Parenting and the challenge of 21st Century

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It is sad to note that few days ago, the media was awashed with the story of some underage students of a popular school in Lagos State who engaged in sexual activity during their trip to Dubai for international schools’ competion.

Shockingly, some fellows found it interesting sharing child pornography without recourse to its grave implications on the society and the children involved. Well, the deed had been done. We await the outcome of the findings from Lagos State Government despite the ongoing blame game by the girl’s parents and the school management.

Whether we like it or not, the time we are in now is harder. Things get tougher by the day and the system becomes more rotten. Hence, the need to critically place things in perspectives before taking a position on it.

The present generation of parents, to me, has a lot to do. Ordinarily, there had been various social vices in the world from time immemorial. The twists these vices have taken in this century are too alarming. The issues of corruption, kidnapping, banditry, child trafficking, robbery, ritual killing, terrorism, among others, are not alien to the world. It is inunarguable that these evil practices have graduated beyond description.

Many of these challenges are traceable to two major factors: the home front and technology. Many a time, we exonerate one for another or even make excuses for both. The truth be told that the existence of the place called community, state or nation is largely dependent on the strength of the home, otherwise, systemic collapse is inevitable.

The home is not just for the purpose of identifying one’s family of origin. It is not just for pointing at parents, siblings or place of birth. It is a place where the child learns morals and all that is needed to be a good addition to the society, and not a calamity. Everyone is a true reflection of the type of home he came from. As such, the home is a place where a child is to have his or her first role model to look up to for instructions and direction. It is the center of calmness for the child where he or she opens up completely and freely to the parents without having anything to hide.

The absence of all or any of the above in a home makes the child look for answer elsewhere- from other agents of socialization such as peers groups, schools, religious centers, media, communities, among others. When the child is unfortunate, he falls into the wrong hands and things begin to gradually fall apart.

It should be noted that other agents of learning are not completely bad. However, the primary place where a child should feel comfortable to have the best answers to his curiosity is the home. Unfortunately, many things are wrong in the home nowadays. There lots of homes that are practically non-existent, yet the two parents are physically present while their vacuums are so obvious in the lives of the kids.

There are various categories of parents in this 21st century. We have absentee parents who are passionate in pursuit of what to eat and how to live a better life at the expense of the children. This class of parents place the primary responsibility of their original role of parenting on teachers, house helps or caregivers. They are of the opinion that their money can fill the vacuum of their absence. They are career-driven or business-driven.

These parents have the money to send their children to expensive schools both within Nigeria and overseas. They have the money to “spoil” the kids in any expensive manner such as vacation, partying, and international exposures. They are usually happy that their children mingle with the children of the high and mighty in the society given the type of schools they attend and the high brow area they live.

Alas, no amount of comfort can equate the presence of parents. In my own part of Nigeria, Yorubaland, there is a common saying that, “the child we failed to train will end up disposing the house we spent our entire fortune to build.” What then is reward of a parent who gave the kids all the comfort but failed to teach them?

In another vein, we have the parents who were not well brought up, yet they parade themselves as parents. They have forgotten that you can’t give what you don’t have. Parenting is not magical. It is purely practical. Children learn better by seeing, not by hearing.

The vacuum being created daily by lack of role models is alarming. Sadly, nowadays, some parents go to their kids schools in bump shorts. They see it as their own definition of comfort. There are cases of parents going to beat up their children’s teachers in school. Some parents teach their children the extremes of life such as drinking to stupour and sexual abuse. What product can these parents give to the society? No wonder, the rate of rape, suicide bombers, internet fraudsters etc is increasing by the day.

Apart from parents who were not well bred, the 21st century is also filled with parents who are care-free. They are called “anything goes parents.” They leave the children to live by chance. They believe that whether you face your studies or not, what would be would be. This set of parents do not make efforts in any way to ensure the children tow the right path in life.

In terms of friendship, this class of parents have no moral lesson on why the children should be mindful of the type of friends they keep. Sometimes, they even want the children to learn better by experiencing life. They are of the opinion that experience is the best teacher. Hence, they let the kids go out to face life in the real sense without being influenced from home.

In addition, in as much as we are in the technology age, we should know that technology is made for man and not the other way round. Technology, therefore, should be to our advantage because we determine its uses. I do not know of any technological device that dictates for man. As such, we can influence it in various manners.

Considering the classes of parents in the society, there is a reflection of each type in the children we produce. There are homes where the children have a field day in their interactions with technology. One funny thing about children is that they take freedom overboard if they are not cautioned. There is no child who does not have the tendency to throw caution to the wind. Hence, the need to exercise control over their activities.

These young ones are called children because they do not have the capacity to live on their own yet. They need leadership, guardiance as to how to live, how to conduct themselves and talk, among others. They need someone to help bridle their excessive tendencies and put them aright. So, in the use of technology, they cannot be left alone.

I am a pro-technology. Hence, I major on the benefits we can derive from the uses of technology.One of the greatest blessings of all times to humanity is the Internet. It is a world of information. It has succeeded in making the world a global village. The social media on its own with various interactive applications had aided information dissemination across borders.

It would not be out of place to filter the kids’ Internet use by setting up iOS and Android profiles for them on all the online devices they will use (smartphones, tablets, and computers). This will let you restrict all the apps and games they can download and play, and all the websites they can visit. You also can set time limits on their Internet use.

Also, most of the big email providers, such as Google and Yahoo, allow parents to create child email accounts for younger kids. These accounts can forward all their emails to you and let you monitor their contacts and communications. Kids must be at least 13 before they can have Google or Yahoo accounts of their own.

Social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram also require kids to be at least 13 before they can have their own accounts. To keep an eye on your child’s social media activity, set up accounts of your own and check your child’s pages and activity for yourself. Many parents also insist on knowing the passwords to their kids’ accounts, although some parents may consider this an invasion of privacy.

A number of programs and apps can monitor teens’ social media accounts and alert parents to any inappropriate language or photos. Many software programs and apps are available — from free to expensive — that can give you detailed reports of your child’s browsing history and tell you how much time your child spent online and on each site.

But no amount of monitoring can protect kids from everything. So encourage your child to be a responsible Internet user by being a good role model and talking to your child about online safety.

If any problems such as cyberbullying or sexting come up, use them as teaching moments to help kids understand the importance of protecting themselves and their reputation online. Parenting is a holistic task.

Above all, teach your children in the way of God. No matter how civilized the world may be, the place of God cannot be traded for anything. The role of religion in human lives is not a push over, especially for the young ones who are at the moulding stage. Parents should endeavour to live by example for the young ones in order to have a restful old age.

-Femi Onasanya wrote from Abeokuta, Ogun State via femibimboo@gmail.com (08084818609)

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