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Theresa Omoronyia: When Adorable Kids Become Little Monsters

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Parents often talk about the younger generation as if they didn’t have anything to do with it.” ~ Haim Ginott.

I’ve often wondered what turns some children from cute, adorable babies into vicious criminals. We have all read stories of teenagers and young adults getting involved in gangland violence, drugs, rape, cultism and even murder. The irony is that some of them come from responsible and hardworking families. So what happened? Who should be blamed? How can we prevent such things happening to our own little angels? I ask these questions because some of us are parents, or hope to be one someday, and we would definitely not want our children to make the headlines for all the wrong reasons.

I have heard people blame many factors; the society has been blamed, peer pressure, lack of parental guidance and some have just come to the conclusion that some children were destined to be the black sheep in their family. Well, I will try and explore each of these options and hopefully we will learn a thing or two.

There is no doubt that today’s society is becoming increasingly morally decadent. Some things that were a taboo a decade or two ago are now considered normal and part of the 21st century. Nevertheless, some children still turn out well regardless of the society they live in. So should we blame peer pressure then? Again there is no disputing the pull that peer pressure can have on teenagers. Some children from responsible homes have been led astray by associating with the wrong crowd. However, I think that if a child is properly guided, he/she can learn to avoid bad company. After all a good number of us turned out right even though some of our schoolmates were involved in all sorts of vices.

So could it just be that some children are destined to be bad? After all we see in some families just one black sheep in the midst of other good siblings. The Woolwich Butchers did not come from a family of bloodthirsty savages neither did the Underwear Bomber, come from a family of terrorists.

I think parental guidance is the most important factor in the way a child turns out. Regardless of the society or peer pressure, each child is an individual with unique strengths and weaknesses. It’s left to their parents/guardians to understand them and guide them accordingly, instead of lumping them together with their siblings. The Holy Bible says “train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it”. Experts have also agreed that parental guidance is important in a child’s life. One of such experts is George W. Holden, a psychologist at Southern Methodist University US, who reiterated that parents play a critical role in helping their children develop in positive ways.

Sadly, a good number of parents do not understand the enormity of their God-given responsibilities.To them having children is another item to be checked on their ‘To-do list’ just like having a degree, getting married, etc. While they approach their career with passion and zeal, going for seminars, trainings and the likes, they hardly bother about learning better parenting techniques. They would rather hope and pray that their children turn out right, using out-dated parenting templates of other generations and other people. These parents conveniently forget that children of this generation are different from the children of the previous ones and that today’s society is vastly different too. There was a time when it was perfectly okay to flog a naughty child, but if you live in the US or UK, that is seen as child abuse. There was also a time when neighbours helped to discipline naughty children, but that isn’t quite as common anymore. There was also a time when your sources of information were very limited, but today’s kids are getting access to vast amounts of information, some good, some bad, via the internet and social media. So parents of this generation have to evolve with the times and adapt parenting techniques to fit the current environment and still bring up successful children. So how can we excel at this all-important task? Well I have a few recommendations; they are by no means exhaustive, so please feel free to make more suggestions.

Lavish Praise: It has often been said that the power of life and death reside in the tongue. The tongue can indeed build self-confident children with a positive attitude and great self-esteem, or it can destroy these children, leaving them emotionally unstable and vulnerable to abuse or becoming abusers themselves. Your child looks up to you for everything. He expects you to love him unconditionally, he expects you to be his greatest fan. Do not use love as a reward for only when he is doing good. Let him know you have his back any time. Don’t assume he knows; show him by your words and actions. Don’t be embarrassed to tell your child that you love him or her. Regularly use words that make them feel special. Just because your parents didn’t do to it to you doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. Refuse to compare your child to his siblings or friends, recognize the uniqueness of your child and praise even the tiniest effort. When your child knows that you believe in him or her, he/she will always strive to make you proud.

