By Francis Ewherido
There is no perfect family. We do not have perfect parents, we do not marry perfect people nor have perfect children. We have issues with one another. We disappoint one another. So there is no healthy marriage or healthy family without the exercise of forgiveness. Forgiveness is vital to our emotional health and spiritual survival. Without forgiveness the family becomes an arena of conflict and a stronghold of hurt. Without forgiveness, the family becomes ill. Forgiveness is the asepsis of the soul, the cleansing of the mind and the liberation of the heart. Hurt is poison that intoxicates and kills. Keeping heartache in the heart is a self-destructive gesture. It is autophagy. Those who do not forgive are physically, emotionally and spiritually ill – Pope Francis I
You do not have to be a Roman Catholic, or even a Christian, for the papal message to make sense. Every family has issues and if all families were to bring their issues to the public domain, they would take over the entire space and shut out other issues of life. Learn to privately sort out your family issues. Family issues are like the human body we all clothe. Just imagine if all mankind were to walk around naked: those flabby bodies, pot bellies the size of a nine-month-twins pregnancy, men with size 38-bra breasts, micro and extra large sex organs, cellulite, deformities, diseases, over-sized bums sitting on stick-like legs and all other orishirishi clothes cover would be put in the public domain.
Just thinking of it alone is so discomforting and unnerving. So, as we cover our bodies and shield all the orishirishi from public view and scrutiny, so family issues should be shielded from public view and sorted out within or privately. Surely, the linen can be privately cleaned or dry-cleaned. Cleaning linen publicly serves no useful purpose most times, it only worsens the situation.
But why this long preamble? A simple happy birthday message that ace actor, Segun Arinze, sent his daughter, Renny, who turned 20, last week went awry. Rather than focus on the substance (that is, concentrate on the well wishes from her father), Renny chose shadows, attacking her father for not tagging her in his post, misspelling her mother’s name (Ann, instead of Anne) and so on and so forth. Arinze has since pulled down the post, which, I guess, is a way of saying let-sleeping-dogs-lie. I do not intend to wake up the dogs, but there are lessons, which every family member, especially youngsters, must learn.
One, apart from the forgiveness, which the Pope mentioned earlier, patience and tolerance are the necessary ingredients for family bond and happiness, not perfect family members.
Two, the fourth commandment admonishes children to honour their parents so that their days will be long in the land God is giving them (Exodus 20:12). It is the only commandment that goes with a promise. Now when God gave the commandment, He knew that He was talking about imperfect parents because He knows perfect parents are illusions, existing only in the minds of children who have learnt to love their parents with their imperfections. I know some people will quote the portion of the Bible where St. Paul advised parents not to drive their children to resentment (Ephesians 6:4). So what happens, as in this case, when the parent did not know his daughter would resent his actions?
What her dad did was a kind gesture. Even if she felt it was self-serving by tagging other people and bloggers, she should have called her father and privately expressed her displeasure. Nobody wins a Nobel Prize for publicly embarrassing the parents. Daughters should learn to use their fathers as guinea pigs on how to relate with their future husbands, just as sons should do likewise with their mothers.
Three, children must also learn to stay out of their parents’ quarrels, especially where there is no threat to life. Your parents are adults, let them sort out themselves. As a human being you might love one parent more than the other, but do not fight their fights for them. This was the advice my mother gave us while we were growing up.
Four, as parents, we must realize that rebellion is part of growing up, especially during teenage years and when children become young adults. I am impressed with the way Arinze handled the matter. He deleted the “offending” post and that was it. I do not think whatever happened hurts his brand, so there is nothing to fret or be bitter about. It is a family matter and any further actions should be private. As parents, the older and more mature people in family relationships, we must stoop to conquer. We should work to win back our children, even when they err and derail. We should bend over backwards to mend broken relationships with our children. Family is everything.