Thank you, Grandma

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I read the book SURVIVED THE JOURNEY by Memuna Barnes. It is a story of survival. A story that can inspire our young persons today. Captured and held by rebels, this remarkable young woman walked through the emotional mines of her teenage emotions of infatuation, confusion and was able to hold close to her heart and head lessons she had learned from a grandparent which helped her retain a sense of herself. When we started this blog, I wanted to have her share with us. She is African and comes from the value systems we hold dear, how mush of these values was impacted to her became evident when she was captured as a teenager. I feel that we could learn as parents the benefit of her impressions and how the relationship she enjoyed with her grandma became a source of inspiration during those terrifying times with the rebels.

Please meet Memuna Barnes Author of SURVIVED: The Journey.
Growing up, I lived with my paternal grandmother for a period of my childhood and whenever anyone of her grandchildren were treated unfairly and went running to her in tears or if she found one of us in a corner in tears she would sit beside that child and say, ‘Nothing lasts forever…..if life which is created by God inevitably ends, then there is nothing that can be inflicted on you that will last forever.’
This is one of my favourite of my paternal grandmother’s sayings. She used these sayings in raising her us with unbreakable emotional strength.
This saying of hers along with a prayer – Psalm 23, taught to me by my parents were instrumental in keeping me sane when myself, one of my younger sisters and two female cousins were taken from our family by the rebels of the Revolutionary United Front in Sierra Leone and held captive for almost two years.
I have always been an outspoken individual, although in my teens this aspect of my personality was not always encouraged from my family – as in most African settings.
I was born in Liberia and so my parents along with one of my younger sisters and I lived in Liberia. We lived there till the civil war broke out in 1989, where I witnessed the atrocities humans are capable of inflicting on others humans on the more vulnerable side of life in the absence of law and order. A year later we were able to leave on the Sierra Leone army ship to my father’s side of the family, as he is Sierra Leonean and Sierra Leone was at peace at the time.
For some unexplained reason I would not curb this, I spoke my mind almost always during the my time in captivity. I was brave enough to tell the rebel commanding officers who showed sexual interest in me that I wasn’t old enough. As this was some of the advice my grandma gave me. That a girl must be past her teens before she can be sexually active or it would affect her fertility.
Most importantly, however, I always remembered where I was taken from (my upbringing) in order to keep my mind on where I want to go in life.
Another one of my granny’s advice.
So what do you think?
Let’s have your comments please.

Talk to me about you

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It was not intended that Funke would walk in on the conversation. Tired and understandably irritated she took her shoes off as she climbed the stairs to her apartment. She froze however as she heard her daughter’s voice, “I think she hates me, she is always gossiping about me to daddy”. Her hands flew to her mouth to suppress the gasp and she froze. The voice that answered was that of Melinda, her close friend. Funke waited to hear her response but Melinda had stiffened so ran down the stairs silently put her shoes back on and made a noisy entrance. Her heart was beating very fast but she desperately tried to keep a straight face as she made a ceremony of opening the door.
Temi, her daughter was in tears as she stared at her mother too horrified by the knowledge that her sentence had been heard. She made an attempt to fly to the bedroom but Funke dragged her back and into her arms. “I didn’t mean that Mum”

Generally they don’t mean that truly. It takes an extreme act of abuse before your child will say that about you. But it is a warning sign, to let you check your communication strategies. We always state that every parent was once a child, sometimes looking into yesterday may help us understand today as we plan for tomorrow.
Let me share some tips for effective listening:
1.Be attentive when you listen to your child and maintain eye contact. It is discouraging to a child if you look away or text while the child is talking
2. Show signs that you are listening, nod, make sounds that you are paying close attention
3. Whatever you hear, never show horror or disgust, or even contempt, you will not get a chance again.
4. Don’t look bored, yawn, look at your wrist watch or at the door. Give your child total attention. Let your child know that the moment is vitally important to you.
5.Ask question for clarification, don’t pretend you have all the answers, it works better if you offer to research the question for more answers. That moment is vital and give that quality time all the importance it deserves.
6. Children appreciate being able to have the opportunity to expreee how they feel. Time to talk is the best teachable moment you can have to let your child know what you hope for with them.
7. Don’t yell or scream or order. Telling your child that he/she is headed for the darkest part of hell for an infringement makes the child rebellious and creates a most negative effect.
8.Show empathy and acceptance, it is your opportunity to guide the thoughts and dreams. Your child gains confidence and trusts both you and himself

