It is an established fact that many parents take the training or upbringing of their children lukewarmly. Indeed many of them do not even know what it takes to train their children. Many have erroneously believed that providing your children all the physical needs they ask of is all they need to become good children. Unfortunately, some parents that treated their children this way – particularly by lavishing expensive gifts on them and pandering to their emotions – have ended up being disappointed.
What this means is that it takes more than showering your children with gifts and overindulging them to make them wonderful children.
The real intention of the birth of this column is to use it to stir the soul of the nation and deliver timeless leadership lessons, not excluding the youth who occupy a strategic place in the development of the Nigerian nation.
Those who refer to the youth as the future leaders of any nation are quite right. Right from the beginning, God has made it a routine for people to be born and die when their time is due. In fact, a person is ripe to die the moment he is born. Ecclesiastes 3 makes it clear that there is time for everything under the sun: time to be born, time to die.
By death, what God has providentially laid out in an undisputable manner through the works of creation is to institute a process of succession – generational paradigm. This is why there have been numerous successive generations since the first generation of Adam came into being. Adam had two sons: Cain and Abel. Cain killed Abel out of sheer envy. Cain and his wife had a son named Enoch. Enoch then begot Irad who was the father of Mehujael. The generation of Cain continued until the generation of Lamech. After the killing of Abel by Cain, Adam and his wife had another son called Seth. Adam was 130 years when Seth was born. From Seth other descendants of Adam followed up to Noah after which the first world was destroyed with a deluge.
From the chronology above, it is easy to deduct that there was some form of sanguineous affinity between Adam and his sons, including between Noah and his three sons – Shem, Ham and Japheth. This affinity could be traced to the family bond tying them together and which took its root in tradition, norms and values.
I must confess that I am thrilled by the same bond that bound Jesus, Mary and Joseph. Despite the fact that Jesus was God he humbled himself, took the form of man and was born among men. He was respectful and did not fail to show reverence to his parents even when his time was not ripe. For instance, during the wedding at Cana, he submitted to the will of his mother when he turned water into wine. He had every reason and authority to decline the request by his mother, but he did not. This is why the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Jesus, is regarded as the ideal family. Millions of Christians have continued to emulate this family.
Even in the British Monarchy it is the tradition for every royal person to behave with decorum – avoiding scandal and preserving the good name of the family.
The whole idea behind socialisation is to facilitate the transmission of cultural heritage from one generation to another. Cultural heritage in this regards encompasses those values and norms that sustain the character of a generation. It is naturally agreed that only positive values can be transmitted to another generation.
The major cause of the degeneration of morality in our society can be located in the erosion of these values. Our national anthem gives generous attention to the heroism of our forbears who made enormous sacrifices for the independence of Nigeria. But why has the present generation of Nigerians chosen to jettison the values and principles for which these patriots and nationalists laid down their lives?
This brings us to the family as a social unit. The family can be said to be one of the most basic and important socialising agents. It is the piecing together of the families that make up the society. By this I mean that the society does not exist in isolation of the family. This was why the Catholic Church, for instance, focused its energy more on the family in its Evangelisation programme in 2000. The belief of the Church is that once the family is evangelised, then the entire society is evangelised. I think the Church is right.
Life in our society today is chaotic and brutish because the family has lost its serenity and urbaneness. There was a time social ills were at their ebb. At that time, parents paid adequate attention to their responsibilities toward their children. The task of taking care of the family was the exclusive obligation of the father. Mothers were primarily assigned the duty of nurturing the children and taking care of the home front. This afforded mothers the opportunity to monitor their children closely and detect very early those traits injurious to their upbringing.
But today, all that has changed. Every parent is a potential breadwinner. In fact, struggle for gender superiority between the men and women has exacerbated woes of the family. Children are now left at the mercy of nannies, house-girls, and other persons who hardly understand the psychology of the child.
The battering of the moral fibre of the family took a turn for the worse after the civil war when the craze for ostentation assumed a frightening dimension. Before the war, every family gave priority to the protection of its good name over mundane, worldly things. Parents enforced discipline and did what was needful to ensure a solid future for their children.
I am worried over the debasing of the moral values for which the family was known. My fear is that if the situation is allowed to go on unchecked it will get to a situation where the entire society will be plunged into anarchy. Take a look at the licentiousness, prostitution, drug abuse, robbery, kidnapping, cultism, ritualism, and other crimes that have continued to threaten the peace, growth and development of our nation. Those who perpetrate these mindless evils come from homes – at times, responsible homes.
It is painful, therefore, that parents now overindulge their children, thereby exposing them to exploitation and manipulation by some unscrupulous elements that prowl – seeking souls to destroy.
This brings us to the big question: How much of your child do you know? Every parent must answer this question very sincerely. It is by properly evaluating the answer to this question that you can receive the right answer. When the correct answer is obtained you can then be better positioned to place your child in the right perspective in terms of building its moral fortitude.
