Recently in my house something happened that made me to put up this post today. During the Christmas holiday I sent my just turned 13 year old son to get me some recharge cards to credit my phones. I told him to get me some denominations ranging from 400 Naira Mtn to 500 Naira Etisalat and I think 500 Naira Airtel. I gave him the sum of 1. 500 Naira and he was supposed to come back with 100 Naira change abi? When he came back he told me that when the recharge card vendor gave him the change he gave him more than the 100 Naira. My son told me that he turned back and told the vendor what happened and that the card vendor was very impressed that such a young fellow could do so in this contemporary times. The reason I say this is that in this era values have become obsolete. We live in a consumer – driven society that broadcasts values that don’t reflect what we believe in.
Values are important and lasting principles, standards, code of behavior, moral codes, rules, code of conduct, ethics, beliefs shared by the members of a culture about what is good or bad and desirable or undesirable. Children are supposed to internalize values that their parents passed on to them. Passing on this time tested values is important as they will help them to grow up as well rounded individuals ready to make generational impact.
These are some ideas that will help us as parents to impact these values on our children.
- TELL THEM YOUR LIFE STORIES : Teach your children through your stories. Kids love to hear stories about your childhood. Weave in some moral dilemmas and you have got great opportunities to teach values to them. It certainly beats lecturing your kids. I have used this method a lot to tell my children about events that took place and eventually shaped my life. There were some stories I told my kids that happened when I was there ages and they were shocked that their mother did so so and so thing. Believe me we had fun.
- LIVE YOUR OWN LIFE ACCORDING TO YOUR VALUES – WALK THE TALK. Kids learn by imitating especially at a young age. They are very very adept at seeing if what you say and what you do are matching up. Don’t give them confusing signals, follow your own values every moment. Don’t say they should not do certain things and then you turn around someday to do the same thing, you are setting double standards!
- EXPOSE THEM TO YOUR RELIGION OR FAITH: It seems especially important today to let them know that they ‘re not alone. Providing your kids with a community of faith will strengthen their values and provide some “leverage” for them. I have a 9 year old daughter at home presently, she is in primary school. She loves going with me to fellowship. By the way I attend Sisters’ Fellowship International. I am a Vice President in one of the chapters in Abuja. My chapter meet every thursdays and so my lil angel will do her homework in school before I come to pick her. The reason she does that is so I don’t tell her that she needs to stay at home to do her homework while I go to fellowship. My lil girl loves to help out whenever we go to fellowship. She loves to carry offering basket to collect offering and any other thing she feels she can do just to make the fellowship run smoothly. She knows everything and anything about SFI. Women tell me that I am bringing her up well, that they love the fact that she is very much in tune with what is happening in God’s kingdom. I can only say to God be the glory!
- PAY ATTENTION TO WHO ELSE MIGHT BE TEACHING VALUES TO YOUR KIDS: Get to know your child’s teachers, friends, coaches, relatives, etc. Anyone who spends time with your kids may be influencing them. Know their values and beliefs as well. You see we parents because we are busy we do not pay attention to the adults and children around our kids who in one way or the other are forming their lives. Do we create time to talk to them? Do we know their friends? Do we know what their teachers are like? The questions are endless. Recently, a newspaper carried a story of a 13 year old boy who repeatedly raped an 8 year old girl in his school and forbade her from telling anyone. It was during investigations by the police that the parents of the boy found out that the gate man of the house where the boy lives takes the boy to watch porn movies in the nearby makeshift cinema house! Police got involved because the 8 year old girl eventually died due to some complications as a result of the rape.
- ASK YOUR KIDS QUESTIONS THAT WILL STIMULATE DIALOGUE ABOUT VALUES: Telling them what values they should have won’t always be effective, especially when your kids get older. Asking them “curious” questions will allow discussions that will eventually lead to values. I remembered a particular incident that happened one day I was taking my kids to school. A man cut us off from the lane we were on because he felt every other person slowing and steadily moving were stupid. The man almost hit us in the process, some other people in the traffic abused and shouted at the man for doing that but not me. I asked my kids what they thought of the man’s actions and they told me that the did not behave well and they in turn asked me why I was not pouring insults at the man and I asked them if they would have loved Mummy to be ranting and raving at the man as if I was mad and they said NO OOO! I used that incident to teach them that even if you are in the right and someone tramples on that right, that there are better and more dignified ways of reacting to issues.
- TALK TO THEM ABOUT VALUES IN A RELAXED AND EASY WAY: Nothing will turn your kids off more than preaching values to them after they have screwed up! Talk to them when everyone is relaxed, and do it in a light, conversational manner. They will be much more likely to be listening rather than tuning you out.
- INVOLVE YOUR KIDS IN ART, ACTIVITIES OR HELPING OTHERS WHILE LIMITING TELEVISION AND VIDEO GAMES: Parents of these contemporary times have lost it somewhere. We are bringing up a generation of television addicts. The values our children have are distorted values they see on television. Parents in order to justify their busyness (if there is ever a word like that) salve their consciences by providing all manner of electronic gadgets for their children. They provide all forms of entertainment to occupy their children. Let us learn to engage our children in constructive activities that will make them learn values . Allow them to experience helping others and involve them in activities that will expand their creativity.
- HAVE FREQUENT CONVERSATION ABOUT VALUES IN YOUR HOUSEHOLD: This lets your kids know that it’s important and it’s not just something you talk about when they do something wrong.
- HAVE HIGH EXPECTATIONS FOR YOUR KID’S VALUE SYSTEMS. Kids will tend to rise to the level of expectation you have for them. Their value system will often reflects yours if the expectations are high.
- TELL THEM FOLKTALES WHEN THEY ARE YOUNGER. I am sure we can all remember the stories we were told about the antics of Mr. Tortoise, Mr. Hare, Mr. Lion. As children we learnt a lot of things that formed the values we have as adults now. I remember one certain Christmas holiday we spent in my husband’s village. Anambra State Broadcasting Service (ASBS) Television aired a children’s programme during their family belt. The programme was aired in Igbo language and it was a folktale programme. My kids got glued to the programme because it was fun to see and hear those stories I occasionally tell them being told in Igbo language ( though I translated a bit for them).
This post is not about me but about giving our kids what will help them to overcome this very challenging and complex world ours. I used myself as an example so that we parents will see that our children growing up and showing positive difference in their behavior depends a great lot on what we pass on to them. Please understand that I am not the best parent, each day I make my mistake concerning parenting my kids so does my husband. When we err, we retrace our footsteps and forge on. I believe a lot of parents out there are like us. So much is happening in and around us, should we keep compounding issues by not preparing the future generation on the best practices in everything? This is a wake up call. Shallom!