When children are growing up, they tend to learn from their parents since they spend most of the time with them. They learn from their parents’ talk, actions, mode of communication and other behaviours, whether positive or negative.
Therefore, it is a parent’s duty to know what morals their children should pick from them because what children learn at a young age tends to stick for life. Like the Bible states in Proverbs 22:6, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Therefore Parents ought to train their children the right way, but how can they make this effective?
Parents speak out
“We as parents are the first teachers; we have to teach children from a young age about how to behave, talk, eat, laugh, walk, communicate, dress up and interact with others, among others,” says Phiona Asiimwe, a mother of two and a resident of Gisozi in Kigali.
Asiimwe says children need love and care, and as such parents need to take note of small details like what excites a child, what food they like most, cleanliness, homework, the TV show they watch, their friends or teachers. This, she says, pulls them closer to their parents.
Asiimwe adds that she is always attentive to her children, for example, if they need to know something or when they are hungry or how to go about some issues. She says she also trains them to be attentive as well, especially when someone is talking to them and when in class.
For Stephen Mwesigwa, a father of an 18-year-old daughter, parents should open up to their children about their circumstances, challenges, past experiences and achievements so that they (children) grow up knowing what to expect in life.
He also says that parents need to teach their children the importance of prayer, sharing and caring for others.
Mwesigwa advises parents to have self control.
“Parents should hold their emotions in public even when children have wronged them. They should show their children the mistake they have committed and advise them to change without barking at them,” he counsels.
“It is advisable for parents to walk the talk. Children always emulate what their parents do. For example, when you want your child to learn the reading culture yet he or she never notices you even read a book or newspaper, then that child will not be motivated to read,” says Charles Mutazihana, the principal of Kigali Parents School.
Mutazihana explains that parents cannot do the proper counseling and grooming if they never spare a good time with their children to know their behaviour, likes and dislikes.
“Parents are not perfect, they make mistakes but should know how to correct them so that they do not affect their little ones. For example, parents fighting or quarreling in the presence of their children is a bad habit that can even traumatise them. Parents should excuse themselves if they are to speak about issues that may not create a good image to children,” he says.
According to Collins Odhiambo, a teacher and counsellor, the best way for a parent to be a role model is to understand what your child already knows so that they know the right training to give them.
Odhiambo says today children access a lot of information from social media and friends, which parents have to take note of. This, therefore, means parents ought to be updated on what is happening in their children’s lives and advise accordingly.
“Role modeling is more of getting an in-depth understanding of what your child already knows and believes in, especially for teenagers. That is why some children confide in their relatives than their parents because sometimes they think their parents may not understand what they want,” he says.
Marie Claire Isingizwe, a 21-year-old student at University of Rwanda, says growing up, her parents held her accountable whenever she made a mistake and this prompted her to change for the better.
She says she has never seen her dad raise a finger at her mum, which is exactly how she would expect every respectable man to do.
“My parents have always believed in me and encouraged me in all situations. They have taught me to be open-minded, so in case of any problem I count on them,” she says.
Isingizwe says her parents guided her well and that is why she looks up to them.