Federal Republic of Nigeria,
Aso Rock Villa,
FOR A BETTER FUTURE SOCIETY – THE NEED FOR PARENTS/GUARDIANS TO PLAY THEIR ROLES IN BRINGING UP/RAISING CHILDREN
When we consider the fact that every society is made up of the ‘family unit’ of different tribes/ethnicities and religious backgrounds, it therefore means that the ‘state of the family units’ – whether good or bad, is what determines how that society will be, because every individual (from different family units) is what makes up part of the population of that society. Even those considered as orphans, are a product of a man and a woman. That is, every child is part of a family unit – which covers the parents, relatives and guardians. That means a society (or country like Nigeria) that is replete with corrupt practices, gross indiscipline, different kinds of criminal activities and all kinds of societal ills; is a society/country with many family units that have failed and are still failing in their responsibilities of bringing up children – who eventually become adults – that are irresponsible, undisciplined, wayward, lacks integrity, dishonest, etc.
Having this understanding, will help us realize how very important the family unit is, in determining how our society will be. As a matter of fact, it has been widely acknowledged that the relationship between parents and their children, especially in the early years of the latter’s formation, is what determines how ‘responsible’ and successful the child turns out to be later in life in the society. Although, relatively small, the family unit is regarded as the ‘bedrock of the society’. It is therefore responsible for the ‘quality’ of human beings that populate a society. Everything we see wrong today in our society – be it corruption, thuggery, terrorism, kidnapping, armed robbery, indecent/immoral behavious, etc., is as a result of the ‘failures’ of the various family units. So, not only are parents/guardians/relatives expected to be exemplary role models to their children, they are also saddled with the responsibility of supplying all the necessary spiritual, physical, psychological, sociological, mental and emotional support the child needs to grow into a ‘balanced and well-equipped individual’ that will eventually contribute positively to the growth and development of the general society.
Sadly, we have become a generation that has completely lost touch to the importance of the family unit and our roles as adults in this generation is shaping it for a better society. In fact, for some decades now, our society has been experiencing a lot of chaos, occasioned by unwholesome behavioural and attitudinal inclinations of both young and old individuals. All the values and morality, that once held and made our society relatively stable, noble and productive seem to have been eroded, so much so that many people are now wondering what went wrong. What are parents/guardians doing or not doing that is responsible for today’s mayhem in our society?
Some experts gave useful tips on how parents/guardians can undertake their duties and help their children grow into responsible adults that are capable of contributing their quota to the betterment of our society. Aderonke Asiwaju, a professional counsellor and administrator at the University of Lagos, said a positive parent-child relationship is very essential to fostering unity and bonding. She said: “When children are born, the first unit they know in the society is the family. Physically, the parents/guardians are the ones that nurture them, provide their needs, inculcating the right values and norms into them. When they are effective, these children grow up to fit into the society as adjusted people, but when parents fail at the ‘formative stage’, they miss it for life, as the formulation is wrong. However, many parents are increasingly neglecting these unique roles these days. ‘Societal expectation’ is that parents should be there to bring their children up, but many parents are not doing that now. It is either they are too busy with their careers, businesses or do not see anything wrong in nannies/house-helps and drivers taking over their role. It is in higher Institutions that you would observe that students are not totally brought up.”
The role of parents/guardians is not just to bring their children up to be good role models and provide guidance for them. They are there to give them information and direction. Apart from that, parents/guardians should be able to meet their children’s basic needs in such a way that they do not get exposed to being tempted/lured with things. Mind you, this is not the issue of poverty but it is about the parents playing their role for bearing the children they have. And this includes disciplining them when and where necessary. Though, people might say that a parent is harsh towards their children, but often times, and in the long run, the children will appreciate this sort of upbringing. Like the Bible says: “One who spares the rod hates his son, but one who loves him is careful to discipline him,” (AMP). In other words, if a parent spares the rod, he/she is spoiling the child. Also, covering up for children or supporting them when they do wrong, be it at school or anywhere else, is not helping that child to being a responsible person in the future. It is this syndrome, which has become the norm in our society, is the reason why many of us still cover up and praise public office holders who are corrupt, in the name of “that person is from my tribe,” so therefore he/she should be allowed to continue stealing.
