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Sunday 10 February 2019

What my little girl taught me on Conflict Resolution in the home

I had cause to spank my little five-year-old one beautiful morning on my way out to work. I clearly spelt out her offence to her so that she was not in doubt as to why she was being punished before giving her a few strokes of the cane on her palm. She wept profusely.

Potrait of a girl shedding tears.
A little girl weeping

Ah! the good old cane, (also called the "rod of correction" in the Manual for life), is still a veritable tool of correction for growing up children. It drives out the "foolishness" in them as the Holy Scriptures admonishes. Its timeless words still reverberating today : 

"Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him."

Its, however, called a "rod of correction" and not a "rod of vengeance" for good reason. Its meant to be a tool to lovingly correct an errant child as opposed to being an instrument to unleash terror that leaves scars, wounds and injuries on the child's body. Many a time I have heard parents talking to the children thus "I will beat the hell out of you. When I am done, I will take you to the hospital for treatment.". 

As a rule of thumb, because I do not subscribe to terrorizing or battering of little children in the name of correcting them, I don't beat my children out of anger when they err. Anger, being a negative emotion, can wreak great havoc, especially when it is not channelled appropriately. 

I use the Cause and Effect principle, where the dos and don'ts are clearly spelt out to them and any violations attract punishment, also clearly spelt out to them. Hence when my child errs and is being punished or disciplined for it, she is not in doubt as to why she is being punished.

Back to the story about my little girl; surprisingly on my return that day, my girl was the first person to come running out of the house to welcome me back home. She even volunteered to carry some of the luggage I brought back. A true demonstration  of "baba kaabo, omo ku ile" (meaning 'welcome home daddy! What did bring back for me?')

A father waiting and longing to embrace his son.
A father waiting to embrace his child

Her cheerful disposition and attitude of welcoming me back home despite punishing and making her cry just a few hours back set me thinking...thinking about the stark contrast between children & adults; how easily children let go of hurts and pains, without malice or unforgiveness. Things a lot of adults struggle with...especially married couples!

Imagine a scenario where a married couple had a misunderstanding just before leaving for or whilst leaving for work. During the misunderstanding, choice words were exchanged and both parties left for work angry and exasperated.  On returning home, the cat and mouse games begin as pride and ego set in and no one is willing to bail the cat by admitting wrong or saying "I am Sorry".

How to rwsolve conflicts in marriage. A married couple  having a misunderstanding
A married couple having a disagreement

Yet the institution of marriage is a "union of two imperfect people who are great forgivers" Admitting wrong or saying 'I am sorry' is a show of emotional strength that says that "I value you and our relationship far above any misunderstandings or misgivings".

Instead of playing cat and mouse, the couple should, like my little girl, run earnestly to each other, embrace and say

"I am sorry for the other time, please forgive me. Meanwhile I missed you and brought this for you..." 

As controversial as this may sound, I recommend that the husband, as the team lead in the home, should take the initiative and apologise to the wife not mindful of whether he is at fault or not.

These simple but profound lessons from my little girl if applied today would make our families in particular and the world in general, a much happier place.

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