I have been involved in child protection issues in the last 15 years. Beginning from my personal experiences, I have studied the indelible impact of wrong up-bringing both and the victim (the child) and the world at large. I have come to the irresistible conclusion that bringing a child to this world is far less important than what the society, beginning from the parents/guardians plan to make of the child.
Since, I came to this conclusion, I no longer rejoice ordinarily when I hear that a child is born. I only rejoice if I know that the parents and society are deliberately equipped to give the child a future and a hope through proper training. The foregoing, I believe they can only do when they are aware of the requirements, according to divine and universal principles for properly bringing up a child. I daresay that it is not everybody, who is qualified to be parents. I will quickly catalogue some parents, who were not qualified to be parents but made a costly attempt to and threw our entire world into big mess by their bad parenting:
- Ketevan Geladze and Besarion Jughashvili were the parents of Joseph Stalin. History records ‘Stalin had a violent upbringing. His father beat his mother and himself so violently that Stalin once had blood in is urine for over a week.’ According to BBC he was ‘one of the most powerful and murderous dictators in history…His regime of terror caused the death and suffering of tens of million.’
- Alois Hitler and Klara Pölzl were parents of Adolf Hitler. The young Adolf lacked parental care and thoughtfulness. History records, ‘ignoring his son’s desire to attend a classical high school and become an artist, in September 1900 Alois sent Adolf to the Realschule in Linz.’ Adolf Hitler was very angry that his father wouldn’t allow him to pursue his dreams. Adolf was responsible for the World War II in which over 60million people were killed, which was over 2.5% of the world population. The 2nd World War has been referred to as ‘the deadliest conflict in all of human history.’
- Andreas Nyabire and Assa Aatte were the parents of Idi Amin Dada. Abandoned by his father at a young age, Idi Amin grew up with his mother’s family in a rural farming town in northwestern Uganda. He grew up to become a blood-thirsty despot, who kill between a 100,000 and 500,00 people during his reign of terror in Uganda.
You see, the birth of a child is potentially (by God’s endowment) and positionally (by God’s plan) a blessing to our world. Where the parents and society are not responsibility enough to help the child to maximise his/her potentials and agree with the plan of God, the birth of a child may mark the beginning of unmitigated terror and horror for our world. Could we now say, wouldn’t it have been better if the parents of Hitler, Stalin and Dada did not bring them to this world? I rest my case here. See you on Monday as I continue. Have an INSPIRED Weekend.
There are four (4) ways by which a child can be abused. One of these days I will dwell on that. Today I want to kick off from where I stopped yesterday on the subject: who is an orphan? Abandonment or neglect is the fourth way by which a child can be abused.
Neglect is divided into two: the first is when parents are not available to take care of their children. I mean to meet their five basic needs as I enumerated yesterday. The second and the most deadly kind of neglect is when parents are available but they have not consciously equipped themselves to be in a position to meet the basic children’s needs. The five basic needs I identified yesterday can only be met by wisdom and not by might. Many parents are in this second category.
In most cases when they claim to be around they are clueless as how to help their children. Such was the case of Rukayat Olupo, who began her menstrual cycle at 13 or thereabouts. The first person she spoke to was her mum. It was bad enough that her mum did not prepare her daughter for this sensitive period of her development. The mum’s response was first that she was busy and the matter should be discussed later. When Rukayat reminded the mother, she simply made it a joking point on the dining table. Rukayat therefore made up her mind not to discuss the matter with her mother again. She reached out to her friends and they convinced her that beginning her menstrual cycle meant she was ready for sexual relationships with men. She bought their counsel and went wild into town.
At the time she was sharing her story at 16 at a program organised by Action Health Incorporated in Abuja, she had already gone deep into sexual relationships and had nursed one or two Sexually Transmitted Diseases. I think that is the much I will like to say about the subject of neglect today. It is also a clarion call that it is time for parents/guardians to wake up to the awesome responsibilities of meeting their children’s five basic needs. But they must understand that it is not a responsibility we can meet without seeking knowledge. Stay INSPIRED.
In my handbook, ChildPLUS™…THE BEST-INTEREST-OF-THE-CHILD ACRONYM I defined an orphan as ‘of Replica of God, lacking LIVING or dead Parents’ guidance, Honest protection And Nurture. The foregoing is my practical interpretation of the state of many children in this part of the world. It is my irresistible opinion that an orphan is not a child, who has lost both biological parents like it is popularly believed. An orphan is a child, whose parents are not available to play their parenting roles. It does not matter whether the parents are dead or alive. A child has five basic needs as follows:
- Every child needs SOMEONE to BELIEVE– A Role Model
- Every child needs SOMETHING to BELIEVE – Values
- Every child needs SOMEWHERE to BELONG–Family and Community
- Every child needs SOMETHING to BECOME– Aspiration to Significance and Pursuit of Inner Potential
- Every child needs the AFFIRMATION of his FREEDOM and RESPONSIBILITY- A sense of dignity and self-worth
Once the parents are not available to play these roles, a child is an orphan. Parenting is not a title. It calls for awesome and meticulous responsibilities. It is however one of the most neglected responsibilities in this part of the world, yet the noblest responsibilities on the face of the earth.
I also found an interesting definition in the Encarta Dictionary: it reads ‘child without parents: a child whose parents are both dead or who has been abandoned by his or her parents, especially a child not adopted by another family.’
Join me tomorrow as I discuss with you the two (2) levels of abandonment or neglect that the Nigerian child suffers.
It was a fulfilling independent’s day celebration yesterday for me. I had the opportunity of being part of two key nation building initiatives. I was at Spring Forte Montessori School, Magodo G.R.A to speak to parents on the very important issue of Child Protection and awesome responsibility of parenting. Later in the day, I was at the Power Parenting program of The Olakunle Soriyan Company to anchor the second stream of the program, aimed at empowering parents in the delicate responsibility of parenting.
I think the whole idea of focusing on the family is critical to nation building. The nation Nigeria is first of all typified by individuals. If individual will get it right, then our nation will get it right, one nation will be on the path to enviable transformation. The family unit becomes an inevitable focus in a realistic nation building agenda as every individual passes through the family unit. It has in fact been concluded that the state of the family is the state of the nation.
It is in this same spirit that I will continue my discussion of the issue of single parenting. As I said last week the responsibility of parenting has been delegated by the father to the mother and from the mother to house help or nannies. If I must take it further parenting has been further delegated to the schools. Fathers pride themselves in the fact that they pay school fees. They believe that once they pay school fees they have performed their responsibility. The question I ask is that does awarding a child a scholarship to go to school qualify the philanthropist to refer to himself/herself as the parents of the child? Therefore payment of school fees is not necessarily a parental role. Payment of school fees must be done, without neglecting a higher responsibility of being available for our children.
In conclusion, please note that children are not designed to be brought up by single parents or brought up in institutional homes. Single parenting and institutional homes are makeshift arrangements to do the best for the child under a difficult circumstance. It is pathetic when children are supposed to be living with both parents and the responsibilities are abandoned to one party.
My charge today is that it is time for both parents to take responsibility for the destiny of their children. It is time for individual families to convoke as Sovereign Family Conference (SFC) with the main agenda of drawing up a credible parenting plan, which assigns responsibilities to daddies and mummies. I will like to round up with the words of Dr. Mike Murdock to fathers: ‘your absence diminishes your influence.’ Have an INSPIRED Day.