John had gone to school in the UK and returned with a wife. That was not part of the deal when he was going. He contacted no one back home and had a court ceremony.
His wife who was 18 years old at the time had never been to Nigeria. By the time they returned to Nigeria, there was a one-year-old between them. The cutest blue-eyed boy with curly locks you would ever see. But John’s wife had dropped out of school because she was not coping with school and the pregnancy. They are now back in Nigeria, a baby, a 19-year-old wife and 24-year-old John without a job.
John’s parents have been looking after Mr cute blue eyes, the wife and John and they too struggle being both retired. In the middle of all of this, there are bitter quarrels. John’s wife is white and walks around their home half-naked, watches TV all day long and wakes up at noon demanding breakfast from her mother-in-law who has spent all day cooking and cleaning. Mrs John does nothing and complains when there is no cereal and no light. John is gone all day and returns tired and hungry. His father thinks he may have thrown his money in the drain by sending John to school abroad.
Our job in today’s world is to pay attention to what our children are not saying and who they are keeping company
So there you have it. Parenting is hard these days. Our children feel some self-entitlement and sometimes Parents in my generation wonder if giving kids the best school is a crime. There are shouting matches between parents and children and these days children confront parents with issues of can’t you see I am an adult and other related issues like I have agency; it is my life.
The yawning gap between children and their parents in technology, in emotions and all other related things is insane. Children feel stultified by their parents and parents feel frustrated by children who talk back in less than respectful ways. In our traditional ethos, the saying amongst older people who have been treated well by young persons is the prayer from the older person that they too will be old one day.
A powerful soul-stirring, spirit-filled prayer. But we now have younger people who think respect for older persons is overrated. Young people never leave their seats in a public place for older people and refuse to defer to older people. Young people tend to be permanently angry with their parents and blame them for all their misfortunes.
It is important as we turn the tide of Easter and Salah to remember our faiths and what the good books say about caring for our children. Parents are to teach children good ways and respect, are to provide for them and are not to aggress them or cause them fear.
Parents are also not to spoil them so they can stand on their two feet tomorrow. Like I always say in this column, a man whose children duck under a chair is not a good parent. A woman who is abusive of her children is not a good mother. But in addition, a child must never descend to insulting their parents, calling them names and disrespecting them.
While most Parents have made the sacrifice and sent the kids to school, they also do grow up, you know. So yes, they may have an opinion too. It is always good to find out what that is and then reason with them, no matter how complex the issues are. Having a conversation with young adults is particularly difficult.
I understand that it can be difficult. A lot of times, they do not give us the chance to understand them. This can also be on our side too. Sometimes we shut them down and don’t listen. We are without a doubt family and must find a middle of the road agreement.
One of our greatest challenges as African parents is a cross cultural issue where some parents have sent their kids abroad and find that they have lost their children to other traditions. At 14 years a young person in America has his emancipation. He has a girlfriend or boyfriend known by the parents and is probably sexually active by 15 or 16 years.
By 18 years they have their full freedom and can move into their own home with a girlfriend in tow. If you don’t get it, watch the phenomenal TV programme, Judge Judy. In addition parents cease to exist in their mind’s eye and they can do whatever they like. I love the independence but because their minds are still very young, they have two babies with two different men, two different women and return home with grandchildren you did not plan for and liabilities.
But the freedom part is the one that has caught the attention of our children. In all of this, the consequences are often not considered. For those who have not travelled abroad, social media transports them to a system that helps them warehouse and propagate the thoughts of their abroad cousins. The difference in their thoughts and actions are the same. More often than not, the parent is the enemy.
Over time the Nigerian parent has become impotent as anything he/she says is considered enemy behaviour. The other set of parents are too angry to take what they consider the nonsense of a younger demographic. The best option is always to be the bigger person as a parent, listen, and buy patience and counsel.
A lot of young people today are confused and need guidance. Role models are far and few between and parents working leave a gap and hope the kids will be self-taught or a house girl or driver will teach the children. By the time they are 21 years old, your career has grown but you and your child are strangers.
There are too many new things in the world. Our children are more knowledgeable. There is nothing they can’t learn online. How to kill yourself, how to build bomb etc. Our job in today’s world is to pay attention to what our children are not saying and who they are keeping company.
As a parent, especially as a mother, one must learn stealth and be in the secret service of learning moods, needs and when to be firm. Fathers must make time to be with the kids lest they discover they have a thug in their midst when they were not looking. No matter how busy you are, you must tell him what it means to be a man with integrity and how to treat a woman right. Also to learn to cook. It does not make you less than a man if you cook for your family or your pregnant wife.
It’s difficult to be a mum these days, but you have to stand up to bring up a decent daughter. You will argue with each other from time to time, true, but please teach her to learn to make food, get a career, and tell her not to be naked. Tell her not to be foul-mouthed, not lady like. Teach her to be content. She does not need an additional bum or extra breasts.
The world is turning on its axis. Only the strong, the resilient and the kind-hearted survive. We want our children to carry good family values but we do not want to replicate ourselves. They are in a different world and a different era. Let us understand that and adopt patience and firmness where need be.
Our traditional ethos of respect, kindness, community, family and truth is good. Let us hope they carry the flag unto the next generation. Rage against parents does not always pay. Insult of parents online is not a good thing. It has consequences.
We pray that our children do well so their children will do well by them. Amen. As parents, may our patience pay off. May our children be rewarded for their effort and our values and may they look back and remember their parents, where they come from, and their roots. Amen.