The holiday is here and children are excited to spend some time away from school. Since some students are in boarding school and away from their family for three months, it is during the holiday that parents should strive to spend time with them.
According to Antoinette Uwamahoro, a mother of two, although reading boosts language and children’s vocabulary, however, reading together with them is one of the ways that children can connect with their parents. Research also shows that reading with children actually rouses patterns of brain development liable for connection and bonding.
Uwamahoro says that art is also something to engage in as parents get to see what their kids are talented in, be it music or dance, and encourage them consequently. Talent not discovered at a young age might just go unnoticed or destroyed.
She calls upon parents to provide a platform and support children financially, physically, and emotionally. If they have a game to take part in, for instance, football, it is a parent’s obligation to support and watch them play as this creates confidence in them and pushes them to work even harder.
Parenting goes beyond just paying school fees and providing home necessities, it requires knowing the child’s health status and additional information, for instance, who their friends are, whether their school’s performance has improved or declined, what the root cause could be and how it can be made better, she adds.
Uwamahoro says that while bonding with children, it is important to know their spiritual life, how often do they pray and if they don’t, what could be the reason behind it. What efforts as a parent have you put in place to make sure that children get to know more about God? Do you pray together as a family, do you encourage them to go to church? Are you an example that they should emulate, and so forth.
“Since it is a long holiday, I believe it is a perfect time for parents to speak to their kids about sex education. School learning is done, it is now time for home learning. If you don’t tell your child about sex, and hygiene who then will do that for you? Children need to be advised about teenage pregnancies and how they can stay safe, now is the time to teach them that, by doing so, you are even creating an attachment with them,” she says.
Uwamahoro adds, when it comes to connecting, it is a parent’s duty to know the kind of friends their child relates with because chances are, your child will not be any different from them. If they are ‘bad company’, it will be portrayed in a child’s character, but if a parent is too busy to even notice the child’s behaviour, it is then impossible to know that there is something wrong with the way the child acts.
“As a parent, I have gone the extra mile to meet the parents of my kids’ friends because that way, I can know more about their character and it helps to know each other,” she says.
Damien Mouzoun, a Kimironko based family counsellor, says that it is unfortunate that these days, due to long working hours and social life, children are left in the hands of the house help most times.
Mouzoun adds that nowadays, you can find that a maid and a child’s teachers know the child more than the parents because they spend more time with them, and even when the parents are home, they are distracted with their phones, checking out social media, basically leaving little to no time at all to be with their kids.
“The children, on the other hand, are also busy watching series, movies or cartoons. Television is the order of the day. I have come across children whose parents are rich but they don’t get the love and care they deserve because they never have time to talk in length with their families. Happiness is more than just money. It is time spent with the people that matter to you,” he explains.
He, however, says that taking a retreat with family for about a week or more would be good — family time, with no distractions from emails or phone calls. This enables parents to learn more about their children, what makes them happy, their dreams and so much more.
Mouzoun further notes that a parent can only be a child’s friend if they get time to know each other more and notice even slight changes about them.
He calls upon parents to create an environment that enables children to open up without fearing them.