By Moses AMADI
Ikoyi Lagos, [email protected] 0803 447 8257, 0802 564 5347
The family in sociology is referred to as the basic unit of the society. A family is first and foremost a place of refuge. It’s a place that individuals feel secure because it is expected that love and care should be given by family members. That forms the values that shape the boundary for conduct and behaviour.
Family values and national development go hand in hand, and as the primary agent of socialisation, the family is duty-bound to imbibe norms and values imperative to the development of the nation. This speaks to the foundational ethics, philosophy and ethos of a people.
Every individual comes from the family which is the core fabric of the society. The society begins to grow from the family. People with good family upbringing are good assets to society because they will exhibit high morals in all facets of activities and endeavours.
The society is a reflection of family values and such values can make or mar the nation. A broken society is therefore, a reflection of broken families within that society. The aggregate of our national experience is such that we find behaviours that indicate huge moral deficit in our society. The moral deficit that we observe is exhibited on all fronts including some parents who are ordinarily supposed to be the guiding force.
Recent occurrences have revealed a sharp decline in family and moral values. Many youths, adults and adolescents are embracing anti-social behaviour which is causing a drastic change in the quality of relationships in family circles.
The degradation of family values is playing out in the social domain where we now have criminality and all manner of behaviour especially among the younger generation. The challenges we are facing presuppose that the family is under threat in Nigeria. Parents are too busy trying to put food on the table, and abdicating their responsibilities to house-helps and other domestic staff. The culture of bonding is getting very relaxed and in some cases, non-existent because of modernity-related issues.
Communication is hardly taking place, and when you find an element of interaction, people are communicating more with electronic gadgets. The emotional security is lacking. There is hardly time to connect. These are factors that should ordinarily enhance protection and humanity in the family unit and make people have a sense of belonging because love and respect are shared and it brings emotional stability. That is a foundational issue that needs to be addressed.
The society itself has evolved wrongly. Our collective value system as a society has failed us. In our society today, we are growing up with a population of people who have refused to transit from juveniles to adults. We have cross-dressers – young man dressing like women and vice versa.
Parents always expect their children to come out to be better than them but there is a failure of generational transmission of values to the children. Parenting is one thing, nurturing is another. If you are parenting and not providing the necessary nourishment in terms of moral values, the children grow up to be malnourished in values. Neglected children are now going to the street and adopting their own street values which they impose on society.
As a society, we are living a life of lies. The society has configured achievement negatively. One of the things that has turned us this way is the excessive quest for materialism; primitive accumulation of wealth has been given a pride of place. Parents live in opulence and cannot explain the sources of their wealth to their children who have an idea of what they earn. That feeling of entitlement begins to rub off on the children.
We live in an environment where there is success without hard work. The ever-widening gap between the rich and the poor is an issue. People with no visible means of livelihood are recognised and rewarded. Hence the growing desire to get rich quick and celebrate riches without questioning the sources. Youths on the street also want to get rich quick and get recognition.
We have a society that protects privileges; you are protected if you are privileged. The hegemonies that are being created, as a result, are not encouraging. The children of uniformed people mostly find themselves in the uniformed services; the same applies to the civil service; children in certain privileged classes get into certain privileged responsibilities. A society configured based on this kind of exclusiveness and distortion does not promote egalitarianism.
Naturally, the result is predictable; family values which shape and transform nations are neglected, and national development is greatly impeded. Such problematic issues are already posing a threat to the family which also indicate the kind of tensions we are having in our society that undermine national security and ultimately national development.
No doubt. What is being referenced here is that we have a generational challenge in reconstructing our relationship with our children. If we continue the way we are going, there may be no space to live in peace.
Family value is a panacea to national development. Government needs to invest in family education, and this will go a long way in redirecting the young ones. This effort can be complemented by checking and stopping the expansion of toxic value through enlarging the coast of resistance, and building capacity at different levels. There is so much connivance of silence. We need to resist what is not right.
Parents must begin to reflect and also take advantage of opportunities to build their capacity and skills to help the child of today that is so advanced and has easy access to a lot of information. Parents need to be strategic in countering the technology skills of their children.
The plan by the National Orientation Agency (NOA) to work with Google on digital parenting is a welcome development. Parents cannot afford to be ignorant of the realities on the ground. It is expected that there will be workshops and training programmes for parents to understand what their children know because raising children in this generation entails knowing what children know.
However, the bulk of raising a child both in social integration and interaction, belongs to the domain of parents. Whatever traits we have found in our national life are transmitted from the family. The family unit feeds into the community, and the community feeds into the society. We need to recapture our space, and cautiously invest in our families through the quality time we spend with our children and spouses.
Parents must rise to the occasion, and give their children the needed supervision. They cannot afford to leave their wards who need control and supervision. Children must have values that will make them do what is right even when nobody is watching. That promotes family ethics in our national life.
It is necessary for families to ensure that child-parent attachment and mutual support is not lacking so that children will not become miscreants in society that could be used by deviants to stall national development. Parents who have left their children to the vagaries of street life should be traced and made to take responsibility. We need to grow children that will not become juveniles at adulthood; children who are focused so that we can reconstruct our society to provide us with good leadership and secure environment.
Family values should be cherished. We must begin to respect each other, construct situations that enable people to grow up with respect. The family as an entity therefore, has a responsibility to mould values towards positive orientation for national development and indeed, peaceful co-existence. This speaks to societal values, as a nation’s development can be measured through human development.