Being An Intentional Parent

The word ‘intentional’ has been on my mind for several weeks. It means being deliberate, calculated or conscious. In the time, space and environment we presently live in, I believe as parents we have to be intentional towards our children; otherwise, several mundane things will take up our time. As I stroll through the different social media platforms, I see how easy it is to be distracted and allow what is visual govern the mind. You must make up your mind to:

  • Be intentional about speaking with your child.
  • Be intentional about listening to your child.
  • Be intentional about engaging with your child.
  • Be intentional about playing with your child.
  • Be intentional about being firm with your child.
  • Be intentional about showing love to your child.
  • Be intentional about the wellbeing of your child.
  • Be intentional about helping your child to learn.
  • Be intentional about being consistent with your child.
  • Be intentional about taking a family break with your child.

There are many distractions in society today, and this does not exempt the family. Severally, I have been approached to take on more demanding professional position. However, I weigh it against my work-life balance because I am intentional as a parent not to have the scale tip over. It is understandable that not everyone may be in a position to pick and chose when to make income; however, the ability to be intentional ensures we as parents give it a second thought before going ahead with a decision. Being a parent does not always come easy, but, the act of being intentional helps develop the culture of family principles and ethos that the children can later appreciate.

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Manufactured Educators

On a particular day, I was on the train going to a meeting in London. A group of primary school children got on the train in Mile End. One of them had a visual impairment and guided by an adult whom I believe is the teacher. Three of the children sat on my left side, and one of them decided to pick the newspaper to read.

educationTo my surprise, the teacher told him to stop reading the paper and to put it down. From his body language/observation, the boy wanted to ask why but said ‘yes Miss’. While I was giving the teacher the cold look of why?; that’s how you make a child display disruptive behaviour, and holding back my tongue. Another adult supervising the children noticed this child putting the paper down but encouraged him to go on reading. The boy said ‘Miss told me to put it down.’ This adult turned to the teacher and asked my thoughtful question, why? Her response, ‘we can not control the content in the newspaper.’ The other adult said, ‘oh’. My thoughts responded, ‘are you kidding me.’ At this time of the morning, 95% of the newspaper in the train carriage is metro. This got me thinking about the political correctness of the education system and wanting to put filters in every area of it. If the children were disruptive with the newspaper, this action by the teacher would be justified. What happened to;

  • Asking the child, what are you reading?
  • Having a look at the newspaper before concluding on the action to take.
  • Directing the child to a more child-friendly page.
  • Engaging the child in educational discussion linked to the curriculum.

What is happening in education? I seem to be getting more dissolution with manufactured educators and the deteriorating of common sense in education. OR am I wrong?

The Act of Skin Discrimination in Children

It is a well-known fact that children do not learn how to discriminate or do they identify with skin colour discrimination. Mostly, children under the age of five doing discriminate based on the colour of the skin. Specifically, children under the age of three years, do not know what colour discrimination is because they do not see the skin colour difference. It can be augured that this is based on a child growing up in a mixed and diverse environment of skin colour. This argument can also be built on a child who has not been groomed or reared to identify skin colour from a very young age.

How do children learn or pick up skin colour discrimination? Having worked with diverse children and families over the years, I can suggest that children learn skin discrimination consciously (directly) or unconsciously (indirectly) from their parents or selected career.

renny adejuwon|children mindChildren learn skin discrimination consciously from their parents/carers through:

  • Words: e.g. ‘why are you playing with that black child?’ ‘Do not play with that child, you are different and do not look like them.’
  • Actions: e.g. not inviting the brown skin children to birthday parties or not going to the white skin children birthday parties.

Children learn skin discrimination unconsciously from their parents/carers through:
Listening to adult conversations; e.g., ‘I do not want to send my child to that school because they have a majority of black children.’ ‘I don’t know why the school is taking in more ethnic minority children. They have come to take over.’ Watching how their parents react to adult with different ethnic background: e.g. excluding them from school events, ignoring them in a group conversation, wanting to shut them up or down during conversations, indicating their contribution is not important or relevant.

A conversation took place between a mother and her 10-year-old son:

SON: my friend told me I was treated badly by my teacher.
MUM: what do you mean?
SON: my friend say’s my teacher was racist towards me because he chooses only the Caucasian children to play for the football team.
MOTHER: that does not mean he is racist. Have you been chosen to play for the school football team before?
SON: Yes
MOTHER: so your teacher is giving other children the opportunity to play for the school team. Of cause, some people will treat you differently, brown skin or Caucasian, but be aware that people are either good or bad not the colour of their skin.
SON: my class teacher is white, and she treats me nice and is fair.
MOTHER: you see, it is the person that matters not the colour of the skin. There are brown skin people, who also badly treat other people.