Recognize your role: This might sound controversial, but I think my job as a parent is more important than any other job I could possibly ever have. My success is not measured by the company I work for, my degrees or by my bank balance but the quality of children I give the society. No matter how ‘successful’ you are, if your children are a danger to the society, you have failed. If your family name evokes feelings of fear and hatred, then your successful career or wealth will be forgotten in a flash. Sadly, because we live in a materialistic society where things are not prioritised efficiently, I see many people neglecting their children for their career. I see both fathers and mothers working long hours, leaving their children in the care of domestic staff. To them as long as their children have the best food, clothes, education, go on holidays abroad, they have done their job as parents. They forget that no matter how efficient and trustworthy nannies and drivers are, they can never replace you, the parents. Your children need you to guide and train them, but how will that happen if you are never around?

Quality Time: I do recognize that both parents may need to work due to economic reasons, but they could also create time to be with their children. At least one of the parents should try to be back at home before the children go to bed each day. Ask questions probably during dinner time how their day was, listen to them, ask leading questions if you notice something might be bothering them. Take time out on weekends to do things together, even chores, and use the opportunity to communicate more. Be approachable, don’t lecture, rather ask them their opinions on issues. Even when their opinions are not entirely right, resist the urge to condemn. Rather commend them for even expressing it, see things from their perspective and then gently let them see why that opinion may not be right. Children become more willing to do something especially if it seems like they originated the idea. Consider this example:

Mum: So what do you think about wearing heavy make-up and short skirts?
13-year old daughter: It’s the in-thing mum! Everyone’s doing it. It’s really cool and grown-up!
Mum: Yeah, I do agree it makes young girls look really grown up, doesn’t it? But what do you think happens when people mistake a young girl for a grown woman?
13-year old daughter: Hmmm…I see… she could get the wrong kind of attention.

From this dialogue, you can see the mother handled the situation quite nicely, also she pre-empted events by talking about them. Don’t wait until your teenager starts dressing seductively, start asking relevant questions before he or she caves into peer pressure.

Part-time Work: In some countries, mothers can choose to work fewer hours so as to have more time with their kids. This of course means less income but for these mothers, it is a sacrifice they are happy to make. However, some career-driven mothers do not consider this a worthwhile sacrifice. They cringe at the realization that it would mean slow progression up the career ladder. To them winning in life is to compare themselves with and compete against their peers. It would do their egos great damage to be left behind by their colleagues. Well, I have come to realise that while a career can be resuscitated or even changed entirely with a new qualification, there are rarely second chances with children. Once you miss the opportunity to mould them when they are young and pliable, it takes only a very rare miracle to do that in adulthood. Remember the first ten years of a child’s life are really the only window opportunity to instil values, after that they become teenagers, developing their own ideas and will only need guidance. Is it any wonder why we have many rebellious teenagers today? Their parents were absent in their formative years.

For mothers whose work places do not offer part-time opportunities, perhaps you could consider changing careers to one with more child-friendly work schedules. You could get a postgraduate degree in education and teach in any of the schools, and if education is not your thing, you could certainly try other options. What about buying and selling, or learning a skill such as sewing, baking, make-up, blogging, farming, etc? With your exposure and education you could turn what was once considered a humble profession into a very decent and well paying career. There are many stories of successful self-employed women who are financially independent and yet have enough time for their family. You could be one of them.

I deliberately omitted prayers, not because I don’t know its power, but because many religious people are lazy, they expect God to do everything for them. I believe if we will do our best, God will surely do the rest.

So, in conclusion dear parents and parents-to-be, recognize that parenthood is not just about making babies; it involves a lot of hard work. If you are not ready for this, please spare the world another monster, we already have too many at the moment. But if you will roll your sleeves up and tend that young plant God has blessed you with, in due season he/she will be a towering Iroko tree providing a shade for you and bringing you great joy and pride.

Motherhood is near to divinity. It is the highest, holiest service to be assumed by mankind.” ― Howard W. Hunter.

Photo Credit: hair.lovetoknow.com
______________________________________________________________________________________________
Theresa Omoronyia is a trained business analyst and has degrees in Management Science and Computer Science. She lives in Glasgow, UK with her husband and son. Theresa enjoys being with people and her passion is to help those who are hurting. She has worked as a volunteer in orphanages, and as a peer educator and music tutor to secondary school students in Nigeria.

I think everyone has unique attributes to make a positive impact in this world. I hope my articles encourage people to "think right, feel right and do right". Professionally I am a trained business analyst with degrees in Management Science and Computer Science. I am happily married with children. I blog at http://thesisterskeeper.blogspot.co.uk

35 Comments

  1. oluchy

    August 14, 2013 at 11:16 am

    l have learnt from this, thank you BN.

