I have been doing plenty thinking over the years. Studying people and the choices they make, whilst learning to take decisions that reflect my mostly complex thought process.
I started to think about the friends I made in secondary school and how we were neither “bubblers” nor “spiro’s”. A former classmate said I was the weird short girl with scary knowing eyes. Another said she thought my crew was very “weird” and “disturbed”. This drew out an unexpected laughter from the depths of my belly.
It led me though to another thought, considering that most of my crew members are well accomplished women today, capable of independent thought and leadership. I started to imagine how we found ourselves or why we were perceived “kolos”.
Is being weird okay? If yes how do we raise kids to own their weirdness?
These thoughts have been on my mind and lead me to do some online research on child psychology. How do we raise children who are capable of making their own decisions in the face of adult/peer pressure?
The answer came as you would expect.
Encourage children to think independently starting from age zero!
I am done with the spanking and beating arguments, parents will do the best with what they know. I am however, focused on freedom of thought.
Let me paint a picture of an experience with an adult male and my children during my sister’s wedding.
Adult male: Precious your children are very rude.
Me: Epa how do you mean?
Adult male: I dey greet them dem no answer, the boy sey he no me. Imagine!!!
Me: Mildly irritated but trying to maintain composure, I replied. Epa dem don meet you before?
Adult male: No but I be their grandpapa person na. I no be stranger.
Me: To them you be stranger Sir. The proper thing is to have me introduce you. They stated the obvious “they don’t know you”. My kids know not to engage with adult strangers especially so no harm done in my opinion. I think you should apologize to my daughter she looks startled from your shouting Sir.
Adult male: Clearly irritated and confused but sufficiently polite goes to my daughter and says “oyibo no vex”. I be una grandpapa person, I no know sey una be oyibo children.
Me: Knowing they didn’t understand a word he said, I introduced him. They exchanged pleasantries and walked away.
I went on to greet, the other curious people that had gathered to watch our little drama and thanked Epa for outdoing himself and putting up with me and my “weird ways”. He smiled now and joined our table as I ensured he had more than enough to eat.
Most times I hear people talk about preserving our culture and raising respectful children. Both thought processes whilst good are subjective.
What is our culture? I ask this because it is so confusing in Nigeria at least where we import our traditional attires from China or Holland. Our accent is not even ours. Listen to a radio station in Lagos & you will think you are in Harlem.
What is respect? This is as confusing for kids as submission is for women. What would we consider to be respectful & are adults ever wrong? If yes who corrects the adult?
I am just happy my kids knew better than to follow someone who could easily be a potential kidnapper. No one is family until an introduction is made. Respect is what you think it is. Do not talk when adults are talking could mean your opinions don’t matter or respect depending on your leaning.
Do I know which mode of parenting will work or the effectiveness of independent mind?
That said, I know that humans thrive best when they can trust the computations of their mind.
I think our job as a community is to allow thinkers think.
May we fulfill our roles as carriers of light.