Couples Life and Style

Do not make your children bitter

FRIDAY, January 29, 2016: I was listening to Caroline today as she spoke about how bitter she used to be towards her father. As she explained why that was the case, I could not help hearing many youths speaking through her. Parents must not make their children bitter.
Although parents were once children, they tend to forget all too easily what their parents were doing that caused them to be embittered towards them. What I want to do today is simply recount a number of ways in which parents make their children bitter.
The most obvious cause of exasperation is when discipline with the rod is inflicted needlessly or in anger or in excessive degrees. Myriads of examples could be used to illustrate this abuse of the rod. We need to learn how to spank children so that we win them.
Another source of exasperation for children is habitual sternness. A parent must never be habitually severe, as if he is living on a daily diet of garlic and vinegar. Children can bear with that briefly, but any prolonged state of sternness breeds exasperation.
Also, exasperation is often caused by needless criticism. It is wrong for a parent to ever be on the look-out for faults. As the saying goes, if you are looking for faults, you will definitely find them because no-one on earth is perfect.
Exasperation is often caused when discipline is instilled without consideration of age. Every parent should be mindful of the fact that discipline is not about venting out your anger but about smoking sinful ways out of your child.
Exasperation is also often caused when punishment is designed to humiliate and degrade the child in the eyes of its peers and friends. Unfortunately, most parents do this without realising that this is what they are doing.
When your child does something wrong, take him or her into their bedroom or some private room where it will just be the two of you, and then talk to him or her about the error of their ways. This is especially the case when your child enters into the teenage years.
Another way in which exasperation is often caused is when you as a parent obviously betrays favouritism among your children. Favouritism ignites the fires of jealousy, which can even be deathly. A clear example of this is found in Genesis 37:3-4.
The Bible says: “Now Israel loved Joseph more than any of his other sons… and he made a richly ornamented robe for him. When his brothers saw that their father loved him more than any of them, they hated him and could not speak a kind word to him.”
One way in which we cause exasperation in our children is when praise is due but it is withheld. There is something in our African psyche that suggests that when good is done, we must just keep quiet about it but when wrong is done, we must shout about it from the rooftop.
That bias cannot be right. Since, we do not keep quiet when wrong is done, we should also not keep quiet when right is done. Just as we condemn wrong, we must commend right. This is especially the case when children go out of their way to please you.
Another cause of exasperation in children is when parents use their advantage to tease and insult. This is nothing more than verbal abuse. It is a form of bullying, knowing very well that the child cannot retaliate without being thrown out of the house.
Phrases like “Ichimona” (what an ugly nose), “Ubwipi” (what a short person), “Amatwi” (what ugly ears), “Ifimeno” (what ugly teeth), “Ukonda” (what a thin person), hurt very deeply. Some guardians even say, “Wemwana wamfwilwa iwe” (you orphan).
Finally, exasperation is often caused when the parental voice is only heard when commands are issued. As a parent, you may always be sending your children to water the garden, clean the dishes, get your shoes from the bedroom, etc; also chat with them.
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