By Hele Ovbiagele

Agony columns are very useful for knowing the minds of  young people, and thus, in a way, which direction the world is moving.  After all, in any society, the future belongs to the current young people.
A problem caught my eye recently.
‘Dear …,’ wrote a lady to the column, ‘I’m a widow in my fifties and a grandmother of one; a twelve year old male child by my daughter who’s in her mid-thirties.  My daughter is expecting her second child in her new marriage.  I’m happy for her, and she and her husband are very excited about becoming parents.

The problem is her twelve year old son from a previous relationship, who lives with them and is rapidly becoming too difficult for them to handle.  The boy doesn’t want to live with them anymore, and they want him to come live with me.  Now, I live alone and I’m trying to put my life together after the death of my husband.  I do love my grandson very much, but I’m not so sure that I want him to come live with me, granted the unruly way he’s behaving.

I don’t think I can handle him, especially since he’s giving the same problems that his mother (my daughter) gave me at that age.  Although she came through them later, the scars from those years are there.  I’ve been dreaming of a peaceful evening in my life and I don’t think I would be able cope with a problem child.  Do a sound a bad grandmother for not wanting this my grandson  to come live with me?’
Agony aunt’s response: ‘No, you’re not a bad grandmother for not wanting to embrace  again, the sort of difficulties you experienced in parenting when you were much younger.  You need all the peace of mind you can get as you cope with the menopause and the usual aches and pains of ageing.  That said, you’ll have to do what you can to help with your grandson.

It’s obvious that he doesn’t feel wanted in his home any more, with a step-father sharing his mother with him, and also all the excitement about the forth-coming arrival of a baby.  A baby who will have a father around, whereas he doesn’t.  You didn’t mention a father for him, so, I assume that whoever is the father is not playing that role in his young life.

Again, since you didn’t say how he’s being difficult, I assume it must be the usual stubbornness displayed by young people from early teens.  I suggest you take the child to an expert on child behaviour, for character analysis and counselling. They’ll find out why he’s behaving the way he is, and help him come to terms with the new situation in his home.

Your daughter shouldn’t just dump her problem on you like that.  You’ve paid your dues raising her.  While you may help out with her kids, you shouldn’t be lumped with one that she and her husband find too difficult to handle.  He shouldn’t live with you full-time, but come stay with you at the weekend, to start with, for a change in environment while the counselling sessions are going on.  His mother may accompany him there sometimes.

Meanwhile she and her husband should exercise more patience in handling him, and start showing him love and caring so that he can feel wanted in the home.  Coupled with the counselling, this should yield some good results. ‘

One of the most difficult tasks  in the world is parenting.  For those who want children (and most people do), having a child is the main reason for being here in the world.  However, raising our children to become well-adjusted adults and be able to stand on their feet is another matter.  Some people lack the time, inclination or patience to make a good job of it, to the detriment of the child.

It is obvious from the story above that the pregnant married lady believe that it’s her mother’s responsibility to take care of her troubled son.

Her own mother who brought the problem to the notice of  the agony aunt, said that the woman had given her (the mother) similar problems to the ones she was getting from her own son.

It takes two to conceive a child, so, where’s the father of  the 12 year old boy?  There’s no mention of him anywhere in the problem.  Is he dead or estranged from his son and the mother of his son?  That in itself, is a problem for the young child.
This brings us to the matter of  children  had out of wedlock, or a  serious committed relationship.  Unlike before, marriage is no longer considered a must these days before children are brought into the world.

Personally, I feel  marriage is desirable, and I know that down here in Africa, it is the desire of  most girls, and many young men,  to get married.  Still, one doesn’t condemn those who choose to be single mothers by design or by accident when their boyfriend back out of marriage, or through a divorce or widowhood.  Some single mothers have done a good job and have brought up achieving  and well-adjusted children in this country.
Even these would agree that, indeed, it’s best for father and mother to bring up their children together, if possible.  While this doesn’t guarantee that the children would all turn out well, the inclusion of both parents in their lives is important, if for nothing else, to give the children a sense of belonging to both of them.
In our society in the days when families lived in close unity, a single mother would have a male  or two in the extended family to play the supervisory role of a father to her children, especially the male ones, same thing for the single male; although in the case of a man, he usually left his children in the care of his own mother/female relatives.
These days, with migration away to urban area and city life,  that strong support and affinity in the extended family has slackened, and  most single parents are on their own.
However, if a lady chooses to be a single parent, she should be prepared to shoulder all that comes with that status, in order to ensure that she does a good job, which at the end of the day, will bring her     peace of mind and satisfaction.
It isn’t fair to bring a child into the world, with the mind that you will have another person help raise him for you.

Our children are our responsibility and we should be anxious to raise them ourselves, even though we may accept reliable/trusted help.  It shouldn’t be a matter of  sending them to another person when they prove troublesome.
A lady should be quite sure of  what she means to her man before she allows herself to get pregnant.  If the man is not ready for marriage/children, then she shouldn’t get pregnant.
Some believe that having a child for a man may move him to marry them, and they later discover to their chagrin that it doesn’t and they are left ‘holding the baby’ all alone, so to say.  As much as possible, let’s have babies within a responsible and committed relationship like marriage.
If a single mother decides to marry, the issue of her previous children should be thoroughly thrashed out with the man courting her for marriage.  She should first of all be assured by him that he would want them to live in the home they’re both setting up, regard those children his, and help raise them.  Even if he’s not financially involved, he should be emotionally involved and see that the children feel wanted in the home, and are adequately supervised.  Same thing when a single father decides to get married.  The issue of his previous children should be satisfactorily settled with his intended wife, with the children’s interests  as a priority.

