I could not believe my eyes as I read the story and subsequently watched the video of a mother lamenting about how her 10 year old daughter was gang raped by four boys aged 10-11 who were her classmates while on excursion in Dubai. As I followed the story, it became controversial; as the school reported it was more of the result of a game called ‘Truth or Dare’ under the influence of drugs and alcohol. That all manner of vices including sex, drugs and alcohol abuse are prevalent in Nigerian secondary schools is no news but the ages involved were quite a greater concern than we had before. Parents also pay exorbitant school fees to have qualitative education delivered to their wards in private schools and expect a high sense of responsibility for the safety and the moral protection of their children.
The arrival of new life into this world is an indescribable joy to the parents. Children perpetuate families, they hold up hopes of brighter and better futures for us and yet nothing puts a greater moral burden on a parent than ensuring their children grow up to be responsible adults. For children to turn out as liabilities to their societies and families due to irresponsible behaviour, crime and moral vices turn parents into failures regardless of other achievements.
From my youth, I have heard some adults absolve themselves of responsibility for the outcome of some of their poorly behaved children while my Pastor always posited that the scriptures cannot be broken and so when a child is trained in the way he should go, he will not depart from it(Proverbs 22.6). No doubt, with the amount of time children spend with their teachers today, parents alone are not to be blamed for their outcomes. However, the fact that the choices of the schools are made by the parents puts the buck right back on their tables.
Raising children in the 21st century no doubt poses a greater challenge than ever but parents should always learn to hold on to the Word of God. If brought up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, they will turn out right and successful (Ephesians 6.4). The Word of God is anointed in and of itself and will shape every life it is allowed to impact on the paths of righteousness. Let us learn to teach God’s Word at home, fill the atmosphere of our homes through television, music, electronic devices with gospel music and preaching. The above should be in addition to regular church attendance and as much as lies within parents power, giving them private children schools education. Speaking God’s Word over them in prayer and to them in family conversations are also life-molding. The first one conditions the spiritual atmosphere around them and the other affects their mindset for good.
Beyond the above is the need more than ever before to pay close attention to them. It is so crucial that parents adjust their schedules for proper work-life balance. It is more pertinent that one of the parents give up working for a while if need be or takes up a lighter career role to spend quality time with the children. Giving attention creates strong bonds that keep parents as the strongest influences in their lives.
Paying attention grants greater chance of listening to them and observing them enough to discern negative external influences from schools and friends. This offers opportunities to correct our children before wrong mindsets take root in them.
Setting boundaries has always been a crucial part of parenting. Children must be taught to respect rules, know their limits in relationships and respect the lines their parents draw in enjoying liberties. With Android and Apple devices all around, children should not be allowed to own or use their devices till they are mature enough. Software applications should be restricted. This one requires some level of dexterity on the part of the parents too as they need to closely monitor how well they are complying because they often can use their devices better than we parents can do. The greatest role is a parent is to set the right examples before children. Children learn by imitation and therefore, it matters what we do before them. You need not panic, hold on to the Word.