I saw a link for this new short story by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie in the New Yorker on Uknaija's blog(thanks for the link) and I must say it is a must read. It reads like non-fiction, but even if it is fiction, it captures one of the dilemmas of modern day Nigeria very vividly. In fact, not just Nigeria, but the fact that the law is more buyable in Nigeria makes it worse.
Many parents care so much about what others think and say and because of that put their children's future in jeopardy by not making sure they are properly and adequately punished when they err.
Many teenage boys in Nigeria go through this stage of stealing and extreme misbehaviour. Their parents raise their hands in despair, and make raise up a lot of warm air, but do not really try to get to the root of the problem. I am speaking from the experiences of friends and family members.
Case 1 - A friend of mine in secondary school sneaked out his british passport and sold it to some mallams for 75000 Naira in those days. And spent the money in a few days. His parents were upset with him, after they finally dragged the truth out of him. They then took him to the british embassy and police station, claimed the passport had gotten stolen, got him a new passport and shipped him off to London. Tell me, is that the right way of dealing with such behaviour?
Case 2 - My cousin who repeatedly stole tens of thousands to take to school to show off. His dad threatened brimstone and fire, locked him out of the house one night, but his mother kept telling the father "jo rora", please take it easy. What was that amount of money doing in the house in the first place? Even today his poor mother is still in her old age making excuses for him. And outsiders are not buying it anymore.
Case 3 - A son who beat his mother up because she didn't give him the money he asked for- simply because he could not afford it. He terrorised his mother so much, brought guns into the house, his father just emotionally withdrew and acted like he was unaware of all the ongoings. He ended up finally being shot dead by policemen during a clash with cult gangs (he was a cult member).
Case 4 - There was a story carried by all the daillies last year about a commisioner in an eastern state who had been shot dead by her own son. This son had apparently been charged with rape years ago and the only fitting punishment his parents could find for him (probably in order to save face) was to ship him off to America, in order to prevent him from facing the music. Since a leopard does not change his spots, this young man soon got convicted of a crime in the USA, and after facing his prison term, was deported back to Nigeria. It was when he got back that he killed his mother and stole her car.
All the stories above demostrate failed parenting very starkly. Our people care too much about what other people will say, etc, so they let their children get away with things they should not be getting away with. And some are just too busy chasing after mammon to be able to carry a punishment through. For them, such behaviour is just irritating and doesn't fit into their well planned scheme. I don't want to generalise, but some Nigerian parents are not fit to be parents at all. In fact, may times the problems with their kids can be traced back to the parents. When a person has no respect for the sanctity of human life, treats other people as a means of getting what he want, does anything to aquire the most important thing to him (in Nigeria, that is usually wealth), has no principles, it is no wonder that the lives of many young people are being destroyed. After all, the apple doesn't fall too far from the tree. The sad thing is that, as with everywhere else, its usually children from well-to-do and middle class families who have these behavioural problems. When you outsource the upbringing of your children to God knows who, just in a bid to make more money - be ready to one day face the consequences. And blaming the moral decay on western society is just because we refuse to look deeper. Most of the blame rests firmly at the parents' doorstep. I remember my mother randomly checking my bag in primary and making me return every pencil or eraser that she did not buy for me and asking fiercely "where did you get that from?" - most times it wasn't delibrately taken anyway. There was no way you would come home in clothes my parents had not bought for you and it would not be noticed. In fact when my older cousin who lived with us started to do runs, he made sure to keep the newly acquired baffs well out of sight. He could be as cool as he wanted on the street, but dared not bring that past the doorstep.
Almost a whole generation has been destroyed by cultism and other ills, it is important for our generation to take our parenting tasks seriously. If you can't afford more than one child, don't have more than one so you can spend time bringing up your child properly instead of running three jobs to make ends meet and having no time for the four children you decide to have. Also be strict with your children. I'm not saying be a "god of judgement" type of parent, but even while being loving and striving to be friends with your children (as is the modern way- and it good too), remember your child is not your friend. You have a responsibility to God, your nation and your child to bring them up the right way. Otherwise, you'll have no one to blame when they turn out badly.
We are mirrors of acceptable behaviour to our children. If your child sees you beating up your wife or cheating on your husband, filing false tax returns, using a fake title you did not earn, taking bribes or using false documents, somehow, subconciously, it will take it for granted that things should be that way. When you start getting righteous when he steals from you at 16, its already too late to fix things. You need to be consistent from day one. If you do believe that stealing is the only way forward, then teach your child how to steal well, no pretences here. What does the greatest harm is the double morality of our parents. They do stuff which is obviously wrong, and then pretend like you are a fool and can't see it and start preaching to you and taking you to church. Thats why one sees some young people who despise their parents.
Remember " train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he shall not depart from it" Proverbs 22:6