. Moreover, punishment is used only when ample evidence of willful wrongdoing is observed. When children correct their behaviour, they are rewarded. Rewards include praise, a pat on the shoulder; a smile or a nod. Generally, the reward is proportionate to the positive behaviour that is being reinforced. Such parenting style results in children who have good self-control, high self-esteem, self-confidence, responsibility, independence and control over their emotions.

From the above explanation, if parents play their roles adequately, school authorities will have little or no problem managing their wards. There is therefore no need sending Bishop Oyedepo to Golgotha for crucifixion. Parents need to do their job.

Mr. Omonhinmin is a Lagos based Media Consultant.

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