Should We All Be Strict Parents?

Here's why most parents follow the strict rules.

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During our growing up years, we can all attest to the fact that being raised by  african parents is, well let’s say quite daunting. If the rod was totally spared on you or you had the slighted opportunity to tell on your parents when the rod wasn’t spared, then some of what I’m going to write might sound strange to you.

Study shows that, the growing up years is the most fundamental phase of a child’s life.  And as the saying goes; what is learnt in the early stage of life stays throughout a lifetime and can hardly be departed from.  We undeniably want the best for our children. And because we are responsible in every aspect of their lives, we strive to give them the best; quality education, care and everything worth having.   But do we go beyond and bend to their every whim and caprices? This is because Kids are undoubtedly going to stretch their limits on how far they can go and cross their boundaries. They will test drive you and your patience to see how far they can get you. To them there are no boundaries till you set them.  How do we let them imbibe these privileges with limits while at the same time being in control, without them terming us as authoritarian, cold or too permissive? When they insist on watching TV instead of doing thier homework OR when your three year old addresses his nanny or teacher in a rude manner, what would you do as a parent when faced with such a situation? Let them get away with it or will they be taught that there are consequences for their actions?

Though strict parenting is not associated to a particular tribe or country, but is related to an individual’s experience, education, and personality.  Your parenting style could fall under one of the four major recognized parenting styles, which are: authoritative, neglectful, permissive, and authoritarian.

Whatever your parenting styles are, it has a big impact on the child.  Study futher shows that,better parenting will lead to better adjusted more competent children.

Here’s why parents choose strict parenting;

  1. IT IS TRADITION.

Who would have believed that Aku-oche, the trendy piece of clothing that our parents-parents wore back in those days would come back with a bang! And we don’t need a genius to tell us that it did be back again.  Just like the popular saying goes “It is better to be old-fashioned than to be up-to-date and wrong.’’

No matter how much we try to be trendy, important values are still highly regarded.  And without the necessary life’s traditional values, life will be full of little evils.

Traditional value is how we do things. It is chastising and correcting children when they do something that’s not right. While most people will term as ‘’you spare the rod, you spoil the child’’, it all comes down to how a parent decides to bring up their child. Which literally takes close to two decades to carry out. And in 20 or so years’ time, during their adulthood, we would know the fruits of our labor and whether they’ll be exceedingly show gratitude for being raised by parents who knew their ropes and didn’t leave them at their mercy. That’s why we focus on implementing life’s traditional values on the new generation, because it is true that, it is when you’re old-fashioned that virtues seem to make a lot of sense.

That’s what our parents-parents did and our children-children as parents will do.  

2. Tough love.

‘’I’m doing this because I love you and want the best for you!’’.  We must have heard these words on countless occasions from our parents that at some point they start to sound meaningless and hardly bring comfort.

What exactly is tough love? It is doing what is best for your kids even if at the moment they dislike it or hate you even. It’s laying down rules that should be followed.  Should assignments be carried out, before watching TV or after? Will there be repercussions for unpleasant behavior? What about Phones at dinner table? Of course, they may whine, carry a sad face and sometimes accuse us of loving them less, that we may even start to wonder if we’re actually doing it right. But we have 18-20 years to get it right, while they’ll have a lifetime to live for it.  It will take years and decades before they may come to appreciate it and they’ll come to realize that you care enough for them to lead them in the right direction. A wealth of research indicates that better parenting leads to better adjusted more competent children.   We surely don’t expect them to pat us on the back for being tough. Being tough, meaning doing our act in a calm way for the best interest of your child.   Which brings us to the next…

3.There is a boundary.

When tough love transcends into ‘’your way or the high way’’ it turns abusive. Extreme physical assault carried out on a child to get your message across will do more damage than good. Neither does referring to them in demeaning or derogatory terms.  It is simply taking advantage of a child’s vulnerability, while damaging their confidence and leaving them walking in eggshells in their own home. You’ll equally be denying them the opportunity to confide in you. They are individuals with feelings too and talking things out while letting them express their feelings is not a bad approach. It usually turns out that they are wrong because they’re still learning and they can also give reasons for their actions, if you communicate openly with them.