It is also sad to see some parents/guardians don’t care or even bothered when their children are seen wearing expensive clothes, using expensive phones/laptops and even owing and driving cars, which they do not have any legitimate income to justify such a lifestyle. When a child starts buying and using material things that they ordinarily cannot afford, and which their parents (working class or business owners), cannot afford and did not get for them, then that alone should tell the parent/guardian that such a child is into something illegitimate. Sadly, some parents/guardians are easily carried away by such things because they are either benefitting from such material things their children provides, or they just like the idea that their son/daughter is ‘supposedly doing well’, so as to ‘pose’ in front of their friends and neighbours, or they simply pretend and turn a blind eye to their children’s obvious illegitimate expensive lifestyle. But it is the duty of parents/guardians to always scold and query their children when they are observed to be wearing clothes, using phones/laptop or driving cars the parents know very well that their children do not have the legitimate means to afford. How can a student for instance, be driving an expensive car or using a very expensive phone which the parents/guardians did not get for them, and which the children cannot afford? Parents/guardians should always ask and demand answers from their children whenever such things are observed. Never should a parent/guardian encourage their children to be living above their honest income/means. That is how such children grow up not believing in the moral ethics of hard-work, diligence, honesty and dignity of labour. Rather, they end up becoming very corrupt individuals in our society who believe they can do anything necessary to sustain a lavish lifestyle. That is why we have many young adults and youths today in our society who believes in the ‘quick money’ syndrome.
Another aspect that is really troubling, is when a child will not be seen at home for days and the parents/guardians are comfortable with it. But the truth is, when a child that is still under the roof of his/her parents/guardian, and that child does not sleep at home for days or weeks, it is clear indication that, that child is already doing something bad. Some parents/guardians actually encourage and accommodate this attitude from their children, while others can no longer, or are finding it difficult to control/scold their children because that foundation was never really there when they were smaller. Imagine a situation where a child will travel to an unknown destination, and then returns back any time he/she likes without the parents/guardian asking that child where he/she is coming from. Again, this has nothing to do with being poor or rich.
We know that there are many children who usually deviate from the sound moral, social and African training their parents/guardians give them. As some parents/guardians have tried their best to provide everything necessary for their children to become useful citizens and even become self-reliant, but sometimes, some of them would deviate and engage in anti-social conducts, vices and crimes. While parents/guardians should not be held accountable for the conduct of children who deviate from the good paths introduced to them by their parents/guardians, however, such cases are few. As such, it is expedient for all parents/guardians to judiciously play their own part in nurturing and bringing up their children with the right values, morals and ethics that would make them better responsible citizens. The Bible again says: “Train a child in the way that he should go, so that when he grows up, he will not depart from it.” That means if you do not do good parenting, there is every likelihood that your children will end up becoming miscreant and threats to the society.
The truth is that, if parenting/children guidance is effective, the children of our society will not be used as thugs and other criminal vices. It is sad that today, the economic situation and status-consciousness have made most of today’s parents/guardians to not have time for their children, as they are so engrossed with building their careers, businesses and hustling to their children’s detriment. Some parents believe that giving their children money and buying whatever they need is enough, instead of being there for them. There is an erosion of family values. Technology has taken over. Children are now exposed to so many things globally that influence their behaviours negatively, so much so that as a parent, if you are not careful, you will never know. We have come to realize that a lot of parents/guardians need to be parented themselves and scolded because they do not know what it means to parent a child. And when you do not know how to do something, abuse is inevitable, which is what we have all around our society. Many parents/guardians do not know what is happening in their children’s lives. Parents/guardians work round the clock and do not pay close attention to the child. This creates a vacuum, thereby exposing the children to start seeking for such attention, care and love from other people and even things.
Giving the child a religious foundation is also very essential, whether it is Christian or Islam. There is a lot of negativity from television, internet, school and the society at large in our current generation. Children need to be guided and parents/guardians must be watchful. Parents should also know the friends of their children. So as to know when they are keeping the wrong company. Parents should not just assume their children cannot do certain things. Children could pick vices when parents/guardians neglect them. If parents/guardians fail to play their role well by directing and guiding the child, he/she will go astray and make bad decisions, which will not only adversely affect them, but the society at large. The bottom line is that, for us to have a better society in the near and far future, the work starts from the family unit. And most importantly, the ‘examples’ set by parents/guardians at the home front. As a parent, you cannot be preaching one thing but your life is showing something else negative.
Zik Gbemre, JP.
Niger Delta Peace Coalition (NDPC)
No.28, Opi Street, Ugboroke Layout, Effurun-Warri