Parenting and the Dowen College Death
by: Deji Yesufu
The death of Sylvester Oromoni is no longer news around Nigeria but for the sake of those who may not have heard of what happened to him, here is a brief synopsis. Sylvester Oromoni was a twelve year old student of a secondary school called Dowen College in Lekki, Lagos State. Sylvester, a junior student at the school, got into trouble with some senior pupils of the school. It is alleged that the senior boys descended on him and beat him up. In the process, they may have gone too far and left the young boy with some injuries to his internal organs. He was eventually taken home by his parent. There is a video online where he is seen writhing in pain, complaining about pains from every part of his body. Long story short, the young boy succumbed to his injuries and died.
When the school authorities were contacted, they said that Sylvester had gotten those injuries while he played football in school. Sylvester’s father has since refuted this position saying that the school is seeking to cover its tracks on the matter. Now because the persons involved in the matter are the high and mighty in society, it was feared that the story will be killed and the boy will die in vain. Because of this, many Nigerians, including celebrities, went online to campaign for justice to be done. This has forced the police and the Lagos State government to take the matter serious. Dowen College has been closed and a number of teachers and students have been arrested as investigations into the death of this boy is ongoing. In this essay, I simply want to comment on this whole matter of parenting and the reason why, as parents, we cannot afford to outsource our responsibilities to others.
I espouse a theological view of Christianity called Reformed Theology. It is a denominational concept of the Christian faith that has a high view of the Bible. It espouses a view of God’s sovereignty particularly in the salvation of human beings and it is also a theological view that can be very devotional for those who espouse it. Because of all these, reformed people are very particular about their children. They understand that the only window period that a parent has with the child is between the ages of zero and fourteen. From the age of fourteen to eighteen years, the child begins to develop a mindset of independence. And at the age of eighteen, the child is out of the parent’s home, control and supervision. For this reason, premium is paid to the raising of the Christian child. The first thing a reformed and Christian parent is concerned about in his child is in bringing that child to understand the Christian gospel and to receive personal faith in Christ for himself. The second thing a reformed parent instills in a child are general moral values. Lastly, a reformed and Christian parent wants to be a worthy example to their children. The way they do this is by personally educating their children.
So it is very common for Reformed people to have the wife stay at home, while the husband work, to teach the children herself. We call this home schooling. The home schooling concept includes teaching the child general educational material – of the same standard children will get in any school outside. These materials are formulated by an association of Christian home schoolers around the world. So a child is exposed to an international standard of education. What I discovered, from my interviewing of parents who have done this, was that many of the children who go through this education come out better than those who go to conventional schools. But that is a digression.
My point in stating this matter of home schooling is to buttress the danger of outsourcing parenting. I understand that many arguments have been made for boarding schools since this story broke. A lot of people have argued that the problem is not boarding houses but the people in those schools and the inability of the authorities to monitor the activities of their wards under them. I disagree. I still believe that a lot of harm is done to a child’s upbringing when we leave the training of our children for others to do. Except we ourselves have no values and we have no belief system, we should understand that a child is brought into this world with a blank slate of a mind and it is his/her experiences that forms his mindsets and worldview, and the manner he will function in adult life. It is the responsibility of parents to train their children and when they leave those children for others to train, they leave themselves open to whatever outcomes such training could bring.
The pursuit of money and the successful life is at the root of the abandoning of children like these. The leading culprit in this matter is the liberated woman: the mother who must have her own money, have her own property, have her own accomplishments and name, and sees the bearing and nurturing of children as an impediment to her pursuit of success in life. In some rare cases, she even pays someone else to bear the children for her; and then pays others to take care of them, teach them and raise them for her. She is merely “mother” in name and not in action. In other cases, the man is also actively involved in the whole process of destroying the lives of the child. He supports his wife’s career and ships the children off to a boarding school. These days, children stay in day-care centers from morning till 11pm when their parents eventually come for them. There are cases of even boarding house facilities for toddlers, children in primary school and, of course, the common case of boarding houses in secondary schools. When the child has finally been trained by others, can any of these parents in every good conscience say that these children are theirs anymore?
The extreme case is that the child ends up dead as we have found in the story of Sylvester Oromoni. Unfortunately in most cases while the child is not killed, the child turns out to be something else that the parent probably never envisioned. We see them all around us: young men given to all kinds of vices in society; young women becoming high class prostitutes like the case of one Chidinma that is being accused of killing her millionaire lover. When you outsource your duties as a parent, you must live with the outcomes.
The window period for a child’s development is very small. If parents will give up worldly pursuits and invest time and resources in training their children themselves, they will never regret it. Children need to develop in their presence of their parents. The presence of a mother in the life of a growing child is absolutely necessary. It gives them stability in life and help them to navigate life issues easily. Then a father gives discipline and vision to the child. All of these add up to give the child a solid foundation. It will keep the child through life; it will keep them from untimely death.