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Amarachi Okeh: It’s Never Too Early to Teach Your Children to Be Independent

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I was going from Opebi to Ojuelegba when I encountered this mother and her little madam on the bus. I adjusted for the daughter, not more than 10 years old, to sit followed by her mother. The next passenger made to join the already complete seat, expecting the mother to lap the daughter. The mother signed a ‘no’ with her finger to the man clearly telling him that the daughter had the seat. I was frankly impressed.

While on the journey, I only remembered I had a handkerchief in my handbag when I heard the mother tell the little girl ‘use your handkerchief.’ The girl dabbed her sweat spotted face. Somewhat ashamed, I dipped my hand into my bag for mine. I’d been sweating for a long time. I took an overall look at the little lady, she had her handbag as well. I was so taken by both the daughter and mother.

The world is moving in such a fast pace that parents now want their children to be fashionistas, all thanks to social media. Not entirely a bad trend though, as parent are spending so much time in nurturing their children towards being fashionistas. How about an early attempt at nurturing them toward maturity and independence? The impression I got from the mother and daughter was this: here is a little lady that will mature into a confident, self-reliant lady. I was literally blown away that I wished I could get married right away and begin the process.

The kind of efforts parents make in training their children are all what the children turn out to become. I believe that the opportunity you give your child to become a manager, independent and responsible at an early age will largely affect how she turns out to be in the future. The confidence you put in your children will also affect who they turn out to be, and the opportunity you give to them to manage things will invariably affect what they turn out to be.

I know of people who are well past teenage years but still are stuck to/with their parents’ suggestions and decisions. Have you encountered such? They seem unable to make their own decisions. Why? Because they are used to their parents taking actions for them, thinking and deciding for them. Here’s a case of lack of exposure from the parents or should I say in their mind, good training.

I believe that less control, less interference, more trust and more confidence and faith in your child will affect how they mature and who they mature into. It is rather sad that some parents don’t understand that the child’s life is hers to live and not theirs to use to mend their past.

My friend, Vivian came back from work and couldn’t hold to tell of a little girl of about 8 she encountered at work. After asking to be shown the toilet when she got there, she politely asked ‘please can I have tissue,’ thinking it was for the usual she gave her instead the girl used it to wipe the toilet seat before use. I could see the intrigue and fascination in her eyes as she told me the story. Now, imagine this little girl and the one I met on the bus as adults. Who do you think or what do you think they would turn into? Obviously, confident, self-reliant and strong willed all thanks to the efforts of the parents from a young age.

Some parents all in the name of good training, end up mis-training and probably raising docile children except for the stubborn and strong-willed ones who defy their parents. I remember when a relative came to visit my family. A family of 6 with the eldest child not up to 14 and youngest 6. The children sat when they came was how they stayed till they left – so inactive and dormant. I was irritated. I couldn’t help asking my mother what the problem was. She just shook her head and laughed.

Allow the child, early enough, expose her to reality and allow her to manage her finances, let her find a job for herself even if she’s just in secondary school. Create that opportunity of never always depending on you for everything. Let her be self-sufficient in some things, respect her. Boost her confidence in herself, allow her take decisions, and trust her well enough to trust you. Trust her to do things. She may not get it at first, but still trust her. Let her go visit relations, stay with friends. Ask about, some children have never been anywhere except their home, school and village – that’s if they visit at all.

It is not too early to teach independence. Whenever my 8 year old cousin gets ready for school I never hear him ask for money. My aunty explained that she gives him his weekly pocket money at the beginning of each week and he never asks again till the next week.
The creativity of your child and entrepreneurial abilities, I think, stem from how much you let her have of her life.

Do the needful to make your child feel and be important. Their opinions matter. Trust her with things, trust her to do things, and don’t belittle her. Give her pocket money to manage. Teach her how to spend and how to manage. In doing these you are raising a genius!

Photo Credit: Dreamstime | Photoeuphoria

A media enthusiast. Book lover and big time thinker! I love life, love, laughter, family and fun! Freelance content writer. Can be reached via email [email protected]

14 Comments

  1. No set rules dear

    December 20, 2015 at 5:15 pm

    In as much as this article seems to be a good one, please have your children first. Foremost, before talking about independence. Please pray and hope for a child/children with good health, I mean over all health.
    Heard of the saying one man’s meat is another man’s poison? Those so called docile relatives of your, to their own mother or father are well behaved. Some people actually do not Iike kids who when they enter a place turn it up side down. The so called docile, can have all the above good things you talked about, and same way the sharp kids lose out as adults. Best way to raise your child/children is to be an example of that which you pray and HOPE to see in their future

    • Cindy

      December 21, 2015 at 8:52 am

      You lost me at “please have your children first”. So it is only when you have kids yours start learning the principle to raise them by? No wonder so many parents lose it. There’s is nothing bad in before-the-job training.

    • Hey Cindy

      December 21, 2015 at 4:19 pm

      I think her have children first meant, then you would actually realize there Are no set rules, not to say she can’t have an opinion. Have you not seen when people have kids their actual approach to parenting changes. I had an aunt who when single will beat all of us her nieces and nephews, she gets married struggles to have kids and no one dares touch her kids o, her approach changed fast and later when the oldest was diagnosed with a life altering challenge see kind and nice aunty !!

