By Helen Ovbiagele, Woman Editor
CHILDREN are our heritage and the future of the society, so, it is normal that we feel great concern about their character and what they imbibe.
While some readers feel that many parents are not spending qualitative time with their children, in order to interact well with them and know what sort of kids they are breeding, others feel that the larger society has more impact on the young people of today than the family.
These latter blame most of the ills in the society on peer pressure and the influence of other adults outside the home; not necessarily those they interact physically with, but those they read about, listen to and watch on television, the internet, etc.
â€œMadam,â€ wrote a reader, â€œyou may well raise your kids well to have the character of a saint, and he/she may exhibit such perfect habits and traits at home, but the moment your back is turned and they are outside the home, your influence on him/her wanes as he or she is attracted to those things that are prohibited at home. Like you said, a bad character is more exciting for the young than good character which to most of them, would be boring.
Outside influence on the child is greater than many parents know or care to admit. A sensible parent will never say that his child is incapable of a misbehaviour, otherwise, such parent could be in for a big shock.
The society can only become saner when parents, the school and the government, block those loopholes through which young people can embrace bad character traits; like seriously prohibiting dirty and violent films and books from coming into the country, even if it means searching travellersâ€™ luggage when they arrive in the country, whatever their nationality.
Above all, adults should watch their own character, so that they donâ€™t corrupt the young.Â Â I hope this is possible. Thanks. – Mama Yetunde, Ife.â€
â€œMs Helen, good day. Human beings and even animals close to the human race are born to be copycats. This is a good thing too because thatâ€™s how we learn. The problem is what and who to copy. Which is the ideal standard?Â Â Whatâ€™s acceptable in one family may not be acceptable in another family; like â€˜slightâ€™ deception and â€˜littleâ€™ lies.
Apart from teaching our children by example, we should also bring them up to know that â€˜taking what doesnâ€™t belong to you without the knowledge or permission of the true ownerâ€™ is stealing. It doesnâ€™t matter whether that thing belongs to your parents, siblings and other relatives. Youâ€™re a liar if youâ€™re not telling the truth, whether itâ€™s in a small family matter or in a big public issue.
If weâ€™re serious about raising children with good character, there should be no middle course or bending the rule for anyone or any occasion. They should be raised to understand that an offence is an offence.â€ â€œMadam, bad behaviour of all sorts will continue in our society and country as long as thereâ€™s no true justice in the land.
They youths are watching when those who have blatantly stolen public funds are allowed to walk free, and also keep their stolen loot. Those who are employed and trained to protect citizens turn their weapons on members of the public, and publicly perpetuate all forms of violence with impunity.
Thereâ€™s much gain in doing all the wrong things in Nigeria, so, how do we expect to be free of them? The young will surely copy them, increase the evil and pass it on to the next generation.
All the evil acts we hear of on a daily basis these days were not there even a decade ago. Things can only get worse. Letâ€™s brace ourselves. + Davey, Port Harcourt.â€
â€œHello. Iâ€™ve just read your pieceâ€™Young People As Copycatsâ€™. It was very good. If only parents and youths would take time to read such write-ups, it would really help. That little boy in the story may turn out to be abusive in future.
I do have my flaws, but I pray God will help me to be a good husband, father and a friend to my wife and children. Iâ€™m currently an undergraduate and Iâ€™m single. – from Eddie, Benin City.â€
â€œMadam, you may well blame the ills in the society on the adults, but itâ€™s the young who become adults, and they copy whatever appeals to them. Why didnâ€™t that little boy of four copy the good character traits in his father?
Why was it the bullying and violent part of the man (when he was drunk) that appealed to him, and he couldnâ€™t even wait to grow up before putting it into practice? What Iâ€™m saying is that â€˜the boy is the father of the manâ€™. What that little boy will be in future is already in his character.
Itâ€™s left to the parents to guide him in the right path as he grows up. Just imagine the sort of person he would grow up to be, if the parents hadnâ€™t witnessed that aspect of his character this early. They would one day have been shocked to hear that he is assaulting girls.
They wouldnâ€™t know that he grew up despising the female folk in his heart, because he felt they were inferior to men and were created to obey and be subservient to the men.
What this means is that parents and teachers should try to understand the character of their wards, so that they can ably lead them in the right direction. – A retired teacher.â€
â€œPersonally, I blame the government of the day for not creating the right conditions that would enable parents to police their childrenâ€™s movements and character properly.
Yes, parents do run after money? If they donâ€™t, the family will suffer lack, and that may even drive the kids to crime, as they would want to have what their mates have. If possible, both parents should work.Â Â Are we saying that to show ourselves good and responsible parents we should spend all hours in the house, watching the children?
Many women did this in the olden days because life wasnâ€™t as fast-paced as it is now when we want the best education, etc., for our children. Women canâ€™t afford to fold their arms at home and leave all expenses to the man.
How can the government help in ensuring that parents have enough time for their kids? By giving us good roads which will enable us spend less time in traffic, and be home when our kids wake up and also when they go to bed.
By giving us good social services – good and regular power supply, water, good transportation, etc.
If you return home and have to grope around with lanterns and candles, youâ€™ll hardly be in the mood to ask how your kidsâ€™ day has been, or supervise their homework. Thanks.Â Â Mrs. T, Lagos.â€
People who have no intention of being role models, shouldnâ€™t raise children. Yes, children are copycats.
Thatâ€™s normal. The first people they copy are those in their home; especially their parents and the adults around them. Not only should parents have impeccable character, they should ensure that their children interact only with responsible and focused members of the family.
If you have a sibling or relation who smokes, drinks and indulges in other unwholesome habits in your house, he or she will contaminate your kids without your knowledge, and they may derail.
In such a case, a child you had carefully raised would begin to have secrets from you, and ally with the relation, unless youâ€™re very vigilant. One may not always get back what we put into our kids. Thanks.â€
â€œIf parents and teachers at all levels monitor their wards closely, young people will copy only good character traits from home, the school and elsewhere. They should be moulded with much love and understanding, not bullied, harassed and put down. – Mary, Ikoyi.â€Â Â .