I remember my teen years, growing up in Auchi, Edo State. I was living with my late paternal aunt. She was a perfect symbol of a caring but firm parent. She was the type of parent who would provide everything a child needs for well-being but would never tolerate my act of indiscipline. It was a polygamous home and we were 5 young people in the family.
My aunt was so strict that we were never allowed to visit friends except during Christmas. She was the type who would attach a time frame to every errand, and if she told you that it would take 10minutes for you to run an errand, you would do everything to return in 8minutes, otherwise, you would account for every minute spent. However, on Christmas days there were no limitations whatsoever. I suppose like most parents, she felt that everyone should be allowed the freedom to enjoy the celebration without limitations. So, on Christmas day, we ate whatever we wanted, put on our Christmas clothes and shoes and went to visit our friends. This was and still is the practice in many families.
Many parents are not conscious of the fact that one day of unsupervised or unguided freedom can jeopardize all their parenting efforts.
Christmas day was one day in a year that we all looked forward to. We could go out after Christmas service in the morning and return in the evening. We only needed to say the names of our friends and the areas of town where they lived. Thanks to the mercies of God and the values she had inculcated in us, which some of us internalized. Hence, we didn’t get into trouble like some of our peers.
The first week of school’s resumption after Christmas was always filled with stories about girls who got deflowered willingly as well as those who were raped. You would also hear boys talk about their first experiences with sex, cigarette, alcohol or other harmful substances. It was also common to hear stories of young people who died or got seriously injured in auto crashes while drunk driving.
Christmas is a season of joy but our attitude to it will determine our memories of the season, when it is all over. This brings me to the questions that I really want to ask.
How safe is your teenager this Christmas?
- Do you know whom your teenager has planned to hang out with this season?
- Have you discussed Christmas plans with your young adults? You need to know what they are up-to, so that you would be able to provide the needed guidance.
- You just gave your teenager the approval to attend a friend’s party. Did you ask about the reason for the party, the venue and other people who would attend? How are you sure that party is not an orgy?
- Your teenage daughter has just brought home a beautiful dress in preparation for Christmas. You know you didn’t give her the money to buy it but you didn’t ask her to explain the source. Don’t you think that whoever financed that beautiful dress may be expecting something in return?
Christmas is not a holiday from parenting. It is our responsibility to supervise and guide our young ones even at Christmas.
Rosemary Oshiomah Ogedengbe