An Open Letter to Nigerian Parents- 5
Sometime last month, the video of a man disciplining his son over poor academic performance went viral on social media and some of my readers reached out to me, wanting to know my take on the matter.
Before I proceed let me make it clear that #ResponsibleParenting is like attaining #Success in any given field; it’s not a ‘one size fit all’. Howbeit, there are basic principles which when followed will most likely give you the desired positive results.
That video showed the many dysfunctions in that family and sadly enough, that’s a reflection of many families within and outside Nigeria.
The first anomaly in the disciplining of that child is the fact that the man had not been supervising the academic activities of his son. The results showed the boy was absent in some major subjects. When I saw it I asked myself, was he really absent or the result was withheld? Now let’s assume he was absent, the dad doesn’t have to wait until the results came out to know that he was absent. If he had known that the boy missed his exams, then the ‘beating’ should have been done long ago before the results came out. There was no need waiting for the result of an exam you did not write.
Secondly, the grades showed that the boy was not good in those subjects. Then we need to ask if he was being forced to take those subjects?
Using myself as a case study. My school certificate results both WAEC and NECO showed my interest. I remembered the admission screening officer at the University while verifying my results, asked me if I was a science or an art student?
The reason was obvious; Mathematics, Chemistry, and Physics were all C5. While English was A1, Biology B2, Christian Religious Studies which I took in place of Further mathematics, was also A1. I smiled at the officer and kept quiet. Sciences were never my forte, but I was pressured to go that direction. That young man might have registered those subjects under the order of his father. If that is the case, will you blame the boy?
The third anomaly is the attached cost of the school fees. To be fair to the man, I won’t be directing it at him as he did not outrightly make mention of the fees. But because it was attached to the video, it shows the person who uploaded it felt there is a correlation between the man’s anger and the exorbitant school fees he paid for his son. This is a common mistake most parents make. As long as the child did not choose the school to attend and even if he chose the school, I am sure the man won’t have sent him there if he wasn’t financially capable. Punishing a child because of a financial decision you took is totally wrong.
I have seen women beat children for misplacing ‘expensive’ shoes or for using ‘expensive’ clothes to play on the ground. And interesting, they made those purchases because they wanted to show off to their peers that they are wealthy. That little boy or girl did not ask you for it. If you know you can’t stand losing the shoe don’t buy it for the child when you know losing it is a very high possibility for children at that age.
Fourthly, who recorded the incident when the man was disciplining his son? The report has it that it was the mother that covered the scene. Experience has shown that homes where one parent plays the good guy while the other disciplines the children often is a recipe for disaster.
Disciplining of children is a collective responsibility for both parents. This is why they advocate for parents to stay together, so they can collectively raise well-trained children. When one of the parents start sending signals that make the other parent look like a monster who loves making the children cry, it neutralises the essence of the discipline. The disciplined child no longer see the punishment as a way to help him or her, instead he sees the wickedness of his father or mother.
If the mother of that boy was the one who recorded that scene, in all totality she was wrong. Of what essence was the recording? To show the boy how wicked his father was or what?
In summary, pay close attention to your children. Some damages are easier to prevent than to fix.
An Advocate of Responsible Parenting
IDEDE Oseyande, a graduate of the Federal University of Technology, Akure, is an unrepentant believer in the Nigeria project.
His concern for the actualisation of a prosperous nation and the continent, in general, is reflected in his written works.
He currently runs an online advocacy platform (www.socialwatchdog.ng) where he engages the government and the people.
Among his published works are ‘What is Left of What is Right?’, ‘The Portrait of a Revolutionary Leader’ and ‘Warri No Dey Carry Last’.
He is a guest writer for several blogs and his Attitudinal and Behavioral Coaching classes has transformed many lives.