First of all, let me say that I am by no means a perfect parent. In fact, this afternoon, after church I was having a much needed pow-wow with my two teens in a bid to undo some of the damage that I believe had been done by some of my actions and inactions as a parent. Yes, I came to a point where I had had enough of the constant back and forth about curfews and outing dos and don’ts. I am all for healthy debate but I needed to draw a line for them. You know how it is, because you are the mom, the debating skills are more intense with you. When they face their papa, their grammar diminishes in intensity and passion.
But seriously, I cannot believe that my mgm (mighty good man a.k.a my husband) and I are in the minority but from what my children tell me, it appears to be so. How do parents allow their fifteen year old daughters stay out at parties till midnight? How do you throw a party for an eighteen year old in a night club? True, they are in University and only God knows what they get up to when they are away from home but am I really being that odd when I tell my eighteen year old son that he cannot stay out till day break in a nightclub in this place we call Lagos (or anywhere for that matter)? Apparently, I am because his friends, same age as him, were at that party. He was not. He was not because my mgm and I refuse to succumb to what I call PPP – Parental Peer Pressure. You know that line kids use to make you feel like you are from the dark ages? ‘Steve is going now. His parents said OK!’ Well, it does not matter if Steve is going to be there/do that/wear that, we are not budging. That’s his parents decision and we refuse to allow them influence how we raise our children.
But don’t you just wonder who these parents are and what they are thinking? I have asked a number of my friends with teen kids and they all were like ‘What?’ Night club ke? Till day break ke? One friend even told me that her younger sister who lives with her and is about to marry sef cannot stay out later then 10pm. I know you are thinking back to what you were doing when you were eighteen but you and I both know that we were more street smart as it were. Whether we agree or not, our kids have been sheltered a bit in our bid to provide better lives for them so personally I believe their ‘release’ into the big bad world, has to be gradual as they pick up skills to deal with the nastiness of it all. Plus back in the day, chances of a fifteen year old girl getting gang-raped at a day time party was almost unthinkable! But I have heard of such happening now! The girl’s drink was drugged and the three friends she went with could do nothing to save her. Today, she is alive but her mind is yet to recover from the ordeal. Even as I continue to pray for her I cannot help but wonder what her mom and dad must be going through. Perhaps they wish they had not allowed her go to the party?
I know it is not possible to lock up our kids but we do owe it to them to make the right decisions for them for regardless of what they think; they do not know it all. Neither do we, but we have lived more life than they have and the experiences we have had should help us be better parents. Parents who will not succumb to peer pressure. Parents who know, because they have seen it, that most of their friends who partied their lives away and did things way before they should have, are now jobless or working for those who did not. Parents who will always act in the best interest of their children no matter how ‘horrible or old-school’ their kids make them feel.
Sometimes I walk up and down in The Palms and I wonder if these little girls I see left their homes dressed decently only to get to The Palms and change into little bits of nothing. My Only Princess is at that age where she picks her own clothes BUT I vet them and the only make up she is allowed is lip balm or gloss. Moms, please let’s teach our daughters to dress like the pearls they are. Everything of value has to be mined from deep underground. Think about it, oil, gold, pearls, diamonds, do you see them just spread out all over the place on careless display? Are our daughters not more valuable than these? Let’s teach them to dress in ways that add value rather than devalue.
Seriously Parents, raising children is a grace-assisted race. May God help us as we try to navigate the very fine line that exists between being firm and uncompromising parents and fostering a loving, enabling environment where dialogue and healthy discussion can thrive.
*exhaling* I don’t know about you but I am very OK being that parent living in the dark ages now if it means I will be the parent of children who grow up to be responsible, well turned out leaders of their generation in the future. I love my children to bits and will take any number of bullets for them BUT I will not, in the name of being a hip parent, allow myself succumb to PPP. And please neither should you.
Bola Essien-Nelson (aka Salt) is a blogger/author based in Lagos, Nigeria. You can connect with her via her blog – The Salt Chronicles on Blogger where she is ‘seasoning’ the world around her one salt blog at a time.