  2. omoobanta

    August 14, 2013 at 11:19 am

    I think the aspect of part time work is uninformed. Lots of families need that double income, and it speaks of privilege to make it such a choice. Also why can fathers not work from home where they can? My mother had an inflexible job and my father did not and so he was able to pick us up from school and such. Why must the mother be blamed for bad children? Can a father’s neglect not also ruin children, (daddy issues etc). Women are their own worst cheerleaders, please take a seat and come up with a more inclusive plan for parenthood that takes all income groups into account. Not everyone can afford to live off their wealthy husbands. Some mothers even have no husbands. Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

    • Mz Socially Awkward...

      August 14, 2013 at 11:51 am

      Agreed. I like the way the article started but from the middle to the end, it seemed to place the entire burden of raising a child squarely on mothers. Yes, the role mothers play is a huge determinant on how children turn out but a dad that works part-time is also no bad thing. This article completely missed out on an opportunity to also educate men on what positive steps they can take in raising wholesome children.

    • slice

      August 14, 2013 at 2:04 pm

      Agreed. She lost me at the end but I assume it’s one of those thgs that happen when u’re writing the way u usually talke. Perhaps she’s used to speaking with moms and just fell into that half way through the piece. I personally believe there’s no better example than a fulfilled mom. Sit down with some of our mothers that went part time or quit their jobs and most of them might tell u they regretted it. Pls don’t misunderstand me. I’m not saying don’t quit ur job or whatever but think it through and check out other options. Stop putting the weight of the world on urself. You married someone so u wouldn’t go thru life alone and now many of us are afraid to look that man in the eye and ask him to lift a finger. Its sad really. Your children need their father too. And ladies guys tend to be task oriented so instead of saying u need to do more around here say while I’m making dinner, cld u please bathe Dele and dress him for bed. Thank you 🙂

    • Thanks!

      August 14, 2013 at 11:54 am

      While I think your comment was quite hard, you hit the nail on the head. Raising Godly children isn’t the responsibility of the mother alone and in making decisions, all options should be weighed, including the possibility that the man might handle the pick-ups and time out. I have met men who have said clearly that they are responsible for certain areas in their kids lives and would rather not take up certain kinds of time consuming jobs.
      When parents stop the ‘its your responsibility not mine’ attitude and collectively raise children instead, I’m sure we will see the results we are looking for. I’m a good example of how one parent isn’t sufficient. My mum was always there, my dad wasn’t. Our family relationship is seriously strained now because of it and my brothers haven’t turned out very well.
      So Mrs ‘somebody’ if you are going to give advise either make it general, something people can learn from whether rich or poor, male or female, single or married; or put a disclaimer at the begininning. E.g. your current article should have been ‘ When Adorable Kids Become Little Monsters: For ‘aspiring’ Wealthy Mums Only

    • Tincan

      August 14, 2013 at 12:09 pm

      I see where you are coming from but I also think you are being a little harsh. I think it’s still the case that mostly (not always) men are the higher earners within the household so if anyone is going to cut back on a time-demanding job, it tends to fall to the woman. I am in favour of work ‘cut back’, if a family can afford to, by the lower earner, man or woman. That said , I think this is a good article for reminding parents of the enormous responsibility that raising a child entails.

      Personally, as something of a high achiever, I struggled greatly to balance my home life and career life but what has happened in my household is, after my first and thus far, only child turned 1.1, we put him in a nursery 4d/w whilst my Mum took care of him on his day off. His Dad took a back-seat with his career i.e. had a professional but regular (9-5) job so he could be there for my son whilst I ‘career sprinted’ incl. travelling etc. Between us we always ensure to spend 2hrs after nursery daily with him and on the weekends, we pretty much are always together. Now I am starting to take a backseat with my career and my boo is career sprinting incl. travel. The point of this rant 🙂 is, there are ways round the issue of spending time with your children and raising them properly once you recognise the importance of the job. There is no one-size-fits-all-model but there are certainly ways round it.

