CHANGING THE STATUS OF THE ‘GLORIFIED ORPHANAGES’ WE CALL HOMES
Last year, in our article, RIGHTEOUSNESS EXALT A NATION (Prov 14:34), we looked at the rapid way in which wickedness and other forms of evil are making their way back to our home town. We considered the cause of that to be our detour from the ways of God. But our further reflection on the subject matter tells us that it is something more. While we might be right in thinking that our movement away from God is the reason for the enthronement of such evil, something obviously led to that detour. This is what I consider as parental negligence and improper indoctrination.
Have you noticed that moral decadence among the youths and children are steadily on the increase and continuously embracing new forms more than it has in the past? What could be the cause of this ugly trend? Computer age or rather what we call the jet age? Of course, that is the most available answer on the lips of every one and I do not think it is the wrong answer. It is indeed the problem. However, it is said that the discovery of a problem is halfway to its solution. How is it then that we are yet not able to conquer the threat posed by this age, having discovered that it is the problem? I believe that the reason is because we have not been able to have a clear definition of this age we call the computer or jet age or even discover what made it computer or jet age. That means, we are not yet able to fully understand what the problem with this age is.
Back in my seminary days, I wrote an article which I titled, Many of Our Elders have Failed Us. In it, I tried to consider the fact that in any situation where you have a proper handing over ceremony, the take off is normally not difficult. So, in the case where the elders are able to see a dichotomy between their age and the present, we can assume that the problem is that of lack of proper handing over of the values that made the other age better than this age. Remember the injunction of the scripture in Prov 22:6, Teach a child the way he should go, and he will not stray from it even when he is old. So, who is to be blamed when the child is not properly taught? Is it the child or the age and not the elder who is supposed to teach? Consider what was obtainable before and what happens now.
Between the Ages Before and Now
My mother told me that before she got married to my father, she was sent to Adazi, where they had Reverend Sisters who trained girls on the rudiments of family life. Before this time, they would have had nothing to do with their would-be husbands except the proposal that had already taken place. Who has time for that now? In fact, sometimes even before the proposal is made, a child would have already been on the way. This is just one of the instances. Doubtlessly, this can easily be excused by saying in a typical Igbo way, Ekwughi ekwu mere ọnụ, mana anụghị anụ mere ntị” – Not to talk is the problem of the elders but not to hear is the problem of the young. However, I would like to stand away from that saying and restructure it by saying that “Not to talk PROPERLY is the problem of the elders.
The issue at stake here is really on the fact that we are the reason for the failure of our society and not the society itself. The bulk of the problem is on what Pope Francis described as a society on the rush. According to him, When I hear the confession of young couples and they start talking about their children, I always ask them the same question: do you make time to play with your children? The fathers usually say, But Father, when I go to work in the morning, they are sleeping, and when Im back home, they are also in bed.”
That exactly is the problem! We have grown to be in need of so much money, and there is so much to be done in order to make the needed ‘so much’ money. Hence, the children are left at the risk of growing up as orphans in their very homes. The Pope continued, This is a society of orphansDad is tired, mum is tired, they go to sleepAnd the children remain orphaned.
I remember a close relation of mine who worked as a banker and got married to a banker. They normally leave the house by 6am and gets back every day together around 10.00pm. Time came when she gave birth to their first child, after the three months of maternity leave, she resumed her work and would breastfeed the baby only in the morning and at night. What happens to the child while she is away depends on the disposition of the nanny. Thank God this nanny happened to be her relation too. But, what happens in cases where there is no close relative at hand?
By the way, during my time as a kid, we had a tradition where a child is made to cross his hands over his head and touch his ear. When the child succeeds, it is assumed that he is qualified to start kindergarten. In my home, nobody began Primary School before the age of seven. The reason is not just for a blind followership of an ancient tradition. It is for the parents to first have the opportunity to give their children a proper home training before they mix up with other children. These days, once the child is two years, he is registered in a school to begin what we now call Day-Care. In these Day-Care schools, many children contact different diseases, some of them get possessed and the few lucky might just get badly influenced by spoilt children.
There was a time when parents take out time to give their children what we normally refer to as home training. In home training, moral values are inculcated by the parents on the children. However, today, because of the societal rush towards wealth, the children are left at the mercy of house maids or visiting nannies who might not even possess the values themselves. The consequence is that you might have a very religious couple with deviant children.
A More Dangerous Trend…
There is an Igbo adage that says that, “Okenye anaghị anọ n’ụlọ, ewu amụọ n’ọgbụ.” literally meaning that an elder cannot be in the house and allow the she-goat to deliver its baby while still tied to its rope. The whole problem of moral decadence is not tied to the activities of the working class parents. There are also cases where the parents are really available to their children but fail to impart moral values on the children. In fact, some would even make effort to see that this is equally not done by external figures. A teacher once narrated an experience where he was arrested and locked up in police cell by the father of one of his pupils because he flogged the child for misbehaving in schools. This is equally the experience of many who have children placed under them in different capacities. What we have now is the case of spare the rod and spoil the child.
Moreso, our parents these days are more interested in providing the children with all but those things that can help them to grow morally. Have you not noticed that most children from the ages of four and above can play computer games and make use of all kinds of gadgets? Yet, how many of these children have a copy of the Bible talkmore of knowing how to read it? How many of these children can even wash the plates they ate with talkmore of knowing how to cook?
So, we are really dealing with a case of a failed home system. In order words, what we normally call the problem of the jet or computer age is really the problem of the failed home system. And until we revisit the way we prepare for marriages and family life.
The point we have tried to make above must not be misunderstood as an advocacy for a complete shift from engaging in jobs by the parents. That would be insane to suggest because the children have to be catered for and the family must be fed and taken care of. However, it is important that whatever job the parents, especially the mother must undertake when bringing up a young family must be one that gives them enough time for their children.
It is therefore important that while couples are preparing for marriage, they should understand that marriage is wider than the day of wedding. It is important that they should also prepare adequately for the family, which involves, among other things and most especially, the bringing-forth and the training of children. When we succeed in training our children well, we shall equally succeed in having a sane society where moral decadence would be reduced to its barest minimum and jet-age redefined.