A primary school girl, when asked by her teacher to define family, answered bashfully, "A family is a group of people, made up of father, mother, and children, who are related by blood." Expectant of applause from the class, she continued, "Uncle, aunty, cousin, grandma, and grandpa are also part of the family; they belong to the extended family." The teacher was impressed, the class was awestruck, and they gave the bashful school girl a well-deserved accolade.
Aside from being a group of people related by blood, a family is also a chronology of individual stories and experiences. People in a family have a history that spans beyond the declaration of marital vows. The father and mother have individual adventures and ordeal that may have coincidentally merged at a point, even before they decided to become man and wife. The parents of the man and woman equally do. It's a small world, after all.
Spend Quality Time With The Children
Children have a lot to learn from their parents. However, in the age we are — the Internet age — most parents do not spend sufficient quality time with their children. Parents are either busy offline at work or online on Facebook. Children are also engaged, following trending issues on Instagram or Twitter. There is just no qualitative family time anymore.
Narrate Personal Stories And Experiences To The Children
An Igbo proverb says, "A child who doesn't know what killed his father would also be killed by that same thing." A skimpy interpretation of this is "experience is the best teacher." Children are the least experienced and the most enthusiastic in a family: they want to explore the world. Generally, children are extremely curious and adventurous like Dora the Explorer. A child would want to eat lemon for the first time, but will eventually grow to detest its sour taste. A child would also learn to fear fire after being burnt. Experience is definitely the best teacher, but the best professor is the experience of others.
The experience of others is precautionary compared to personal experience. Parents should utilise this lockdown period to narrate personal experiences, as well as the history of the family, to their progeny. This lockdown period is the best time to narrate such adventures and ordeals.
Engage The Children In Serious Conversations
During the lockdown, I have learned a lot about my parents, especially about their childhood and teenhood. Being a Christian family, we gather together every morning for devotion. Morning devotions are supposedly times for studying the word of God and interceding in prayers. These daily devotions usually last for an hour. However, during this lockdown period, it extends to three hours. It just so happens that after the usual one hour, the remaining two hours are for discussion.
These discussions kick off first as questions relating to the Bible study of the day, but gradually shifts to broader dimensions. On several occasions, my parents have narrated life experiences and how they pulled through. I've also been acquainted with the history of my grand family.
Start Random Dialogue On Political Matters To Hear The Child's Point Of View
Aside from morning devotions, there are special times of dialogue when my parents narrate stories of their juvenile mistakes. Unknowing to them, I face similar trauma. Now, I'll rely on their stories and experiences as a panacea to deal with my personal life crises. Stories are powerful parental tools. Children look up to their parents and the victories of their parents can surge hope into them.
Avoid Blind Parenting.
Spending quality time goes beyond sharing stories and experiences. Parents can also use this lockdown period to reconnect with their children. A child that has been in the boarding school, or in the university would have reinforced old characters or picked up new ones. Some parents still regard their children as the person they took to the kindergarten. This is blind parenting. Parents should spend time understanding the temperament, as well as the views, of their children. This can be done through engaging children in serious conversations, talking about politics, seeking advice from them on certain family issues, entrusting them with important information, and listening.
Your Stories Are Pointers That Life's Challenges Are Surmountable
Parents would be surprised at the person their child has grown to become. And whether they approve the newness (strangeness) or not, they should come to term with this newness. This is where personal stories and experiences matter. Interaction can shape a child. Modern-day children are very clever, parents cannot force them to act aright, but the stories they tell the child can stir up common sense. The child would learn from your stories that the problems of life are surmountable.
You can share ways you have taken to reconnect with a member(s) of your family on the comment box. [email protected]