Poor parenting syndrome

This is not the best of times for Nigeria virtually in all areas. There is a lot of tension in the land with our fellow citizens being subjected to various forms of inhumanity. Children cannot go to school in many places, especially in the north east, and their future hangs on the balance. For 144 days now, the abducted girls of Chibok are still languishing in the captivity of their abductors, our tormentors. Enemies of humanity still kill us physically and psychologically. We are in soup.

A good number of those who should be agents of change are economically disadvantaged. Misery and despondency are the lot of many young men and women who are now ready tools in the hands of the devil. There are so many vices tantalising the Nigerian society that there is no day that we are not witnesses to tragedy.

This is not the country that our past heroes envisioned. Nigerians have become so dangerous and desperate that nothing is deemed too much, too sacred to play politics with. The general atmosphere is bad and I am astounded that more and more people think the way to attain success is to back-stab, betray and destroy others.

The social system has collapsed and everyone is “on your own” mode. Nobody is responsible for the other and everything is topsy-turvy. We have unwittingly adopted Castlereagh’s famous dictum, “each person for himself, all for God”. It is surprising how our leaders pretend everything is right and all what matters is winning elections.

When have we suddenly become a nation of beasts in human skin? The root of the general situation of depravity and insecurity in the society is home. Charity begins at home, so is rot. If the home fails, the society is doomed. Our family system has collapsed and the streets are busy.

Our lives were happier and simpler when parents were conscious of their duties and raised socially responsible children. There were fewer cars and fewer accidents. But there were abundant peace and happiness.

The parents were good and were totally devoted to the proper upbringing of their children. As a child, I would always meet my mother at home after school. The society was sane then as everyone remembered the signature goodbye at departure time: remember the son/daughter of whom you are.

Though parents remain till today the first school that children attend, many of them are not available. It is like a school without teachers where failure is inevitable. Young mothers of today are missing like the Malaysian plane. They abdicate from their duty posts and nature does not allow a vacuum. What they fail to do, the street and the television offer to serve. The result is palpable in the faces of young men we see on the pages of newspapers after being arrested for armed robbery and similar offences.

At the other extreme are the relatively comfortable parents who abandon their children in search of lucre. As victims of acute poor parenting syndrome, their idea about child upbringing is feeding them with a sandwich of television and cartoons.

As someone rightly observed in a message forwarded to my mailbox, how would children obey their parents and be socially responsible in a situation where in the popular cartoons and television programmes, they are directly and indirectly miseducated?

“Tarzan lives half naked; Cinderella comes home at midnight; Pinnochio lies all the time; Aladdin is the king of all thieves; Batman drives at 200 mph; Mickey and Minnie are more than friends; Romeo and Juliet commit suicide for love; Harry Porter uses witchcraft; Sleeping Beauty is lazy; Dumbo gets drunk and hallucinates; Scooby Doo gives nightmares and Snow White lives with seven guys,” the message read.

There is a big disconnect between many parents and their children nowadays. This is even more prevalent among those who assume that by enrolling their children in “standard” schools only and paying exorbitant school fees, which they work day and night to make, they have fulfilled their duty. Thus, the gap, both physical and emotional, between them and the children is as wide as that between the North and the South.

Without much parental supervision and training, many children pass through primary and secondary education system. They make friends that offer them more fire than light. They learn many things that are inimical to their success and future.

By the time they get to the higher institutions and their full personality traits become manifest, the damage is almost irreversible. Like the proverbial “Omoye” that walked naked to the market, efforts to clad the morally-empty and value-vacuous youngsters usually become abortive.

Such youngsters become vulnerable to negative peer pressure as any means of having fame and power becomes attractive. There is nothing that such youth cannot do since they have been directly and indirectly indoctrinated that money is the ultimate. From prostitution to armed robbery, from internet fraud to brazen thuggery, many of the youth of today are desperate and desolate.

It is high time we went to the drawing board to address the root cause of our social crises. This root is poor parenting syndrome. If parents still do their responsibility, our traditional values of empathy, good character, discipline, integrity and selflessness would not be lost in those would be shot up to leadership positions in our country.

With socially responsible youth and good families, the nation and the world would be better off. It is noteworthy that the primary responsibility of the parents is to raise good and responsible children for the society. Our society is sick because the family unit is sick. To restore health to the society and attain peace and happiness, the family must be cured first, beginning from each of us.

Marshall Field’s ten guidelines for success are very important to our everyday living in order to get our bearing right. As a successful businessman, his insight, shared recently by the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ilorin, Prof. Abdul Ganiyu Ambali, is recommended as a daily guide in our quest for national renaissance:

1. The value of time – don’t waste it.

2. The value of perseverance – don’t give up.

3. The value of hard work – don’t be lazy.

4. The dignity of simplicity – don’t be complicated.

5. The worth of character – don’t be dishonest.

6. The power of kindness – don’t be uncaring.

7. The power of duty – don’t shun responsibility.

8. The wisdom of economy – don’t be a spendthrift.

9. The virtue of patience – don’t be impatient.

10. The improvement of skills – don’t stop practicing.