  2. Spunky

    December 20, 2015 at 8:28 pm

    I’m yet to be a parent but It shouldn’t prevent me from giving my two cents opinion. I like smart kids. I marvel at their level of confidence. Truth be said, from observation, I feel a lot of kids are being pushed too fast. I’m all for having your kids act smart and all that…but parents need to be careful as to the extent of exposure they plunge their kids way. I understand everything about life comes in phases. I would encourage parents to let their kids be kids for a minute. I don’t mean to digress from your write up which I really like, just saying a lot of parents all in a bid to outdo themselves, tend to put too much pressure on children…I believe a few will get me. Well done!

  3. Anne

    December 20, 2015 at 9:52 pm

    Nice article with lots to learn. I like the money management part. Those children we call docile may actually be jumpy in their hearts but have learnt to behave carefully when they are not in their own territory. Jumpy children can actually annoy some other people. I really like your mum’s reply though. That’s a wise mother. Also you better give your children abstinence and Twakando education before they go stay with relatives these days. Times have changed.

    • Sherry

      December 21, 2015 at 6:50 am

      Seconded!

  4. bokun

    December 20, 2015 at 11:48 pm

    Depending on age, docility in children could actually be a red flag. 2 year olds are supposed to be little scientist,;they are discovering the world around them, so have a natural instinct to explore. They don’t do it to annoy. It’s a stage of development. They are supposed to feel secure enough to explore and make sense of their world. I read the book “why love matters” by Sue Gerhardt it was recommended to me by a health visitor. It really openned my eyes to child development and how parenting can create Einstein, muderous Hitler, life long doormats, confident articulate productive individuals. It’s all in the parenting. There are no short cuts in parenting, Parenting is a TOUGH JOB. Kudos to all those parents out there keeping it real.

    • funmi

      December 21, 2015 at 6:49 am

      Please where can I get that book you mentioned.thanks .

    • bokun

      December 21, 2015 at 11:01 pm

      If you are in the UK u can get it online at Amazon. Com.

  5. Author Unknown

    December 21, 2015 at 6:49 am

    I don’t know about giving an eight year old pocket money O. I am for teaching money skills early(without necessarily handling money). I was never given at that age, and I have good money skills as an adult 🙂 Maybe times are different. I like intelligent kids, but I don’t particularly like for kids to carry like adults. They’ve got a lifetime for that, and you can tell it’s coached behaviour. Independence is good, because we won’t always be there, but we should be careful not to lose the chance to bond as parent-child all in the name of independence. So many Nigerians are not close to their parents because they got shipped off to boarding school. Naijas will do anything to have children, only to dump them with nannies and ship them off to boarding school as soon as the first chance arises. Y’all confuse me 🙂

  6. Nefertiti

    December 21, 2015 at 8:22 am

    Nice article. But I feel these kids should be allowed to enjoy their childhood. Life is in phases, we shouldn’t push them too fast.

  7. Naomi

    December 21, 2015 at 9:49 am

    Freedom of thought is the first thing they try to take away from u as a kid in Nigeria growing up.

    There were so many intelligent questions I couldn’t ask, I once asked my pastor a question during catechism if God made us in his own image why was he dark & the man on the cross wasn’t? Asked the female pastor why she was teaching us when in Timothy it said women should sit down and keep quiet. His response, “Don’t ask questions like that”.
    Same in education, you dare not critique a PROFESSOR or DR’s lecture.

    Because we are in an ageist society, it affects self-esteem and behavior of children, not allowing them to express themselves.
    I saw an episode of Superstory, the child asked the mother a question and she instantly said Shut Up! Please, how will that kind of child learn to be assertive?
    No eye contact, no questions should be asked, please how will the child LEARN to build confidence?
    KEY WORD LEARN. They have to learn it somewhere, better from u, not tv or teachers or church or the streets.

    No 2, please address the issue of spoon-feeding siblings because you are the 1st born. U automatically get blamed for Everything and shoulder everyone’s responsibility. Na wa o. No one should say ‘thats our culture’ nonsense!!

  8. Fiyin

    December 21, 2015 at 2:42 pm

    I am having a different interpretation to this and i would have sure acted in a different manner if i find myself in those scenarios you sighted.
    To the seat matter- If i have a 10 year old daughter and there is an adult hanging without a seat in a bus (and maybe there is no other bus available at that time), i would have lapped my daughter and allow the person to sit. To me that is basically being nice and not in anyway taking away my daughters confidence or independence as you call it.
    On to the next point you raised about handkerchief and wiping out sweat- i can also help my daughter wipe out her sweat- that still does not take away her independence,
    My point here is that parenting is no strict rules and no hard and fast rules. You have a strong message about independence in our children but i think your examples don’t exactly fit for me

  9. Deep Soul

    December 21, 2015 at 9:47 pm

    I’m a mother and I totally agree with everything said in this article.
    When my daughter becomes a teenager, she must get a job during holidays, regardless of how rich I am.
    I really don’t care if it’s at Mr. Biggs or a hair salon. Just get some interaction with the outside world and see what life is about

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