There is no gainsaying that the children of today are leaders of tomorrow. It also holds that the leaders of our country today were the children of yesterday. These current leaders leave much to be desired. It is therefore imperative and a right time to build the next generation of citizens.
This is an urgent task. Who has this duty and responsibility? Who gets paid for this task, so that we identify and hold that person responsible! Nigerian citizenship comes with rights and privileges, which naturally, confers duties and responsibilities, including nation-building
It’s no longer news that employers don’t find the desired skilled personnel to employ. Most people get employed for their skill set but get laid off due to attitudinal problems. This implicates an imperative for a more holistic formation of the next generation of citizens that will replace the workforce of organisations. There has been a buzz about the effective management of the generation of millennials and gen Z.
These apparent immigrants into the workforce have their peculiar needs and expectations. These are being given high priority in organisational policies formation to ensure an emotionally engaged intergenerational workforce to ensure employee productivity. It is high time we were concerned about the next generation of citizens. As Frederick Douglass puts it, “It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.”
The current prevalence of issues of delinquency, and criminal behaviour among juveniles, today, is alarming. The root causes could be due to poor infrastructure, poor education, lack of role models, and upbringing but most importantly is poor parenting.
Some family factors such as abuse, neglect, or absence of proper parental supervision have also been implicated as responsible for some of this juvenile delinquency. Children imitate the actions of their parents more than their words in terms of advice and guidance hence children whose parents exhibit a chronic lack of respect for the law and social norms of the country may imbibe the same.
Therefore, parents as citizens owe the country the duty of bringing up this next generation of citizens, who are currently under their care as their children. This duty can not and should not be outsourced to gardeners, teachers, boarding house masters or house helps, who are neither trained for the task nor willing to deliver on it.
The first step for parents to achieve this holistic formation of their children is by their good example, which would inspire these children to lead good behaviour.
The next step is by explaining to the children the intrinsic value of good character and to show how this is the only way to make the world a better place for all of us to live in.
Parents can not excuse themselves with the slogan of “these children of nowadays,” as a panacea to justifying their children and wards’ bad behaviour or non-conformity with the laid down value system. This statement “these children of nowadays” has been used even by the grandparents and great-grandparents.
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It is interesting to note that their parents even used it to refer to them. Could this suggest a downward slide in character in generations of children? If it is then it’s high time to pay more attention to this urgent need to build the next generation of citizens: Built for purpose as it is said in engineering.
Parents are the primary educators of their children and this role should not be delegated to teachers and schools. Parents are to collaborate with the teachers and schools in this inevitable task of the holistic formation of children. The effective collaboration ensures that the great work done of forming these children at home is not undone at school and the reverse is also true that the efforts put in by the schools and teachers to instil morals in the children are not annulled by the bad example of the parents at home.
Parents have to wake up to the realisation of looking beyond their selfish motives of bringing up good children who would get good grades in school and hence good jobs in the future as this secures their own lives and sustenance at old age, likened to an insurance policy. Parents should increase their horizons and have a panoramic view, knowing that their children are the next generation of citizens of Nigeria. The future of this country is in the hands of parents in so far as they must inculcate the right values system in the upbringing of their children.
In conclusion, this task of the holistic formation of children entails working within what is available and affordable. Parents should not confuse the effort to send their children to the ivy league high-brow schools in Lagos as equivalent to successfully fulfilling this role of good parenting. It is instead a matter of care and attention at home to form the minds of these children, to inculcate in them the proper value system which they perceive is lacking in society and our current leaders.
Aigbona, a work and family expert, writes from Lagos