Dialogue is always a better option, be prepared to allow your child to tell you those things you have said that has been hurtful and confusing. Your child needs to know that he/she is learning to be a viable individual in the community and you are willing to invest in the moral growth of your child.
Show faith and trust in that child and be willing to defend values, your values.
We will expect you at the blog
Chat soon

How often should you touch your child in a day?

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Well remember the post we shared about privacy tips for your child/children? I came across this in a group chat. I found it interesting and asked permission to share it here.
To all parents and even grandparents, as well as teachers, here are some unbelievably simple parenting ideas that work.
1. Children need a minimum of eight touches during a day to feel connected to a parent.
If they’re going through a particularly challenging time, it’s a minimum of 12 a day. This doesn’t have to be a big deal; it could be the straightening of a collar, a pat on the shoulder or a simple hug.
2. Each day, children need one meaningful eye-to-eye conversation with a parent.
It is especially important for babies to have that eye contact, but children of all ages need us to slow down and look them in the eyes.
3. There are nine minutes during the day that have the greatest impact on a child:
the first three minutes right after they wake up
the three minutes after they come home from school
the last three minutes of the day before they go to bed
We need to make those moments special and help our children feel loved.
These are simple, right? Nothing really earth-shattering here.
Try it.

1⃣ Whenever u feel like scolding or beating your child, take a deep breath, or count 1-10 and then act.
2⃣ Let’s ask them to study their favorite subject on their own..
3⃣ Send them to one exam without studying at all..
4⃣ Remember what our kids are learning in 5th std is taught to 7th std abroad..
5⃣ Lets keep our kids out of unwanted competition.
6⃣ 80% of what kids are learning ,won’t be useful to them in future..
7⃣ Our kids can really afford to do whatever they want to do in future .
8⃣ Higher degrees don’t guaranty success and happiness..
9⃣ Not all the highly educated people do well professionally.
And not all who do well professionally are the happiest ones..
10 Kids are always in a party mood.. don’t spoil their childhood. Support and let them be what they want to be.
Pass this on to as many parents as u can..
And change the way we look at our kids and their future.
Did you find this interesting? Let’s have your comments please. Join us on our Facebook page and continue the conversation.

Privacy lessons for your child

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I have the pleasure today, to include the post of parent to our growing list of guest bloggers. Mr. Adegoke Opeyemi has shared a list with parents.
Please read and I hope you will share.

HERE IS A LIST OF THINGS YOU NEED TO TEACH YOUR CHILD(REN) AT EARLY AGE :
1. Warn your Girl Child Never to sit on anyone’s laps no matter the situation including uncles.
2. Avoid Getting dressed/undress in front of your child, once he/she is 2 years old. Learn to excuse them or yourself.
3. Never allow any adult refer to your child as ‘my wife’ or ‘my husband’, reprove it immediately.
4. Whenever your child goes out to play with friends make sure you look for a way to find out what kind of play they do, because young people now sexually abuse themselves.
5. Never force your child to visit any adult he or she is not comfortable with and also be observant if your child becomes too fond of a particular adult.
6. Once a very lively child suddenly becomes withdrawn you may need to patiently ask lots of questions from your child.
7. Carefully educate your grown ups about the right values regarding SEX. If you don’t, the society will teach them the wrong values.
8. It is always advisable you go through any new material like cartoons you just bought for them before they start seeing it themselves.
9. Ensure you activate parental controls on your cable networks and advice your friends especially those your child(ren) visit(s) often.
10. Teach your 3 year olds how to wash their private parts properly and warn them never to allow anyone touch those areas and that includes you (remember, charity begins from home and with you).
11. Blacklist some materials/associates you think could threaten the sanity of your child (this includes music, movies and even friends and families).
12. Let your child(ren) understand the value of standing out of the crowd.
13. Once your child complains about a particular person, don’t keep quiet about it. Take up the case and show them you can defend them. Remember, we are either parents or parents-to-be. and remember “THE PAIN LASTS A LIFETIME” And please share to all friends who have children.

