Why We Turn Out The Way We Are

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It is common practice in Africa for people to  blame parents and fault their parenting skills as reasons for the misdemeanors of their children. Children are believed to mirror the skills/values/principles/convictions instilled in them by their parents.

As a consequence, well behaved and successful kids owe their “success” to their parents. For example, someone allegedly claimed (on twitter) that a man was “overjoyed” by his nouveau wife’s virginity that he bought his mother-in-law a Range Rover Jeep for raising an explemary lady.

This made me to ask, why does the mother of the lady have to be the one to take the credit for her daughter’s virginity? Yes! She must have played a part but there are other factors worth considering – like the daughter herself and her immediate environment.

I sincerely believe the environment plays a major role in a child’s upbringing more than the parents and the individual in a ratio of 4:3:3. Using percentage, the environment takes up 40% of the effort that goes into a child’s upbringing whilst the parents’ and individual equally share the remaining 60%.

Think about it, throughout a child’s developmental period, s/he spends more time out there in school/church etc (environment) mixing up with friends, neighbours, teachers, peers, house helps and strangers. According to Elliott Bisnow, “You are a reflection of the twenty or thirty people who give you advice.”

Most kids are farmed out to boarding school between 8-12 years old which means the only time they really spend with their parents and families is the long holidays. And in most cases, parents are carried away with happiness/joy when they return for the holidays that they forget to keep a close eye on them during these periods. Instead, they pay attention to their physicality and most importantly, their grades/results. It would surprise you how a good result can cloud parents’ judgment of their child’s character.

One may argue that parents can afford to influence the child’s immediate environment hence their contribution soars to an unassailable 50%. However, no matter how good an environment may seem, it is complemented by the bad and the ugly, and in the end, the child is left with the unenviable task of choosing his or her own path. This is because children learn a great deal by direct teaching; they learn much more by watching others. The peer pressure on kids is enormous; they are confronted by drugs, alcohol, sex and foul language wherever they turn.

Another may argue that even the “little 30%” parents contribute is the fulcrum of the child’s developmental process because it is the foundation. After all, a solid foundation is the key to a well-built home. It is adjudged that a child’s social, emotional and cognitive development depend on family dynamics.  However, how often have we seen children with solid foundation from good homes turn out differently after much water has flowed under the bridge since those foundation days?

No matter one’s side in this argument, one thing is certain – parents, environment and the child play distinct roles in the development of an individual. Luck plays an integral part too. After all, luck and chance determine the family we are born into and thence our immediate environment.

What do you think? Please share your thoughts.

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Is There Hope For This Generation?

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Everyday I see and hear people talk about embracing positive vibes and dropping people that exude negativity. I’d like to say that I belong to this school of optimism but that’s entirely not true.

I believe in reality and can’t fight it. From a realistic point of view, positivity is certainly not a bad thing. Realists pay heed to the words of Dalai Lama “See the positive side, the potential, and make an effort.”

Positivity helps keep one motivated to continue doing the things s/he needs to do instead of wallowing in self-pity, despair or negativity. However, dwelling on just the positives is a problem. Focusing on just the positives ALL the time can/will deter one from experiencing life in the present and assimilating the lessons embedded in these experiences.

I try to look at things from both sides; there are positive and negative aspects to most situations. In other words, everything that has an advantage has disadvantages and vice versa. It is left for one to weigh and study these consequences before taking action.

This approach helped me understand and process my emotions. And in the process, I became in charge of my life. I still make mistakes regardless – lots of them. Nothing is a given but hey, it is called being human.

Consequently, realism paves way for us to be liberal; willing to accept whatever life throws at us by accepting ourselves and allowing others to be themselves. So I implore you to be liberal about some shit I’m about to say because you may not like it. Excuse my french.

In the past one month, I’ve argued atleast on three different occasions why I am negative about my generation’s ability to change the course of this nation. Despite the overflow of educated, talented, smart, innovative and intelligent youths in Nigeria, I still believe that my generation will be a lot worse than our parents, who are believed to be the reason why our nation is deep in corruption.

I know it sounds harsh considering we are more educated and exposed than our parents but the fact remains there is no platform for the genuises among us to thrive so they scamper to leave the country for good. Meritocracy is abhored and mediocrity is celebrated; it is all about who you know.

Go to social media and complain how mediocre Naija music artistes sound and wait for the ensuing reply. I bet you someone will tell you how the artistes have enough money to feed you and your family. Money and titles are everything. No matter how you get them, just have them.

This is why many parents steal anything that looks like money they come in contact with just to make their children comfortable. Parents also try to sort their kids’ way through school – from primary to tertiary – thereby contributing to the depressing number of educated illiterates in our society. As a result, the kids become relaxed and a tad lazy. After all daddy & mummy will come to their rescue with money/connections and get them that job/contract etc.

