Thursday, January 3, 2013

We Are Midwives even as Fathers and Mothers

Midwives are a very important class of people because they are directly linked to the delivery of babies. As parents, aunts, we are midwives of another sort; a higher divine responsibility of raising or birthing strong, independent and responsible children until they become adults.

I know a popular Pastor who, as a teen, was the child of a Minister but he went way out of line. He started taking drugs and eventually ended up on the streets sleeping rough. But he said he was sent away to a seminary and was forced to listen to Christian messages and eventually committed his life to God. From the living room of his parents in 1994, he set up his ministry which has blossomed over the last eight years to over 7, 000 worshipers in Lagos. This excludes the additional 40 branches scattered all over Africa and Europe. He is also married with children

His parents did not give up on him; they knew their son had gone astray but they were determined that he wouldn't remain that way. I'm sure they prayed but they made conscious decisions that turned his life around. What a nightmare that must have been!

I hope none of our children get to that very low point in the first place but that is the reason we have to start really early with them. The Christmas holidays are almost over. We begin the school year with blank notebooks, pages fresh and clean. School bags are free of crumbs and leaked drinks. Children wake up early in anticipation. We try to get to school a bit before the morning bell and start the year off on the right track.

But slowly the familiar patterns start to appear. The kids are going to sleep way past bedtime, waking up with just a few moments to spare. Nights spent struggling over homework for hours, studying for tests left for the last minute, assignments forgotten, cliques and social politics – it feels as if we are going backwards instead of forward.

How can we, I'm emphasizing on Mothers AND Fathers, make this year different from all the others? How can we take our hopes and wishes for positive change and turn them into a reality?

Transition between the holidays and school can be difficult for children – and for parents. Any change in life can bring nervousness, worry, and irritability. Children often have a hard time adjusting to new situations, unfamiliar teachers, and the more rigid schedule needed during the school year. When feeling overwhelmed, our kids may express their emotions through becoming argumentative, fighting more often with siblings, or withdrawing into themselves. And parents can find it difficult to keep calm and not lose themselves in anger when things don't go right.

Instead of just accepting that this is the way our home is meant to be, let us think about reachable goals that we can work on. When we (Mummy and Daddy) create a plan, we can do away with unnecessary failures and strive to help our children feel and be more successful.

I have outlined some goals that we should all have as midwives.

1. Keep My Eyes Open
Sometimes we notice that something does not feel right with a child but we get distracted. We are all very busy, it’s true. We have great pressures and responsibilities pulling us in too many directions. The child who seems a little ‘off’, not himself, snappy or more quiet than usual, is trying to tell us something. But it is easy to tuck this information away in a back pocket and only realize that something is wrong when a crisis occurs. We then think back and recognize that the signs were there; we were just too preoccupied to pay attention.

Don’t allow problems with your child to fester and grow. Open your eyes and observe if a child seems sad, withdrawn, distant, more moody than usual, or angry. Recognize if there seems to be greater confrontation between this child and siblings, if friends stop calling or coming over, or if the child can’t seem to find his place in school. Because before you know it, half the year can go by and what could have been a small problem has now become a ‘situation’ that requires major time and investment and causes terrible aggravation.

2. Develop a Working Relationship with Teachers
Reach out to your child’s teachers before your child reaches ‘zero hour.’ Many parents feel as if teachers are their opponents and don't realize that we are all here to try and help our children grow in the best way possible. If you think that there may be an issue, it is a good idea to set up a meeting with the teacher and ask how you can work in harmony. Too many parents call teachers to demand and accuse instead of saying that we would like to solve this problem together. Before going to the principal with a complaint, see if you can first diffuse the situation.

If there are any special concerns going on in your home, do not wait for the teacher to find out through your child’s acting up in class or failure to keep up with schoolwork and poor grades. It would be wise to enlist your child’s teacher as your confidential ally and gain her/his understanding. Most teachers would go the extra mile and extend to your child an open heart.

3. Work on Social Skills
Help your child be successful this year by preparing him not just academically, but also socially. School is not simply about getting straight A’s, it is also about learning how to get on with others and knowing how to develop friendships. A child who is happy in school is a child who can focus on studying and is doing well. He wants to be there and be a part of things. One who believes that school is all about academics and no social life unfortunately makes a big mistake.

4. Help Children Become Independent
When children feel as if they are gaining skills and becoming self-sufficient, they grow more confident in their abilities. You will watch their self-esteem take off. Each year, every child should be able to point with pride to a new-found skill or added responsibility that comes with age.

5. Communicate with Each Child
Our children should never be afraid to speak with us. No matter how tough the topic, even if they messed up badly, they should not fear that we will hate them or want to close the door on them. Our love must be unconditional. True, there may be consequences or emotions of disappointment, but they must know that we are here for them. After all, we are their parents and if they cannot believe in our love for them, whose love can they believe in?
  • Talk to your child every day-even if it’s just for a few minutes.
  • Put down your iPhone , turn off your laptop when your child (or you) return home, at mealtimes and story times, and when you pick your child up from school. Look at him or her and make eye contact while having a conversation.
  • Speak to your child in the tone and with the words that you wish he would use with others.
  • Express your love every day, no matter how tough the day.
If you know any very successful parents today it did not happen by chance, it was as a result of conscious effort by their parents to make sure their kids didn't go out of line and made something meaningful of their lives.

Ijeoma Olujekun

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