“Ti mbá gbó peem peren, tié bá o” (meaning if I hear the slightest sound at all, you will earn yourself more trouble). These were the words I said to my son after dealing him some resounding smacks. He was caught between the proverbial Red Sea and the Egyptians.
His pain wanted him to shout but his mum is saying he shouldn’t even dare to. He doesn’t know how to subdue his pain without making a sound. “How is it possible mum?” he asked, “it’s painful”.
This made me realize that we parents expect too much from our children and we believe they must not show any emotions.
Even as an adult, if someone hurts me I will let out my emotions, but then we expect our children to bottle up their emotions. After correcting a child, allow the child to express his or her emotions. Don’t say, “Suck it in” or like me, say “Hold your lips” or say “Don’t talk back at me, its rude.” This has damaged many relationships because instead of speaking out when one is meant to, you suck it in because you are used to enduring pains as taught by our parents.
My mum will beat you and expect you not to shed a tear or shout. If you dare shout and attract your neighbor’s attention, you are done! Tié ti bá e gidi(meaning you have literarily entered trouble).
Is it when you are trying to explain a situation to your parents or trying to make them hear your side of the story and they just shut you down saying “Gbénu sóhùn. TÍ àgbàlagbà mbá sórò, wâ gbénu dáké (meaning keep quiet, when elders speak you keep quiet)”. Even though, the elder may be wrong, you still can’t state your case because you would be considered as being rude.
Little wonder many cannot express their emotions because years of been shut down by elders have made one realize it is actually no use expressing ones emotions. Now people hurt me and I just bottle it up because I feel it’s the right thing to do.
My children tell me, “Mom, I am not happy” and I enquire why. You try that in my days and tell your mum you are not happy. You would get replies like “O ti yó ni(meaning you are filled)” or “Ayò tì fó e lórí” or “Omo e ní inú oún ò dún(meaning your child says she is not happy)” or “Ò ba wá ìgbàtí, oníyèyé”( meaning that you should probably be given a slap, comedian). Your emotions will be ridiculed; you won’t dare try it next time.
Let’s raise these children to express their emotions so as to teach self-regulations.
When my son asked how possible it was not to cry after smacking him, it jilted me back to my resolve that I want to raise him to express his emotions no matter what. So, with ‘ògbojú’I said, “Do whatever you like but don’t block my ear drums.”
Yes, I am an African mother, but then I am trying to be a better version.