A leopard cannot change its spots and a lion cannot give birth to a goat. It is the same blood that flows from the father to the son hence these kids will grow to continue this trend and do the same for their own children.

Our generation love to have fun – hang out, party, smoke weed and get drunk. Possibly, take after the Kardashians; ball all day and still rake in money. That’s how it is supposed to be, isn’t it? Living young, wild and free.

The worst of all, we compare ourselves – what we have or have achieved. With social media, comparison is easier. There’s pressure on many to have vacation in an exotic location with bae, own exotic cars, wear designer clothes, jewelleries and shoes so we can show off.

There’s also enormous pressure on the men to give their spouses the kind of wedding worthy to feature on Instagram & BellaNaija. All these encourage stealing because money is a prerequisite for these things. In the end, we become wannabes who are ready to do anything to fit into certain groups.

Those living abroad are not better; a lot will surprise you with their reasoning and mentality. They complain about Nigeria on social media and wish for things to get better. However, I have seen many in diaspora come back to loot more than the leaders they used to complain about.

Nevertheless I like surprises and I would love it if my generation could spring a surprise on me and prove me wrong.

The Past Does Matter

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Everyday I hear people say, “the past is the past. It doesn’t matter; just leave it there.” This always gives me a wry smile because anyone going on about how the past doesn’t matter has shown his/her hand.

Does the past really matter? Yes it does! If the past doesn’t matter, why do we still see people the way they were back in Secondary School or University (until proven otherwise)? Why does your doctor always take your medical/clinical history when you visit the hospital? Why do your potential employers check your track record during an interview? Why do people cling to their culture/tradition? Why do African parents insist on investigating their potential in-law’s family history? I could go on and on but I am pretty sure you get my point now.

This may sound harsh or judgmental to many reading this but this is just me embracing reality here. Personally, I don’t judge people by their pasts anymore but it gives me an idea of what to expect from you and prepare myself for it.

This is not a “fun” topic; people are often torn between digging into their potential partner’s past and leaving the past where it belongs. Paranoia grips us when people try to find out certain information about us that we don’t want them finding out, and dealing with disrespect, distrust and uncertainty.

Most people would ask, “what’s the essence of asking about one’s past when s/he will definitely lie? After all, people do change you know” Yes! People do change but our past must have had a huge factor in triggering this change.

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Life is about events, which can either have positive or negative effects on us. Also, these events have a tendency to reoccur so taking history of these events prepare us better to face such things when they reoccur.

For instance, our immune systems spring into action when pathogens (viruses, bacteria and other microbes) invade our body and try to get rid of these foreign invaders. Afterwards, our immune systems make a memory for them and subsequent responses to these antigens are quicker and more effective than those that occurred after the first exposure.

Your past is your story; we are not proud of the wrong choices and mistakes we’ve made but these mistakes often embolden us in all ramifications. We build/develop ourselves based on past events and experiences.

For instance, apostle Paul/Saul went about persecuting Christians with zeal until he was arrested by God on his way to Damascus and was converted to Christianity. He preached the Gospel of Christ with the same zeal he used in killing Christians back in the day until he was martyred.

Life is about patterns; some we carry with us whilst we acquire others as we go along. However, sometimes we let these patterns go unnoticed and this can have a drastic effect on our perceptions of logic, and cause and effect. A good understanding of these patterns allows one to have a different outlook on life as well as the insight to embrace the truths unfolding around us.

Finding out the truth about your new partner’s past is often hard to take, especially for the broken-hearted and faith departed but it is better to know the truth and be prepared for the worst; it saves one from so many things s/he probably could have easily avoided. The past also helps the future generations to act from the mistakes of their predecessors.

Nonetheless, it is also possible to ignore the past and still have happy and fruitful personal relationships with people. In everything, there’s always an outlier.

Thank you for making out time to read this article. If you have enjoyed it, please comment and share your views on this issue. Also, do like, share and follow the blog.

Finding Balance Fun and Focus

Ecclesiates 3:1 – To all things there is an appointed time, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.

Striking a balance between fun and focus can be a herculean task. Sometimes we prioritize work/school and focus solely on results/grades/achievements, forgetting the real world out there for us to explore and have fun. On the contrary, some give little attention to school/work because they believe their social life trumps every aspect of their lives.

Problems arise when one neglects other important areas of his/her life. You may lose friends and family if you preoccupy yourself with school/work but may also be taken less seriously if you largely focus on fun. These areas, if not balanced, will negatively influence your success and happiness. Balance between focus and fun is key to a happy successful life.