Why don\y you go over this again, share with your friends and invite them to subscribe.

The New generation or what?

A Concerned parent shares
The following is a contribution I felt we should all share in. Parenting does not have exclusivity and some of us may have answers and suggestions. Our blog is meant to raise questions within us, create dialogue and we learn together. A Yoruba adage says we can’t all sleep with our heads pointing to the same direction. In sharing, we learn and grow
Why don’t you come over to our blog, read, share and grow too. You could also like us on Facebook and post on our page .
Dear Parents,
There are things that parents do that makes me wonder if they know the implications. In my teaching career, I’ve come to realize that children who are well brought up produce better results.
What I see these days is training the “butty”(aje butter) way which gets me scared of what will happen in the next 10-15years.
I see eight year olds who don’t bother to lay their beds.
I see 10year olds served by the maid or “caring mum” on the table and they either don’t pack the table or they just dump the plates in the kitchen for the maid or “caring mum”.
Drivers carry the bags of children above 5years and the children call them “my driver”.
Manual cloth washing is gradually been replaced by washing machines yet the maid or “caring mum” will be the one to do the laundry.
Children wake up and go straight to the TV and sleep late watching TV with mum & dad but mum & dad don’t allow them read late. They’ll say “go and sleep”.
I see parents play game for hours on their phones yet wonder why their children don’t read and why their results are poor despite investment in expensive schools.
I see tweenagers and teenagers who can’t cook common white rice because there’s maid, nanny, cook, “caring mum” etc.
I see children who are addicted to cheating in exams, assignments, class work and the parents aren’t taking conscious steps to correct it instead some will bribe teachers to make their children first or teach them during external exams.
I see children who talk to their parents and other adults disrespectfully and all parents say is “children of now a days are outspoken”.
Your children’s wardrobe is full of clothes but they don’t have a single book.
You buy them lots of toys but you didn’t buy them books.
I can go on and on.
See, when next you tell your child not to do house chores, study hard etc have it at the back of your mind that what you’re saying is “don’t take responsibility for your life”.
I guess parents don’t know that chores and morals are almost directly proportional to academic performance.
Haven’t you thought of it that when our forefathers went to farm, fetched water etc before or after school, the world was a better place?
Haven’t you thought of it that our local proverbs which have remained relevant were coined by illiterate men and women?
A yoruba proverb says, “eni a nwo ki wooran”….”those who make news don’t watch news”.
So when you’re mentoring your children to be T.V. addicts you should understand what you’re grooming them to be.
There are TWO PAINS in life and everyone must suffer one; PAIN OF DISCIPLINE or PAIN OF REGRET.
When you’re preventing your children from going through pain of discipline, just understand that you’re automatically preparing them for pain of regret.
Some parents feel that their children’s careers are secured because of their financial stand.
Now, let’s do this analysis;
1. You get your children a job
2. You make them take over your company
3. You set up a business for them
1. If you get them a job and they have the wrong attitude at work like been late, talking rudely to clients etc which made the company lose a big contract,will they keep them there?
2. They take over your company and your company lost within three months an amount that you didn’t make in your first five years in business due to their lack of discipline, will you pat them on the head and say I’m proud of you child?
3. They run the business shabbily and there’s nothing to show for it within few years.
The earlier we stop these pampering the better. You will give an account to God about them.
Train your child in the way he should go and when he is old, he won’t depart from it.
Regards,
A concerned Parent.
so what do you think?

Are you the talk or just a talk?

