Father and son going back to the basics
Living in a metropolitan city like Lagos, constantly bursting with industrial activities and its high cost of living; the amount of money spent on food, clothing, transportation, housing and other basic necessities, coupled with the global economic meltdown has made it essential for every family member to earn some extra money, thus most of the parents belonging to the middle class doing jobs for better future of their children and family. Doing jobs seems a right situation for an economic problem, but on the long run it creates a barrage of problems related to children and family. Usually working parents suffer from many family problems.
The major challenges we face with our children and in the society today, is an absence of real parenting. The Encarta encyclopedia dictionary defines real parenting as the experience, skills, qualities, and responsibilities involved in being a parent and in teaching and caring for a child. Whoa! It’s a stunning revelation? Yes it is! But it’s good to know that you are already putting a check on yourself. However, the purpose of this write up is not to ascertain whether we fall below or pass those criteria, but to consciously examine our conscience to see how far we have abdicated our responsibilities to others who knew nothing about parenting and how we have also been unconsciously shaped and taught by our society on how to make a living rather than on how to live.
It has been said that parenting is one of the most imperative jobs in an entire life. Being parent is really an issue of bigger responsibility, which includes a proper care, nourishment, adequate affection for the children. It will also include a proper dose of education and the ability to inculcate in them true values that can make them pass through multiple changes in life without changing core values. You and I know the implication of this; its quality time coupled with quality parenting education. This is a common problem in Lagos and most of the parents usually blame themselves for not giving time to their children and family due to their busy schedule. However, blaming is not the solution.
This takes us to the words of Margaret Sanger which says “No woman can call herself free who cannot choose the time to be a mother as she sees fit.” It is said of king David in the bible that though he was a man of public business, took the pains of serving as a role model and a mentor to his son Solomon. He didn’t only teach his son by good instruction, but led him both by a good example and by applying general instructions to particular cases; so that nothing was wanting on his part to make him wise. Research has shown that no amount of resources can substitute for your inability to create time for your children. I will use myself as an example. Although I’m a matured person now, I can still remember my teenage years, being raised by a single parent, my dad worked hard to provide a decent home for myself and my other sibs to live in. This means that he poured a lot of himself into his work.
This also means that there were times were I felt he was putting too much effort and attention into his career and that, in turn, meant less effort and attention on me. My dad actually gave me a lot of advice growing up, but since he wasn’t always at home with me I couldn’t see reasons with him, I started to make a lot of wrong choices, and would continue to do so until I was 22 years. My point? If my dad did his parenting part, and I made so many poor choices with that guidance, where does that leave the poor children whose parents have no time and are seriously lacking in parental department? Of course, lack of parenting will lead to poor choices. Some parents have left the destiny of their children hanging at the hands of some care givers, who probably do not have the capacity or the required skills of raising a child. The horrible things that they may end up going through without the protection of parents cannot be quantified.
Consequences of lack of parenting
Being a child coach and a teacher of good values has offered me the privileges of speaking in different places, which has also provided me the opportunity to converse with some of these children in person. The negative effect of lack of parenting on a family and the society at large are numerous. However, we will examine a few of them.
1. Yes, lack of parenting results in poor choices for the children. In one of my friends various programme organised for children on how they can inculcate good values and make right choices regardless of the prevailing peer pressure, a little teen was touched and felt convinced that she is treading on the wrong path. She confided in my friend and reveals a secret she had never told anyone. She said it gives her so much discomfort to let a day pass by without having sex. Hum! I know you are as shock as I was when I first heard this. But how and when did this young girl got herself into this uncontrollable web of sex, could easily be traced to lack of parenting as she never considered it worthy of communicating to her parents, who are supposed to be her closest friend.
2. Lack of parenting also find expression in all kinds of social vices like gang violence, prostitution, illegal drug use, gambling, stealing, cultism etc. Our present day society has become a den of evil vices which somewhat has been made possible by poor parenting. A classical example of this point is a mother I know who helps her son redeem his valuables he lost to gambling. She also renders assistance to conceal her son’s atrocities when and before he gets caught. This is the type of upbringing that breeds the manner of children we find in our society today.
3. Lack of parenting is also the result of children’s poor performance in their education. While there are both educated and uneducated parents, however, that rarely counts. What count is the parent’s passion and desire to help them succeed by providing and helping them become intelligent and productive children. Recently, I took a stroll to a shop to get some eggs, a young boy of 11 years stood up to attend to me, and I told him to get me some raw eggs. Amazingly he stood staring at me, not until his elder sister translated the raw eggs into Yoruba! I would have probably got frustrated and walked out of the shop, without knowing what the matter was. I later found out from the sister that he didn’t understand what I meant by raw, but he understood egg. His name is Mustapha, and he attends a school. There are so many Mustapha in our societies today who simply exist at the mercy of their parents.
4, Lack of parenting results in unhealthy relationship among siblings. Home were parents who leave home before 6am in the morning and return by 10pm in the evening, will experience sibling rivalry, frequent fighting and disrespect for one another. This is largely due to their inability to create time in teaching the children respect for one another, love for everyone despite their age and attitude and how to tolerate individual shortcoming.
Tips for working parents
Being a busy mum does not mean that every aspect of your parenting life has to go on hold, it simply means that scheduling conflicts may often arise due to a lack of time. However, there are several very useful methods of saving time and even making more of it that can help even the busiest of mums keep to scheduled appointment.
1. Join important activities together to free your schedule. Sometimes, making time for individual activity or appointment individually can be difficult, if not impossible for a busy mum whose time is scarce. Consider linking together multiple events at once such as cleaning the house and cooking at the same time. If you are looking to go shopping or going to the salon, you can even take the children along. It can help strengthen your relationship with them.
2. A working mother should teach their children about the important things and places in the home. This will help children to put the right things in the right place. Along with that parents should teach their children about the rules of home very clearly, parents should also tell their children the consequences of keeping or breaking these rules. It’s very important that your children understand the rules of home clearly, because you cannot expect the children to behave ideally if they do not know what the rules are.
3. Consider looking for a job that gives you quality time with your children. This is a pretty difficult task to undertake, particularly when it means going for a job with a lesser pay in a country like ours. But is any price too big to pay for the good of the children you love so dearly? It’s a very wonderful feeling for your children to always be under your tutelage, why you watch them grow into a better person you have always desire. As you reflect on these salient issues, let me leave you with the words of Spencer w. Kimball: “We plead with you fathers to return to your little kingdoms, and with kindness, justice, proper discipline and love, to inspire your family. We appeal to mothers to help create that happy family relationship where all good things thrive.”