    • mama

      August 14, 2013 at 1:19 pm

      omoobanta you utterly and clearly have emotional issues you need to deal with first…..whether you like it or not the issue of women working has put alot of pressure on how children are raised and sadly alot of them are turning out badly today cos of absentee mothers…..you are the one who is uninformed about the fact that majority of mothers do not make out time for the kids…..yes they need to work cos the family need the extra income but they have to sacrifice and create more time to look into the welfare of the kids as well……while a man can also be blamed for a bad child, most times if the mother does her part well the child turn out better despite an absentee father…that is not to say some children are just bad no matter how much you do..God has wired women to handle alot more about nuturing the child that is why she carries them in her womb…..if a woman has to work, the extra sacrifice is that when you get home she needs to look into what they watch, read, friends they keep and most of all keep them close so they can tell you what goes on in their heads………the truth is alot of men today are not living their responsibilities as fathers and it is the job of both parents to train a child, but even if the man is at home the woman does the bulk of the work……

    • slice

      August 14, 2013 at 2:14 pm

      sincerely though where did you find this mostly absentee mothers? The mothers I know are working their butts off at work and then running home to cook, clean, wash, iron, do homework, sex their man(maybe not as often as they should) and then turning around and doing the same thing again the next day. What more could anyone expect from one human being. That’s why sometimes a man introduces his wife and people are shocked because they thought she was his mom.

    • omoobanta

      August 14, 2013 at 3:09 pm

      So I now have emotional issues by pointing out that parenting is not solely the responsibility of mothers, and that not all women can afford to feed their families on a part time job. What a great and supportive person you are… i feel empowered already….msscchhhww

    • Tincan

      August 14, 2013 at 4:05 pm

      Mama, nahhh, you miss road here o. Actually, behavioural problems are mostly caused by absentee fathers, not mothers at all. In fact, even when a woman chooses to stay at home, there’s a certain discipline that usually (again, not always) only a man can bring particularly with sons. I completely disagree with you here. You need both – the nurturing of the Mum and strength of the Dad.

    • Aminawon

      August 14, 2013 at 5:33 pm

      i think you meant “both” parties working has put alot of pressure on how children are raised . pls pay attention to the word “both”.

      Spending time with the kids is not a job for mummies alone.

    • Curious

      August 14, 2013 at 8:38 pm

      I will not be surprised if you are a woman. Women tend to be their own worst enemies. I just can’t even deal with this rubbish you are spewing here. I just can’t. I don’t blame you sha, yarning opata does seems to be a hobby for some.

    • tm

      August 14, 2013 at 2:30 pm

      I agree with u on this! The father should also learn to contribute in training the kids. it’s not just the work of the mother. The mother should cut back ke? If my own mother had resigned her job then, if she had not acquired all the skills that are helping her today, our family would be in serious trouble now that my dad is retired.
      It is the responsibility of both the mother and father!

    • Stopping By, Showing Love

      August 15, 2013 at 10:00 am

      this!

  3. Jaynie

    August 14, 2013 at 11:47 am

    isn’t it amazing how everyone says ‘women are the weaker sex’, yet every wrong in the family is blamed on them…bad husband, straying husband, bad children, etc,the ‘weaker vessel is at fault’.
    while i know and understand the importance and huge responsibility on the shoulders of women, i think the men, the ‘stronger vessel’, should have a role to play too.
    nice write up, i’ve learnt lots from it, only include the men,

  4. Enigma

    August 14, 2013 at 12:00 pm

    Unfortunately everyone looks for the mother if anything goes wrong with a child. I feel a mother has to be able to know she did her best, to the best of her ability to bring up her children.

    • Curious

      August 14, 2013 at 8:42 pm

      How can she though? When she gets no support, even from other women (who should be empathetic considering they share similar burdens). Women sometimes, even seem to derive some sort of sadistic pleasure from putting other women down and heavily criticizing their parenting abilities. It is indeed a sad situation.

  5. ebony

    August 14, 2013 at 12:05 pm

    Parental guidance is key but as the kids grow older, it becomes their choice to be good or bad. there is only so much parents can do especially when the kids are growing older.. the bible says train up ur child and not train up ur adult child.

  6. Tinu

    August 14, 2013 at 12:07 pm

    Sounds like you are equating parenting to motherhood. You rarely, if at all mention the fathers role.

