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Your children should not inherit your enemies

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Dragging our children into our adult issues is a common phenomenon amongst parents, though we could say that this was more prevalent in the past when communal living was more common, but this attitude is still seen among parents today.

Child psychologist and founder Parenting Academy, Vivian Okoye, said that what is most important is how to make the world a better place instead of being busy passing down enmity from one generation to another. “Encouraging your children to make enemies of your enemies will do them more harm than good as this will cause your child serious emotional stress, confusion and unneeded anger.

“Children are built to be free-spirited, without malice or grudge. Teaching them malice and strife at an early stage would disrupt their emotional progression and get them entangled with thoughts and feelings they have no business figuring out in the first place.”

Sharing her experience, the mum of two and an optometrist said: “I remember very clearly growing up. I grew up in a communal polygamous setting somewhere in the south eastern part of Nigeria. We lived in a general compound with most of my uncles and step-brothers as well as their families. It was a jolly good feeling having many cousins to play around with, especially other outdoor games of the 90’s.

“We were all young children, happy, free-spirited, full of love with no care or worry in the world. I could walk into my uncle’s home to have breakfast, go to the next uncle’s home to have lunch until I finally get back home in the evening to have dinner. That was the life! Until a time came when a seed of discord started to grow between my father, his siblings and step-siblings and then it trickled down to the children.”

Continuing, Okoye said that she could remember seeing her favourite cousin and not being able to say “hello” to her because she had been warned not to have anything to do with her and her family. One time my cousin got beaten the hell out of just because she was caught talking to me from the hole in our fence.

“We were confused by the sudden hate between our parents, we couldn’t understand it. A few times our parents tried to share some of the details. Details filled with hate speeches and threats. On some occasions you will hear things like ‘if you go there and they poison you, it is your business.’ This was too much information for our innocent seven-year- old minds.

“I was overwhelmed with the feeling of confusion and sadness. So I found ways to move on and live with the status quo. But those early years incidents took a toll on me up until my adult life. For some weird reason, probably because of all the hate speeches and threat of possible diabolic attack or poisoning from the enemy family, I grew up very suspicious of people, my social skills went downhill and I became a reclusive person.”

The convener of the Parents Summit Africa, noted that while some things in life are inevitable, that is, having adult issues with family, friends, neighbours or even a spouse but as much as we can, we should learn to keep our adult issues from our children until a time when they are emotionally mature to understand and make a discerning choice.

“I understand that we live in a wicked world, that someone who is seeking to hurt you, might want to get to you through your child, and by all means protect your child physically, keep them away from harm as much as you can within your means. As you protect them physically, also protect their mind, their emotions. Don’t load them with so much hate and bitterness and anger. A child’s mind isn’t billed to handle such deadly emotions,” she said.

Okoye stressed that most times, these enmities are not as deep as we make them out to be, but because we get our children involved, it blows up until it becomes something else, as we see an issue that could be sorted out easily being passed from one generation to the next.

“In all, fill the heart of your child with love, patience and kindness for all. Don’t bombard them with bitterness, malice and strife. It is not healthy for their emotion. Let our children see and learn more love from us. Love for God, themselves and others. The world needs more love to heal.”


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