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No one can rightly say “this is abnormal” without having an idea of the “Normal”, no matter how incomplete and tentative.  With this in mind, I believe that planning is important in the family. By planning I mean an appreciation of the primary goals of the family set by God, and other goals set by the family members which though must never contradict the former are also very important. Every act performed by parents towards or before the children has an impact; it either builds them or destroys them. Therefore, everything they do must be in accord with their set goals; they must always act with a good end in mind.

There is this bad attitude in many parents which a friend calls the “it-doesn’t-matter” disease. They do certain things before the children that should rather be done in their absence or should never be done at all. They say unnecessary things to and before them, they lie before them, they watch bad films with them, listen to bad songs, speak /dress indecently and do things that weaken the moral life of their children. Whenever they get any opposition as to the goodness of their actions they quickly convince themselves that those children cannot possibly imbibe those things or be affected at all by them, maybe because they covertly believe that those kids are not yet “human” until they become, (who knows?) 18! How sad this is, because as they wait in idleness for the emergence of this human, they see a stranger growing in their kids, a stranger who they can hardly influence for their own tepidity and ignorance have made the heart of the child cold and insensitive to God and morality. This is a very common family problem, and this is the reason for some evils we see in the world today. As a matter of fact, EVERYTHING MATTERS as long as the upbringing of children is concerned. Their young minds absorb everything that gets into them and it is upon this that their foundation is laid.

Some parents think they are actually training their kids well when they are in fact making similar or other dangerous and often difficult-to-correct mistakes. They say “I have done my best for him, I never spared my rod, I never pampered him” CONGRATULATIONS! Have you really paid attention to him? Have you been giving him what he needs for growth or just what you want? Have you been understanding and sensitive to his problems (especially those that pain him)? Are you always self-forgetful, devoting your whole life to him or is he a second-place priority? Do you demoralize him by comparing him to those who appear better? Have you sat down to understand his psychological and temperamental setting; have you learnt the best way to correct him when he falters? When a child makes a mistake, what do you do? This is the moment a child needs to see the positive side of you, for many of them today think their mothers’ advise and admonitions are nothing but naggings. But when a child is spared in very serious matters (mistakes only, not conscious mischiefs), even without any questions or even mild corrections (i.e. in things he wouldn’t consciously do; in things he already knows are wrong), a great impression of the goodness of the parent is imprinted in his heart.

A friend of mine once told me he’ll never forget his mum. Upon inquiring why he said this he narrated a story to me. When he was in elementary school, his mother gave him two of her best clothes for drama in his school. When the boy was through, he boarded a bus home, but several minutes after he had alighted from the bus, he noticed he had not collected his bag (which contained his mother’s clothes) from the bus. After going in search of the bus, he failed to find his bag. His mother was worried that he had not come back as it was already hours after he was expected. She sent the boy’s elder sister to go in search of him, the girl saw him on the road, slowly coming back with the day’s disappointment written all over his face. However, to the boy’s surprise, when he got home, his mother asked him if he was alright before he could even begin to explain what had happened, the woman had him bathed and fed. Until date, she never asked the whereabouts of those clothes, not even with calmness. For she knew that, her boy would not deliberately lose her clothes, and that the boy had drawn enough lessons; that teaching more albeit with corrective intention would be to burden her boy’s mind the more.

It is for this singular act of love that she earned a permanent lofty place in his heart. This is a display of an uncommon level of love and self-mastery. For many parents would be annoyed with the child just because of material things which the little ones may have spoilt or lost, they would either shout at or hit them. Leaving the child in doubt as to whether he is loved or not. This is dangerous. The goal of every admonition should be for the child to learn, but of what need is it to shout or hit when he has already learnt?

There is a great burden that comes with making mistakes (especially losing things or spoiling other people’s properties). This is great in the lives of most children, and so they do not need any more burden of guilt by maybe chanting their wrongs repeatedly to their hearing; some even go further by adding a reply of past misdeeds. They already know they are wrong.  They generally have a quest to be heard and understood for they suffer more the inability of fully expressing themselves than adults. The positive effect of not being a talkative to a child is that, when you get to speak to them, they listen, because they’ll believe you hardly judge from appearances, and that you always excuse them when they make mistakes. Therefore, they are more likely to take you seriously and accept your words as credible. However, when this is not the case they often take them as “the usual things” for there is no day that does not come with a litany of their wrongdoings. While this damages relationship with them, it also makes them more insensitive, especially to that parent. So progress is not weighed according as the parent satisfies his rage by shouting (and of course thinking he passes a message to the young ones, who NEVER learns in this manner), or by being too strict so as to make his children hide their wounds (vices) from him. It is weighed rather according to the growth of the child in all things. The child who receives formation must grow. For I believe that where there is no growth, there is no life, but where there is life, there is growth.

This article is part of a series under a similar topic.  Read next here.

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