Parenting behavior and children’s mental health

 As I interact more frequently with Principals, Teachers, School’s Counselors, Parents and Children in the UNICEM – Gede Foundation educational support programme currently going on in 10 communities of Cross River State. I would say that there is a strong relationship between weak parenting and onset of drugs and alcohol use among young Children.


 In one of the community schools, a child was reported to have taken to school a bottle of alumo (an alcohol beverage) and bragged to his friends on how much quantity he can take and still maintain his calm. On a one –and-one conversation, it became clear that he had no parental caution:

Me: Why did you bring alumo to school?

Student: Madam, nothing (with his face downward)

Me: How old are you?

Student: 12 years old

Me: Who buys alumo in your house?

Student: My father and my Uncle.

Me: Who goes to the shop to buy alumo for your Father and Uncle?

Student: Myself or my Brother or my Sister

Me:  Does your Mother know that you drink alumo?

Student: She is my step Mother, she use to see my Uncle give us the remaining from his bottle, but it is usually small quantity…

Me: Apart from alumo which other “drink” have you taken?

Student: Ufofop (locally brewed dry gin)

Me: How and where did you get a drink - ufofop?

Student: In the house, my Father use to prepare it... but he is not doing it again.

Me: When you take ufofop or even alumo nobody tells you that it is bad for your health?…

Student: No

Me: When was the first time you ever took ufofop?

Student: When I was small, I cannot remember.

Me: You are now in Junior Secondary Class 1, maybe it is when you were in your primary school level? What class, can you remember?

Student: like in my primary 5

Me: How did you get this bottle of alumo that you brought to school?

Student: (long silence)

 This conversation went on for more than 30 minutes and I could spot information gap on effects of drugs and alcohol abuse and poor parenting as being influencing factors to the onset of alcohol use in this 11 year old. Parents have enormous influence in shaping the personality and behavior of their children, when there is a short falls in this responsibility of providing supportive environment and role modeling healthy behavior for their children, it leaves a huge task on the part of the teachers who most times may not be able to provide the necessary safety nets for children within school hours.

Ekaette Udoekong

Zonal Representative

Cross River State