Be mindful of what you say before the children. People who are fond of using sexual expletives need to turn a new leaf.
I cannot forget a trip I took to the southeast for a family ceremony. My sister and I went round to say hello to our relatives. When we got to the door of one of our kinsmen, his four-year-old son ran out to say hello to his big aunties who returned from the city. We were pleased with his smartness in recognizing his relations at a tender age. We asked him cheerfully, ‘where is your mummy?’ Playfully, the boy said in vernacular, ojere ebe ndi iko ya! Translation: “She has gone to visit her lover.” Imagine such atrocious thing being said by a four-year-old about his biological mother. How could he know what it means for a married woman to have a lover, an indication of adultery?
READ ALSO: Man kills wife over adultery
We were furious at the little boy’s statement. There was displeasure on my face, I called the little boy, held his hand and said, ‘Don’t ever say that again, your mother has no lover outside her home, your daddy is her lover. Is that understood? He nodded, but said, ‘that is what my daddy used to say.’ I went to explain to him that his father did not mean to insult his mummy, rather he was teasing her. It took me a lot to correct my little boy.
It was obvious that the poor boy did not even know what he said; neither did he know the magnitude of his utterance, not to talk of the import of the statement. He did not even know that what he said to us being Umu Ada (great daughters of the family) was enough to send his mother packing from her matrimonial home. That was what he was hearing his father say very often. But his innocence saved the day.
Meanwhile, the woman earns an honest living through her petty trading in the village. It is also possible that it was a joke between a husband and his wife. But when their child picked it up and repeated it to the hearing of the parents, what was their reaction. Was he immediately corrected or the error allowed to pass as one of those things and he carried on with it until the day he embarrassed the mother before outsiders.
Frequent misunderstanding and altercation at home could also be a reason for the couple to use foul language. Now the only son of this family picked the dirty part and it took external teaching to correct and wipe away such from him. The innocent boy was in his little world enjoying himself unknowingly.
In the same manner little children learn and parrot nursery school rhymes without knowing their meaning, they could also pick up foul language. Many cannot even pronounce the wordings of the rhymes well, but they merrily sing them and jump to the beat in class and at home. What they know is what they hear from their class teacher; whatever she sings and reads out to them, they repeat.
It calls for concern that couples misuse language, particularly in the presence of their children. Both husbands and wives are guilty of this sin, especially when either spouse feels hurt. What we fail to understand is that children at this age learn by what they hear and see. At tender age, they are not capable to understand the reason or import of what they hear, and judge between right and wrong.
Imagine a family scenario, where the wife always calls the husband ‘Honey’ as a pet name and their under-aged children then joined their mum in also addressing their father as honey because they always heard their mother call him that way. There are children who call their mother ‘auntie’ because they followed the language of the house-help who calls her madam, ‘auntie’ until they were corrected.
There are many ways spouses can express displeasure without using vulgar language before the children. It will save the couple from embarrassment. Even single parents who live with family members or friends are not spared. Be mindful of what you say before the children. People who are fond of using sexual expletives need to turn a new leaf. The danger it poses is not only in the shame that it could generate when your foul language is being repeated but also in hindering the child from being properly equipped to grow with wisdom, knowledge and understanding. When children are well brought up, it shows in the character and activities.
Parents need to know that if their language is humane, polite and decorous or rotten, the children will naturally follow their example. Nothing could be more embarrassing than when your own child puts you to shame by revealing a particular secret they heard from you.
A young pastor was once sanctioned by the elders of the church after he preached a sermon. It was a wedding ceremony, and the pastor charged the bridegroom to be a responsible husband to his wife. Then he said, if not other men will put hand in her “nyash”. That was such a horrible and vulgar thing for a cleric to utter from the pulpit for that matter! This was the language that had stuck with him from his youth even after he had become a pastor, but it did not go down well with the congregation.
A week to the birthday party of a neighbour’s child, the little girl came back from school and told her mother that her class teacher (‘aunty’) said her birthday cake should come with her to the school to share with her classmates. The mother flippantly said, ‘all these your beggy-beggy teachers! The next day, the girl transported her mummy’s message to her class teacher: ‘my mummy said you are beggy-beggy teachers.’
The teacher boiled in anger. Who wouldn’t be? She reported to the school management and that mummy was invited for questioning because they knew the child said the truth. The altercation between the woman and school was textbook case confrontation.
By the end of the day, she lost her face with the school authority due to a careless statement made in the privacy of her home, and which her innocent daughter could not process well and could not have been expected to know that she was not supposed to repeat to the hearing of the teacher. Today she finds it difficult to walk around freely in the school, and learnt the hard way to bridle her tongue. This goes to teach parents to be mindful of what they say before the children to avoid humiliation.
A woman who tags her husband a ‘useless man’ over a slight disagreement needs deliverance. A child was asked what his father does for a living and he said: ‘My daddy is a useless man.’ If the ‘useless man’ father tries to correct his teenage children, they would of course quietly mutter their mother’s language, to insult their father. That is power of wrong maternal influence on children.
Parents who haul verbal insults such as ‘stupid, idiot, fool’ at each other need to change because the children are watching and imbibing this unwholesome practice. They begin to deploy the practice at school against their fellow students. Adults and parents who also haul such words at children for a little error or mistake need to desist from this wrong practice. Correct your children with the right words.
When in-laws say these in reference to a child, “like father, like son; like mother, like daughter,” then something is wrong somewhere.
Children are the little watchdogs and copy-cats in the house, so watch what you say around them.
Apart from abusive language, parents who talk carelessly, boastfully with arrogance and pride before their children are giving their children the wrong upbringing as the children would easily learn such boastful character.
What about parents who tell their children lies? Greatest offence of our time! Remember the story of the medical doctor who was told that his uncle passed on in Ghana. The first thing he remembered was the wristwatch the dead man promised him when he was 15 years old, that he would give him if he came first in his class. The dead man never fulfilled his promise.
A sister in the church testified of how God delivered her from embarrassing begging. She had gone to her own maternal cousin who was financially steadier to ask for monetary support. After she left, her cousin made jest of he. The next time she came around, as soon as she entered her cousin’s sitting room, with smiles thinking she was home, her cousin’s daughter said, ‘my mummy said you always come here to borrow money.’ There was pin-drop silence in the house. The two cousins were embarrassed and became sworn enemies for years.
Some people are masters with the use of foul languages. At the least aggravation, hell will be let loose and all manner of foul languages would fall out.
The danger of this is that words spoken out cannot be taken in again. It would rather spread like harmattan fire and cause more havoc. We all need to moderate our utterances.