I have asked this question bearing in mind that the looseness in the behavioural pattern of our children can be found in the big gap in the relationship between children and their parents. Sadly, the pursuit of wealth and deference to the dictates of the flesh has distanced parents from their children. The beauty of bonding in family lies in its ability to foster strong ties between children and their parents. It also has the capacity to dispel fear, suspicion, and distrust which erode confidence and dampen morale.
It has become increasingly difficult for many parents to predict the characters of their children or vouch for them. This is as a result of the estrangement in the relationship between the two. Some parents leave home as early as 6 o’clock in the morning (in places such as Lagos and Abuja) and return as late as 10 p.m. By this time, the children have gone to bed. They are left for 16 hours in the hands of, in some cases, total strangers who are generally referred to as house-helps. This situation continues for a very long time, even as far as the time the child gains admission into college. By the time the child gets into secondary education such a child has become malleable and vulnerable. It is at this time the child joins cult groups and other anti-social gangs.
What kind of family does one expect from this an unfortunate and queer arrangement? Unfortunately, many homes in our nation today are run this way. The short-term result being that many of the children brought up under this disjointed and stressful situation suffer from lack of parental warmth, rejection and some feeling of hollowness.
It amounts to wishful thinking for anybody to expect to reap cocoa after sowing cocoyam. Whatever we sow is what we reap. If you want your child to grow to become responsible and successful give him good upbringing. How can you have your cake and eat it? Good children emerge from responsible, responsive and God-fearing parenthood. These days many parents find it hard to correct their children when they go wrong. They rather opt for pampering them. The consequence is that the child is emboldened by this lax situation to continue in his evil ways.
Training a child entails tact, diligence, courage and prayers. It is not something that is done in a haste or haphazardness. Diligence is of paramount importance. I feel that way, because diligence offers you the platform for the close monitoring of your child’s behaviour without frightening it. It is also through it that the future of a child can be nurtured and guaranteed.
The delicate period in a child’s life is adolescence. It is at this age that parents are expected to counsel and guard their children from the revelries of life, which usually lead them astray.
The danger in the age is that it exposes the child to unexpected challenges that task its intellect and moral thread. It is a critical time when a child grows out of infantile dispositions into the age of puberty. Legally, when a child gets to the age of 18 it can sue and be sued. It can also vote and be voted for. Indeed, it is a period of experimentation, when the child can go gaga – trying out all kinds of things. Whatever a child will ultimately become in life begins from this moment. This is why parents are advised to show greater care and diligence in order to be able to lead the child aright into adulthood.
It is very regrettable that modern-day parents do not always capture the intricacy of this age and therefore are bound to make mistakes they regret much later when their children have grown wild and uncontrollable.
Interestingly, every family has a tradition which spans several centuries, if not generations. How these traditions are abandoned without much ado is what baffles me. If the name of a family is jealously guarded it will be difficult to drag such name in the mud. As I mentioned earlier in this article, there are many families all over the world with long history of existence that have maintained their name with pride and sense of fulfilment. What has sustained these families’ traditions is strict adherence to and the ability to imbue in their young ones such traditions from the cradle. The Bible says we should teach a child the way it should go and it will not depart from him when he grows up.
Curiously, parents these days engage in all kinds of disgraceful acts in the presence of their children without raising the lid. They forget that these children are impressionable and therefore have the capacity to digest everything they watch with some voracity. How can a mother or father engage in unwholesome sexual acts and expect their children not to copy them or even surpass their exploits? Some parents belong to secret societies and that makes no news. But when their children grow up to join secret cults it makes news headlines.
Some parents smoke, quarrel, drink heavily, keep late nights, and engage in other illicit activities in the presence of their children. What do you expect them to do when they grow up?
I regret to state at this juncture that 60% of the misdemeanours associated with our youths today were learned from their homes, because parents failed to discharge their role correctly in the training of such children. If you want your child to grow up into a responsible adult you must first lay the foundation for it. The foundation should be founded on love, nurtured by truth, and driven by discipline. There is nothing wrong in making your children your friends, while at the same time enforcing the code of discipline for which the family is known. When you show love to your children they will naturally return such love in the way and manner they relate to you by being open, truthful and responsible.
Many parents think by bullying their children they will make them responsible. How wrong they are. Bullying estranges your children from you and exposes them to exploitation by those who show them fake love. A child naturally finds love outside if there is none in the home. This is where the negative indoctrination begins; and by the time you know it the situation has snowballed out of control. Try everything humanly possible to command the confidence and trust of your children.
My fear is that the present generation is about to go without anything to bequeath to the incoming one. It is the kind of children we train today that will inherit all we have laboured for. For them to be able to manage all what we will leave behind for them there is an urgent need to begin to give them the right training and orientation. We should not be afraid to spoil the cane and save the children. We should be firm in our dealings with them and always make them understand the need to continue to work selflessly and tirelessly to maintain the family name.
Government should do more to make life meaningful for its citizens. There is too much suffering in the land and this is affecting many homes in the way they bring up their children. Because education is the bedrock of national development the government should pay more attention to it by making it more affordable, qualitative, quantitative and functional for our children.
Building a good home is the way we can guarantee a safe future for our nation which today is embroiled in divergent crises of divergent complexities.