Parenting involves nurturing a child from the womb to birth, via childhood, adolescent to adulthood as well as providing his/her spiritual, moral, psychological, physical and academic needs. It involves depositing wholesome values in the children in order to make them responsible members of the society.

In the past, parenting was a communal function. It was not restricted to the biological parents of a child but a duty for every adult in the community. The norms, values and traditions of the community were introduced to the child, nurtured, monitored and guided against deviation by community members. However, with the emergence of modernity and the advancement in science and technology, this communal task is now left with the biological parents of the child. In this scenario the child ceases to be the responsibility of the community. The unfortunate thing here is that the biological parents, for whom the responsibility has been left for, are not always available to effectively handle the tasks of parenting.
Absence of parents
In this present economic recession, parents must work to ensure that food, shelter, clothing, school fees among others, are provided for the children. This, in some cases, demand that they (both parents in many cases0 leave home very early in the morning (as early as 5.00 am) and return late (about 9.00pm) – leaving the children with nannies, house helps or grand parents who, in many cases are not properly disposed to effective parenting. Some parents also as a result of these challenges leave their children in crèches or boarding schools at very tender age.
Parental Betrayal
Most children revolt against their parents because of not practicing what they preach. Some parents preach honesty, fidelity, love, obedience, commitment and prayerfulness but do not practice them. Many parents antagonize themselves in the presence of their children. They are often ruled by mistrust, dishonesty and broken heartedness which most times make children rebellious and at times affects the child’s moral and social life. These children end up carrying it to their own future marriages and it causes a great deal of problem.
Moral Decadence
This is a threat to effective parenting. The world is dynamic as well as what is considered right or wrong. In the past, values such as discipline, diligence, hard work and honesty were upheld by the society. With moral decadence and laxity, such virtues have given ways tosocial vices such as drug abuse, prostitution, arson, dishonesty, corruption, get-rich quick syndrome and many other unwholesome behavioural tendencies that are inimical to the children, the family and the entire society.

Uncensored Print and Electronic Media
Some media organs disseminate materials that have wholesome impact on the children. The fact that parents are not always available to guide and monitor, children are prone to watch uncensored programmes in the television and internet where they fill their minds with pornographic films, violent video games and criminal acts/movies – instead of spending time on their school assignments and creative activities that would help in developing their cognitive, emotional, spiritual and social skills.

Peer Pressure
Peer pressure poses an outstanding challenge to effective parenting. Negative influence of peer group is a clog in the wheel of family progress since it impairs the child’s upbringing. The urge to belong, be accepted or loved peers sometimes pressurizes some child into identifying with friends whose ideals are not in conformity with the moral values set by their parents and the society. Such children x-ray dual lives of being quiet and reserved while at home while exhibiting contrary traits outside the home. They dabble into crime, drugs, prostitution, cultism, among other vices. Sadly too, some of the children involved in these social vices are from homes that radiate positive values.
In spite of the above challenges in parenting, they can be surmounted through efforts at positive parenting. If positive values are inculcated in the child, the child would be guided aright to the benefit of the child, the family and the society.
Some Virtues of Effective Parenting
A child’s future cannot be guaranteed if parents are not there to impact positive values that would enable him/her to live a fulfilled life in the future. Children upbringing cannot be left to crèches, housemaids, nannies or peer groups, etc. Parents should be in the forefront of parenting. It is good to seek or acquire wealth to attend to the yearning needs of the children and the family but if time is not adequately provided for the children, to teach them the rudiments and virtues of life, the family and the society are bound to face serious challenges and crises.
Love is one of the virtues for effective parenting. Many parents that have shown love to their children have little shortcomings in their upbringing. The love for each parent and that of children should be faultless and uncompromising.
Good Conduct
In order to win the confidence and trust of children, parents should consciously put up good conducts and attitudes. Taking vengeance on every offence, keeping malice, abusing each other, unfriendly and uncaring attitudes as well as treating a spouse without respect are threats to effective parenting.

It is the bedrock of effective parenting and the key to interpersonal relationship with the children. Parents should show elements of commitment and willingness to train up the child in godly ways, teach them how to live a life of peace, humility and kindness. They should also monitor what they do, programmes they watch and friends they keep.

This is the ability to accept the trouble and annoying behaviours of the children without complaining. Parents should exercise patience in time of adversity and trials that come from the children misbehaviour so as to be able to help them in times of trouble and problems in their lives

Forgiveness is a strong medication that every family must apply daily. When children begin to exhibit ungodly characters like pride, anger, dirtiness, laziness, drunkenness, smoking among others, parents should forgive and focus on helping the concerned children drop these tendencies and not be too harsh on them. By showing love and commitment to helping the child, correction and proper guidance will be achieved. Parents must be willing to forgive all confessed misdeeds of their children and should not keep records of such offences.
Parents should allow free flow of communication with the children. They should not intimidate them but accept frankness and straight talks with maturity. They should also avoid reactions that will subdue the feelings and expressions of children.
Parents should endeavour to show understanding to their children by viewing situations from the children’s point of view. Study and understand their spiritual, social, emotional, physical lives as well as temperament and offer help where necessary.
In building an effective parenting platform, parents need to tolerate the undesirable actions of their children, especially those that are strange to the family norms. Parents should also tolerate their mal -behaviour and some material demands that may expose them to negative peer influence when not attended to.

Appreciation is the pillar that lifts up self esteem, and self esteem is a crucial aspect of human life that deals with sense of belonging, worth and confidence. Parents should learn to appreciate the successes and failures of their children. Their spiritual and academic efforts should be commended. Their good speeches, mode of dressing, academic performance and future plans need to be commended.
Listening is the way parents show care. The children need to know that their parents listen and show attention to them. The Bible encourages us not to provoke our children, lest they become discouraged. If we do not listen to our children, they will become frustrated and discouraged at our lack of concern for them.
Faith involves believing in God at all times. Build your family on God, the solid rock that is unshakable. Trust in Him to take care of your children and their problems. Let Him direct how the children’s worries and anxieties could be handled. He will definitely take care of the situations and circumstances.
Family Altar
In building a vibrant and effective parenting, parents should establish a functional family altar that is active and alive. This is done by making roster for daily family prayers that involves daddy, mummy and all the children. Parents should, systematically, mould the character of their children by teaching the word of God. Kick against family altar enemies like not keeping to prayer time due to arrival of a visitor/visitors, tiredness due to overwork/over feeding, watching of television among others. Remember that the family that prays together stays together.
The challenges of effective parenting are enormous, hence the need to build godly virtues – positive character, trust, self-confidence, discipline, endurance, perseverance, honesty and faithfulness in children so that they can discern the right from the wrong. Since some of the daily newspapers, magazines, television, internet, audio-tapes and Video CDs they read and watch are filled with materials that are destructive to their young minds, parents need to checkmate them by spending quality time with the children. Effective parenting requires spiritual ambience which must be maintained throughout the children upbringing because of their vulnerability to negative forces in the society. The best investment you can have in the life of a child apart from education is to inculcate in him/her a genuine faith in the Lord that would propel him/her to the ladder of success.
Written by Dr. Mrs. Ngozi Okafor for Nowchild Magazine’s maiden edition in 2011.

Ngozi Okafor is a renowned academic and Educationist with passion for parenting and counseling. She is a regular speaker and facilitator of programmes on schools, career management and academics.