HELPING YOUR CHILD GROW SERIES; the bystanders effect in parenting


I was invited to speak in a school gathering sometimes ago, and after I was done with my assignment, then came the time for parents’ comments and contributions. Few of the interested parents took their turn to speak. But what later became the cynosure of all eyes present were the contributions made by a particular woman, very passionate mother, who spoke glowingly about the need for proper upbringing of kids among others. Every of her submissions drew thunderous applause from the audience.

Truly her well articulated input wormed their ways into my heart momentarily until she made this noxious phrase (of which many of us parents are equally guilty of) “YOU MUST BEHAVE YOURSELF…..OR DO YOU WANT YOUR FATHER OR PEOPLE OUT THERE TO REBUKE ME FOR NOT RAISING YOU WELL? She yelled.

This was like a sharp knife penetrating through my heart. I deduced that the woman’s response to her kids ‘disobedience’ and the need to parent might have been driven more by the social environment of the adults than that of the behavior of the child per se and the need to find solution to help them GROW.

I know many parents wouldn’t see anything wrong in this but please permit me to differ this day that everything about this statement is fallacious both in principle and method she has applied. There’s no doubt about the sincerity of this mother in her bid to want to raise the best out of her children, so also the bystanders who she mentioned. But parents can equally be sincerely wrong through our choice of words for two reasons from what the mother displayed;

The first one is her intention for all she does in parenting is precipitated by her self/husband centredness; second, the effect of the bystanders/people(what would people say?) because out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. When kids obey in this regard it doesn’t mean the learning outcome has taken place but out of fear. And they know that such order comes from a pure shellfishness of their parents. There’s nothing in need for them.

The woman had inadvertently conditioned her mind to make the perceieved preset standard of the bystanders/people her accepted methods of parenting.

That presupposes that some parents receive exral zests to deploy when they think of the bystanders effect who are out to quickly point fingers openly at their short comings. Society sometimes make contemptous statements about these parents and their competence. Sad still.

To this category of parents out there , please do away with the bystander effect, it is never , and it is not going to be a best strategy for you. Simply because the real AIM of parenting has been wickedly altered to suit others while still leaving the parents with the battle of having to deal with the dirty looks, spiteful remarks, or other derisive comments of other adults around.

I believe parenting is all about patience, perseverance, and persistence in doing the right things, among other startegies that work. We all need these to help kids grow because generally children have difficulty differentiating their worldview from anyone outside of themselves. This is not however, a license to indulge, but to strike a balance between where kids are developmentally and where parents want them headed behaviorally.

I do not claim to have all solutions to this menace of the bystanders effect in parenting that has influenced us negatively for decades but I have few suggestions on how to correct this malady, so please stick wth me as I offer few of the plausible ways out below;

This is an optimal strategy for any parent. Some times children lack the immediate coping capacity to reason fully and comprehend our message. But what we do in this period through patience will determine the nature of further responses from kids in testing boundaries.

Every parent needs discipline to do what we need to do and to be the very best at it. This underscores the ability to do what we should do at the right time, whether we feel like doing it or not. Remember in parenting it is not about us, but all about the child. The early life skills we missed out to equip our kids with will sooner than later be an albatross around our neck.

The very top in our priorities is what drives our life and eventually becomes what we focus on. I plead by the mercies of God we all use this summer season to reconcile ourselves back to humanity through the daily seeking of effectiveness in our FAMILY and PARENTING. What we focus on we feed, what we feed grows, and what GROWS dominates the sphere of influence.

The goal of parenting is to raise happy, healthy, and successful kids who grow on to become productive adults.

Yielding to the imports of the bystanders effect in parenting does nothing positive to the child but the incessant slapping, kicking, anger, dragging, threatening, insulting, humiliating, and all other pysical and emotional assault on the kids because such is a product of emotions, and not straight from the HEART.

I shall be willing to entertain questions, contributions, and comments on this case study.

Thank you
Akinropo Akinola
Parenting Development Expert


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