By Ene Adeka
Unconditional love is like a muscle. It needs a daily workout.
Africans can so show love, use endearments and carve out sweet words for their loved ones!
Until it gets to their children.
Then the flow abruptly stops and the struggle to show some tender loving care becomes real. It is quite easy to tell the husband or boyfriend how much you love them but expressing your heartfelt love to a child in ways that he can not only feel but HEAR requires a special grace and talent; one that seems to be lacking in African homes.
Growing up, I remember watching American home videos where kids like “Kevin” in the blockbuster movie; “Home Alone” would sulk until their face turned red simply because “daddy did not kiss me good night.”
The look on your face tells me exactly what must have happened to you when you summoned up the courage to ask if “daddy could kiss you good night.” #AfricanParents!
It starts with your spouse
The average African housewife knows she is on her way to getting rechristened as soon as she starts bearing children. This is where names like “Sugar pie” , “Honey Boo”, “Sweetheart” and “Bae” which were all your middle names during the glorious courtship days change to “Mama Nkechi”, “Madam,” “My Wife” or whichever name the man deems fit to replace whatever name gave you the chills. The men suffer the same fate as it is only logical that their wives call them “My husband”, “Papa Godwin”, or “Daddy Wa” in return.
A home that has such ugly names flying around would definitely have difficulties showing love in practical and replicable terms to their children. This is therefore a public service announcement to all prospective wives, mothers and the ones who are already married or have children. It starts with your spouses!
The relationship, values and friendship you have built over time with your spouses would eventually reflect in your relationship with your children. It is important that you practice a genuine and open show of love and affection for your spouses as this would naturally set the tempo for how you treat your children when they eventually arrive.
5 Ways to Show Love to Your Child
- Teach your child the art of thanksgiving and prayer as you would their ABCs.
- Manage your anger. Never punish or correct children angrily, every correction must be approached with love. This doesn’t mean you don’t address the behavior. However, you must exercise self-control to not always reach for the belt or use force on your child.
- Never be ashamed of showing them love and affection in the open. Give hugs, lots of hugs. The African mother is quite stiff and rigid when it comes to a practical display of love and affection. That your best friend, mother in-law or neighbour does not practice it is not a legitimate reason to deny your child affection.
- Be like them. One of the greatest ways to learn what makes a child happy is to become like that child. As often as you can be part of his or her activities.
- Remember, children are highly perceptive; they know when you are far removed from their current subject of interest and when you are totally immersed and interested in the subject. As much as possible, be present bodily and mindfully.
- Celebrate special days like birthdays, children’s day, Christmas, and Valentine’s Day together with your child. This would later form the basis of their perception of the love you have for them and it also builds trust.
- Walk through class projects, assignments and simple domestic chores together with your child. Nothing helps cement the love between you and your child like the confidence doing things together builds in him.
- Deal with sibling rivalry with as much care as you can employ. Don’t ever get into the mistake of becoming an ally of one child over the other. Misbehaviour from your child to their sibling(s) could be an indication the child feels his “special” place in your heart is threatened. Your assignment is to bridge the gap between them.
If you make millions at the end of the year or you take home the “personality of the year” award and your child feels neglected, is starved of your love and affection, you have woefully failed as a parent. Your creed as a parent should be, “Family first; always and forever.”
Your unconditional love muscle must be twitching already. Well, motherhood comes with a price, one which you would have to be fully prepared for. Do you have any tips on how to show love to children? Hit the comment box!
Faya on girl!