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Be the Talk
“Our environments are so replete with institutions that extol such values that could pervert the growing adolescent. Among them::
– becoming University graduates as teenagers
-along with this, exam malpractices funded by parents.
– immorality by sugar Daddy/sugar Mommy on Campuses
– sermons in places of worship that preach only breakthroughs without much knowledge of the scriptures
– uncensored home video movies
– lack of “hands on” education that places undue importance on paper qualifications.
– unending rat race among parents leaving no time for responsible parenting, that parental responsibilities to ill prepared boarding houses
– above all, between material and spiritual education that produce brain cripples that rule the world.
All these leave bitter tastes”

Dear parent, I thought I should start off with the comment of a parent over our last topic, Remember I asked how much your child was really worth?
Will you encourage your child to cheat? What is the value you have given your child?
We live in the information change and some of us have defined it as the age of knowledge.
It does not matter if our child becomes a professor at age 21, what else have we impacted in the child?
A sense of the right values of the child being able to see his place in the world as a viable human being able to navigate through the pressures of wanting to be like his peers, setting goals for himself and taking responsibility for his actions.

I came across a conversation by some young ladies and at issue was the sexuality of girls in comparison with that of the boys. In our culture across the country, the girl child is expected to play the role of the restrained miss. She is expected to finish school, and get married in that order. Most girls are beginning to resist that role allocation, and wish to live on their own terms but there is always the sneaking feeling of being left on the shelf.

We say the biological clock of the female ticks regardless of whatever she does and so girls feel the pressure and want to rush into marriage even when they are not emotionally prepared.
What do we mean really? What is our responsibility to preparing our children for marriage, and what optics of our own marriage will they see to decide if we can be that talk?
I seemto be full of questions today. Let us really talk and be the talk of what we tell our children from when they take that first breath in our arms and we look into their eyes and love flows from us to the infant and gratitude from our hearts to the Creator for the opportunity to be the talk.
Chat soon

How much is your child worth?

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How much for your child?

Sounds like a daft question? But seriously, what type of parent are you? Remember when we talked about our tendency to rate everything in the commercial returns we are likely to have over our children?
Has modernity, civilization and our infernal craze for wealth pushed us over the rim to such a level as for us to see our children as merchandise?

Our esteemed author ,Lola Babalola made this comment and her comment brought about this post.
CHILDREN AND MATERIALISM
“Children acquire a materialistic attitude usually from one or both parents who have a worldview that says “Money makes the world go round” (it doesn’t!) or due to a deprived childhood. Money is a tool with which we can acquire some comforts on our life’s journey but it is hardly a life pursuit as many ‘poor’ rich folk will tell you. If we get the relationship with money right, so will our children”.

Hmmm, food for thought for our parents. Is money our ultimate value system?Why are young men and woman in the fore front of being scammers.They have names, mugu, maga etc? Is it grinding poverty materially or grinding moral poverty?
Maybe, it might guide us into understanding ourselves and ask maybe we have placed the signposts wrongly
Read in the news recently about some higher institution undergraduates were picked up for defrauding some people from their hard earned cash. The amount ran into millions according to reports. These young men were still in the university and had jeeps, expensive flats, and money to burn.

One particular case struck me as infinitely cruel on the part of the young man. He went to his parents moaning he needed money, the father went borrowing and the mother had to appeal to her church to help. They stood in shock when they learned what the young man had in his bank account as the parents stared bemused at the jeep
Where did the parents go wrong? That will be tempting to sweep your hands at the sky and say, the parents were blameless. I would hesitate to blame anyone following the injunction that we were never given the mandate to judge a fellow human being.

However the question is urgent in our souls, when Christ asked us “Seek ye first His Kingdom……..”
As parents, we dream, that our child should do better than us. We pray that he should buy better cars, bigger houses and mansions, we beam with pride that the child can travel round the world. These are legitimate dreams I agree, but why are we not insistent that above all material achievement, we pray to see a decent child as well. A child that has inherited our values.

This is my question: What is the real value of the child to you? As you close your eyes one day in earthly death, what value of your child have you bestowed on the world?
I really hope I will have answers. Meanwhile ,on behalf of the blog, I send my sincere thanks to Lola Balalola for allowing us to share her thoughts. From one parent to another, thank you.