The conversation above could have been so different between the mother and her son. The mother had the opportunity to teach an entirely different seed of thought into her son, but instead, she gave a balanced approach to human behaviour rather than the colour of the human skin.

skin discriminationIn the movie 42, there was a scene where one of the characters, Pee Wee Reese, thanked the main character, Jackie Robinson, for helping get over his bias of skin colour discrimination. This scene took place in one of the many baseball stadiums used in the movie. However, on this occasion, a boy was sitting in the crowd with his daddy. When the dad and the crowd started chanting racist words towards the main character, who is the only brown skin player of the baseball team, the boy just copied his father. The character Pee Wee went on to hug Jackie Robinson and shook his hands. This action stopped some of the crowd from shouting out racist words. In particular, the boy’s face changed like he was thinking about his actions and why he copied his dad in the first instance.

This sense happens consciously or unconsciously in everyday life between parents and their children. If it is not challenged, it tends to grow and develop, and the seed of skin discriminations continues from one generation to the next. It still baffles me how a person can just be judged based on the colour of their skin; I do not get it. Watch your behaviour and your mouth around your children, as the saying goes, action speaks louder than words.

END NOTE: skin discrimination crosses ethnic, cultural or country boundaries.

Is Home Schooling an Option?

It has been said that home schooling gives parents more control over the influences that affect their children. With home schooling, a parent alone can decide what the child needs to do or learn. Tailoring the teaching program to suit the lifestyle, needs and interests of the child are among the most obvious options for home schooling. A child that is home schooled has the benefit of focusing more hours to the subject that may be difficult without additional pressure. Learning time is spread out based on the needs, abilities and interests of the child. The child receives more quality time in a familiar and homely environment, free from peer pressure and making choices and decisions based on needs.

Competition is great for children, but when it comes to home schooling, this is limited or does not occur. This is also the case of interaction with peer groups. When it comes to teaching style, home schooling is very one way centred. Teaching is always focused on how children learn best, which can be great. However, it reduces the child’s ability to process information in different ways that the child is not used to. A child that learns through moving objects or kinesthetic may find it challenging processing information that may include discussion or social activity.

home schooling| rent adejuwonWhen children are home schooled it allows parents the control over the moral, beliefs and ideologies instilled in their child. From a parent’s standpoint, this ensures there is no confusion in the child’s mind and no variation between what is being taught and what is being practised.

Schools are an excellent environment for children to develop different views, interact and learn something different outside their circle. However, parents that opt for home schooling are disillusioned with the system. They believe that children are being pushed too hard or too little. However, when children are in an excellent school system, they are welcome to try different experiences, activities, discipline and ethics.

There are pros and cons of homeschooling your child. Is it an option? Yes, it is if you have the time, lifestyle, finances, ability and interest to follow through with the education. After all, nobody can understand or appreciate your child as much as you.

WHAT IS GOOD BEHAVIOUR IN CHILDREN?

So much has been written about children’s behaviour or the managing of behaviour in children. Behaviour is an action, reaction, display of character or response. Good behaviour, however, is what is acceptable to the adult caring for a child at any particular time. What is good behaviour, when it comes to children? Is it when children follow the instruction given to them without any fuss or complain to the adult; Or when they are being rewarded for participating in something positive. In most cases, ‘do as you are told’, shows you are of good behaviour.

A child being described as showing good behaviour is the perception of the adult the child is trying to please. Children who are abused or groomed sexually, have been told by their abuser that when they are ‘good’ or ‘behave’ they will be rewarded positively. This scenario shows that the good behaviour of the child is based on what the adult demands from him or her. Does this mean it is right? Of cause not but in the eye of the child, this behaviour is rewarded positively. That means it must be good and acceptable. Some children are overly nice and helpful, which has gotten them into more inconvenience. A case comes to mind of a child who helped another child during an exam. The helpful child had finished her exam paper but noticed that the child sitting next to her was finding it difficult, so decided to help. Other children have been nasty in fighting off a bully, which at the time was seen as appropriate behaviour for defending themselves.

right or easy thing/renny adejuwon/rennyadejuwon.comWhat am I saying? The onus of a child showing good behaviour falls entirely on the adult. In simple term, adults are responsible for developing effective behaviour in children. A child cannot just develop good behaviour overnight, or throughout their developmental years without any definitive guide or input from the adult. Rather, s/he responds to the adult who is responsible for caring and developing him/her. Whatever the adult pours into the child is what the child bears. When a toddler swears, the adult caring for the toddler is responsible for that pattern of behaviour based on what he/she is exposed to.

Do personality and genetics plays a part in the behaviour of children? Maybe. Some parents have said ‘my child is naturally good and well behaved’ while others have said ‘out of all my four children, my third child is the most difficult.’ It can be debated that the birth position of the child, the socioeconomic level of the family, the time frame of when the child was born and many other factors affected the behaviour of the child. The debate can go on. The majority of the time, one thing is for certain. The behaviour of the child, whether good or bad, rests solely on the adult. According to Emilie Buchwald, “Children are made readers on the laps of their parents.”