It is God who gives babies. It is the God-assigned duties of parents to nurse and nurture those babies into adulthood. It is a long journey, onerous task to grow babies into adults. Every parent, every aunt and uncle knows that that long journey is bumpy, painful and lonely. Many times we stumble. Many times we get it right. Occasionally parents fail, sometimes woefully. Sometimes because they did not do the right thing at the right time or failed altogether to do anything. Sometimes, circumstances just work against both parents and children and things go totally belly up and everybody lives miserably afterwards.
What all that means is that we can safely say there are successful parents and not-so-successful parents. When a child turns out bad, the parents get blamed. It is generally assumed, in this society, that a woman cannot claim to be totally successful if her children are bad. And who are bad children? A bad child is one who drops out of school into nothing. That teenage girl who could not write her O’Level examination because she got pregnant in her fifth year in secondary school is a bad girl. The boy who sneaks out to smoke ‘pot’ or sniff ‘coke’ when his mates are studying is not a good fruit. That girl who has had three children for three men is bad. The one who joined a cult and ended up being rusticated from the university and the one who stole his mother’s gold to fund a birthday party for his friends are the ones nobody is proud of. A bad child is the one other parents keep their children away from.
Bad children are private pains. They keep their parents awake at night. They make their parents weep when nobody is looking. Their mothers’ heads are permanently bowed. A bad child is like a sore on the forehead that won’t heal. It is there for all to see and there is nothing you can do about the pain and the oozing odour.
A child that turns out bad is one of the worst things that can happen to any parent. The pain is worsened where and when the parents of this bad child are successful in their careers and or business. At work, they are respected role models. At home are reminders of the other side of their lives.
So daddies and mummies, how will you rate yourself in the parenting department? Would you say you have given parenting your best shot? Do you know your children, their strengths and weaknesses? Are you as devoted to your divine assignment as custodians of these children as you are to your career and business? Do you treat them like the files on your table? Do you know that your children are the true measure of how you spend your days, your real investments? Maybe not in Europe and America but in Nigeria, people sneer behind your back when you win awards or spray money at parties if your children are considered bad children.
So, I ask again, do you really know your children? Have you done your duties to them and God?
When you haul a child who does not respect you or fear God off to America at age 17 and he gets there and starts experimenting with everything from older women to crack cocaine, will you say you couldn’t have done better? Do your children know the consequences of their actions or they think if they do bad stuff they are hurting mummy? Have you told your daughter that she will live the rest of her life with the choices she makes today? Does your son know that he will hurt himself more if he continues to prefer tequila to water and night clubs to church or mosque? Do our children know that the people they hang out with will make or mar them, their destinies?
Have you grown them or spoilt them? Have you taught them hard work or do you just give them everything they ask because you don’t want them to suffer like you had to? Please remind yourself that it is the hard road you walked that shaped your success. The softies you are raising will always need to lean on you and you will turn in your grave if you can look back from the other side at the wreckage of your legacies, the choices you made in raising them.
Of course there are bad children of good parents. There are also good children of good parents. And then there are bad children of bad parents. Even as you read this, deep down you know the category you fall into. A parent who needs 56 houses to feel good is not likely to be a good parent of good children. The sick things we do will eventually infect our children.
Do your children ‘chill’ on Sunday mornings or go to church? Are they irritated when your pastor visits? Alhaji, do your children go to the mosque on Friday or it is a day for sleeping in? Do you pray with your children or you have left their destinies in the hands of the society and modernity? There are parents who believe it is only in Nigeria that praying and prayers are needed. Well, neither Islam nor Christianity originated in Nigeria. It is part of our job description to do everything to raise great children.
Your children know all the names of all wines and spirits and the location of all the nightclubs in the city. They hang out with all kinds of friends whose parents and background you don’t know and you call your carelessness modern parenting. Should your 26-year-old even still be living at home without picking any of the housekeeping bills? Was that the way you were raised? This pampering, this my-children-will-not-suffer- what-I-suffered mantra is why today’s children do not know that they must climb the stairs to get to the next level. If they can’t find an elevator, they just throw their hands up and mope.
You, daddy, have you taught them that the Prado and G-Wag in your garage did not happen overnight, that you paid a price, sweated and worked your way from the slum to GRA? The children you spoon-feed today will pawn away the precious stones you starved to acquire.
Daddy, neither you nor your wife is a devotee of Amadioha or Sango, so why does your son weave his hair? Is that also modern parenting? Why do your sons spot dreadlocks they were not born with? Why is it that it is only in your compound that boys wearing earrings are found? Did you just say he’s an artiste? Wow! He has not released a single track that anybody has heard or even had a waka-pass role in a movie. Why does he have more ‘effizy’ than the multi-millionaire successful artistes? Maybe it is just fashion, fashion funded by daddy’s hard-earned money. It’s sad when a man respected in business circles has a 30-year-old son who cannot watch over his business for even one week.
Modern daddy, what does your son do when you are not looking: bar-hopping, crack coke-sniffing or rape? Modern mummy, how many abortions have you ‘brokered for your daughter? Does she still have a womb?
Fellow parents, take a sincere look at your children and score yourself. Are you proud of what came out of your loins and what you have done with the innocent baby you were so happy when you held her/him for the first time? Is God proud of your parenting? We will all answer for our bad parenting or over-parenting here on earth and in the hereafter. That is for sure.