Parenting has changed completely from what it used to be in the past, most especially as more women are taking up time-consuming careers and going into business. This makes parenting in the 21st century much more challenging. Mindful of this, a group of mothers came together to chart a way forward at a recent forum in Lagos organised by La Pax Nigeria, a global project management company, headed by Emem Nwogwugwu, a certified project manager and international speaker. Mary Ekah who covered the event, reports
Obviously, children are growing up in a world utterly different from the world we used to know and a world that is changing even more. Regrettably, today’s mothers are often burdened with commitments to work, family, household, and social life, activities which make it difficult to find the right balance in bringing up a child.
However, the most important thing, as discussed at the forum put together by Emem Nwogwugwu, the Project Manager of La Pax Nigeria, is that regardless of the type of career mothers are engaged in, they should instil positive messages in their children. Tagged, ‘Let’s Chat Moms’, it was basically a forum created to afford young and hardworking mothers of the 21st century an opportunity to discuss and learn how to teach the next generation exceptional values. Therefore, the deliberations at the forum focused basically on thought-provoking topics like: Role of the 21st Century Mom, Managing Challenged Children and How to Develop Interpersonal Skills with your Child.
The brain behind the concept, Nwogwugwu, who explained that ‘Let’s Chat’ is an interactive initiative founded by her to discuss different topics, made it clear at the beginning of the deliberations that the meeting was not to find faults in the ways young mothers of today bring up their children but, rather, it was to share knowledge, encourage and help one another on the best way to nurture and bring up the next generation of people
She said: “Our insecurities are not supposed to hold us down but should be a source of motivation to break through those strong holds. When we know better, we do better. In spite of what women go through on their parenting journey we can rise up and bring up excellent humans, who will identify their gifts through our love and guidance to make their world a better place.
“We know better not to allow our kids speak rudely to our domestic workers and people in general, but they watch us closely. They will do what we do, not only what we say. We know better to teach them the act of giving at an early age. We are not coming to raise perfect kids. There is no such thing as perfect human beings. We want kids who have empathy and a sense of responsibility in their lives and their environment. We want kids who will own their actions and be responsible for their decisions in life, people who understand consequences and benefits, people who have a balanced way of thinking.
“We are here because of love. The world needs love. Despite the parental competition in the world, we are hoping to bring up balanced confident and loving people who will be faithful leaders of tomorrow, who will shine their lights in areas where there is darkness and kids who will learn how to forgive because they will need that on their interpersonal relationship journey now and in the future. We want to be better, we want to network with like minds to reach a common global goal of raising excellent examples in all aspects of life, now and in the future.”
Parenting in the 21st century is much more challenging, particularly as the world is changing and we are walking a pathway that is new in many ways. It is needless to say that the decision to become a parent is much easier than the journey itself.
Nwogwugwu, therefore was quick to note that the forum would afford mothers the opportunity to share their experience about parenting, time management, child routine, how to manage support structure, who is a mother, the role of the 21st century mother in today’s world to make our kids better human being.
“I also thought this was a good opportunity to launch my company La Pax Nigeria, a global project management company where we provide project support through planning of different projects in different industries,” she said. “We also do events management, business and personal advisory; we also do training for companies and brands.”
Nwogwugwu, who has been a career woman and also a mother for a while, noted that what particularly inspired her to come up with the forum for mothers was her own very tasking experience as mother and career woman. “I had to reach out to other mothers on social media, my sister in-law, Ijeoma Nwogwugwu and other family members and who gave me good advice and have been very supportive,” she said. “So I felt that if more women had good support structures they would learn better and also know that they are not alone in this journey but that they can get advice and encouragement from other mothers. So the whole idea came up from all the experiences I have had as a mom.”
Other mothers who also made inputs at the forum were of the view that children are special gifts and each child has a talent and how it is harnessed is entirely dependent on the parent, whether the child is physically challenged or not. They explained further that there was a window of between 0-3 years and 3-6 years and that these periods were when the core values and foundations are built in children, as it was also the periods that are easiest to assist with any developmental challenges a child may have.
The mothers particularly stressed on the fact that parents should examine what kind of parents they were, which will help also in determining how they can relate with their children and confront difficulties they may exhibit, adding that parenting style also has a huge influence on how a child behaves or confronts different situations.
Proprietress, Arcadia Montessori School, Victoria Island, Lagos, Mrs. Enimien Inegbinedion who spoke at length, first explained why she chose to be part of the event.
