Mother, Who Are You? – Mojisola Manuel


Ben Carson writes that the purest heart in the world is the heart of a mother. It can move God. It can move the universe and is capable of changing a child's destiny. This readily brings to mind Ben Carson's mother.  Who is Ben Carson?

Ben Carson is the world's acclaimed African-American neurosurgeon. He was the first person to successfully perform a major surgery to separate joined twins. The story of Ben Carson revealed that he comes from a broken home and his mother brought him up singlehandedly. Ben was dull in early school but this was reversed by a mother who knew God and the right ways and words to motivate a child.

All the things a mother experiences - her mood, her state of mind as well as her relationship with the world - are transported to her child's sub-conscious state while in the womb. This is the root of the child's personality and the beginning of the child's education.

If breastfeeding lasts long enough, the baby get the opportunity to watch and notice the way the nipple is removed from his mouth, the way he is attended to, the way mother reacts and relates to situations and the surrounding. Unfortunately, you cannot mentor the child beyond who you are and what you know. Little wonder Leveinstein (1975) points out that "the knowledge and education of the mother is vital not only to the upbringing of the child but also what the child becomes in future." According to Osanyin (1998), the mother is like someone who plants a seed and during harvest time, she can either have fantastic fruits that the whole world will eat and want more of or she can harvest fruits that people will eat and spit out. The education of the mother, money cannot buy.

Mother, who are you? What kind of education are you giving your child from the moment of breastfeeding? These two questions are related because the type of education you give to your child depends a lot on who you are.

Every community expects the mother to teach the child the right social norms: how to show respect, empathy, fairness, humility, honesty and all the virtues of life. But the values you give to the social norms as a mother will be reflected in your child at the end of the day.

Generally, there are three types of mothers - the Autocratic, the Carefree and the Aggressive.

The autocratic mother has complete power and makes decisions without seeking advice. She is in total control of the home and her wish is her command. She is the only one who knows what is best for her children; therefore their desire and wishes are secondary. She is hard and believes in punishment.  You have to obey her whether it is convenient or not. She does not know how to show emotion. She appears cold and domineering. Her children live in fear of her. They find it difficult to share their feelings with her and they also find it difficult to trust and show love to other people. Her children appear cold and tend to look down on other people. There is a high tendency for them to be rebellious later in life.

In the previous edition of this publication, I explained the need to be a good mother in order to produce the children who will be good leaders of tomorrow. I ended with types of mothers and here,  I continue from where I stopped.

The Aggressive Mother:

This type of mother has the quality of anger and determination that makes her ready to attack her children over every little mistake. She is forceful in nature and especially with her children because she is very eager for them to succeed. She gets everything done by force: her language is force and she is an impatient noise maker. She appears troublesome and is not a good listener. The way she removes the nipples from her baby's mouth teaches the child force. She transfers her aggression to everyone and to the baby in her hand. She hurts her children especially with words and they find it extremely difficult to relate with her. Her aggressive and overbearing nature tends to mar her good qualities.

The children of an aggressive mother tend to be aggressive too because that is the only language they understand. Aggression is what has been deposited in them. From very young age, you can find such children biting and they will use anything to fight. They do not allow excuses, having become resentful and lacking confidence.

The Carefree Mother:

Her training pattern is very light and carefree. She does not understand what it means to train or mentor a child, preferring to allow the child have his way as a demonstration of her love for him. It hurts her when outsiders  scold her children. She tends to overlook small important things that can end up destroying a child.

She belongs to the group of mothers who say things like "Awa naa ti se iru e ri, e fi si le" (We did the same thing, leave the child alone). Such mothers grew up lacking the understanding of norms and the meaning of childhood training. Therefore, they find it difficult to train the child. They lack good conduct and the ability to correct the child's misbehaviour.

The children of a carefree mother lack manners and must have their way and will do anything to get what they want. So, the tendency to be greedy and discontent is very high. They can express their feelings anywhere. These children do not believe in hard work and from an early age, they lack training and grow up becoming problems to themselves and the society.

Psychologist Piaget (1932) posits that children learn in 3 major ways;

1. Adaptation

2. Imitation

3. Reward and Reinforcement

First, we examine learning through imitation.

What is Imitation?

This is the ability to copy directly what someone else is doing through observation. How does this affect children as individuals who have no moral sense of right and wrong? From infancy, children observe and copy indiscriminately, the behavior of adults around them, especially their mothers. A child may not be able to speak but sees and learns so much through observation, taking note of her actions, reactions and language (both body and oral). Since the mother is his role model, he automatically feels it is right for him to do the same thing.

This type of learning has much value at the time of transmitting good habits. For this reason, mothers should examine their routine to see if there are those habits that they will not wish their children to learn. She must bear in mind that with children, it is "do as I do" and that by the time a child is five years old, he has already formed his behavior.

This takes me to the million dollar question. Mothers! What are those things or attitudes that our children are seeing in our lives that have the potential to destroy our children's future and seize our peace? This is a call to retrace our footsteps and seek help if we need to. It is never too late.


McCauley,J.I.1968:Play:An Avenue For Effective Childhood Learning WAJE Vol.xii No 2.

Osanyin, F.A. Early Childhood Education in Nigeria. Concept Publications Limited.

Levenstein,P.1975:The Mother and Child Home Program. Ally & Bacon inc.

Piaget,J.1954:How Children Learn, International Universities N.Y.

Ben Carson,1996: Think Big. Zondervan publishing

A Symposium paper by Mrs. Mojisola Nkechi MANUEL, Lecturer, Faculty of Education (Early Childhood Cohort), University of Lagos.


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