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Global Parents’ Day

Five days after children in Nigeria ‘celebrated’ (or rather observed) the annual Children’s Day on Saturday May 27, 2023;...

Five days after children in Nigeria ‘celebrated’ (or rather observed) the annual Children’s Day on Saturday May 27, 2023; it was time for parents to also celebrate the World Parents Day on Thursday June 1, 2023. The Day was instituted to recognise the critical role parents play in the life of their children. In 2012, the first day of June every year was officially designated by the United Nations as the ‘Global Day of Parents’. The inaugural observance of this day took place ten years ago on June 1, 2013.

The Day offers opportunities for promoting and advocating for the wellbeing of families; emphasising the importance of parental guidance in nurturing children. For the full and development of their personality, children are expected to “grow up in a family environment and in an atmosphere of happiness, love, and understanding.” Parents’ Day is used to call upon governments, groups and individuals to improve upon their efforts in ensuring and supporting meaningful parenting. The theme of this year’s event is “The power of parenting: raising happy, healthy and hopeful children.”

Although the Day is now 48 hours behind us, not many parents know that such a day exists let alone celebrate it. While we expect the Ministry of Information and Culture at the federal and state levels, the National Orientation Agency, and Non-Governmental Organisations to take interest in this Day through necessary sensitization of the public for the sake of posterity in the country, this column shall attempt to examine the subject-matter on this page today.

Parents are naturally expected to give identity in addition to providing love, care, and protection to children. Parents must, in keeping with the spirit of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, do everything to protect and preserve such rights as defined by the convention. Whenever the decades-old Almajiri and out-of-school children phenomenon in Nigeria particularly in the northern states is brought to mind or comes up for discussion, nothing can be more mind-boggling than the kind of recklessness (or rather thoughtlessness) in the guise of some religious or cultural sentiments that are characteristic of and exhibited by some highly irresponsible parents.

It’s an obvious demonstration of ingratitude of the highest order to God that a father or mother, after giving birth to a child, would throw the God-given gift to the street; expecting such an unlucky child to fend for himself as a ‘basic’ requirement for acquiring Qur’anic education. This notion is far from being the vision or mission of a system of education that has produced great men of knowledge and wisdom without any of their rights as children being abused or misappropriated. This gratuitous phenomenon has rather led to some social threats that have continued over the years to complicate the flight of the Nigerian child especially within Muslim communities in the nineteen northern states.

With values being drastically lost in modern societies, the moral upbringing of children has become a matter of public concern as apparent in some elitist families. Probably out of the love for the things their eyes and minds covet and the all-out pursuit of such things, some parents pay no attention to the moral upbringing of their children. Others could be faulted due to sheer dereliction of responsibility. This altogether account for the nuisance, which a huge number of the country’s children and youths’ population have regrettably become. Drug and substance abuse is a major crisis in most parts of the country. It has destroyed and is still destroying our teenage children and youths’ population. The worse of it is the inconceivable involvement of girls and married women in the trend.

Close monitoring of children’s activities as they associate with their peers is a prime duty of parents. Paying surprise visits to children while in school could help reveal to parents who their children really are. If all parents had taken up child nurturing as a serious matter of responsibility, the larger society would have had fewer cases of social emergencies including drug addiction, cultism, armed robbery, murder and other forms of violent crimes to manage or deal with. Unfortunately, some parents today consider the moral training of children as the duty of teachers in schools and government through law enforcement agencies; not theirs. Some believe, too, in sparing the rod even when it is obvious that their children are treading the wrong path.

An adage among the Nupe says “You can only bend a fish when it is still fresh.” Parents must watch children and take prompt necessary actions as soon as any deviant behaviours are noticed in them. This is because bad habits are easier to correct when children are still in their teenage years. It is, most often, difficult to reform children when they become adults just as it is difficult to bend a fish when it has dried. To help reduce the tendency of children falling out of the right path, parents should watch the kind of company their children keep. The Hausa would say, “Abokin barawo, barawo ne”, meaning “The friend of a thief is (also assumed to be) a thief.” If a child moves around with a drug-addict, there is every tendency for him to also become one.

Even the type of dresses children wear when going out of their homes should matter to parents. Children, particularly girls in their teenage years, would like to put on certain attires which though in their thinking are mere fashions but which actually have negative implications when others see them. They could also be doing that to give the impression that that they too have come of age. Parents must not allow such exuberance to thrive. Boys, too, can be immodest in their dresses and appearances. Today, some of us are compelled to look at many young boys twice to enable us identify their real gender because they put on ear-rings and plait their hair.

Necessary sanctions should be taken by parents to nib every bad habit in children in the bud. The Nupe say, “The things with which to express love for children are sold in the market not at home.” Yet, parents must also create time to interact with their children to show that they love and care for them. The love and care should also not translate into over pampering. May Allah guide parents to fulfil their duties as required by nature and enjoined by religion, amin

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