More Sides Of Every Story; A Mentality We Should Model In Our Children -By Edwin Alivionote

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Edwin Alivionote

Nigeria as a country of diverse ethnic groups has the common culture of storytelling which has been the major means of sustaining our history. During the pre-literate era, storytelling was a powerful process in adult education as a useful instructional approach in facilitating adult instruction and learning.

The generations of Nigerian parents who tell stories of heroes and legends to their children by moonlights have given way to non-epic stories. The conventions of our time have so much to talk and gist about from the mass of happenings that circumvent the globe. Often, we hear of stories that are relayed by individuals who are interested in the aspect that they can easily and conveniently communicated across. Unlike those days when verbal communication was dominant, the stories of our time are less verbal owing to the evolution of social and print media.

Story telling which began as oral tradition has evolved to include written literature. Epic and culture oriented stories are no longer fashionable thus, stories of today’s events pertain to socialization. Children are known to be inquisitive, ask questions on things that appeal to their curiosity. It is sad to know that most parents find answers to provide that only expose one side of knowledge for them leaving the other seemingly ugly/inconvenient part unknown. The unknown part has been known to portend a threat to the growing child who may fall prey for the partial ignorance created or who may become a victim of what was not clearly explained.

Every family is different and has a different way of communicating. Family communication plays a role in the positive development of children, teenagers, and young adults. There are times when the child may send a question to the parents by the use of body language and gets a misrepresentation of the expected answer, which becomes the response gotten and implied in this case. If the same child gets a contrary response to the same gesture some time later in future, it becomes a conflict that will unsettle their reasoning on the matter. This can cause internal crisis, as to whether to take parent’s response as the right response or the later response as the true story.

The perspectives of the same story by different adults told to children have caused more confusion in the minds of kids, who are wrapped around an unclear puzzle. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie warns of the danger of a single sided story, which leaves the listener with a gap to knowing the truth and making a progressive decision out of it.

Imagine a scenario where a child look up to the mother who is busy with a favourite soap on TV and pops up the question; mum what is the colour of our house? The mum who at this time needs to concentrate on the screen, just says green. The house in reality is made of four colours, among which is green. This child has been left with three colours untold. The child goes about with the answer given by the mum as the authentic response for… what is the colour of your house?

The scenario is just a pinch of the many things we get to explain as stories to our children, with so many facts hidden, withdrawn or unsaid for various reasons. So today, try to take a deep view when you relate facts to children. Try to remember that you are only standing on “one side of the house” and there might be more to the situation that the child needs to get explained.