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Speaking to your child like an enemy


Bishop Charles Ighele

I was in Italy sometimes ago to preach in a church pastored by a black bishop friend of mine. The church holds two services every Sunday. The first service is only for blacks, with English as the language of communication, while the second service hosts only whites, with Italian as the language of communication. My friend speaks both English and Italian languages fluently, which enables him to preach during the services. The church building is big enough to accommodate everybody in one service. But rather than hold a combined service, the bishop arranged it in such a way that there was a huge gap between both services, so much so that the blacks and whites hardly met.

He told me he changed the service arrangement due to behavioural differences between the blacks and the whites. He explained that previously, upon arrival at the church premises and taking their children to the classes, African parents would scream, curse and in some cases, even slap their children for either moving too fast or too slow, which did not go down well with the white parents.

Some of the white people began to wonder whether these blacks were really born again and began to question the quality of their Christianity. Even when I preached for him, instead of making it a combined service, he did not. Rather, I preached in English language to the blacks, while he interpreted for me during the service for the Italians.


Imagine a mother screaming at a three-year-old daughter who moves faster than her with such words as: “where are you running to? Are you mad? You better walk slowly or else I will beat you.” These are not the words of a parent to a child. These are the words of an enemy to an enemy. Back home in Nigeria, a parent kept using these words on his first son: “You are such a dullard, big head and lazy. Look at your younger siblings doing well in their academics.” When this boy, Joseph (not real name) managed to gain admission into a university, he joined a secret cult, where he felt he would get a sense of acceptance, importance, approval and power. And of course, the gang welcomed him and made him feel cool about himself.

Parents should learn not to speak to or correct their children as if they are quarreling with an enemy. They should learn to speak the truth to their children in love. (Ephesians 4:15). Bad words are like poisonous swords and arrows that should be deployed at an enemy, only during warfare and not at our children. When our children were younger and even now that we have grand children, words such as these are forbidden in our home: “I will beat you o, you dey craze, are you crazy? You dey mad? Are you mad? Are you blind? Look at your ugly legs,” etc. These words may be culturally accepted by many African families, but to my wife and I, these are not good and loving words that should be spoken to a child. We can change today, if we want to. We should not continue to speak to or correct our children, as if we are quarreling with our enemies. Yes, we can change.

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