Ajoke applied into the University of Ibadan to study medicine. Her friend, Rose, applied into the same institution but for economics.
Having finished from the same secondary school, they were both excited and looked forward to continuing their friendship at the university.
As soon as the date of the Post-UTME exams was communicated, Mr Ben, Ajoke’s dad, travelled down to the ancient city of Ibadan to settle his daughter down in preparation for the exams. Ajoke and Rose had had a deal- that Ajoke would stay over at her place during the one week presiding the examination date.
Getting to Ibadan, Mr Ben tracked down Rose’s house. They finally got there to the warm embrace of the Musas- Rose’s family. The Musas were exceptionally hospitable to the duo. Contrary to expectation of the Musas however, Mr Ben suggested that it was more needed for the girls to be in the university environment as they prepared for their exams so they could leverage on the tutorial sessions that was being organized, especially as the home of the Musas was a little more than an hour from the institution.
The Musas were concerned about the comfort of the girls and were ready to go the extra mile to drop off the girls in the morning while they came back home on public transport on the days they couldn’t make pick up. “That’s a really kind gesture. I’ll suggest we got to the institution to see what is available, encouraged Mr Ben.
The tutorial organizers had secured a kind of accommodation for the students. They had planned a series of classes to prepare the students and almost a thousand of the applicants into the University of Ibadan had keyed into the initiative. To Mr Ben, there was no better option than to key Ajoke in.
Getting in to the hostel, Ajoke felt uneasy. The crowd was much more than the available facilities and your guess is as good as mine what that would mean to the conveniences.
Ajoke put a call through to her mom- with the hope to get her on her side and convince dad to allow her stay with her friend- Rose for the one week.
Mother went into a brainstorming session with Ajoke. By way of questioning and answering questions from mom, Ajoke owned the process. This was about her and her life. She agreed that it was more effective to put all her all into the one week preparation for the exams and the best place to avoid distraction was in the environment of the school. She agreed that commuting to and fro would make her loose valuable time, miss late evening tutorial classes and above all, the stress was sufficient to deny her the leverage of burning the midnight oil- which is needed when applying into a competitive institution like the University of Ibadan and for a course which always pegged the highest cut-off.
Dad quickly dashed to town to get the girls basic supplies- bathing buckets, lamps, needed toiletries and some snacks.
The following morning, eager to know how the night went, mom pulled a call through to Ajoke. “It’s so uncomfortable. Two of us slept on a mattress! The queue for bathroom is long and guess what? We had to fetch water from the well! Rose’s mom is not comfortable with the idea and she’s coming to get Rose. Mom, I beg of you, please let me go with her!”
Inside, even though mom wished things were different, she was excited about ‘the other side of life’ this whole thing was presenting. If Ajoke can come through this, then, she’ll have a plus one to her experience bucket. When life throws a hard on as may sometimes inevitably happen, this experience is subconsciously helping her daughter develop the neuropaths and coping mechanism for the future- as opposed to chickening in or giving up.
Parenting is selling. Selling is influence. And ever than before, these are skills we need to hone as 21st century parents.
Ajoke discovered there was a saner place she could stay- in the school mosque. She kept her stuffs in that accommodation that was provided but spent most of her time in the saner place- only coming in for about three hours to refresh. She was able to attend all the tutorial classes, met more people who challenged her to put in more effort and did it all pay off?
She finished her post UTME exams extremely excited. Would you have had the same outcome if you had gone with Rose, Mother asked? “Absolutely not! Ajoke said, truthfully. It was rigorous, I didn’t know I could pull through and that one week seemed like one month! In all, I feel satisfied that I gave it all my best!”
Our job as parents is to make our children responsible- and not take up their responsibilities. We are to guide our children, especially our teenagers, to the best decisions per time.
Coercive force works too, but only for a short time. Like Ajoke said, there were some students who came in for the tutorials but may have taken nothing away. They perpetually sat at the back and gisted all through. Perhaps, these children are yet to see the exercise was about their lives, their future.
They probably assumed their presence was to do their parents some sort of favour.
“I remember one girl who I asked after the exams, “How was the exams?”. She responded: which exams? I already did mine at University of Ilorin. I only came here to stay with my cousin so I could get out of the house. Hmm… see? And guess what? Some others would have been lost in gist with her- not knowing she wasn’t in the same boat as they were!”
There are lots of decisions ahead of our children to make. It’s our job as parents to guide them so that per time, they are making the best choices for them. They will get burnt sometimes- as sometimes happen to us as adults. That’s not the time to pounce harder on them- rather, we need to see it as a learning point- one less way not to do a thing. In the real world out there, life is about learning and no failure, no learning!
When it comes to failure and learning, while it may be okay to allow our children to taste failure in say- a class test so they can take the learning, we don’t want to gamble on a major or milestone examination!
Again, know that coercive force like threats, criticism, comparison, sarcasm, punishments, intimidation etc do not work in the long run… rather, reach out from a place of genuine love, concern, empathy and compassion.
Most importantly, it is of vital importance for parents to be on the same page, always. Even when you differ, do it in your private quarters. To the children, you must always appear as one voice. Otherwise, children being who they are will capitalize on your difference to manipulate you to their advantage. Parenting is not a walk in the park! At least, not anymore!