As a growing up child, I had these neighbours whose father was a prominent figure in the oil industry. Their house was (and still is) a mansion by all standards. The family wealth was totally reflected in the dressing of the kids, the choice of school they attended and their general lifestyle. Life couldn’t have been any better- an outsider would assume. On closer interaction with the kids, something struck me- each time their father travelled, their only wish was for him to have an accident and die… never to return… Since March this year, there has been a woman on admission at the National Hospital, Abuja as a result of brain and other injuries sustained from a fatal car accident. The children of this woman approached a friend of mine for any help he could render towards their feeding while they attended to their ailing mother. Note the help- it was not to pay something let alone clear the huge hospital bill the poor woman had accrued in her over five months of admission- rather, it was a call for help over a very basic need- food- while they watched over her in hope. At any time, at least three of this woman’s kids are by her bedside. They feed her, turn her over (to prevent bedsores), clean her up while she toilets on the same spot etc. I truly salute the courage of these grown kids!

A comparism of the attitude of the children in the two families painted above says a lot. I can imagine if, as my neighbours wished, their dad got involved in an accident which left him in a condition between life and death, where they need to do everything, I mean everything for him… hmm they most probably will abandon him to his plight! Parenting goes beyond the fulfillment of physical needs. More than the physical, the first need to be fulfilled is the emotional.
Listen to your kids. Stop being irritable at them. Irritation, categorised by yelling and lashing out abusive words down right to indiscriminate spanking is rebukable and if anything- nurtures bad feeling from your children towards you. The reality is that in the preteen days, you may get away with these attitudes. However, the moment the kids hit their mid-teens, they begin to exhibit uncontrollable traits- just to get even with you. They become rebels. Do you see the pattern? Unfortunately, this is the time parents begin to run from pillar to post seeking help! One of your first jobs as a parent is to teach your kids responsibility. Responsibility has many branches- one of which definitely is the exhibition of mutual love and respect. It is only a good sense of responsibility that has made, despite the plight of this woman, her kids to rise up to the occasion.

Teaching children responsibility should be a deliberate process- not to be left to happenstance. What are you doing to instill this character trait in yours? Don’t be among the average 21st century parents, who believe that the way to show love to their children is to absolve them of all responsibility- even that of self-care. Children of such parents, like robots, wake in the morning to discover all their daily needs set. All they do is pick, use and drop. As a result, they begin to cultivate an entitlement mentality. When they don’t get what they demand, they display extreme aggression. This manifests in the early years as tantrums and in older years, children, who, due to the fear of the consequences of saying ‘no’, make their parents give in to their demands.
Raising responsible children is not necessarily an easy task – it is a mindset. When you have the mind set that you can, you will.