‘’it is neither the strongest nor the most intelligent of the species that survives, but the one that is most adaptable to change.’’ – Charles Darwin
‘’Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.’’ – Proverbs22:6
HELLEN Keller said: ‘’A happy life consist not in the absence but in the mastery of hardships.’’ It is not what you do for your children, but what you have taught them to do for themselves, that will make them successful human beings. I am writing this piece because of the prevailing situation in Nigerian environment where parents deprive their children of a decent life by doing so many things for them. One of the greatest battles of life is children trying to retain their innate identity in the face of over pampering and possessive abuse from their parents. Most parents play God by dictating the processes that their children are meant to pass through and those that they should skip.
The contemporary Nigerian parents are endangering the future of their children by helping them skip the processes that are needed and mandatory for their ultimate survival. ‘Handicaps’ are not people without legs or hands; handicaps are people that lack the ability to do things for themselves. So many parents have turned their wards to mental handicaps and social imbeciles by not allowing them to experience life, thereby depriving them of legitimate adventures that are crucial to their survival in the future. We must design a family system that discourages the toxicity of ‘eternal’ dependence.
‘’There is no education like adversity.’’ –Benjamin Disraeli
The story and struggle of the emerging chick validates the fact that some experiences and struggles are needed to stabilize us for the future. However, for the chick it is simply 21 days of struggle but a lifetime of bliss. It takes 21 days to hatch a chicken egg under the correct conditions. At a minimum of three times a day the egg must be gently turned or ‘rotated’ to prevent the developing embryo from sticking to the inside of the egg using an instrument called incubator but the mother hen does this same job in nature very well. The mother hen provides the necessary temperature, feeds the feeble chicks and prevent them from predators, but for the chicks, every hatching process is meant to be a form of internal struggle to prepare them towards an uncertain future. The truth is that the length of our external life is determined by the depth of our internal struggle.
When the baby chicken is ready to hatch, it is suicidal to assist! The first efforts to free itself are crucial to the chicken’s life cycle and it will die if we interfere in this mysterious process responsible for developing survival instincts. The internal struggle is ‘divinely’ regulated in such a way that only the strongest chicks will survive it and even if we help the weak chicks to hatch, we are exposing them to a future that they’ve not been equipped to handle! It has been experimentally validated that helping the chicks to hatch portends great danger to their future and also that the chicks who went through the natural struggle to break the shell grew up to maturity and are fully equipped to surmount and adapt to environmental changes. Interfering with the process of hatching does far more damage than good; it has a disastrous effect on the future of the chick.
A great lesson to be learnt is that, there are some things we go through in life that are needed for our preservation. Every stage of our life is needed to face a greater adversity in the future; without our internal struggle we become endangered species. Internal struggle ensures external stability. The parent hen is responsible for providing an enabling environment to help the egg to hatch – through supplying warmth to the eggs, feeding the young chicks and protecting them from predators – but the hatching of eggs is solely the responsibility of the ‘emerging’ chick.
There are some adversities that come to fortify us towards a more dangerous “unseen”. The best way to help children out of future misery is to allow them pass through present challenges. Helping children is good but it must be timely and with godly wisdom. Great parents don’t do things for their children; they do things with their children. Sometimes we abuse our children when we do for them the things that they ought to have been prepared to do for themselves. Some parents go the extra mile to think for their children; when parents think for their children, they destroy the future ability of their wards to think independently of them. Parents are meant to reason together with their children and not reason for them, even the Almighty God said in Isaiah 1:18, “Come now, and let us reason together”.
So many times we abuse our children when we do for them what they are capable of doing themselves! We must nip the dependency dilemma in the bud and provide the processes that evolve functional adults. The chick story testifies to the fact that the struggle of today is a prerequisite for our survival tomorrow. Wills Damien said, ‘’the purpose of every difficult time is to place a demand on our creativity.’’