Can we talk about sexuality?

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There have been arguments for and against starting early to talk about sexuality to your child. In the wake of the rising abuse against young children, I have always believed that no time is too early.
We all know that as first educators it will be a bit much to expect your child to get educated about sexuality from outside your home. You are horrified at the very idea of that. It is therefore imperative and urgent that you ask yourself the questions and have answers ready.

Let’s look at this way, when your child was on the way, you took steps to get all the proper information that would be necessary, you went to ante-natal classes and the expectant father followed you the occasional time right?
So why would you not prepare your child for that phase in her/his life that might become bewildering if your child does not get proper briefing?

HOW DO WE START?

Sexuality is not simply about sex, so we don’t need to be embarrassed.
Tell your child that the expression of his/her sexuality is a normal component of living. The reproductive organs have their physical as well as emotional uses and a proper understanding is necessary. Children need tobe taught how to take responsibility for their body. As you teach the child how to bathe , clean, and brush you also start in age –appropriate language to show to the child that it has to take responsibility for his/her sexuality. It is not good enough to tell a child who asks you innocently what is the bump you are carrying, with the curt embarrassed words “ wait till you are married”

My daughter when she was little will watch me breastfeed her younger sister, one day unable to contain her curiosity she asked me why her sister was always eating my chest!. I stared in total surprise then I realized that the act of her sister puzzled her. I told her I was giving her younger sister milk. She piped in that there was milk at home why would I hide her sister’s milk in my chest? I explained as much as I assumed she could grasp that it was not just a chest but that I was given her sister the natural milk that nature had prepared for her through me. I let her know that I had done the same thing for her when she was her sister’s age. I explained being very small, her sister might not be able to chew as she does and Nature had planned things in such way, that what her sister needed was food that contained everything. I took the opportunity to tell her that as she gets older, being a girl, she would develop breasts too and she could give her own baby food that way. Of course like a child, she would not leave it at that, every parent knows about the endless questions of children! What I do when I am stuck with a barrage of questions like that, I offer to find out the answers. Sometimes you get respite that way. However, saying you are going to help look for the answers does two things, you get the respite, and you also show to the child, that no one has all the answers all the time. You build trust that way.

THE PARENT IS FIRST EDUCATOR
Parents are naturally the first socializing agents for your child. Your child will ask you the questions first. It is your chance to establish core family values. Your opportunity to bond and establish a relationship. You will find that as time goes on this relationship becomes fluid and changes form and substance but then that is life, and you flow and are fluid with it. You have the chance to transmit love and understanding. You thus need to develop communicating skills when it comes to issues of sexuality. You seize every opportunity looking for the right moments. Definitely, you are not going to be discussing with your six year old, what is best discussed when the child is entering puberty.
Parents must learn age- appropriate answers to give.

Talking about sexuality… Ready or scared?

Will you really talk about it?

Your child at any given point needs to be reassured that they will not be judged, distrusted when they tell us things. You know how it is that we are suspicious of most things they tell us. We sense that that they have the edge over us and in our helpless recognition, we suspect every sentence they tell us. Right? I know because I have experienced it too, with my mother and with my children. One would assume that if you had experienced the pain of telling your mother the truth and she stares at you withat look that tells you, she is wondering if you are normal, obviously she doesn’t believe a word you have said. Remember the inward helpless sigh and then you gradually go quiet as you experience that sinking feeling of despair and you ask yourself, “why bother?”

The most difficult subject to discuss amongst parents and children is their sexuality. Both sides of the divide never really feel comfortable talking about sexuality. As parents we know everything and nothing. We speculate, are worried and mask our concern with threats, dire warnings, hold conversation in our head with the child and we are shocked when we know deep within us that we are anxious. There is a longing to have a dream child, who knows exactly what we want and like some automaton simply fits into place.

We seem to forget that we were not dream children to our parents and had given our own parents anxious moments too.

Most times children can’t bring themselves to discuss their sexuality issues with us, because they don’t want to be teases, punished, or judged  if they ask most of the questions that keeps them awake. Yes, just like you , children do want to know they have your goodwill . Children want to feel they are trusted. But how are they tomanage the peer pressure that they experience?