“I’m very interested in mothers learning about parenting, chatting and having conversations on how to bring up children and learning from one another. So I found it very interesting when Nwogwugwu invited me to talk to some of these mothers and share ideas on how to bring up the next generation. For me, it is more interesting because I have that background knowledge on child’s development so I decided to be part of this forum.”
She explained that a lot of mothers need to know the things that are required to give their children holistic upbringings, adding that many mothers were not aware of the background information that comes with child development and the different stages that children go through.
Speaking on the topics, ‘Developing Interpersonal Skills with Children’ and ‘Discipline and Home Schooling’, Inegbinedion explained that children need to learn how to communicate with their peers and the world around them. “They need to learn about conflict resolution, how to manage their anger and other things that they need to deal with people in the world basically because in these days and age, it is not enough to learn just ABC, if you don’t have good inter-personal skills you can’t even work anywhere,” she said.
“You need to be able to relate with people and that is far more important than the ABC. For example, when you go for an interview, they are not only going to ask you about your technical knowledge. They would also want to know if you are going to fit into the team or whether you would be one of those that will bring the company’s culture down because you are just such a terrible person who is always fighting and antagonising others. So interpersonal skills are very important for children and you need to start teaching them when they are really young – how to interact with their friends, how to share, how to be nice to one another and how to have empathy,” she added.
On disciplining your child, she said, “It is very important that parents learn how to maintain discipline in their children and the next generation. “The way we discipline the next generation is probably not the same way our own parents disciplined us but we still need to learn how to live ordered and structured lives and also how to choose between good against evil. A lot of time we expect children to have certain knowledge that they do not have. For example, we expect a one year and two years old child to share their things with others, but in reality, at that age, it is too difficult for them to share because it is not in their make up yet. They start sharing at age three. So we need to know at what age a child is expected to do certain things that are expected of them so that we do not start beating them unnecessarily thinking that they do certain things deliberately.”
She stressed further that parents need to be sure that a child has enough tasks to engage in so that he/she does not get involved in vices, noting that when children are idle they tend to become destructive.
Inegbinedion, who also spoke on ‘Home Schooling’, noted that Nigerians are still not conversant with the concept. She explained that Home Schooling is when parents take full responsibility of teaching their children at home. “Here, parents don’t send their children to formal schools till a certain stage. They are interested in being part of their children’s education and actually educating the children themselves at home till they are ready to take the eternal exams or till they get to the university stage. In America and England, there are curriculum for home schooling but in Nigeria home schooling is just picking up, but we just need to set structures in place and may be those home schooling in Nigeria should come together and create a Nigeria Home Schooling curriculum. But it is important that parents who home-school their children also make sure that the children are gaining the interpersonal skills that we mentioned earlier to actually meet up with other children and also the outside world.”
Inegbinedion, who has been a mother for four years, admitted that it is not easy to be a mother and a career woman at the same time in the 21st century. “It’s been the grace of God to balance these things,” she said. “I just take it one day at a time and most importantly, I have a schedule I work with, because if you don’t have a schedule you would just be floundering in the wind. I structure myself in a way that I am able to do everything that I need to do each day. It is a matter of time management and that is a skill as well, which I had to go and learn myself. Once you are able to manage your time, you would be able to get a lot more done. And a lot of times, it entails creating goals and for me, I have long and short terms goals I create for myself. Once you have a plan for anything you are able to achieve it and that is what I do.”
The Arcadia Montessori School, she said, is where children between the ages of 0 to 5 are groomed for primary schools. “Montessori education is very important to me because it teaches children independence and independence is something that we really need for our children because with that children are able to think for themselves, they are able to think creatively and they are able to think practically as well,” she said. “When they have independence, they are not going to wait for people to help them do things always but can do things themselves and this gives them a lot of confidence and self-esteem and for me that is the most important thing that a child needs to have so that as they grow up to adulthood, they would still maintain that self-esteem and confidence to do whatever they want to and also to face the world and conquer it.”
For mothers at the event, Inegbinedion urged that their take home message should be for them to know that every child is different and parents should learn to know who their children are. “You can’t use the same experience from another child’s life to bring up the other child,” she said, “and at different ages a child is different, so there are some things that they should know and also not know at certain age, so that you don’t keep punishing them for what is not their fault. So know what your child is capable of at different stages of his/her development, so that in that way, you can help your child develop into whom he/she should be.”