Thursday, January 28, 2016

Parenting, As We Witnessed It, And As We Can Make It.

I don't know about you but there have been times that I have felt totally out of place on this earth and in my family. And this has happened quite a lot. In interacting with others, I have realized quite a number of my associates and friends and colleagues have had similar issues with their parents. Some are unable to hold any meaningful discussions with their parents no matter what. Some only have a hi hello good morning relationship. One common thing has been that most common felt they haven't ever been needed by their parents.

However, I think we need to cut our parents some slack. They, and especially African parents sub the Saharan have had to grow up in tribes and groupings and families that hardly connected emotionally with each other. There was always some sort of knowing you are part of a group, but that emotional attachment was never really nurtured. In this part, if a woman suffers from depression after delivery of a child, she will never be taken seriously. If a man gets his heart broken out of a relationship gone bad, he will likely be told he is a fool. If a woman gets her heart broken, she is weak. This has been our society and background. We as a people have had top to bottom communication and obey before complaint kind of lifestyle. Here, a child can never be right in a case of wrong doing involving an adult. The adult will always be right. Parents do not talk with their children. They talk to, and at the children. The feedback from a child never really mattered.

Our parents simply never appreciated the weight of emotional connections and the importance of engaging children. Child birth is not seen as something that needs emotional and psychological preparations. It is seen as a right of passage. At a certain age, you must have children and children you should and will have. You are told God will take care of the children. From this very statement, parents are separated from engagements with their children, generally. And so again, a child is viewed, not an a human who needs to be supported, but as a human who needs to be commanded.

Most of the parents of the younger generation went through this. We the younger generation are lucky to have been allowed to be a bit more expressive. By being expressive, we also started demanding what we thought and felt is ours. We have developed a sense of entitlement where we think we must have whatever we wish to have. And so when it comes to our parents and our emotional needs, we feel they should have simply provided it, damn their challenges.

Our parents have tried. We may not have loved them or even felt that love most part of our lives with them. We may be feeling that love now that we are grown and are able to appreciate certain things. We may still be angry and feel like they never wanted us. We feel this way because emotionally, we have felt rather empty. (Sometimes this emotional emptiness accounts for emotional abuse in romantic relationships. We have never really felt connected to another so as another person has made us realize that part of us, we become too afraid to let them go when they hurt us. Because we love the feeling of being wanted and feeling like you want, almost need someone too).

In all our pain and anger towards our parents, we sometimes fail to appreciate the other ways they have shown this same love and care and support. Feeling needed can be attained mostly via communication, via what is said to you. If it accompanies what is shown, beautiful! If it is shown but the words don't come, we end up being like that guy who loved the girl so much and did many things for her, but as he never opened his mouth to propose to her, he ended up serving drinks at her wedding. He lost her.

Our parents have showed us love and care. They have paid school fees, sheltered us, fed us, clothe us. ... no they hardly sat with us to do our homework. Or even got the importance of attending a PTA meeting at school. They was minimal to no celebrations to greet accolades from school. Maybe they didn't even understand the importance of these things to their children. Or maybe they did, but they could not express it. Mind you they came from a background where they weren't allowed to express themselves. Our parents have bent their backs for us to ensure our safety. Yet we feel angry because of the one thing we felt entitled to. . . Emotional support. We forget people cannot give what they do not have or have not known.

Let us go easy on our parents. They have tried. They have done an awesome job at raising us. Let us take note of the void we have identified and ensure our children will have it better. Let us ensure we will be there for our children, emotionally.

In giving a child what you wished to have as a child but did not have, you still need to be firm, and realize that the world will not always present our children with what they want. And so we must create balances and cut off excesses. We should be careful not to train children with the wrong sense of entitlement. Our children do not need luxury. They need love, the presence of the parents, the emotional connection. They need you, not your money or the gadgets as substitutes.
They need you to chat with them and to teach them sorry and please and thank you and no please and may I please get water and thank you for the water and mummy you are invited to my meal and daddy how was your day! They need you to teach them this and more. Money has never been known to be able to afford these.

Our children need humility. And love. And care. Our parents could not give us what they never really knew. We cannot give our children what we don't know too. However we can give ourselves the opportunity to learn what we do not know. To read. To ask questions. To chat with other people. To equip ourselves with experience, knowledge, and wisdom and most importantly, their applications. We need to make ourselves better so we can make parenting better for our children. We need to understand that our parents loved and still love us no matter what.

When we gracefully get old and grey, our memories, I guess, will not be filled with the adrenalin of work and the stress it came with. It will mostly be filled, I guess again, with events and moments that included other people. Moments that explored bonds and emotions. The smiles we gave people. The hugs, the encouraging words. The support. The nice things we said.

Let us appreciate our parents, possibly understudy them and fish out their flaws, so we can improve on ourselves. We owe this to the next generation.