REFORMING THE SOCIETY THROUGH THE FAMILY.
Recently, I saw a picture on facebook showing two Muslimat and one catholic putting on a veil. All of them are ‘corpers’, equally wearing the NYSC cap.
After seeing it, I was pleased that we still have Nigerians bold enough to regard modesty and religion higher than routine and secularity. But to my dismay, the page that uploaded the picture actually meant to condemn and ridicule the act, and it earned the endorsement of majority of the ‘commenters’, some describing them as barbaric and obsolete. This only reflects how twisted the thoughts of many are, how suddenly our values have changed and how we now condemn attitudes that used to be cherished by majority of the human race.
Many have wondered why there is so much anomalies, immorality and corruption in present times, why every aspect of human life seems to be upside down, why our mind-sets are so perverted that we now consider normal things as strange and abnormal things as ordinary. Many wise enough to detect this worrisome state of affairs, have attempted to seek the source and eventually reduce, or at best, curb it once and for all.
Some believe that the inadequacies of the government is the root-cause due to the paucity of employment and a qualitative accessible education system. Some are of the view that it is the media along with means of globalization that brought immorality along with it when it emerged because of the innumerable immoral ideas propagated through TV shows, radio broadcasts, magazines and most especially the internet which seems to have its tentacles glued to all lands across the globe. Others believe it is the backwardness in the schools and ineffectiveness of the pedagogy that has led to the situation we find ourselves.
However, I am of the strong belief that none of the afore-mentioned agencies has been the cause of more havoc to our societal values and moral standards than the family has. The Family, apart from the individual, is the smallest unit in the society and it exerts the most influence on the individual by helping to form his views, opinions and mind-set. This is not surprising as the family is the first companion, teacher and mentor a child has. And if it IS defective in imparting the right values and attitudes into a child, then it will ultimately affect the society that child grows in.
The similitude of a flawed family to the society is like that of a rotten egg to a crate of eggs. It, no doubt, will transfer its malady to the other members. Hence, to curb social ills, we need to look inward and start from the fountainhead of the larger society, the family.
The family is like a complex edifice, with many intricate body components. For a family, and by extension the society, to be successful, one has to monitor all these parts. One of these is the marriage, the foundation of all homes. At times, due to some inadequacies on the part of marriage partners, the future of a child is destroyed even prior to its conception.
Many people jump into marriages without making necessary considerations such as the availability of a sufficient source of income, the compatibility of genotypes and the rationale behind ones attachment to ones lover. The latter is very paramount as ignoring it may lead to long-lasting scars in the married life, thereby affecting the future of the offspring. Marriages borne out of lust are bound not to last long, or if they do last long, then they will be tumultuous. In any case, the children will be the ones to bear the brunt psychologically, financially, academically and socially. Also, children should be properly begotten. It is a fact that children who are products of fornication or adultery, children who are HIV positive or sickle cell carriers and those that are born into extreme poverty will find it difficult to live a normal life and will on the long-run, take to behaviours harmful to them and the larger society.
After properly constituting our families, what else we need to do is encourage the re-emergence of the extended family structure, which is the common practice in Africa before the infiltration of western values. Now, many people prefer the ‘me, my spouse and children’ type of home. The havoc this is causing is not obvious, but great. One, it makes it hard to monitor the child(ren). An extended system would provide sufficient monitoring, security, healthy competition amongst the children and moral support to the children. Here is what Pearl S. Buck has to say; ‘the lack of emotional security of our American young people is due, I believe, to their isolation from the larger family unit. No two people-no mere father and mother-as I have often said, are enough to provide emotional security for a child. He needs to feel himself in a world of kinfolk, persons of variety in age and temperament, and yet allied to himself by an indissoluble bond which he cannot break if he could, for nature has moulded him into it before he was born’.
Another important issue, germane to the success of any family is that of career mothers. I am of the opinion that it is in the interest of no one that a woman should work far from home, and for long hours. Mothers seem to have lost focus on their most important goal and duty; to cater for the children and the family. It is naturally, historically and scripturally the work of mainly the man and head of the family to provide for the monetary needs of the family. In a case whereby the father is hardly at home, and the mother too is a workaholic, leaving home early in the morning and returning late at night; even if a nanny is hired, it will still have deleterious effects on the child. Mothers need to understand that the best way to render service to their community is by being there for their children. I’m not arguing that they should not engage in any lucrative activity, but such activity must not in any way hinder them from giving their ‘all’ to their family.
Apart from these, parents have a duty apart from feeding, clothing and educating a child, and that is to show good examples to the child. They should not only instruct him/her to do or not to do something, their behaviours must also manifest such instructions. A scenario in which the child observes that his parents are adulterers, drug addicts or amoral individuals, will only degenerate to the child being no better as he/she will tend to take them as role models.
Lastly, the level of discipline in our families is very abysmal. Parents are no longer strict in monitoring and correcting their children. Whenever children act inappropriately or in an impolite manner, parents no longer caution them and if they do, it is with inordinate clemency. This kind of attitude will only prove to be counter-productive, as the child, judging from the reaction from his parents, will not be aware of the enormity of some enormities.
In summation, I would like to implore all those truly desiring to reform the society and set things right in the world, to begin from their individual homes. The situation of our families is very appalling. The fact that countries like Russia, USA, Mexico, Cuba, Ukraine and Panama with very high divorce rates also have the highest prevalence on crimes and immoralities is not a surprise. Once the family is not effective in its inherent function of nurturing the children and future leaders, this failure and ineffectiveness will inevitably reflect in the society. I wish to end with a quote from Anthony Brandt: Other things may change us, but we start and end with the family.