So how do we make effective communication between us and the child we love so much and had prayed for?

How do we know what to say, when we should say it?, correct misinformation, and even use the teachable moments?

Making effective communication is a requirement every parent should learn how to do always.

We will still continue on this subject next time.

Please send questions

Here are some of mine

How much will be too much?

Can we talk about this?

Am I making my child promiscuous if I mention the word sexuality?

Do I really know all the answers?

When is the right age to talk about sexuality?

How do I start?

Watch out for the next post

When Parents Dream…..

For me it was not going to happen, I knew it from the moment she started telling me how she loved their white clothes. My heart sank each time she started the subject. I had a rebellious streak. Father passed away in my last year in secondary school, being a nurse would have been the next best thing. However I was not buying into that. We stared at each other. I was close to tears but stubbornly refused to back down. I told her very firmly that I had not the slightest intention of going to a nursing school. In the first place I was not going to have any relative pay for my nursing fees or any fees for that matter. I wanted to be a surgeon and since my father had passed away I was reviewing my choices. There was pain in mother’s eyes as she had to painfully let go of her dream of seeing her daughter wear the nurse’s uniform.
Years later it set me thinking, do parents live their dream through their children. I met quite a lot of parents who tried to push their children to one profession or the other. Tope was one of them. He got admission to read medicine at one of the best universities in the country. His father swelled with pride each time he told us and we all assumed that Tope would one day don the short coat of a doctor, I even envied him as I had wanted to be a surgeon remember? Then Tope came to look for me and I saw his discomfort. After a lot of nervous coughing he blurted out that he would be graduating as an accountant and had secured the firm that he would do his articleship. The shock was that his father had assumed that Tope would be going for his clinicals and housemanship.
Tope stared at me, he asked me to break the news to his father. I gulped asking him why he had kept quiet about his change of course. He shrugged and said, there was no way that he could tell his father about such a change. He explained that in the second year, he had quietly changed to accountancy , kept his grades clean and maintained a decent CGPA he had not had any problems, he did not fancy cutting people up and would have made a terrible doctor he explained.
We sat in silence as I had picture of breaking the news to his father. I did not look forward to that assignment, and I remembered my mother and I sighed. When parents dream…Could I one day be guilty of this? In Nigeria of those days, children of the sciences were valued and I remembered that my principal had insisted that I was going to be a science student even the fact that I consistently failed physics and was indifferent to Mathematics. He had a faith in me that was agonizing for me? I was happy debating, acting, reciting poetry but was stuck in the science class.
I became a firm advocate of career counseling thereafter because the opportunity became clearer to allow the child to choose irrespective of the dreams of our parents.
I became a parent and I understood why parents dream. I caught myself telling my children that they should opt for professional courses. Something that they can be masters of when they leave school and have to fend for themselves in a world that had rapidly changed from what I knew of it.
As a parent, I had dreams of them becoming self -reliant, the government jobs were gone, factories and industries needed a different kind of worker. You no longer needed to have understanding of the general Rules of the civil service code anymore. Nobody wanted to be in service to a nameless person but children wanted to hold their survival firmly in their own hands.
There was now the age of technology and the world had shrunk to a village.The language was now different, abbreviated to a level that you needed a dictionary ….a new dictionary to understand new words. Can Parents still dream?
We need to look for new dreams and search through our hopes and prayers what should be the pattern of our new dreams.
Sometimes we look at our children, they are now children of a new age , a new vision, it is fast paced and the parents have become the children as they look on confused, grasping at their dreams. Time to take a look and see what you can safely dream about
The world still need love, decency, uprightness, justice and we may still dream of honesty in the blind rush for money.
I take a look round and still tell my children, there is still opportunity, to be decent, have a sense of justice and fairness, be upright, share love to another human being and be a creature of the Creator. Now maybe the colour of the dreams may change but these values like threads run through life.
Be a man in the cascading confusion of a new age
Now when parents dream…… they see hope of a new dawn for man

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