At a very young age, I was made to understand that a child educated only at school is an uneducated child. The advice I received still echo in my head – “As you pass through the school; try and allow the school to pass through you.”

Fun, including personal relationships, is essential to one’s general health, wellbeing and optimal functioning. The health of your focus/fun balance depends on the quality of your relationships.

If you have been opportune to be part of a Sports team, you’d notice every coach sets aside days for his team to socialise and bond together. In Ecclesiastes 9:7, King Solomon implored Christians to have a little fun, “Go, eat your food with gladness, and drink your wine with a joyful heart, for God has already approved what you do.” Teachers also advice their students to take some time off and have fun to refresh their minds, lower their stress levels and renew their focus.

Emotions have a huge effect on an individual’s health – whether physical, mental or social health. Emotional wellbeing can affect your academic, professional and personal success.

It is important to set goals and be passionate about them but we need to balance all kinds of things in our lives. Before you can be the real you, you ought to have a balanced life. Finding a balance in everything that you do allows you to live a balanced life and enjoy the best of both worlds.

Thank you for making out time to read this article. If you have enjoyed it, please comment and share your views on this issue. Also, do like, share and follow the blog.

My Child Must Be A…

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Growing up as a Nigerian child can be mentally hard. Pardon me for generalising; Yes! I know Nigeria is enormous with over 250 ethnic groups and I cannot speak for everyone but I have found out that Nigerian children, no matter where they grow up, are raised in similar ways.

I was in South London sometime ago and a Nigerian woman complained bitterly about the academic capabilities of her 6-year old daughter (Yes! You read that right). She feels the daughter isn’t as smart as her peers and this makes her worry. She had already planned that the little girl would be a doctor in future and as a result, she hired a private tutor to teach the child after school hours which means the little girl arrives home at about 5pm every weekday.

Many Nigerian parents, just like the aforementioned lady, put pressure on their children, especially the oldest child, to do well in academics. Infact, they have unrealistic expectations that you must be the best at everything; it is not debatable. Even if you get an A and finish as the second best student, they will probably still ask, “The person that came first, does he/she have three heads?” Thereby making their children too result-oriented.

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It is absolutely of great importance that parents support their kids’ academic pursuit but there is growing concern that Nigerian parents put too much pressure on their kids beyond their capabilities and abilities. Whilst some parents want their kids to study 24 hours of the day (TDB) with minimal or no play time, in hope they will grow to become the next Albert Einstein, others favour and praise the academically sound ones over the poorly academic ones.

Putting children under intense pressure can be devastating to their psychological development. Consequently, they develop a certain type of mentality that makes them believe they are worthless without academic success thus cultivating sibling rivalry.

Some children may also develop perfectionistic traits as they put too much pressure on themselves to please their parents and other family members. In my little experience so far, many believe they are only studying for their parents, not for themselves, but are afraid to voice their opinions. Many struggle to establish autonomy and often succumb to depression, sickness, alcohol and drug abuse, psychosis, emotional trauma, low self-esteem and lack of self-confidence.

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Parenting is hard work; it must be said that parents who put too much pressure on their children never do it with the intention to harm them. Naturally, everyone expects a profitable return on the investments they make and parents are no different. They want to see a return on the investment of money/time that goes into raising their children (school fees are not easy to come by).

There is absolutely nothing wrong with setting high targets for your children however when these expectations seem to overhelm them, there is need for us to re-evaluate and soft pedal a little bit. Nigerian parents need to realise that every child is different; some are early developers whilst others are late developers. Also, not all children will be academically sound and the best you can do is to encourage them to be better whilst exploring other talents/skills your kids possess.

Some parents do this because they want their children to achieve more than they did. Recently, psychology experts revealed that parents who put extreme pressure on their children are only trying to live/achieve their failed dreams through their children. This gives them great fulfillment and pride, as some see it as a “straightforward validation of their parenting skills.” Professor Brad Bushman of Ohio State Univerisity, who coauthored the research said, “Parents then may bask in the reflected glory of their children, and lose some of the feelings of regret and disappointment that they couldn’t achieve these same goals.”

Furthermore, the emergence of social media (Facebook, BBM, Twitter, Whatsapp, Instagram etc) have unintentionally heaped pressure on many to achieve and some extend this pressure to their children. We are always notified about the events in everyone’s lives – especially their achievements so there’s increased pressure on kids to excel academically so parents can secretly boast that they have the best children ever.

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A child should be allowed to follow his/her own path in life, not the path of his or her parents. All he/she needs is parental guidance and support!

Thank you for making out time to read this article. If you have enjoyed it, please comment and share your views on this issue. Also, do like, share and follow the blog.