- And no matter how tired you may be, listen to your child and find out how his or her day went.
Ghanaian parents and guardians of old taught their children values influenced by our culture, customs and traditions. These included respect for the elderly and not speaking until you are spoken to.
For instance, the Ghanaian child was taught to obey instructions from adults.
It was expected, for example, that the Ghanaian child would hurry to take from an adult, a load he or she was carrying and escort that adult to his or her home.
In communities, children were often sent by adults who may not necessarily be their parents and a refusal meant that the child was disrespectful and, therefore, very rare.
As part of the training, a Ghanaian child was seen as disrespectful if he or she gave explanations for a behaviour which had been questioned by an adult. Worse still, being assertive was often times misconstrued as being rude.
Often times, children are discouraged from having frank discussions with adults, especially in the presence of visitors.
Some children imbibed this training to the extent that even asking questions in class became difficult.
It used to be considered normal for children to eat from neighbours, especially when their guardians were away.
Recent events , however, bring to the fore an urgent need for a new kind of parenting for the protection of our children.
This has become necessary because our children are increasingly becoming vulnerable to vices such as kidnapping and defilement.
Since it has become clear that some adults are taking advantage of these teachings, which have made our children less assertive, timid and vulnerable to abuse, especially sexually, I think there is the need for a different kind of parenting that empowers the child to speak up and refuse to succumb to the evil machinations of adults by reporting them, to reverse the trend.
Even though access to the Internet and social media in general seem to be helping in this direction, the situation now is far from acceptable.
Day in and day out, the media reports heartbreaking stories of child abuse, especially that of the defilement of girls.
Often, when children are defiled, it takes quite a long time, when so much harm has been done, for parents to notice, because the child does not have that rapport with his or her parents to let them know that someone is bothering them.
The story often goes that the adult, who is often known to the child’s household, sends the child on an errand to buy something and when she sends that item into his room, he defiles her. And the defilement is often followed by a warning that once she tells her parents, “she would die”.
Another trend is that the child is lured with toffees and money, sometimes a pittance of GH¢1.
The fact that often times both parents leave children in the care of others as they slug it out for long hours outside home to earn a living makes the plight of the child even worse.
Most children are not getting the needed attention and care and it sometimes takes days for even mothers to realise that their child is not walking properly before further questions discover that the child has been defiled, sometimes, multiple times.
Sadly for such victims, who have mustered the courage to tell their parents, they are branded as liars who want to destroy the peace in the family and friendships.
I believe that the situation we currently find ourselves in, therefore, calls for a different kind of parenting.
This kind of parenting should aim at establishing a good rapport with children in order to enable them to be able to discuss issues which bother them or be able to tell us when they feel something is not right.
It is practically impossible for most parents to stay with their children 24 hours in the day, therefore, there is the need to monitor whoever the child is entrusted with in their absence. It would not be out of place to keep a nanny camera at home to observe what happens when you are away.
And no matter how tired you may be, listen to your child and find out how his or her day went.
That is how you are likely to detect if something went amiss.
Certainly, some aspects of the old way of parenting must give way to a new type which makes the child assertive and respectful but not to the extent of willingly giving in to abuse.
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