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Coping with your adolescent child
By Chukwudi Anagbogu

Every adult today passed through adolescence, likewise every infant would definitely meet it before crossing into adulthood. Such is the inevitable metamorphosis one must undergo as far as one is alive. It is a well known fact that adolescence is the most challenging and difficult stage in one's life, as well as in the formation of a person. It is the bricklaying stage in everyone's life. That is why much tact, wisdom and expertise must be employed in handling children at that level of human development.

Spare the rod and spoil the child, says the Bible. Many of us were thoroughly spanked and caned by our parents while growing up. Yes, we saw such chastening as an act of wickedness and cruelty, but now we are glad that such happened to us. Meting out corporal punishment to a child is not out of the way, especially in African society. However, it has either made some better while some are worse for it. Why don't some children react and respond positively to chastening? In trying to correct a child using corporal you, you must make it minimal and relative to the offence the child has committed. If you 'over flog' or 'over spank' a child, the aim of punishing the child would be defeated. Rather than change the child for the better, the situation becomes worse. I could remember when we were younger, we practised several ways of enduring the pains from caning. Some believed that by stiffening your buttocks or by throwing a little stone into your mouth (without swallowing it), the impact of the cane would be minimal! You don't start flogging a child at adolescence. It hardens the child. Caning works in a child's infancy, before puberty. There could be exceptions, but that is the time it may likely be effective as a corrective measure. Let the child see caning as a way of correcting him, not necessarily as punishment.

Is it not funny that parents who never spanked or chastened their children at home would expect teachers to do the same at school. It doesn't work that way. Sadly enough, a lot of parents poise for a fight with teachers for flogging their children! They give excuse with 'his is my only child /son' to exhibit brazen weakness before their children. When a child insults his parents and talk to them disrespectfully without being chastened, how do you expect them to respect people outside the home?

The 'arrival' of puberty in your child's life is the same time you should drill that child on sex education, both abstinence and safe sex practices. A lot of parents avoid the latter, thinking that doing so is tantamount to corrupting the child, forgetting that children these days have easy access to ICT. If you don't teach them, they would learn it elsewhere, albeit the wrong way. Mothers, it is not just enough to tell your daughters, "avoid men, Men are bad, when a man touches you, you will get pregnant, etc." If you tell her such, you may achieve a different result.

Adolescence is a period you make your children your best friends. Be gentle with them, so that they can confide in you with their problems. Reduce your nagging and do not dress them down before their friends or publicly show a dislike for their friends. For your child to bring his friends home is a mark of respect and trust. Counselling and leading an exemplary life are the best ways to successfully handle an adolescent. The use of force would boomerang. You must exhibit high level of tolerance and understanding.

No parent prays for the daughter to bring home unwanted pregnancy. Remember that trying to completely restrict your child's movement will not achieve any positive result. When they eventually get an iota of freedom(which they would anyway), they would do 'ancient and modern'. Allow them to exercise limited freedom, but keep a wary eye on them to be able to detect any slightest misnomer in their lives.

As a child, remember that our culture and that of the western world are antithetical,therefore you should not copy everything they do. Our cultural values are rich, and places prime on obedience and respect to constituted authority. Remember that whatever you do to your parents, so shall you get from your children. A lot of children kill their parents indirectly through the lifestyle they live. As you act, remember that the law of karma still exists, and using youthful exuberance as an avenue to misbehave cannot save you from the inevitable aftermath of your misdemeanor.

Chukwudi Anagbogu
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