They are growing and it takes patience and grace while being touch yet emphatic to show them the rope through life.  Lastly, in life there is always an advantage to everything, but this? I think not, because you’re attacking your child’s core and your actions cannot be justified as coming from a place of love and concern.

I will leave helpline centers below, which you can reach out to if you know any child that is being abused in any way.

4. You become part of their life.

“If your child talks to you less and less about things that matter, this could be a sign that you’re too strict,’’  says, Taffel, a psychologist and author of childhood Unbound.  It is highly common in a typical African home for the fathers to carry on the ‘’strict personality’’ character. That is why most children would rather approach their mother and confide in them than their father. This in itself is not a bad thing, because most father’s put up a façade, but deep down they’re just like butter.

While you can go ahead in being too strict, however you will win the battle, but loose the war. For that moment in time you can get your kids to do things that you like them to do, but they are not opening up about the things that make them anxious or uneasy. They do live in fear of you. Fear of thoroughly spanked/shamed when they open up and tell you something that bothers them.

5. Firm yet emphatic.

There is no internal tool more valuable for kids than self-discipline. We all want the best for our children without appearing as control freaks. Research shows that; lovingly communicating with your child that the limit and rules set is for their best interest will bring better results.  They might not appreciate it at the moment, however it will help them to become a better person when they become of age. It will make them realize that love is not giving them heaven on earth or being at their beck and call but doing what will make them a better person and be responsible for their actions.  Setting harsh limits will definitely control behavior but can’t guarantee that your child will learn to self-regulate and can trigger a resistance to taking responsibility for themselves.

6. One step at a time.

One aspect of good parenting, according to research is giving your children room to act with the maturity befitting their age. Which involves laying down rules according to the age of your child.

They’ll drive you crazy; throwing tantrums, painting your walls rainbow, jumping on the bed, carrying on free of all troubles and worries because that is what children their age do. They will be corrected but how you react is what really matters. With each new age comes new responsibilities and rules. Let them act their age, a child is a child and we cannot expect them to jump from age 8 to 18 in a minute.   Setting high expectations would be mounting too much pressure on them and can psychologically affect them. That however doesn’t mean they can’t be corrected. There are cases where children are known to naturally mature beyond their age and that is okay. But let them have a joyous childhood, it’s a time they can’t go back on.

7.You are alone.

The way Taje’s parents run their household can’t be the same method Chi-Chi’s parents would. Every family is unique and has their rules set to conform and blend in with peculiar characteristics in their house.       

There are times when you get those accusations from your child that you don’t let them do things that their friend’s parents let them do.

Then we may look into it and start to question yourselve on whether you’re  are doing the right thing.  You are not alone. However,when you seem to be the only one doing things differently and going extreme, it could be a sign.   Here’s what Taffel, a psychologist has to say, ” When no other parents are doing the same exact thing as you—such a not allowing your children to go online even with parental supervision –you may be too strict’’    We don’t know it all neither can we always get it right. That’s why putting heads together by talking to a trusted friend about it or your parents even can be a guide on whether you’re treading on the right path.  

8. To be seen and not heard.

The only way to get to know a person better is by listening to them.  Same applies to children,though not knowing much, are individuals with feelings.   By listening to them while also being observant you can get to know them better. When they get to communicate with you, it will be easier to understand them better. Not only that, you will become aware of the reasons behind their actions, share their thoughts and give advice where necessary. Study shows that children act their age and display attitudes because they didn’t know it was wrong. You don’t have to agree with them or do what they are saying, but you should grant them adequate opportunity each day to state their opinion.   

 As a parent, are you too strict/firm yet emphatic? What are your reasons?  Where your parents strict? How did you feel about it?

Let’s talk in the comment section.

The help line centres you reach;

The Cece Yara Foundation; 08008008001, 07007007001.

The Women Empowerment and Legal Aid; 08021063232, 07055802420

Acts Generation; 08033951460

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