Stakeholders Examine Parenting in 21st Century

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Parenting today is very demanding due to the vices that the present day youths are involved in. Most often, parents are at crossroads on how exactly they should bring up their children to grow into responsible adults. It was therefore an uphill task for discussants and stakeholders at a recent conference to define what exactly good parenting should be. Mary Ekah who covered the event, reports

Working as a Youth Corper with the Scripture Union in the late eighties was a sort of eye-opener for Mr. Chuks Nduka as he got to realise that a lot of young people have so much going in their lives which they actually conceal from their parents and guardians. What they conceal in their minds more usually lead to one vice or the other.

Now a pastor and initiator of Breach Repairers, an organisation birthed in 2009 to rebuild the foundation of many generations by promoting three character pillars of purity, purpose and productivity and also to restore homes to the path of true dwelling, Nduka feels that the challenges in the present world have put so much pressure on the average family. He believes that the contemporary parent has become more of a breadwinner with very little time for the family, giving rise to family dysfunction and hindering effective purposeful parenting. The result has been cases of incest, rape, homosexuality, lesbianism, abortion HIV/AIDS, cultism, violence, e-fraud and all manner of social vices amongst youths.
It was therefore for this reason that the organisation recently held a national parenting conference tagged, ‘Critical Rescue’, one of the Breach Repairers’ strategies to build moral and ethical values in the youths.

In its seven years of existence as an organisation, the Breach Repairers has tried to promote effective parenting through its seminars in various locations in Lagos and in some of its publications. This year being its seventh year, the organisation decided to take it a step further by involving people in government. To this end, the wife of the Vice President, Mrs. Dolapo Osinbajo, wife of the Lagos State governor, Mrs. Bolanle Ambode, First Lady of Ogun State, Mrs. Olufunso Amosun, as well as First Lady of Akwa Ibom, Mrs. Martha Udom, decided to add their voices to the call to effective parenting by featuring visibly at the recently concluded conference.

Delivering a paper titled, “Raising a Total Nigerian Child”, the wife of Akwa Ibom State governor, Mrs. Martha Udom expressed delight at the opportunity of sharing some of the concerns that rock the moral foundation of raising a total Nigerian child. She noted that it does not appear that today’s youths have literally lost the compass of socially acceptable norms but that the question is: How did we get here?
Udom who was of the view that every parent desires to raise responsible children and all parents would want to live in a world where other people’s children have been raised properly and responsibly, opined that God who in His infinite wisdom placed parents as divine vessels through which children come to this world, gave the injunction as recorded in the Bible book of Proverbs 22:6 for parents to, “Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it”.

She stressed therefore that good parenting is the ability of a parent to raise children in the fear of God, adding, ‘Raise children to take responsibility of their actions and also impact positively on the society.” Without mincing words, the Akwa Ibom State first lady said parenting has the capability to build or mar a child’s future depending on which line a parent tows in bringing up a child.

Enumerating steps to ensure good parenting, Udom revealed further that many parents have sought for several ways to raise their children in a generally acceptable way, but it does not seem to work. She however said, it was important for parents to lay the foundation of their children’s future with the word of God.

She was quick to note that in today’s fast paced world with it’s competitive hustling and bustling to meet basic needs, parents have gradually shift their traditional roles as mothers to bread winners. “Faced with securing our daily bread, parenting is left in the hands of caregivers most of whom have little positive influence on the children”. Urging parents to create a positive balance between work, career and family, Udom said, “I understand fully well the demands that there may never be a time when women will be full time mothers.”

The first lady revealed that her pet project, Family Empowerment and Youth Re-orientation Programme (FEYReP), has five pillars that address family issues and youths re-orientation. She added that FEYReP’s vision is to have a state with successful families and responsible youths, which are the ultimate catalyst to a successful society.

Urging parents to accept the vacation of good parenting with enthusiasm knowing that there is no job more rewarding than this, Udom said good parenting breeds generation of successful families, great role models and mentors, adding, “This is our share responsibility and our vacation as guardians of God’s gifts. In doing this, you are doing God’s will as well as contributing your quota in building of a safe, secure and virile society.”

This year’s conference appropriately tagged, ‘Critical Rescue’, stakeholders believe is a step in right direction to rescue the nation’s future leaders and the society at large.
Reminiscing on how it all started Founder of Breach Repairers said this whole concept started many years ago when as a youth corper, he did his primary assignment with the Scripture Union in Ogun State. “I found out that there were lots of delinquency youths; there was failure in WAEC and JAMB. I was not a teacher but was working for Scripture Union but of course, I worked with young people and I wanted to find out what was the cause of the mass failure in these exams. I realised that there were so many distractions.

Issues like teenage pregnancy was happening unknown to parents and the children were so much involved in sexuality issues covered up and yet they were coming to church. They were involved in worship, carried Bible in the daytime but in the nighttime other things were happening. And so I had to find a balance between Christianity and educating them. I realised that the teachers were not really bothered and so I set up free evening lessons.

I was teaching three subjects: Chemistry, Mathematics and Physics but over time, I began to convince other youth corpers to join and take up that responsibility. For me, it was just a way of trying to change the order that I met and to give young people a proper orientation and also to find out what was going on in the hearts of these young ones. Strange things were happening which adults were not aware while some were into cultism, but because I had come down to their level, they were able to confide in me and so I built on that and after service when I came to Lagos, I also realised that it was same story every where – youth issues and the re-orientation had to begin for me to bring young people together and find means to reach out to them and that was how we started,” Nduka recalled vividly.

The initiator of the Breach Repairers revealed further that the challenge he has actually encountered in the course of doing the work is that parents are actually the culprits. He however said that he is not blaming parents solely for that, adding, “I think it is also as a result of the decay going on in our society.”

He said therefore that in out next conference, parents would be forced to come in. “We want a situation where parents can be made to be responsible and stand up to their roles of parenting and not just provide for the children’s needs but truly parent them as expected,” he added.
“We are therefore challenging everyone to be part of this crusade because it is easy to learn from what you see and hear very often. Every young person today wants to be involved and be seen. So if every adult, including parents can rise up and begin to build the template we are talking about, raising this generation that we are talking about as well as understand the concept we are talking about, we would achieve much,” Nduka said.

Buttressing the need for parents to take up their roles seriously he said, “We should be talking about setting family goals because a lot of parents do not even know what good parenting is about. There is no vision. They feel that because they are married and have kids, they automatically become parents but it is not so. We believe that parenting is a skilled arrangement; it is not something you just pick up by the fact that you have become a biological father or mother.

There is so much going on now that parents are totally unaware and so there is a need for parents to learn parenting skills. And when you are skilled, you would know that there is certain age that you don’t smack any more nor provoke your children to anger but you reason. You can call them to a meeting and then begin to reason and thereby change their orientations. This can only happen where you entered family with a vision and a set-parenting goal that you are going to follow but where that vision is not set, it becomes a problem. In Nigeria, we do not believe that parenting should be a school, but I tell people that it is a school that we can never graduate from and which we must give much attention.”