In the case study above, that woman may drive her own mother to an early grave if she uses emotional blackmail (like pleading her pregnant state), to get her to accept her troubled son, especially since she had exhibited similar problems at that age.
It is important that we bring up our children to accept challenges right from an early age and stand their ground.  If the lady in question had been brought up to take responsibility for her actions, she would take charge and do all she can to get help for her son, instead of wanting to shove him onto her mother.
Parents are glad to help, I’m sure, but they do need peace in their twilight years.  They need to retire from the business of rearing children.  Some grandparents have been blamed for the derailment of their grandchildren, because they have not been as strict with them as necessary.
Poor things!  Isn’t that because they’ve become weary?


Employees’ motivation engenders optimum performance-Titi Bakare, Vono MD


A humble and industrious lady, Mrs.Titi Bakare, the managing director of Vono Products PLC, is a woman who knows how best to get the best out of people, especially when it comes to employer/employee relationship. In this Interview, she reveals to Vista Woman this skill which she believes is key to the productivity of any organisation. This grandmother who hails from Lagos State also debunks the claim that there are limitations against women. Her words:

I had my first degree from the University of Lagos where I studied English, Guidance & Counseling (combined honours). I proceeded to the University of Manchester for my M.Sc in Human Resources Management.

I had been with the Lagos State Teaching Service Commission before going for my first degree. I was actually there for ten years before joining Vitafoam in 1997, and moving to Vono in 2010.

I like relating with people and attending to their issues. I actually believed I had done enough of that in the public sector. Hence, I decided to move into the private sector to know what managing people would look like in the sector.

Mr Bakare

The private sector is a different ball game from the public sector. In the manufacturing industry where I am, you have targets and you must make things happen. It is what you put into it that comes out of it. As a matter of fact, in the organized private sector, ‘people’ is key; everything you do depends on the quality of people you have in the organization.

I joined Vitafoam in 1997 as a staff manager in the Human Resources Department, and in 2006, I was promoted to the Head of Human Resources. I was in that office when Vitafoam invested in Vono Products Plc, and I was moved from Vitafoam as the Head of HR to Vono as the Chief Executive/Managing Director. I’ll say the trait that has seen me through is simply the ability to manage people. I think more people are apparently beginning to appreciate the role of ‘people’ and HR in organizational management.

For me, the more challenging aspect of any business is the people element. In the manufacturing outfit, if a machine fails to give you the required optimum output, you’ll know that it is not well serviced and then you will have to put right whatever is wrong with it. But with people, you have their attitude, motivational and emotional issues to manage. You hardly can figure out what their problem is unless you give them the best attention.

Special attention must be given to the people working in any organization if that organization must succeed; give them the best work environment, remuneration, full engagement and commitment, motivation, and frequent training. Because they are human beings, they may want to put in their best, but ordinary personal issues may affect their behaviour and performance; hence you may get nothing good from them in a whole day. There’s no straight jacket on how to deal with people, but you have to do your best by knowing when to drive, cajole, appeal, etc.

Again, it will be worse if you do not understand what the transport system in Lagos is, and what that staff has to go through to get to do office everyday. If you take all these into cognizance, you are likely to get the best out of them in terms of productivity. I apply these to my job, and they work for me.

Coming to Vono is the greatest professional challenge I’ve ever had. This is based on the fact that Vono was almost at the verge of going down when we came in one year ago with the task of turning it round. Turning around an ailing company is not something you read in books.

You have to be up on your feet and decide whatever decision needs to be taken . The job has been quite interesting because I’ve come to experience things that you may not even find in books to read. We can see the changes and progress made within one year.

However, each day comes with new challenges. The good news is that we are moving forward. We do not only want to restore Vono to its past glory; we want to take it to greater heights so that Vono will be the choice whenever professional furniture is talked about in Nigeria.

On women and gender biases, I will say that I do not think there are barriers against women in industries. Equal opportunities abound for everybody that strives to attain success. I believe you must earn anything you deserve. I do not believe you must get anything simply because you’re a woman or you’re a man.

In fact, in a country like Nigeria, the opportunities are so much. We can see the number of women making exploits in industries. Even in leadership, women who are there are not just there because they are women; they worked to earn those positions. So, I would say that more women will attain greater heights if they deserve it.

I do not believe gender bias exists so much as some people want to make it seem. From my experience, I will make bold to say that people recognize the inputs and hardwork of a good manager or staff, and they are all rewarded accordingly whether they are men or women.

Everybody has said so much about manufacturing and infrastructure. I am only hoping that the government will do something about infrastructure in this country. Most times we run on generator 24/7 because we wouldn’t want our job to be disrupted when we are on a processing that mustn’t be stopped until the end! Even the transport system is an apology! All these are affecting the cause of running a business in this country.

The bottom line is that prices of goods are much higher! This is why some people sometimes opt for imported alternatives; it’s not as if they are better! As a result of this, most manufacturing companies are folding up, and this is bad for our nation because all these translate to unemployment, poverty, increase in crime rate, and more. Hence, we notice so many warehouses have become places of worship! This is not good for our economy at all!

I’m a lover of people, and a mother of three who are all grown up. My husband is a retired banker. He has always been my pillar of support. Because of this, I do not have the inhibition that I cannot do certain things become I’m a woman. My husband is very understanding, and understands that it is not right to stop anybody from rising to his or her full potentials. I want to seize this opportunity to advise that every woman learns how to manage both her home and career properly to gain more of her husband’s support.’



Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.