Thursday, 28 April 2011

A letter to the Affluent Nigerian Parent - Part 1

To those who visit regularly in the hope that I have written a post, I apologise for my absence. This post is not a sign that I am back... lets take it a day at a time... here goes.

I saw a piece on Aloted's blog and it was addressed to Nigerian parents. I considered the piece rather flawed in its expression of its points and it motivated me to write my take on the issue of parenting in Nigeria.


Dear Affluent Nigerian Parent,

The world is a global village and you must always remember that. The internet has come and put the whole world next door. Contrary to your experience and beliefs, a University education (even in a professional course like Medicine, Law, Accounting and Pharmacy) is no longer adequate leverage in a competitive world. If you are monied, it will help but it will not always provide the perfect leverage for survival or success.

Your child needs more to survive, to succeed: language skills, self discipline, money management skills, a strong ability to follow through, ingeniousity and creativity, a clear mind, tenacity and sheer determination to work hard and give 100%. These skills are vital, they are relevant and a Nigerian child with these abilities will do better, go far and excel amongst his/her peers from the 194 other countries of the world.

It’s surprising how little emphasis is paid by Nigerian parents to what is not in their immediate sphere, there is much competition, much striving to give their children all advantages but only in the immediate sphere; which is why the average Nigerian child today still speaks only one major language and is discouraged from even speaking a local language; even in the upper middle class homes where the means to pay for language lessons exists. It errs me when I hear highly educated Nigerian parents RESIDENT in Nigeria say that their children cannot speak any local language!

Speaking atleast one local language brings no negative to your children... only positives... not least of which is the ability to think in different languages and sharpen their minds from an early age.
English is not the only language your child should speak, if you have the means, avail them of the opportunity to learn other languages; because they will be competing with those who can do business/operate in more than one language.
I am a fan of the arts; but expensive piano/ballet lessons are a waste on a child who has no musical flair while language lessons started at an early age are never a waste or a pain as children find it easier to learn multiple languages and it will always stand your child in good stead.

Secondly, a little affluence in many homes has led to the total discard of self discipline and the children of food sellers, mechanics, tailors and low level civil servants in Nigeria today have more self discipline than the children of CEOs and Senior Managers. Why? because there is no maid to fetch for them, because they have learnt to wash their own clothes even when they are tired, to clean up after themselves, to rise early and get a lot of things done even before school in the morning. However the upper middle class parent can afford maids who lay out uniforms, run baths, lay beds and get the 13 year ready for school – how can this child learn self discipline if he or she cannot lay his or her own bed? Or wash his or her school uniforms? Every child from the age of 9 should have some household chores no matter how small. Institute time tables at home and ensure your children follow them. Reward good behaviour, punish misdemeanour.

- As I am not a fan of "too long posts" I will stop here - watch out for Part 2!