A true African woman, according to the culture, should be tough. The idea was to scare you from endangering your own life, or better said scaring you from making bad decisions. Child upbringing was built in fear, there was no way your parents could be your friend. They were supposed to be providers and disciplinarians.
As a result of this many parents have become their children’s first bully, and the biggest bully for that matter without knowing it. What most refer to as ‘tough love’ is sometimes, simply put, bullying. Most of the hurtful things your children have heard were first said by you; not behind their backs, but right in their faces. And by the people they trusted and loved the most, their own parents.
Discipline is important to the positive growth of a child, but how you instil that discipline, either makes or destroys your child. It substantially bridges the gap between responsible, happy adults, and resentful, fearful, adults.
1. Words have power
Parents are children’s first hero, someone they look to and look up to. Now, you can imagine if your very own hero demining you. If the only person you can trust or knows you tell you negative words then who else can convince you otherwise?
Sometimes, it is not so much what is said, rather it is who says it and how it is said. If your child is going to hear hurtful comments in their life, it should never be from you, the parent.
2. Comparison is the thief of joy
Most parents, inherently, compare their kids to other kids. Show me a 13-year-old and I will show you a kid who has been asked, on more than one occasion, why they can’t be like so and so. This will make the child feel insufficient. A dent in their self-esteem can take years to restore.
3. ‘Tough love’ may be a root cause of mental Illness in children
What people don’t realize is that deep-seated mental issues like anxiety and depression can be traced back to bullying from parents. Make sure you do not create an avenue to destroy your child’s mental health.
4. Be careful how you address your child
There are some things we learn from our parents then carry them forward to our children. The toughest part of being an adult is recognizing the faults of our own parents and adults who were in our lives and ensuring we don’t repeat the same on our own kids. This ‘tough love’ ought to be practised within limits.