Dear Nigerian Parent…
By: Deji Yesufu
My dear Nigerian parent, I trust God that this letter meets you well. Since I do not have a specific person in mind who I am writing to, I hope that as you read this letter, and find the matters raised in it concerns you, you will make some effort at changing your ways for the good of all of us in society. I know that we Nigerians love to blame government for everything; but some of us are realizing that most of the problems with this country can be traced to the ordinary Nigerian. This is why I have picked up my pen to write you this letter: I simply want to remind you that the future of this country lies in the hands of your children and whatever you raise them up to become – will be the type of country these children will turn this nation into. I will begin with the little things and then go unto more serious issues.
I do not know whether you realize it but I cannot phantom why you allow your toddler to keep standing in the car. Have you not heard of a baby seater before? Do you realize the dangers that could come to your child as they stand on that car seat? In case you do not understand, let me paint a clearer picture for you. Many times, while plying the road, I see you, dear Nigerian parent, driving the car and having your child standing on the passenger seat. The car is usually sealed tight, with the air-conditioning showering on you all, so it is practically impossible to talk to you and warn you about having that child standing in the car. At other times, the child is sitting at the back seat but is also leaning forward to the front seats and there you are caressing his/her head and encouraging them on in their ways. I have also seen you bring such a child right into the driver seat. With the toddler seated on your laps, you speed the vehicle on. Do you understand that at just a little impact or simple applying of the brakes of the car, your child will be thrown forward and in some extreme cases could actually pierce through the windscreen of the car? Before you say “God forbid”, do the right thing and save the life of that child.
The real problem with the child standing in the car is not even the dangers that come with the action but the clear lack of control such parent has over their children even at that tender age. It is clear that it is either you, the parent, do not have any discipline and do not see any reason to impart discipline on your child; or, you do realize the dangers in that child standing around in a moving car but are unable to instruct the child on the right course of action. When you, the parent, cannot talk to a two- or three-year-old child, who will talk to them when he or she is grown and is an adult? One day, when I was newly married, a nurse gave me lift. She had her three-year-old son at the back of the car. He was not in a car seat but the mother had made him to understand that when he is in the car, he must have his seat belt on. He sat strapped to the back of that car and said nothing until we reached our destination. I have two children – a ten and an eight-year-old. They know better than standing around the vehicle while I am driving. It was a sing-song for them while they were growing up to “sit down!”; and now that they are older no one need to tell them what to do when they are in a moving vehicle. Dear Nigerian parent, my son and daughter will be marrying into your homes. Teach your children what they need to know now so that they do not need to learn those things, to their embarrassment, outside.
The current lamentation in our society is that young people are getting into ritual killings. They are using their girlfriends to make money. The question that should be asked is this: from what homes did these children come out of? Who are their parents? Is there a father in the house these boys grew up in? Even with the father present, what were they taught as they grew up? What neighborhood did they grow up in? What schools did they go to? When parent cannot supply sufficient answers to questions like these, they sure will not be able to explain how and why their children turn out the way they do. Children do not become yahoo boys overnight. They do not become ritualist in one week. There is usually a process.
In 2002, I had just concluded my degree work at the university. I had a few months to spare before proceeding on NYSC. I took that brief time to visit my uncle in Ibadan. Uncle Muri worked in Warri but came home at weekends. His first son was billed to write his common entrance exams that year. My uncle told me that he took his annual leave and ensured that it coincided with the time the boy will be writing his exams. I do not need to tell you that that boy was very well prepared for his exams. My own daughter is writing her common entrance this year; I have a worthy example to follow. Dear Nigerian parent, how involved are you with the academics of your children? Do you know how well they are improving in their learning? Or, you are preparing to take them to special centers to write their finals? It is what you sow into these children that make them what they will become in the future.
Besides the young men and women given to vices in our days, there is also the moral decadence in society. One dare not repeat some stories that one has heard, lest we turn this essay to a soft porn. Suffice to say that I fear greatly what will become of the moral future of this country. Our young men sleep with everything in skirts; our young women have no discipline and fall to anything that names the name of money. I have learnt early enough that to save guard the life, future and home of my children, I must be intimately involved in finding a spouse for them. God forbid my daughter marries a son of you parent, who has no discipline; who is not taught and who is downright godless. God forbid my son marries one of your daughters whose underwear has been seen by everyone in the neighborhood. I will not have my efforts wasted; be sure that if you, dear parent, fail to train up your child – they will marry their likes; not into homes like ours.
Dear Nigerian parent, Muhammadu Buhari will not come from Aso Rock to train up your child. The ball is in your court; if you fill your wards with garbage, they will give out garbage in the future. It begins with little things like telling the children to sit down and sit tight in the car; teaching them to use the seat-belt; teaching them table manners; and a host of other things. Dear Nigerian parent, the future of this country is the future of your children. If you think because you now have small change in the bank, you can then relax and spoil your children; those children will grow up, eat up all your wealth and return you to abject poverty in your latter years.
He who has ears to hear, may he listen and take heed.