  7. Nike Copyright

    August 14, 2013 at 12:11 pm

    This article is as Nigerian as Nigerian comes. Shows that for some people, even living in Glasgow does not broaden their horizon one bit. Bella Naija is the focus now shifting from blaming women for their cheating husbands to blaming them for bad children? Coming from a woman for that matter. Na real wa o. Yes I can afford to work part time but I am under no illusions that this option is available to everybody. Mothers try their best, sometimes some children just want to behave like omo ale. What do you then do. Even children with full time housewives as moms turn out bad and so what do you say to that. Their are loads of children who had full time busy mums who turned out fantastic. Let us start naming names of some of our billionaires, with amazing moms and even moms of many Celebrities who always credit their success to their mothers. Despite their struggles, working 3 jobs at a time, they still turned out well. Have you read the story of Dr Ben Carson’s mom. Madam I will give you ten pipes to smoke it, then open the window and see the world beyond your nose. I am the product of a single mum, I haven’t seen my dad in decades and my siblings and I turned out fantastic. A Doctor, A Lawyer licensed in 3 states, A Civil Engineer and a Chartered Accountant. ALL ON HER OWN.

  8. dp

    August 14, 2013 at 12:30 pm

    @OMOO take it easy now, as for me i love the article and it talks to every one in the home plus the man . I have really gained from it

  9. the special one

    August 14, 2013 at 2:08 pm

    there is no doubt about the gain from this article, it has taught me a lot about parenting, thank you BN

  10. minimisingmarriageshock

    August 14, 2013 at 2:13 pm

    This article while it has its merits floundered after the third paragraph to the end. Aside from the myopic view placing responsibility on the mother, my own question is the kids that make up the wrong crowd/bad company that you don’t want your angel to get involved with, where do they come from? Were they not given birth to by human beings or they came from aliens in outer space? Nigerians and indeed many other nationalities are so quick to blame their child’s bad behaviour on ‘wrong crowd/bad company” when infact their child may actually be the ring leader. A friend was telling me how when she was younger her parents didn’t like one of her friends and asked her not to associate with the said friend anymore because the said friend was apparently a bad infuence on her. She says she looks back now and laughs at her parents because she was actually the bad infuence on the said friend.

    Here in the UK, you call some parents to school to have a chat about the behaviour of their kids and they still call their kids saints even with all the evidence staring them in the face. Meanwhile their kid is the ring leader of the worst offenders in school.

    So how and when did these supposed angels acquire such bad behaviour?

    Parenting doesn’t come with an instruction manual like electronics. Abi you haven’t heard of or seen pastors/bishops/imams kids turning out bad in Nigeria? Or kids of crackhead parents turning out well? I certainly have. By ‘crackhead’ i dont neccesarily mean drugs. Even Samuel’s kids in the bible didn’t turn out well so there……!

  11. jcsgrl

    August 14, 2013 at 2:41 pm

    The article had some good points as it seemed to focus more on the role of the mothers in raising children. I don’t think her list is exhaustive but can always be expanded on. Or perhaps another article on the roles of fathers. Actually we need more of those to drum into the ears of our men. Perhaps an article coming from a guy on man’s perspective on parenthood is needful.

  12. tm

    August 14, 2013 at 2:59 pm

    I agree with this article to a point. I \ as a person, have always said it that i’m not gonna raise my kids the way I and my siblings were raised because I want to be a parent that listens to her kids. Not just pretend to listen o, as in really listen. My parents dint listen to us when we young, they always dismissed whatever we had to say and it caused a lot of problems. My father would come back from work, frown his face and none of the kids would be able to move closer to him. To ask anything from him would be with fear, we had to resort to writing small notes and sticking them under his door. It got to a point that if he was traveling then, we would be so happy that he was leaving the house and we would be jumping around.
    As you would guess, we grew closer to our mum who would always smile with us and all. Fast forward, 15years later, he now complains that we don’t sit down with him in the sitting room, we don’t talk to him blah blah blah. @ first, we dint say anything but then one day we had to tell him he caused it. That all the times we wanted to play with him, he was always frowning.
    Training a child is not just for the mother, the father must also be involved!
    I learnt a lot from my parents and it has helped me in managing my youngest sister as she is the most stubborn. Whenever my mum is having issues with her, she calls me and everything will be resolved because I don’t use the manner of approach my mum would use.