In one of his masterpiece: Emeka. Frederick Forsyth wrote an awesome biography of his friend, Colonel Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu. A book written by Forsyth to capture a good way not to judge but rather look at the man, Emeka Odumegwu Ojukwu in the eye of the Biafran storm. An account of the Ikemba Nnewi enumerated a man that refused to be manipulated by the affluence of his loving parents. Though Emeka’s father had actually outlined a process for his life but the young Emeka refused to live a scripted life.
The story taught us in a great way that we must not pamper or tamper with the process of our children ‘evolution’ and development. Ojukwu eventually grew up to become a man of substance and undaunted courage, it was obvious and crystal clear that the young Ojukwu was internally driven and refused to settle for a life of ease and indolence that his father’s wealth afforded him. Emeka’s father, Sir Louis Phillipe Odumegwu –Ojukwu was the wealthiest Nigerian of his generation and fruitlessly tried to lure his Oxford –educated son to become a director in his company but to no avail. Emeka refused to live a life patterned by his father and later became a ‘destiny child’ in the history of the Nigerian nation. A man that has contributed a lot to the Federal principles of a nation through his tenacity and audacity. A great poet, Homer said, ‘’adversity has the effect of eliciting talents which in prosperous circumstances would have lain dormant.’’ Though Emeka’s father spoilt him with luxury to the extent of getting him a Rolls Royce while in school in Oxford. Emeka nevertheless negotiated his path out of his father’s luxurious and attractive offers to live a life of service and dignity. If there was anything he vehemently refused, it was to walk in the shadow of his father’s wealth.
We must allow our children to fully live and experience life. We must prepare them emotionally to live independently of us. Refusal to create a platform for their independency may cause them to cling to secure ‘anchors’, such as a parent, friend or teacher and have great difficulty adjusting to a substitute or unpleasantries of life’s circumstances. Parents must nurture the capacity of their wards to reach emotional equilibrium in the face of unanticipated change, unexpected disappointment and other life’s adversities. This would develop their sense of responsibility and ability to manage risks. We need more critical thinker’s not mechanized robots.
‘’Difficulties mastered are opportunity won.’’ –Winston Churchill.
The core responsibility of parents must be to prepare their children to function as independent adults in the society. I am reaching out to all parents to allow their children to evolve the best of themselves. We must stop ‘short –circuiting’ their process of growth and churning up of emotionally stunted children to the society. A controlling parent and an eternally –dependent adult child are great liability to the society. Parents must be mature enough to expose their children to life situations that will shape them for the future. A smooth sea never made a skilful sailor and every problem introduces a person to himself. Parents who tend to dominate their children choices eventually produce obedient but dependent children. We must encourage decision making from an early age. We must subtly expose them to the risk of choices and consequences in life. We must subtly teach them to learn to take a certain measure of hardship without turning to socializing agents for help or comfort. Our refusal to integrate this into their development process will indirectly teach them to seek attention from the wrong places –this is actually the origin of abusive relationships for most children. We must raise our children in a way that promotes self-confidence, adaptability, self-respect and optimism. In this way we reduce their vulnerability.
We need to have strong faith in the processes of ‘evolution’ of our children. As an entrepreneurship coach, I have discovered that when process is sabotaged, the product becomes inferior. This is the core secret in the industry and production line system. Proper procedure eliminates unwanted consequences. The integrity of the product lies in the process; in fact, the process guarantees the product and notice versa. Great entrepreneurs are process focused and not outcome focused! Noam Shpancer said, ‘’the process is important regardless of the outcome.’’
In like manners as entrepreneurs, parents must value processes in child’s development. The appalling situations when some parents buy Academic results for their children must stop. Some parents even go to tertiary institutions to queue up in a line in order to help their children in the process of admissions and registration. Some parents even manipulate the marital choices of their children and interrupt the NYSC posting arrangement of their wards. Finally, I want to advise parents to stop destroying the inherent creativity in their children. Let us stop manipulating their ‘destiny’. Let us give them a platform to sharpen their analytical capabilities and their decision making prowess. Let us stop our manipulative techniques that are churning up our children as social invalids!