What Values Are We Giving Our Children?

On a bright Sunday morning, a couple of weeks ago, I went to South London to receive a message sent from Nigeria. As I entered the lift, I saw a couple, apparently in their early 20s, smoking marijuana while their young son sat comfortably in his push-chair. As I was going down through the staircase, I saw another three children in their teens smoking marijuana and drinking beer.

The above situation depicts the state of our children abroad. What values are we giving our children in foreign lands? Is it the environment or our work that forbids us from giving our children good values, home training, love and care? Or did we dump the values we were brought up with at the airport as we boarded the aircraft to England?

Agreed, many parents work hard to provide for their children, but parents also have to find the balance between work and family. American researchers have confirmed from empirical studies that when both parents give long hours to a career, it is often their children's self esteem that suffers. 'They don't have the self-assurance that comes from knowing that your parents are really interested in you and behind you', says Ronald Levant, a Harvard Psychologist. Another author, Patricia Morgan says, 'children who spend long hours in day care from early age tend to develop anti-social and aggressive behaviour.

A recent survey by 'Parents at Work', which advises employers on childcare indicated that 15% of fathers see their children only at weekends and more than 50% spend less than five minutes a day with their children, one to one. In this kind of scenario, by the time the child goes into drugs, sex and crime, the parents, especially the father, won't be aware. As is typical of most Nigerian men, when the bubble busts, all the blame of the child's wrong doings will be heaped on the woman.

Especially in this environment, men need to support their wives in child rearing and nurturing. Being taught good values by parents will determine whether our children succeed and overcome their surrounding.

Teaching them how to come out good in life, expressing and demonstrating love, rebuking them when they err and letting them know that they are rebuked not because they are not loved, but because what they did was bad.

'A child learns whether or not he is lovable or worthwhile or intelligent or talented by the way he is treated by his parents. Children need a constant, continuous flow of love in order to develop healthy personalities. Children who do not receive high quality love in the first three years of their lives will develop deficiency needs. For the rest of their lives, they will try to compensate for their deficiencies rather than realise their potential. In the formative years, children learn in two ways. The first way is by imitation, usually of one or both parents. Many of our adult habit patterns and characteristics come from straight imitation of one of our parents in our formative years. The other way children learn in the formative years is by moving from discomfort towards comfort. Of all the discomforts a child can suffer, the most traumatic is the withdrawal or threat of the withdrawal of love and approval by parent', wrote Brian Tracy in his best-selling book, the Psychology of Achievement.

Maybe many of us still need to go for training on parenting because what you don't have you can't give. The values given to children will invariably determine how they see life and what they will do with their lives.

When I was a child, my mother nurtured my frail body as a testimony of her love. Now, we are best of friends rather than fall into the stereotypic notion of a 'mummy's boy'. Till today, whenever she writes me, she never fails to tell me to remember the son of whom I am because a good name is better than gold and silver. These are the values I am passing on to my own children.

"Children must be reared with strong moral character, confidence, high self-esteem, and who would feel that they could accomplish whatever goals they set. To give those values to your children does not cost you a dime. Those are characteristics and gifts that money cannot buy", says Mrs. Jordan, the mother of the basketball legend, Michael Jordan, in her book, Family First: Winning The Parenting Game.

A child's mind is like a blank sheet of paper. I believe parents share in the authorship of a child's experience. We help write some of the chapters. They learn the letters and languages, and then self-expression emerges. The values you give children today form the foundation on which they will build their lives tomorrow. So don't waffle! Robbers started out by stealing pencils at school. Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

Dayo Olomu is a UK-based Motivational Speaker, Writer, Business/Life Coach, Trainer, Media Entrepreneur and Competent Toastmaster. His core belief is that we are all endowed with seeds of greatness, and his mission is to help individuals and organisations achieve their full potentials. He is the author of best selling "4 Indispensable Strategies for Success" and the President of Croydon Communicators Toastmasters. Get his FREE monthly Rise to the Top ezine by sending a blank email to [email protected] or visit his website at: www.dayoolomu.com

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