    May God help us all!

    • slice

      August 14, 2013 at 4:00 pm

      you have said it. truth is your kids are watching. Guys and girls who think they are getting away with something by not contributing their fair share, your kids are watching and judging. you don’t understand at all. If the mother is overwhelmed, please understand that’s the mother you’re giving to your children. An overwhelmed mother that can’t listen, that beats her pain into her children backs, nags nags non stop. Same thing for women. you quit your job in the name of watching the kids when your husband has told you point blank that you guys can’t afford to lose the income. dealing with a similar situation here now. Everyone is telling her please go back to work. This man is working too hard. But she has made up her mind to watch a house that’s mostly empty when the kids are not there. shio

    • randommer

      August 14, 2013 at 7:19 pm

      lol are you sure you are not my junior sister? the funny thing is after we told my father my this, he started ranting and raving that he was not a monster, he has sent us to school, he has done this, he has done that. o ma she, i can tell it’s really paining him because he feels like he did the most and he doesn’t want to accept the honest feedback that he screwed up in some big ways. And if i start telling you the daddy issues I have from him not being around or showing his love for me, I won’t finish. Sha sha, I’ve decided to see a therapist because I’m done with disrespecting myself and allowing men to disrespect me.

      Fathers be involved with all your children, daddy issues are NOT cute.

    • tatafo!

      August 14, 2013 at 9:48 pm

      This makes me so sad to read. A lot of people are growing up in single mother households masquerading as two-parent households. I pray the future is better, thank God for forums like this that brings this type of issues to light. Young wives, please start the conversations with your hubbies so that history will not repeat itself

  13. aleesha

    August 14, 2013 at 4:09 pm

    Please let’s not shoot the author! she already stated that her piece is by no means an exhaustive treatise on raising children. I particularly liked the dialogue between the mother and her 13yr old daughter.
    the author does raise some valid points, and while I agree that the mother has a crucial role to play in raising children, fathers need to be really involved too! more often than not, the dads are a little more than bystanders in the life of their kids. both parents brought the child into the world, so they have joint responsibility in caring for and for and raising their children.

  14. Senior

    August 14, 2013 at 5:08 pm

    Totally lost me from the middle. Rubbish. I 3rd that. Put your nonsense in your pipe and smoke it. Hisss.

  15. Theresa Omoronyia

    August 14, 2013 at 5:22 pm

    I thank everyone who has taken time to comment on this article. Every feedback is important and will lead to better articles in future. About the concerns raised, this article was not written to absolve fathers of their responsibilities. Not at all! Every child needs the nurturing love of a mother and the protective love of a father. However I focused on mothers because ladies make up the majority of visitors to BellaNaija. Hopefully there will be an article for men in future, perhaps written from a man’s perspective.

    The suggestions given in the article are not laws, they are merely suggestions. Parenting like marriage does not come with an instruction manual, because the individuals involved are unique. There is no one-size-fits-all method, the most important thing is to agree as a family on what works best. There are families where the father is a stay-at-home-dad and the mother works, and families where the reverse is the case, and other combinations. Do whatever is good for the family.

    This article does not command all mothers to stop working and stay at home. But suggestions were given to make the most of the few hours parents spend with their children. In this case it is quality not quantity that matters.

    Once again dear BN friends, thanks for your comments. We all learn everyday, I have learnt from you and hopefully you have learnt from me as well. May God help us to be wise in all we do, amen.

    • slice

      August 14, 2013 at 6:28 pm

      bless you and thanks for your contribution

  16. OmoMakun-www.ankarafestla.com

    August 15, 2013 at 12:42 am

    Women please can we stop bashing each other. Theresa thank you for coming in and clearing things up. Rather than attack each other, lets support one another. A child needs both parents, we can’t deny that. Please lets find a way to support one another , it would be awesome if working moms parents fill in for each other when one is away or something. Or even have a place where working parents can network with each other for tips and advice.

  17. Tunmi

    August 15, 2013 at 1:45 am

    at least realize where you went wrong.

  18. jenson

    August 20, 2013 at 4:23 am

    Looking for forward to studying extra by you in a while!? I’m typically to writing a blog and i genuinely respect your posts.

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