By Madame Olieh
Kids will be kids and they will always have expectations of their parents because they see us as role models. They also sometimes believe we can afford anything or will find a way to give them what they crave.
Sometimes their demands are borne out of peer pressure or just for bragging rights but the question most parents ask is how do I manage their expectations? How do I tell them I do not have the financial resource for this toy? Or how do I explain that they are just not old enough for a smartphone?
Parents often struggle to manage the expectation of their children because finding the right words could be a daunting task especially when their peers have those things they are demanding for. How do you tell your kid you are working so hard you do not have time to go to the cinema with them?
Or you will not be going to the mall with the family? I tell you it could be tricky. In this internet-aged, fast-paced tech world it is even more difficult. When we were growing up our parents just needed to look at us in one way or another and you got the message but not anymore.
First, parents must learn to have a one-on-one with their kids. You must never be too busy for a one-on-one. This should not be like an interview session, instead you have to make it look like a hangout. You could go and grab a ice cream together or buy pizza. It could be anything really but it has to be fun, this will help them understand you better.
It will help them understand why you are doing this or that but more importantly they cherish the moment you spend with them. Even if they do not get a smartphone, they feel like they understand the reasons.
Secondly, the foundation we lay for our kids matter a lot. If we normally spoil them and give them everything they request for, it will be difficult to undo this lifestyle because they are used to having what they want. As a life coach, I always advice parents not to give their kids everything they want, ask or crave.
We are not giving them with the best life as to offer but rather we are ‘spoiling’ them with the best life might not offer. We need to help them understand that as parents we do not always have all that we need but we make the most of what is available.
Thirdly, we need to help our kids become responsible adults. How? Even though you can throw N100,000 around for chocolate and ice cream, don’t. Let our kids work for their money. Talk to a friend to hire them during the holidays and pay their salary without them knowing it.
Let them learn some of life’s lessons the proper way or else we might be spoiling beyond future control. Let me tell you a petty story about my growing up and how one incident changed my life forever.
Growing up in a large family was always fun for me because I had so many cousins, uncles, and aunties living with us. Our house was a duplex and we had so many rooms and many relatives living in them. Really it was fun growing like that!
I remember always going to school in my mum’s bus. I recall we had a driver named Uncle George who was a Ghanaian, and very quiet person.
He always picked us after school by 2pm and I was always in a hurry to get home, I would be the one shouting at my younger sister who always wanted to play after school. Guys, nobody knew why I always wanted to get home. From the last periods in school, I would be dreaming of lunch, which mum usually puts in the oven.
Once I get home, I make my way straight to the kitchen and open the oven almost without hesitation I would start eating. Everyone would laugh at me and give remarks about my love for food.
So one day as usual, I asked my mum what was for lunch and she said rice, beans and chicken. Wow! Guys, all I was thinking about that day in school was lunch, even when the teacher was teaching I was not listening. The teacher even had to punish me but I did not care because I was sure of my sweet lunch. Fast forward to when the driver came, I was shouting as usual on my siblings that is was time to go home.
When we got home I dropped my bag at the front of the house and ran in like a child that has not eaten for days; went straight to the oven and opened it. Guys, guess what??? No Food!
I checked the whole of the oven and suddenly I burst into serious tears and I was rolling on the kitchen ground shouting “where is my rice”? Our nanny came in and tried to talk to me but my spirit was so low that I increased my crying until I heard my sister laughing at me, saying to them, “mum served the food on the dining table because she just finished cooking and thought it was not worth putting in the oven.
Guys, I jumped up and went to the dining room crying. When I saw the food I opened one plate and saw the big chicken and immediately I started eating. You should have seen me that day, still crying and eating the food. Everyone at home were laughing at me, thank God it is not this period where people can video anything I’m sure the whole world would have watched me crying and eating but guys I did not care at all.
The lesson I learnt was never to dream of food again.
That was the last day I ever became desperate for food again. I learnt a big lesson that food was not everything.
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Madame Buky Olieh is a life coach, an educator, child psychologist and French tutor