Children's hand picking out crayons
Lifestyle & Relationships

Hey Mum and Dad, We Need You There

Country of Origin: Nigeria

(Audio recording by Julianna Wages)

There are so many parenting guides out there, and it is challenging raising wonderful little humans. Here’s something about the parent-child bond. It’s pivotal as a child grows, and building a lasting bond is something that takes tons of effort. What makes the family so important is that it stands as the child’s first experience in building a relationship.

Here’s my story

As a child, I grew a strong fondness for my mum. And even though I have a forgetful mind, I still remember what life with her was like.

My mum worked at a nursery school not too far from our house back then. I was enrolled in the same school, so it was customary for us to wake up early, leave the house and return together. Breakfast was something I always looked forward to, because it was the best meal of the day. My mother would prepare cereals every morning with loads of milk and I would stand on a scale immediately after eating to check my weight and record how big I had grown overnight. 

Child and mother laying together on a bed
(Photo by Isaac Del Toro on Unsplash)

“You’ve eaten all of mummy’s food,” she would usually comment, which always made me smile. My mum would ask what I wanted for my lunch box and it was always pasta or noodles, my favorite at the time. 

I also recall occasionally going to the local market with my mum on weekends for our groceries and produce. It was fun because I would get a lot of free stuff from some of my mum’s regular vendors who knew her well and liked to spoil me.

Togetherness interrupted

Life wasn’t always perfect, but my mum made things seem so easy. We would pray together before going to bed at night and it’s something I still have with me till this very day. While she helped me with my assignments, I would tell her all about my day at school. 

I had no idea how scary life could be until my mum got diagnosed with cancer. All of a sudden, my life became nothing but school and hospital wards. I had to watch my own best friend slowly deteriorate and, after a few months, pass away.

After my mother’s passing I had to go live with my father and stepmother. A change that would change life as I knew it. Firstly, it was difficult for us to get along since they had little to no idea of what I was like, the things I loved to do and the things I disliked.

Most times when my stepmother prepared a meal, I barely ate. This was mostly because I didn’t like the dish or I had never tried it before, but my stepmom interpreted it as me just being arrogant or picky, so she would get especially upset whenever I behaved that way. I don’t blame her much because she didn’t know me well and naturally lacked the patience one’s mother would have shown in such cases.

Blended family life

It took a long time before we could get along. I was introverted, which did not help either as I naturally preferred being alone in my room and, just as you probably are thinking, my absence led to many misunderstandings. We could be home all day and not say a word to each other besides the usual greetings. 

Most of the time, I just stayed in my room playing video games or watching movies on my laptop. When we did go out together, we didn’t say much to each other. For instance, we would go out for a family picnic, and all I would do is just sit, eat, have a drink and stare at the scenery around us. 

Living this way with one’s family is never easy, so I want to express how important it is for both parents to bond closely with their kids when they are young and put the effort into getting to know them. Try to know things about them, even little things like their preferences, favorite food, drinks, the kind of company they keep and knowledge about the events going on in their lives. 

Child sleeping in mother's arms, head on her shoulder
(Photo by TopSphere Media on Unsplash)

Kids go through a lot growing up as almost every child is exposed to peer pressure, bullying, low self-esteem and depression, personally or second-handedly. However, having a strong bond with their parents will make their transition towards adulthood easier as they would have someone with more wisdom and experience to talk to. There’s a natural barrier between kids/teenagers and adults, and overcoming this barrier is very important.

Something like dad, my friend

In my own case, my father was able to get through to me. I loved to draw and he somehow found out. So, after closing at work, my dad would dedicate some time to draw with me. 

It isn’t that big of a deal, is it? 

But to me, it changed how I saw him. 

With every drawing session we had, my dad felt less distant and more like someone I could relate to. I won’t forget the day I told him about a crush I had on a girl at school, it was a huge leap of faith, but then, he laughed and told me a story about how my mum was once his crush too and how they got married. I always disliked my dad for leaving my mom but him talking about the good time they had together made me like him more. And that was it for me, even though it was gradual, I later found a friend in him, one I could talk to.

PS: it didn’t work out between my crush and I though, sadly 🙂

I’ve seen situations where the lack of parental bonds led children to become wayward and dysfunctional adults. Some did drugs or weed to relieve the stress they couldn’t handle, while others dropped out of school because of their inability to cope and a general lack of moral support. It reached a stage where their parents couldn’t handle or even speak to them. Things like these are quite manageable and could easily have been stopped at their earlier stages if only the parents paid more attention to their kids. 

So what is the moral of the story? 

I mentioned earlier that the family is a child’s first experience of what a relationship is like. It is therefore important as a parent to build strong bonds in the family. 

For example, a boy between the ages of seven to 14 will grow a mind of his own and will start to have his own hobbies. As a parent, try to discover what your child loves doing. Learn about his hobbies and what he enjoys and educate yourself about it. Say that your son is into sports, like football, so take some time out to play sports with him or watch games together. If your daughter likes to read, encourage her, and bring her to the local library.

On occasion, let your kids win on purpose, make it fun and you’d be surprised how much they talk during a single football game or while playing a card game. Don’t expect immediate results though, as it takes a lot of persistence to break a barrier and build a trusting bond. Be patient, parents, and pay attention.

Furthermore, including your kids in decision making does wonders. It helps build their confidence and teaches them how to be more interactive and assertive in their choices. Small decisions like which color paints to use in the home, the curtains they would prefer or which car you should get shows them that they’re an integral part of the family. 

There are also extremely strict parents who resort to using punishment, harsh words and physical abuse to correct the mistakes made by their child. There’s a saying that goes: “strict parents raise the best liars.” Discipline is invaluable in raising a child, but as a parent we should never resort to violent punishment. It seriously scars a child, as they start to live in constant fear of being around you. 

It’s also important to have heart-to-heart discussions with your child to open their eyes to how they could make more effective choices. This gives them the confidence to say “no” to anything they consider morally wrong. 

Nothing in life is guaranteed, but raising children in a better way is possible. A careful combination of investing in your child’s hobbies, having heart-to-heart discussions with your kid, talking about your own childhood, and instilling the right discipline in your child will ensure that you form a healthy, loving relationship through their life and home and beyond when they become independent adults.

So, Mum and Dad, your presence really is needed to make growing up easier possible!

Thank you to Julianna Wages for their inspired edit on this piece and everyone else on the Lifestyle & Relationships team.

If you are interested in submitting a piece to the DG Sentinel, please visit our submissions page here.

Sadiq is currently working on becoming a professional freelancer as both a content writer and YouTube script writer.

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