The child and family upbringing in a time like this

By Sir (Dr) Enoch Iwueze


Child upbringing means care and attention given to a child from infancy till the time of adulthood. It can be referred to as child-rearing or parenting. A child is one of the members that constitute a family. For clearer understanding, let us know what a family is.

In the context of human society, a family is a group of people affiliated either by consanguinity (by birth) affinity (by marriage or any other relationship like siblings families, etc.) or co-residence (as implied by the etymology of the English word “family”. Members of an immediate family include spouses, parents, brothers, sisters, sons and daughters. Members of the extended family may include grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, nephews, nieces, and sibling-in-law (one’s sibling-in-law is the sibling of one’s spouse or the spouse of one’s sibling). In most societies, the family is the principal institution for the socialization of children. As the basic unit for raising children, anthropologists generally classify most family organizations as matrifocal (a mother and her children); conjugal (a husband, his wife and children, also called the nuclear family).

Parenting or child-rearing is the process of promoting and supporting the physical, emotional, social, financial and intellectual development of a child from infancy to adulthood. Parenting refers to the aspect of raising a child either by the biological parents or anybody.
The most common caretaker in parenting is the biological parent or parents of the child in question although others may be an older sibling, a grandparent, a legal guardian, aunt, uncle or other family members or a family friend. The School, the Church, the Government and Society may have a role in child-rearing as well. In many cases, orphaned or abandoned children receive parental care from non-parent blood relations. Others may be adopted, raised in foster care or placed in an orphanage. (Foster care is a system in which a child is placed into a ward, group home or private home of a government-approved caregiver, referred to as a “foster parent”.)

Parenting style is the method adopted by parents, guardians, etc. in taking care of a child. Social class, culture and income have a very strong impact on what methods of child-rearing are used by parents.

Children whose parents belong to the high class in the society receive adequate care – they attend good schools both locally and abroad; they are well fed and clad in comparison to their counterparts whose parents are down the ladder in the social echelon. Yet, the decision to or not to care depends on an individual’s attitude. Sometimes a man may be rich without caring for his family while his poor counterpart is ready to sacrifice everything to use his lean resources to provide good education, etc. for his own family.

Cultural values play a major role in how parents raise their children. Every tribe in a country has its own culture which determines how its citizens/indigenes behave. Some cultures, for instance, outlaw with sanction, children not being obedient or respectful to their parents and/or elders while some are silent on these or even allow them to do so with impunity. Hardly can you see a Hausa or Yoruba child standing to exchange words with his elder but in the Igboland you can see a child abusing his parent or an elder without fear of any cultural consequence.

Some children whose parents have little or no money to adequately provide their basic needs are potential school dropouts as well as waifs and strays who degenerate into hoodlums that cause all sorts of harms in the society. In the majority of cases, children whose parents’ income is large have their basic needs provided and so they become good ones and better members of the society by attending school and receiving home training. They do not have enough   time to mingle very often with bad children.  EVIL COMMUNICATION CORRUPTS  GOOD MANNER.
An American  developmental psychologist, Diana Baumrind identified  three main parenting styles in early child development. These are authoritative, authoritarian and permissive. These parenting  styles were later expanded to four to include an uninvolved style. These four styles of parenting involve combination of acceptance and responsiveness on the one hand and demand and control on the other hand.

This is described by Baumrind as the “just right”, as it combines medium level demands by the child and medium level responsiveness from the parents. Authoritative parents rely on positive support and infrequent use of punishment. Parents are more aware of a child’s feelings and capabilities and support the development of a child’s autonomy within reasonable limits. There is a give-and-take atmosphere involved in parent-child relationship and both control and support are balanced. Research shows that this style is more beneficial than the too-hard authoritarian style or the too-soft permissive style.

Authoritarian parents are very rigid and strict. They place high demands on the child but are not responsive to his needs. Parents who practise authoritarian style parenting have a rigid set of rules and expectations that are strictly enforced and require rigid obedience. When the rules are not followed, punishment is most often used to promote future obedience. This parenting style is more strongly associated with corporal punishment, such as spanking. Baumrind found out that children raised in an authoritarian style home   were   less   cheerful,   more   irritated, and  more  vulnerable  to   stress.     An   example of authoritarian parenting could be the parents harshly punishing their children and disregarding their feelings and emotions.

In permissive or indulgent parenting, a child’s freedom and autonomy are highly valued and parents tend to rely mostly on reasoning and explanation. Parents are undemanding and so there tends to be little, if any, punishment or explicit rules in this style of parenting. These parents want their children free from external constraints and tend to be highly responsive to whatever they want at any moment. Children of permissive parents are generally happy but sometimes they show low level of self-control and self-reliance because they lack structure at home. An example of permissive parenting could be the parents not disciplining their children when they err  notwithstanding that the Bible says, don’t hesitate to discipline a child. A good spanking won’t kill him. As a matter of fact, it may save his life”. (Proverbs 23:13-14) SPARE THE ROD AND SPOIL THE CHILD. Proverbs 29:15 and 17 read ‘The rod and reproof give wisdom but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame. Correct thy son and he shall give thee rest: yea, he  shall give delight unto thy soul.”
In this style of parenting, the mother is happy to prove to the world that she is not barren and thankful to God for safe delivery while the husband, on the other hand, is happy to prove to the world that he is not impotent. They can have as many children as possible without considering the state of things at the time. These parents have little or no expectation from the child and regularly have no communication with him. They are not responsive to his needs or demanding anything from him in terms of behavioural expectation    This child is free to go out and come in at any time without being questioned.     He is full of abusive language and may be a tool   in the  hands  of miscreants  to any criminal act.    If you show concern and want to advise him, he may be irritated and quickly ask you to respect and mind your own business. Quarrelling, fighting and mediation by a third party are common features in the family and this type of parenting  is the  nucleus of evils in the society,  pilfering, drug addiction, cultism, kidnapping, etc.  This parenting style is not recommended for an ideal family.
I say again, “Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it”. This is the most recommendable for a child’s upbringing. In a time like this – the time in which we are now: the economic recession, the child should be made to know –
1. That he should be involved in Youth Empowerment Programme
2. That he will not remain a child forever.
3. That there shall come a time he will become an adult depending on nobody for his livelihood. He will eventually be a parent.
4. That the resources with which he is maintained by his parents did not fall from heaven for them to pick, for they worked very hard and sacrificed pleasures to come by them.
5. That time shall come when his parents will become old and feeble and will look to him for support.
6. That wealth to which nothing is added continues to diminish until it is exhausted.

7. That he should start to lay foundation for his future by working hard in his chosen career – education or trade without waiting for the day he will inherit the property of his parents.
8. That this world is not the ultimate because hereafter he will give account to his creator about his activities on earth to determine where he will spend his eternity – hell or heaven. This means that he should follow the way of God.
May God help us to inculcate discipline in our children to understand that the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom” and adventure in this world should eventually end at eternity instead of hell fire. May this be our portion in Jesus name, Amen.

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