Inaugural Speech at the National Parents’ Summit
Titled: ‘Parenting and Nation Building’
I wish to begin by saying that I am not the most competent person to convene this forum; my sufficiency is in God, who uses the weak things of the world to confound the strong. My passion is that we don’t fail the generations after us, even if we believe that those before us have failed us.
Many years ago, as a teenager after secondary school, I stood alone in front of my parents’ standing mirror in the sitting room and said to myself: “God, forbid that all that I came to this world to do is to grow up well, get educated, get a good job, get married, have children, grow old and die!”
Those days, my parents lived in a two room apartment in a ‘face me I slap you’ building here in Lagos. In spite of the low-level building that I was in, my thought could soar because of the quality of people and books that I had been interacting with. These have shaped my views about life. For me, life has been about purpose, impact and influence on the world.
I tell you the truth; I would never call on these esteemed guests just for my 40th birthday party; I did only because it provides me an opportunity to positively impact you. So, my intention here today is to influence you to take some salient decisions, going forward. I hope that all here realise the urgency to fulfil the purpose for life – influencing your world positively and not just to live life.
Before us today is a very sensitive issue – Parenting and Nation Building. At the Royal Character and Values Limited, we assert that “Character begins at home.” So, using one of our corporate social responsibility platforms such as the National Parents’ Summit, we keep sensitising the public to make character development a deliberate aspect of training children. It is RCV’s way of addressing the widening character gap at source – The Home.
After this inaugural speech of the Parents’ Summit, we would have a rich panel of very senior seasoned Nigerian professionals and incredible parents to answer our mind boggling questions.
For instance, why does there seem to be a growing number of fathers and mothers in the world today but fewer parents? Parenting, I assert, is a very important aspect of the family; successful parenting authenticates and certifies the quality of a family. Even religion and ethnic cultures endorse effective parenting.
Unfortunately, in Nigeria, we are already reaping the sore grapes of years of parenting gap. The consequences constantly threaten to wreck greater social havoc in the society. It’s time we started talking and acting on this because corruption, crime, tribalism, nepotism and so on are outcomes of degraded family institutions.
Winston Churchill said: “There is no doubt that it is around the family and the home that all the greatest virtues, the most dominating virtues of human society, are created, strengthened and maintained.”
The Making of a Nation
I will not weary you with definitions of parenting and nation building; but please follow my reasoning. Just as cells make up the human body, every nation is a fusion of vital cells called family units. Remove every family from an existing nation and all you have left is a geographical space. This is because families are made up of people and nations made up of family units. One can therefore safety conclude that the quality of the people is the quality of the nation. Quality speaks mainly about values, virtue, principles, character.
In her writing titled: Nation Building Begins at Home, a Pilipino Blogger, Tina Santiago, “I personally believe that if all families were more united and solid in their life goals and dreams, there would be fewer problems in society. If more parents would take the time to be with their children and mold them to be future leaders, or maybe even “world changers,” our world would indeed be a better place, as cliché as it sounds. As for my family, we are trying our best to make sure that when our kids grow up, and have families of their own, we can rest in the knowledge that we had done the best that we could, and that we had played a major role in why our kids had turned out the way they did.”
How Does Parenting Come in?
Parenting must now be seen as a national service because the effects of how parents raise their children never private; it always has implications for the society.
- By the law of procreation, parents are the primary foundation of family units. Children arrive into the hands of their parents with natural deposits, but rely on the parents for nurture (upbringing, home training, values integration, character development and management).
- Every parent owes it to the general well-being of the nation to train their children into socially-fit young adults. That is their basic, most important volunteer contribution to nation building – to raise them to become an advantage and not a disadvantage to the society.
- The fact is that parents determine the ultimate fate of a nation through the quality of adults (in nature and nurture) that they ‘contribute’ to the nation through their families.
- Viewing nations building from this angle creates a sense of urgency on the need to initiate a campaign and a national discourse on deliberate parenting policy.
- Although many parents recognise the role of bringing life forth, they seem to fail to complete the process through nurturing or unwittingly transfer the responsibility to other people.
- No nation may be able to preserve her legacy without a deliberate parenting policy with emphasis on character development. Even the economic power of a nation is at the risk of the strength or weakness of her citizens’ social capital.
- No parent is qualified to complain about the lopsided position of things in the country, except you have taken your own responsibility. You owe it to your nation to contribute or inject ‘positive blood’ into the system.
Archbishop Edward Gilbert of the Catholic Commission for Social Change said: “The nature of the family is to form people, to train them to learn values, help them to learn virtues so they know how to live their lives…I ask the grandparents to teach the grandchildren if you see the parents not teaching them. Parent, teach your children, if you do not teach them how are they going to learn?”
Billy Graham said, “The greatest legacy one can pass on to one’s children and grandchildren is not money or other material things accumulated in one’s life, but rather a legacy of character and faith.”
Some Hard Truth
- No child was born already nurtured, but with nature’s raw deposits. Nothing in its crude state offers the best value, so a role model or ‘refinery’, a parent is someone who should have the earliest, positive, most consistent and strongest influence on a child’s life.
- Parenting does flow to the ‘whatever will be, will be’ view. It is possible for your children to turn out the way you want them to, especially if you start the work early. Remember, there is shorter time for parenting now.
- No one can improve on the parenting process you didn’t initiate – good schools, church etc. Parents are in the best position to raise their children.
- Trends have shown that luxury is not the greatest need of today’s children; it is attention. They need help to live above peculiar challenges of their times – stressors such as the internet, computer games, exposure to violence, the emergence of non-traditional families due to separation and overseas migration, job transfers, challenging school and workload, and even heavy traffic! Please BE THERE!
- You can place a 50 per cent limit on your child’s prospect by failing to give him proper home training (He has nature, give him nurture).
- It will be difficult to convince the world that you are good and you produce bad fruits, your children are your extensions
- For people who profess one faith or the other, note that failure in parenting can stop your eternal peace with your maker.
- It is better to train children than to repair men. A child left to himself, untrained is a destiny lost, the sophistication in their generation, requires guidance.
- Deliberate parenting yields better fruits than assumed parenting.
“To be in your children’s memories tomorrow, you have to be in their lives today.” Anonymous
James E. Faust said, “To be a good father and mother requires that the parents defer many of their own needs and desires in favor of the needs of their children. As a consequence of this sacrifice, conscientious parents develop a nobility of character and learn to put into practice the selfless truths taught by the Savior Himself.”
On government side, the Royal Character and Values Limited wishes to recommend to the Federal Government of Nigeria thus:
- That the executive works with the legislative arms of government to promote a national policy on deliberate parenting