REFLECTIVE PARENTING: HOW OUR PARENTS INFLUENCED OUR PARENTING SKILLS.

What are the correlations between the way we are parented and the way we parent? Today my guest and Mother Amb.(Dr.) Kema Chikwe and I discussed reflective parenting and how our experiences have affected the parents we are today.

Videos are posted on my Instagram account @somachi_k, but I’ll share what I learned from speaking with my Mum:

  1. Every time period comes with its unique features as every generation is characterized differently. This means that parents and children are socialized differently, so making precise comparisons seems imbalanced. However, parenting should be based on values as values transcend time and place. It is for parents to find creative ways to retain family values and traditions. I asked my Mum how relevant her opinions were as a child, and she said children were to be seen not heard in her era. Are there any seen not heard children in 2020? Not in my home; however, values such as respect and appreciation of one’s opinion are easily transferrable through all generations. If it ain’t broken, don’t fix it – the values for positive and impactful parenting remain the same. Circumstances may have changed, so our challenge is seeking ways to uphold the same values we were raised on in our homes today.
  2. Structure and discipline are essential in raising children. Acknowledging the stress on parents of this era and the challenges we face, my Mum emphasized the need for structure and discipline in the home. My Mum shared how she grew up in a very regimented home, and likewise, she created schedules for her children. I grew up in a home where my time and even meals were scheduled; also, my children are familiar with scheduled time. Truth be told, there is room for improvement. My children all have conflicting schedules, and setting meal times during the week never worked. With the lockdown, what is my excuse now? Nothing. Dining etiquette, like setting the table and having family meals, will now be adopted in my home. I will keep y’all posted.
  3. My mother went everywhere with my younger brother and I as she did with my older siblings and youngest brother. My children are very well behaved but can be extremely impatient. I asked my Mum how she got us to patiently wait for her without throwing tantrums. She explained that from an early age, she shared her journey with us. Knowing her journey, and her challenges made us sympathetic towards are busy schedule and determined to support her success. We would patiently wait for her to attend her Ph.D. classes or make a business presentation or address women at a rally. These memories are not vague as I remember patiently waiting for my Mum numerous times – as a child and even as an adult. She also mentioned how she recognized our favorite hobbies and engaged us accordingly. My younger brother loved action figures and video games while I loved books. These activities were readily available to us. My youngest son and I must find a hobby today!!!
  4. Time Management: My mum shared that if time is appropriately managed and activities prioritized, parents can effectively integrate home/career life. Less time on Netflix and Social Media allow more time to spend with my family. I am learning to be more present in my home and family activities.
  5. Friendship and Bonding are essentials in parenting. My Mum talked about her relationship with her five children and 18 grandchildren, sharing that a good relationship helps with effective communication. In this segment, she advised single parents to establish strong bonds with their children to create healthy homes in the absence of a spouse. I got an honorable mention here as my sons and I are a strong team.
  6. Coming from a family that valued education, becoming a teacher, and an educator – my Mom prioritized education in our home, and education is a priority for me. As an educator, I know that with a solid education foundation, children can soar to great heights. First marking period of every school year, my kids navigate school by themselves. No lessons, no assistance, nada. This helps me gauge where you are academically and lets the child know what they can achieve by themselves. My intervention in subsequent marking periods focuses on filling in the established gaps. My mother raised me as an independent learner, equipping me with skills to advocate for myself in the classroom, and these are essential skills I hope to teach my sons effectively.

My highlight was my Mum reciting the Girl Guide poem/mantra she learned from her mother at least 60+ years ago. Dear Parents, we need to be more intentional about the time spent with children. Quality time is non-negotiable. Sixty years from now, what positive will your children be teaching your grandchildren? Talking about grand-children, my Mum explained why grand-parents have a warm and beautiful relationship with their grandchildren. She said that parents are tasked with parenting while grand-parents are there to cheer children, be a sounding bound, and provide unconditional love and care.

Acknowledging that all experiences are different and some homes lacked positive parenting: in a home where positive parenting existed – there is value in the way we were parented. Yes, the time has changed, but some things remain the same. God’s faithfulness, regardless of the generation, remains invaluable; so should be the Godly values that navigated our upbringing. 

In conclusion, she asked parents to step down the vanity and comparison to focus on their own life’s journey. Every family unit is unique, so curate what works for your home, bearing in mind that your parenting will affect the way your child will parent.

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