You really cannot predict what would happen when you expose children to wounded adults or adults who are still healing from hurts they feel helpless about.
We have seen mothers give birth to children ,hand them over to their parents and take a walk. And the bond between mom and child is said to be one of the strongest, yet some children reminds their moms of pains they want to do anything to forget. Of course, some adults are irritated by children and the ugly side to this is that many of these adults are stuck in the world of children; they are teachers, pastors, crèche nannies, care givers or even housemaids. And they all have one thing in common; they are not emotionally healthy. Their unwholesome emotional and even mental state could be as a result of one trauma or the other. But the truth is; its unsafe keeping them in the care of children.
A friend told me about a school that recently discovered that one of its oldest and “reliable” teachers has actually been abusing children. Well, not sexually though but she has been using the fear and intimidation tactics to cow the children and make them “behave”. The moment a child start to act up and active, she would take the child to the toilet, gives the child a scary face and warms the child to either behave else she would deal with them. And eventually warms the child never to say what happened.
This went on for years because this woman has been in the school for over fours years. The school owner-apparently a very discerning and sensitive woman observed that the children in that class( age 2-4) were no longer as active, assertive, confidence and “loud” as they use to be. So, got worried, nosy and not long after one of the mothers engaged with her child and the child squealed everything and narrated what Ms Z has been doing to them. It was rude shock given how long this woman has been with the school and the amount harm she would have done to the children’s psyche.
Interestingly the culprit didn’t see anything wrong in what she was doing let alone accept that she is emotionally sick and needs help to get over whatever hurts and pains she must have been dealing with.
Indeed hurting people hurt people. They hurt children as well including their own. So many people pretend to love children and they seek jobs in schools, children churches ,etc whereas they really can’t stand kids. They would rather pretend to be what they are not instead of seek help to be what they ought to be which is wholesome adults who ordinarily should love and be interested in children.
It is difficult to help us understand what dies in a child who is cowed,intimated and emotionally abused. Unfortunately fear and intimidation never straightens up any child. They only contained and badly programmed by fear eventually they live below installed capacity. Which is what also happens when we keep flogging kids. They lack the use of initiative and adventure which are both key factors for creativity. And that’s because, the biggest possession of every child is the ability to explore, probe, enquire, disrupt, discover and solve problems. That’s what dies in children who are abused…. and the evidence is all over our society for everyone to see. Let’s begin afresh and be deliberate about raising a new generation of Nigerians who are not AFRAID to dream and pursue their dreams.
For a start, we must find a way to keep our homes, classrooms, crèches and children’s churches free from wounded adults.
Kingsley Obom-Egbulem is a parenting counsellor, talent manager, children and teens coach. He is founder of Parenting Now!, host of the MANHOOD Show on City 105.1 FM and convener of the IMMERSION For Boys (an intensive spiritual and mentoring retreat for Boys). He currently heads the Junior Church of Daystar Christian Centre, Lagos.