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Japa: Helping your child settle in

By Ijeoma Thomas-Odia
24 September 2022   |   2:30 am
It’s a season when the embassies in Nigeria are constantly receiving visitors seeking to migrate to Western countries for a better life.

It’s a season when the embassies in Nigeria are constantly receiving visitors seeking to migrate to Western countries for a better life.

While parents are making these arrangements of who should work and school to make ends meet, considering the emotional stability of their children settling in a new environment is paramount.

Living in a new country can be full of excitement and positive experiences; there will be difficulties along the way even for us as adults. Whether your move is for a season, or perhaps for the rest of your life, in order to make the transition as successful as possible, being proactive about integrating and adapting to a new life is key.

According to parenting coach and educator, Ronke Posh Adeniyi, having nannies in the western world is quite a challenge and they are also very expensive especially in the UK and the US, especially for people using illegal immigrants is actually a hard thing, it is not a part of the culture. This is one of the things that need to be put in place when considering moving abroad.

“Consider the age of your children, do they need care when you go to work, and the kind of visa you have taken abroad will also determine if you are allowed to work.

Oftentimes, one parent works and the other is schooling. Also, do you have savings that will sustain you and your children in the initial stage? You should also check your relationships because you will need counselling when the pressure comes, so you need your mental and emotional state ready to handle these issues.

“Often times, people don’t have a place to stay and so they spend some time with other families, sometimes they are welcomed, sometimes they are not and issues arise from this too, hence have a plan for yourself and your children.”

Adeniyi stressed that research will help a lot before making ‘Japa’ plans. “Understanding how these countries handle and train their children is not always the same. Parents should understand that children have unique rights, so you can’t come into certain countries and start smacking your child.

“Depending on the age of the children, exposure and the type of school they are enrolled in, the school can change the mindset of your children in a negative or positive way. So if your child does not have home training and is not well grounded from home, the child can come here and start behaving in all sorts of ways that are not culturally African. So you have to be careful if you don’t have a grip on your children from home.

“Anything your child is doing right now in Nigeria, if you cannot handle or manage it properly it will only get worse abroad, same with if your child is well behaved and performs well in school, he is likely to do better abroad.

“I hear a lot of Nigerians say they put their children in free schools, while nothing is entirely free, some of them put their children in school where they join bad gangs, smoke, drink and engage in Lesbianism, because research is not done and ignorance is there, hence we have to be careful.”

Adeniyi who is also the founder of LePoshe School, Ikoyi said that the age of the child determines how excited he is to be in a new environment. “The younger they are, the more they are excited to be in a new home, place and environment. Depending on the kind of situation they have left, when they get to school, socialise and make friends, there might be some agitations, fears and anxiety.

“This is also dependent on where your child is schooling; people have their child as the only black child in a school, if he is very young, he may not notice, but as he grows older, then it becomes a challenge. So from home, you have to prepare their minds as discrimination may arise.”

She added that parents should constantly engage in age-appropriate conversations with their child, and “communicate with him as often as possible, even if you have to work all day to make ends meet, this gives your child the confidence he needs to pull through.”

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