Let’s look at The Role of Children & Parents in Nation Building.
To build our nation, we must build our children but we must begin by building ourselves. A teacher who is undertrained or a parent who does not read cannot offer much to a student or a child. So please keep abreast of all that can help your child, our children develop.
If you keep your ears close to the media and to what is going on out there you’d know that our children are being abused. When I say abused I don’t merely mean verbally and even that is damaging. When you begin to say, ori e o pe (your head is not correct), ori e o da (your head is bad), Chineke na k’pogi (God punish you); this is bad and damaging to a child. All forms of abuse – verbal, sexual, emotional, psychological and physical – are perpetrated by fathers, mothers, teachers, aunties, uncles’ even peers on our children. Two children – a boy and a girl – of the same parents and a friend returned home from school and decided to watch the last video their parents watched before NEPA or is it PHCN took the light the night before. It turned out to be a pornographic video; unfortunately they not only watched, they decided to practice.
Parents, mentors, guardians, well meaning teachers we all must put our hands on deck to nurture these special gifts from God. If we fail them we have failed God. If a child is not doing well academically or behaviourally, you add nothing to the child by abusing the child or abusing the child’s father or mother or even teacher. Why don’t you decide to take your leave or vacation around the child’s holiday so that you can personally monitor and mentor the child? You are your child’s best teacher, mentor and cheerer. If your child is receiving a prize and you are not there to cheer the child; the child may believe that earning a prize is nothing and so begin to do badly.
We as parents and guardians, have the highest stake in children and we must ensure that the issue of granting the rights of children and protecting children – not just your biological children but all children – from all forms of abuse is of utmost importance to the future of your family, your generation and indeed our great nation. To have peace now and in future, you cannot afford to shy away from the issue of child neglect, exploitation and abuse. We all have a part to play in curbing child abuse. Re-writing a future where children are protected from all forms of abuse starts now and our children must be able to count on us.
Dear children, every day we hear a lot of things; hearing is different from listening. If someone says to you, “You are a fool someone is offering you all the exam papers in exchange for stealing your parent’s money and you are saying no”. Only you can make yourself a fool. What people say about you does not shape you. No one can make you feel inferior or stupid without your permission. The moment you return to the person and say, “I have thought about it and I want to do what you suggested then you have listened”. As a disciplined student, as someone building a character for the future you must learn to hear and not pay attention to things that will not augur well for your future.
Some irresponsible parents have been known to mislead their children. If mummy says to you, “I want you to go and play with uncle in the room so he can give us big money” or daddy says to you, “Alcohol mixed with a little marijuana will make you very bold that way you can face any girl or beat up any bully” you know that is bad counsel. Should you listen or not listen? (We should not listen).
If I live with a woman who tells me every day that I have no hope and no future; if she pays my school fees or feeds me, it may be impossible not to hear her but it is important not to listen. If your counsel comes from Tu Pac or Obesere; your mindset will gradually be shaped like theirs. If your counsel comes from our great singer Onyeka Onwenu who says let there be peace in our hearts, homes, peace in our nation and the world; then you’d begin to believe that peace is achievable.
Who we listen to shapes the man or woman we become. If you have a parent who prays for you and says to you every day, “You will make it, you are destined for success.” Even though you may not be doing very well in school, as long as you keep listening to those positive, esteem building words you will begin to believe in your ability to make it and put more effort. Make up your mind to only listen to what will build you, what will motivate you, what will inspire you; listen to what will give you life. The Good Book says, I place before you this day life and death; choose life that you may live.
Children, God has blessed us with beautiful bodies that can be divided into two parts – the public and the private. As children we must be careful about those we call friends or family. If your brother’s friend says remove your pant let me touch your something. There is no part of the body called something. If he wants to touch your breast, shout and say I will tell mummy and daddy that you wanted to touch my breast. But if you say, don’t touch my something, he will begin to joke; I will touch your something Jo and when you tell Mum or Dad; they will say eyin omo yi sha, something e na da. Not knowing that by something you mean your breast or even your penis they will treat it with levity. Yes, it happens to both boys and girls. So Parents, learn to talk directly, not in codes, with your children. Teach them about their bodies and encourage them to open up to you.
In Nigeria, we celebrate Children’s Day, but every day is for the child because it is what we put into our children daily that transforms them into patriotic citizens and successful men and women. The articles contained in the Convention on the Rights of the Child and in the Child Rights Acts indicate that children need to be involved in the process of understanding their rights. It is our responsibility as Parents, Guardians, Teachers, Mentors to ensure we teach them as well as protect these rights
Dear boys and girls; all the effort by everyone here and others unable to make it here is to ensure that you represent us well and become real disciplined leaders in future. Do you think all these people would be disappointed if you turn out badly (wait for response). So you must determine to make your parents or guardians, your teachers and mentors, the government, all stake holders especially Nigeria proud of you. You must not be involved in abuse of any form, be it drug abuse, child to child abuse, molestation, bullying, abuse of properties; most importantly you must make up your mind not to abuse the talents God has given you and the opportunities your parents have given you through care and education. You must avail yourself of different programmes that are organised for children and young people like the Change Makers Club, The Boys and Girls Brigade, The Willows Magazine Club, The Young Farmers Club, The Girl Guides, The Boys Scout, The Brownie which are designed for your educational, spiritual, physical and emotional development. Parents, God will bless you as you continue to love and support these children in their aspirations.
Dear Parents, Guardians, Teachers and Mentors, let us take our responsibility of developing these young ones seriously. They are the future I agree but they are here now and must be fully prepared to take up their responsibilities in future. We need not wait for the special days set aside to show our love and appreciation for these special gifts the Almighty has graciously blessed us with. They are natural resources that can be well channeled for maximum national benefits. Let us give more in terms of quantity (content) and quality (care) and I trust that our investment would not be in vain. A Yoruba adage says, “Omo ti a ko ko, lo ma gbe ile ti a ko ta. I doubt that even the Yoruba children can interpret that because we have decided to relegate our culture to the background. The proverb in English literally means the child we refused to build would sell the house we decided to build.
Let’s build our children and I pray that as we do so they will bring honour to the parents, mentors, school, and the nation.