I don’t mean to come off as being elitist, but just like having a Maybach, mansion, Brazilian hair, lace front wig, and even a blackberry is not for everyone, I have always and continue to remain convinced that not every one should have children. A lot of responsibility comes with having and raising children and it appears that people have forgotten this. I cannot comprehend how some parents allow their children to run wild and fail to set boundaries for them. Yet they wonder why their children turn out to be societal misfits. It goes without saying that children NEED and WANT boundaries.
My experience at work has further strengthened this conviction. Before I go on, I will stress that I am far from stereotypical. I hate stereotypes, but my angst is born out of what I’ve experienced. Feel free to disagree with me. Moving on.
Based on my observation, it appears that in America the importance given to proper behavior, excelling in school, and showing respect to older people is not as paramount as it is in Nigeria. I will stress that I have American friends who are extremely well behaved and intelligent, but often they are the exception more than the rule. In the same vain, we’ve all heard of many Nigerian parents and guardians that take the need for respect and excellence to dangerous and abusive levels. I personally do not support verbal abuse, corporal punishment or hitting children. These are no-no‘s. This is why I’m glad that the Child Rights Law was passed in 2003 by ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo and has subsequently been implemented into Acts in a number of states like Lagos, Abuja, Akwa-Ibom, Ondo, and Osun, to name a few.
I do support, from an early age, spanking and explaining to children why they’re being punished. However, the truth is on average, most Nigerian parents regardless of economic or social class want the best for their children and they will instill the necessary boundaries to help them succeed. It is not strange that for most Nigerian parents, their joy and pride comes from having children that are well behaved and smart. For example, a few days ago, a co-worker was discussing with me how every Nigerian child she has come into contact with at various school districts she has worked at are always well behaved and their parents are always involved in their education. Now don’t get me wrong, there are some Nigerian kids in America and even in Nigeria that are badly behaved. A few of my cousins, for example, though they were born and raised in Nigeria, were the worst set of kids I had ever come across at the time. They were just so spoilt. From a young age, I used to hate going to their house and vice versa. Again, these types of children are the exception not the rule in naija. Though with the advent of globalization and Nigeria’s attempt to keep up with the Jones‘s, it appears that bad behavior amongst Nigerian children is on the upswing– another discussion for another day.
It is troubling when I run into parents at work who show no sign of interest in their children’s lives. For crying out loud, children did not beg to be brought into this world! Even more upsetting is the language that comes out of the mouth of some of these children. I know I have a potty mouth and so does my brother, mum and dad. But when I was in primary and secondary school, I dared not curse out my teacher or use any sort of foul language. If I did, I would be in “serious kwanta” as they would say back then. I equally remember when I was in secondary school and whenever my parents attended the so-called “open day” meetings, I would always be so nervous. For those are unaware, in Nigeria “open day” is when parents go to your school to discuss with your teachers about your progress in class. Although I was a “good child“, I knew that if my teachers reported me to my mother about any little thing, I would definitely receive a talking from my mother. Bless my mum, she hardly ever beat or spanked my brother or me. Nevertheless, what she lacked in spanking she made up for in some serious talking—to me, this was far worse than getting spanked.
Nowadays with some kids in America, they act so nonchalant when you say you’ll report them to their parents. They know their parents will do nothing about it, which is very sad. We really are setting these children up for failure. They are being raised without the proper skills and regulatory behavioral mechanisms that will help them succeed in life. There needs to be constant discussions about the importance of proper parenting in America. Parents need to stop ceding parenting to schools. You are a parent, do your job!
I will end by again stressing that not everyone should have children. Some people are just not equipped and do not even want to learn how to be good parents. If you know you can’t invest the time to care for a child, please don’t have them. Know thyself! Understand that children are like beautiful toys but the difference is that unlike toys, you can’t get rid of them when they become “uncool” or get old. It’s best if you remain the childless fun, cool uncle or aunt. Children will always love you for that.
A word is enough for the wise.
Image Source: Brothers Arm in Arm — Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis