By Ajidagba Olanrewaju
The impact of Parents and reliable adult guidance in the lives of the teeming number of newborns being birthed everyday by wailing, soon to be mothers cannot be overemphasized enough. This impact goes way beyond money or physical protection. Even though these two things are very important, they pale in comparison to the emotional attachment children need to have with their respective parents.
The willingness of parents or guardians to be really interested in the day-to-day lives of their wards besides how they’ll survive is probably one of the core differences that separate human parenting from that of animals. The family itself is the parent institution and pillar of the society. Any development whatsoever in any of its sectors, stems from a very healthy relationship between the various members of this minute but powerful institution.
The constant frustration the younger generation feels as a result of emotional negligence on the part of their supposed guides was well replicated on the pimply face of my younger brother who kept questioning the reason for his existence if he was going to be misunderstood all his life for every step he took after surviving another brutal argument with our father on a warm Saturday afternoon. His bloodshot eyes were red and watery, while his voice wavered as he stuttered continuously, the breadth cursing out of his mouth red-hot with angst.
I knew the cause of his desperate outburst but refrained from saying anything because I knew all he needed from me right there was patience and a listening ear. I could really feel his frustration as he tried frantically to explain his situation with huge difficulty. His stutter increased drastically and he kept struggling with each word while I kept asking him to calm down a little and explain himself better.
He never did calm down. Rather he kept repeating the same words over and over while skipping over the ones he couldn’t pronounce until he got tired of the whole debacle and just left, threatening to kill himself if our parents don’t desist from their “wicked acts”. I smiled to myself because I knew exactly what he was going through. He is just like me and probably every other youth on the black continent made up of injured individuals with numerous character flaws and emotional injuries caused in part by the same people whom nature has appointed as our natural guides and protectors.
Children who develop from an environment where they are able to express themselves without the fear of being shut-down or repressed eventually grow up to be strong, confident individuals with high self esteem and poise, while those with poorer environments turn out with worse personality traits that stay with them for the rest of their lives. Poor in this case does not necessarily mean the financial background of the child or the family, but the lack of healthy attention and interest in the personal development of the younger members of the family by its custodians.
In Nigeria, where most parents are more concerned, if not obsessed with the physical welfare of their child than any other thing. It is often known that most of this children take the slow and arduous step to adolescence and eventual adulthood either all alone or with little emotional support. Those who have passed through the stormy years of adolescence will confirm that the emotional transition and actions taken between childhood and adulthood probably defines the lives of each person. Children need their parents at this time the most.
A little chit-chat every day, heart-felt conversations, regular commendations, even for small but noble acts goes a long way in the personal development of a child. Fathers have a large, if not larger role to play in the overall development of their child. While it is also part of their responsibility to provide the basic needs in life for the family and most especially their wards, it is equally important they give these kids quality time and attention. The popular notion that a child’s daily training solely belongs to the mother is completely false and irresponsible.
Sadly, this has always been the trend from time, especially in Nigeria. Most fathers over here, although heroic in the discharge of their other responsibilities fall totally short in taking genuine interest in the lives of their wards. For most men, their plight is understandable because they simply cannot give something they never had. The problem of men finding it hard to maintain an emotional connection to their children dates back to older generations that had ignorantly assigned the roles of nurturing and guiding a child solely to the mother.
Children that learn to process their thoughts on their own right from a very tender age with no apparent help from an adult or guardian tend to make a lot of life altering mistakes, some so costly it mars them for the rest of their lives.
These mistakes might not be visible or clear to the parents at first, probably because their child seemingly excels in all the aspects they’ve always envisioned him/her to do well at. A perfect example of this might be a boy or girl that was top of his/her class for a particular term or semester but ended up losing his/her virginity reluctantly in the same semester while drunk to a boy or girl they hardly knew on an ill-fated night out with friends.
What happened that night might haunt the said individual for the rest of their lives if their virginity wasn’t something they wanted to give up yet, but processing the thoughts alone with no listening ear nor a caring shoulder while their respective parents fussed over their success that semester would be utterly worse.
Parents who demand flawless excellence from their wards with no apparent interest in their daily lives or whatever they might be going through cannot truly be called parents in the real sense. They are Sponsors or financiers, who invest their funds or efforts in a child and demand a good return while completely ignoring the most important investment of all; Emotional Intimacy.
This is probably the reason why there are more conflicts in some Nigerian families than some areas in the Middle East. When those parents or sponsors fail to get their return on an “investment” they put in for so many years, they continually rain hell and brimstone on the hapless child. Children trapped in this sort of institution are the true examples of a generation of Nigerian kids forced or cajoled to live their lives in utter, total submission of their parent’s wishes even though it might conflict with theirs.
They are the injured generation. A society of individuals who exist for their parents alone, whether they like it or not. It hardly matters if one is more successful than the other. They are still injured. This emotional injury eventually gets better with age. However, our sincerest condolences and understanding goes out to those that have made costly mistakes during the stormy years between childhood and adulthood due to any form of emotional negligence on the part of their parents.
The question of whether an individual’s choices or the environment they grew up in, determines their overall character is still hotly contested in the intellectual community. Before any kind of consensus is reached on this subject, may every human, either male or female planning to procreate in the nearest future see it as their primary responsibility to cater for their offspring in EVERY aspect, so as to ensure a better world for this present generation and others to come.