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Why we need to adopt new model of parenting in Nigeria – Boma Obuoforibo

Boma Obuoforibo is a parenting coach and founder of The Positive Parents Academy, an online instituation that trains and mentors parents on ways to raise…

Boma Obuoforibo is a parenting coach and founder of The Positive Parents Academy, an online instituation that trains and mentors parents on ways to raise their children. In this interview she said parents should move away from flogging and adopt new ways to nurture the 21st century children.

Why did you start this academy? 

Growing up, I watched how my parents raised us; and I didn’t have anything against it until I became a parent. I found out that at some point I was subconsciously doing exactly what my parents did and I was not happy with the results I was getting, in terms of discipline. I found out that I was doing more of shouting and yelling; and it was exhausting. So I felt there had to be a better way.  

Yes, our parents did the same thing, but did we really turn out okay? The fact that I was doing the same thing shows that it was not okay. Raising the 21st century child is a lot of work. They have a different perspective about life. And with technology, which has dominated the world, a lot of things have changed, so, parenting needs to change.  

When I go around and see parents relate with their children, most of them want children to be better behaved, but they are stuck because the only thing they know is shouting and flogging. So I had to seek knowledge. That was the drive.  

I wanted a relationship with my daughter but what I was doing was breaking it. For you to be able to effectively correct a child, you need to connect. So, I had to ditch the shouting and flogging. It was a struggle, but in this part of the world there are so many myths, which I have to tell parents about so that they would change their minds, and when they see the results it would be easier to relate with what I am doing. 

The truth is that the world has an agenda for children right now. And they are coming in subtle ways, especially through technology, peer influence and all of that. If parents don’t change strategy they would be attracted to the other side. As such, parenting is not about force and control, it is trust and respect. And how you get it is when you have a relationship. Somebody that has a relationship with you will naturally want to do what you want. 

Parents need to understand that parenting right now is war because a lot is happening in the online space. Something as simple as cartoons that children watch have started to infuse the aspect of woman-woman, man-man marriage. So, as a parent you need to get into your child’s heart before the world gets into their mind. That is my drive; and if we can get the family right, we would have a good society. 

People have argued that it is better for a woman to sit at home and take care of the children, while others think she should have a career; how do you think she can combine both? 

In those days, it was a situation where the father would go to the farm while the mother stayed at home, but now, a lot of things have changed. It is a shared responsibility, and from a religious perspective, the man has the primary responsibility. If you work together you can achieve more because each time parents spend with their children is very important. For instance, the father’s role is very key, especially in the life of a girl-child. I advised some single parents to find a father figure for their children because parenting is not something you leave for the mother alone. It is a shared responsibility that every parent should be able to take up and do their path. 

For career, it is about essentialism. Parenting is time-bound. Some parents think children are a distraction from work, but they don’t know that they are actually important. There will be a time when you need to forego some things and begin to slow down in your career so that you show up for the children because there are things you must do at a certain age. It is a window of opportunity which you may need to make sacrifices so that you can do those things before they move on to their next phase in life.  

What other aspects of African parenting do you think are out of age and we need to adopt new ways of bringing up children?

There are some phrases that need to change. We need to stop thinking that if you did not flog a child you have not disciplined him or her. That is because they have programmed the children to listen only when they are flogged and shouted at.

Also, they say a thing like, “A child wey go spoil go spoil’ but what they don’t understand is that every child is parented differently, even twins. The reason is because each child has his/her own personality, temperament, love language and learning styles. So, if you need to discipline and understand things about a child, you are tailoring your parenting based in those aspects. Some children supposedly turned out bad because parents don’t understand those specifics about their uniqueness.

They say that if you love a child too much you would spoil him. They think that loving children means buying things for them, but it is about understanding the child’s love language. For instance, if a child likes quality time but you are a parent that is always going out and leaving your responsibility to a nanny but you shower them with gifts and paying school fees, that is not the actual meaning of love. In fact, children thrive in love and attention. Another thing they think is that if they apologise they have lost their authority as parents, but the truth is that it is actually a skill you are modeling; it does not make you any less of a parent. It would rather build the trust and respect your child would have for you. I just hope every parent would have a change of mindset. 

What is your advice for parents whose children did not turn out good? 

It is not too late. At whatever point you are in your journey, it is not too late to start afresh, so don’t give up. The only thing is that you need to put in more work. It is doable. You can do something to change the situation, but it requires work. 

Is there any relationship between hard parenting and a child becoming a bad person, such as engaging in drug abuse and always getting physical? 

Yes, most times, when we flog, it affects the emotional brain. We have two parts in the brain – the emotional and thinking brain. So, when you start flogging your child or being physical, it shuts out the thinking brain and you would not achieve your goal. Now, the emotions are acting and they are afraid and angry. Most times, those forms of discipline eventually lead to the three arrows of rebellion, resentment and being reserved. There is a state in the child’s life when their peers and other adults start to become more of an influence than the parents. So, when they are constantly being treated like that, they move to other people that can validate them since they are not getting it from home. No parent should get to that point.  

Usually, from zero to 10 years, parents are usually the first influence, so if you can make the most of it instead of spending time flogging, you will win your child. After that, other people influence them and they tend to hear from those people than you. So, if you have not established a bond or relationship with the children, they would feel that their friends and other adults are right, that is where the drug abuse comes in as they want to belong and feel independent. That is why you have cases of drug abuse, violence and all of that. 

Do you think the government needs to come in and correct these anomalies through laws? 

Already, we have started spreading the message. There are some government officials that have called some parenting coaches on how they can make parenting training mandatory. We are also doing some advocacy. For instance, it should be made mandatory that once you become a parent, you should go through an academy where you will be learning how to be a good parent. I believe we will get there if we want to see change in our society.

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