Abosede – Of trusting too much

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The day was Sunday, a mighty beautiful Sunday. The place? The ancient historical city of Owo, sometime before the Niger Area could declare Uhuru! The stage was set for the birth of a maiden, a saintly damsel, the apple of many eyes. She was not of royalty but her ways were. Beautiful and simple at heart, dreaming dreams any young maiden would dream, reveling in the sheer awesomeness of her terrain.

Empowered by her little flicker of optimism that she might someday belong to royalty, she said “yes” to a doting young Prince Charming whose habitation of the palace was not to be. He rather preferred the life of a sailor and she was just as glad. Every girl would have a sailor, if the prince didn’t come by!

And so began Abosede’s real sojourn on the journey called Life and its uncertainties. She tells me her story today and I tell you the same and know that you will know better after this.

She ‘sailed’ away to the capital city Lagos, where she would birth her 5 children, between intermittent voyages of her sailor husband. Ever the devoted wife that all expected her to be, she never asked for much, ever content with the available. An unsavory side to this though was that she never questioned her husband’s decisions about the family. She didn’t think it necessary. She trusted implicitly. Unknown to her, her sailor husband also suffered the same malady: of trusting too much. He trusted another – his ‘best friend’- with his life and those of his loved ones, his resources, investments and entire life savings.

Trust came crashing one day, when he found out that he had been swindled and lied to. But alas! Too late, his job was already lost. He never would cross the borders on board grand vessels in the uniform of a sailor. He never got a severance pay. All the property that he had committed to his friend had been sold. It was the sad beginning of an unhappy tale, one that would leave its bitter aftertaste on the mouths fed hitherto.

In exchange for meager returns, Abosede would trade petty stuff. She tells me of how she sold off all her gold and other jewelry, when it was time for her children to start higher learning. How she would trade her clothes, ridiculously under-priced by hungry ravens who took advantage of her misfortune. She relates to me her indebtedness to many a borrower, just to see her children succeed.

Many waters have passed under the bridge but for her, it is not yet freedom. For she cries, she looks back on the sands of time – how much of a long way she has come and how she has nothing to show for it – save for hips needing to be reset, pains that defy analgesics and the now wavering ray of hope that the future would be bright. She has no abode of her own, no shelter to protect her from the elements. She tries to forgive – herself and her husband – but her heart fails her sometimes, and yet she must.

I listen and I am thinking, that I would never be so naïve as to accept hook, line and sinker (plus fisherman I think) everything that anyone would have me believe, or to live in the mistaken confidence that tides never turn and that fortunes never change. But I forget, that I am wiser today because she was imprudent yesterday. I see clearer today because yesterday the outlines were hazy for her.

Her children love her, for they owe a lot to her but at this time, their love is all that they can give. The “system” still hampers what they wish to become – true successes – worth putting a smile on their mother’s face.

Abosede, I salute you. You are strong, you are brave, you are kind, unselfish, adorable. Many call you màmá but your children call you Mámà, for you are strong, you dare all the odds. However, to me you will always be the Sunday girl, not just because you were born on a Sunday but because you bring sunshine into our lives. I celebrate you today, with the prayer and faith that such audacity to hope will be rewarded.

The Power of Positive Auto-suggestion

ParentTalk

 

I am not an expert in parenting but I am a firm believer in the written word of God and its practicality for our day. The Scriptures are replete with references emphasizing the need to speak positively and fill our minds with ‘can do’ thoughts. In my opinion, there are few aspects of modern living where this is more apt than the area of parenting.

I was reading the book Success Through A Positive Mental Attitude, authored by Napoleon Hill and W. Clement Stone. They said in their book that there were several hundred thousands of teenagers who “enter penal institutions for car thefts and other crimes. These personal tragedies could in many instances be avoided if the parents learned how to employ suggestion properly and if their sons and daughters were taught how to effectively use ….  self-suggestion.”

The theme that they were trying to develop is the principle of Auto-suggestion or Self-suggestion, which they defined as “the agency of control through which an individual may voluntarily feed his subconscious mind on thoughts of a creative nature, or by neglect, permit thoughts of a destructive nature to find their way into the rich garden of his mind.”

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Simply put, when you repeat a statement to yourself or to another often enough, you or that other person come to believe it and all the mental and thought processes are geared toward proving that statement true. Hence when you tell your child that you trust he is a good child and repeat it often enough, he starts to believe it and soon enough when this belief becomes strongly entrenched in his heart, his thoughts and actions would be directed toward the good.

 

Conversely, repeat to your child that he is bad, recalcitrant, incorrigible and that nothing good can come out of him and soon enough, he begins to act out your script.

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What is my point? The world is already full of negative influences. Our children were born into them, are faced with these negative stimuli everyday – at school with their peers, at home with the visual media and internet, on the road with suggestive and sometimes lewd publicity. The least that we owe them is to temper all of these undesirable influences by our positive, encouraging expressions towards them. In time, they catch the drift.

Positive autosuggestion has nothing to do with lying to your child or patting him on the back when he has obviously committed a wrong. It is all about saying, suggesting, promoting, whether subtly or overtly, ideas that will steer his thought processes and motivate him to desirable action.

The book continues that through the use of suggestion, young people can be motivated to develop inviolable moral standards through their own conscious auto-suggestion and they will know how to neutralize or repel the undesirable suggestions of their associates in an intelligent manner.” I guess this explains why some youngsters successfully withstand peer pressure while others do not.

To return to my first point of reference however, I’m amazed sometimes at how fitting the bible’s counsel can be in our everyday lives, in things that we take for granted. Consider for example, the book of Colossians 3:21, where it urges fathers to avoid exasperating their children, “that they do not become downhearted.” Indeed, when talking to our children or any younger one for that matter, thoughtfulness will help us to avoid “exasperating” them or “provoking them to wrath,” as Ephesians 6:4 complements it.

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Even if children must be disciplined, parents and elders should speak to them respectfully. In this way, older ones make it easier for the youth to correct their course. That is so much better than conveying the impression that we have given up on them, whereupon they may give up on themselves. Younger ones might not remember all the counsel that they received, but they will remember how others spoke to them.

Another good counsel is found at Colossians 3:8, which says to put away “wrath, anger, badness, abusive speech, and obscene talk out of YOUR mouth.” What I glean from this is that you should never talk to your children in an angry state. I have heard many a mother in my neighborhood use very heavy curse words on their children. In the Yoruba language, for example, you’ll hear a mother address her daughter at the top of her voice, “ko ni daa fun baba e!” (you really don’t want to know what that means)  or a father calling down evil upon his son, over a relatively minor cause of frustration. By the way, we all know how much our parents utterances come to pass on us their children. If many years down the line, these children start having problems and encountering difficulties in their adult life, their parents often don’t remember that it might have been something rashly said or carelessly uttered earlier on in their children’s life. So what does this teach? The very same lesson pronounced in Colossians 4:5, which urges us to “let our utterance be always with graciousness, seasoned with salt,” as it were. Food without the proper quantity of salt to season it would be disagreeable to the palate. In the same vein, speech that is uncouth would have the same effect to the ears – distasteful, repugnant, unpleasant, even disgusting. We certainly want to avoid that.

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Beyond being just a good parent to my children, I want to be a good friend. A good friend:

Knows you

Trusts you

Loves you

Respects you

Honors you

Supports you

Wants you

And appreciates you

I want to do all of that and more, even though the pressures of daily living would have me do otherwise. In the final analysis, whatever our convictions are, every parent, stepparent or guardian has a choice: to be that positive force in your child’s life or to be his drawback. Which do you choose? I’d like to know what you think.