Love Can Transform Your Child’s Life

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By Gilbert Mbewe

Just after my induction as a resident pastor at RCZ Kalichero Congregation, we were visited by an old lady. It was on a Monday morning I just had breakfast with my wife and was relaxing after a busy weekend. I usually have a free day on Monday; I was taught at the seminary that Monday should be my holiday. She came in, sat down. After the greetings and introduction she said “Abusa (Pastor); I have got a problem at home. My daughter and I can’t get along well. She can’t do anything that I tell her. She does want she wants. She doesn’t respect me nor treat me like her mother. I have talked to her several times. I have even involved some of the elderly women in our village to talk to her. I have tried everything I know and I can’t get her to do what I want”.

To be honest I surely never expected this from her, an old lady asking a young and fresh from the seminary pastor how to parent a difficult child. To me I thought the lady was old and experienced enough to handle this situation, I was surprised that she was asking me what to do. Anyway I didn’t tell her this; it was just in my mind. So we talked about her situation and at the end I suggested to two things to her. First thing was that she should not talk to her any more about her behaviour and how she feels she should treat. “I think what you have now is enough; you don’t need to talk to her anymore. By now she already knows what you expect from her”. The second suggestion was that next time her daughter does anything good; she should give her a complement say thank you. “Let say that that your cooks for the family, say thank you to her for cooking. Just let her know you are happy and proud of her for cooking. Don’t just admonish her when she has done something wrong. Every time she does anything good, give her a complement”.

At this point I would see she was disappointed. She left our house not a happy lady. However After sometimes, she came to church and she was happy and told me “abusa it worked!” She told me “I did what you told me and I am now happy. We are now in good terms with my daughter and I am grateful for your wisdom”. The lady understood that love makes a difference, love transforms.

Parenting is always a difficult task even for the experienced parents more especially parenting a difficult child. One thing that you should realise is that children they don’t just become difficult. Sometimes begin acting out indulging in negative behaviour to attract attention, imaging this would cause the parents to notice them. Much bad behaviour is a child’s screaming for help, love and attention. The message they are trying to put across is that I am not getting my needs met in the normal way, which is why I have resorted to extremes of behaviour. The girl in our story all she need was more attention from her mother. Usually because bad behaviour triggers all of our fears, as a parent, we rush to admonish our children, shout at them even shunning from them in the hope they will reform. They surely don’t reform. Instead, doing so, we perpetuate their behaviour until it escalates out of our control. When children receive negative attention for their negative behaviour, they learn that if they behave badly enough, their parent will finally notice them.

Every child has the potential to change their behaviour and become responsible. I believe no child is beyond redemption. Probably what is holds back most the children from realising their potential might be lack of love and support from the parents. A loving parent can be that all important catalyst for change. Parental love is powerful to transform bad behaviour. I encourage you to love your children no matter their behaviour. I know it might be unrealistic request from me to you that is especially if you have condemned your child or classified your child as beyond redemption. Let me encourage you to start seen something go in your child and praise them for it I can assure you that it will be worth the effort.

The author is a pastor in the Reformed church of Zambia, and serving at Kalichero congregation in the Eastern Province. He is also a psycho social  counsellor and currently studying at the The Protestant Theological University in Netherlands. 

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