What Do YOU Tell YOUR Child About Rampant Wrong Doing S/he Sees In Society?

I call it the 21st century parenting dilemma. How do you convince your child to accept that stealing, cheating or lying for instance are “bad”, when s/he often sees them happening routinely? This ranges from adults s/he sees (or hears) about in public office diverting state funds, to sports persons found guilty of doping, as well as musicians who steal other people’s songs…and lecturers who plagiarize (or sexually harass) students they are supervising.

But that’s just one dimension of the problem...

How do you explain to the child, why most of those who do such bad things, even when found out, rarely pay any serious price for it in the long run?

In past articles, I’ve written about the rampant examinations malpractice palaver in Nigeria.

It started as a small flame. Today, it’s burning like a wild fire. Indeed it is a pandemic of sorts!

True Story: Way back in 1993, I served in Niger State’s Gulu Vatsa village during my NYSC service year.

One day, I was outraged to hear the students tell me (while taking them extra classes in Agriculture, Maths and Physics), that I was stressing myself needlessly.

When I asked what they meant, they told me I would be in the exam hall to read out the answers to them. So why not wait till then, they asked…like it was the most normal thing in the world!

To them, it was only fair that I did that. After all, I was their teacher. I would be “wicked” to “let them fail” they added.

Amazing. These kids had no idea that what they were asking for was wrong!

I told them that was not possible, and they all laughed at me. So, during the exams, I made a point of staying away from the halls.

But one day, as I walked past one of the halls, I heard the head teacher as he called out “No1: A”, No. 2: C” etc, while walking up and down the exams hall!

As it turned out, I was the uninitiated.

The head teachershad apparently known what the practice was, because he was one of those who made it happen!

That explained his casual response when I’d complained to him that the students suggested I would be reading out answers to them

He must have thought to himself: “Who is this funny youth corper guy. Does he not realize that when you’re in Rome, you have to act like the Romans?”

I recall returning to Lagos, and penning a long article describing what I experienced in that school. Then I submitted it in a large envelope addressed to the Editor of The Guardian Newspapers.

I even included a passionate cover letter. In it I challenged the editor to consider the damage that would happen to the educational system, if that practice was allowed to continue.

Not a word of response came back to me from The Guardian, or the Editor.

Later on, it became obvious that I was the one who was not in touch with reality, when I told one of my sisters about my letter and its contents.

She also basically laughed in my face. Then she told me worse things were happening in Lagos. At the time, she had just taken the exams, if I recall correctly. And she told me stories that left me dumbfounded.

That damage to the educational system I worried about has now gone much farther that I thought possible!

Today, those students who “passed” exams using that crooked approach back when I was a youth corper, are NOW parents of their own kids.

And not surprisingly, they are openly and actively collaborating with invigilators, to do the same thing for their kids.

Sadly, the older generation who could have stopped it, have allowed themselves to be compromised.

They do this either by accepting some form of gratification (cash or kind e.g. sexual favours) or by getting themselves into situations in which they can be blackmailed into agreeing to anything.

Not all, but quite an unhealthy majority, of the older generation, are implicated in this manner. As for the rest of the “oldies”, they’ve chosen to either stay silent or look the other way.

And lest we get it mixed up, this is NOT limited to Nigeria (even though it happens there in alarming extremes!). Instead, we are experiencing this wave of sharp drops in morals and values right across the world.

Just look at what sells on TV for instance today.

More events being sponsored today often promote nudity, and sexual indiscretion. Less effort is made to develop programmes to repair the social fabric.

That’s why our young people pay less attention to adults who tell them not to copy dressing styles of celebrities who go almost naked.

Religion, which used to be a means of passing moral instruction, now has religious leaders condoning what they used to rebuke.

As a matter of fact, some religious leaders, in increasing numbers it would appear, are even getting caught in acts of indiscretion.

For most of those engaged in the naughty acts described above, they had to adopt deception, and insincerity as a way of life to do them.

By so doing, they lost the moral courage to correct others – whether young or old.

Which is why things have been falling apart: There are effectively fewer people willing – and able – to correct those doing wrong!

Certain misguided “elders” even disappoint me more, by arguing that they have “done their own bit” and it’s up to the “rest of us”!

I feel nothing but pity, laced with contempt, for older persons who hold such views.

They fail to learn from the examples of Zig Ziglar and Jim Rohn….as well as the legendary Fela Anikulapo Kuti.

All three men stayed active in influencing society till they passed on. And there have been others like them.

Today, Wole Soyinka, a Nobel prize winner, is 80 years old. Yet he continues with the same tradition of being a Social Change Agent: A journey he began in his early twenties!

Just as this problem is happening in the educational sector, so it rampages in the other aspects of societal life.

In the face of all the above, I ask again: What do you tell your child?

Just like back when I was as a youth corper, I remain uninitiated today.

Indeed, I refuse to be initiated into wrong doing habits of any sort!

Not just for my own sake. But also because I happen to have kids of my own – who are exposed on a daily basis to people who do all these, in society.

The truth is you cannot hide a child away from the rot, because it is everywhere.

So, you need to diligently invest quality time and effort to DRUM the morals and values you KNOW the Creator expects them to uphold, into their little heads :-)

For me, it’s a nightmare of sorts just imagining what my kids see and hear each day they are away from home.

I know what trouble I got into while a child, in a much saner Nigeria.

The Nigeria of today offers so many temptations to young people! What’s more, deception – indeed the ability to tell barefaced lies without remorse, as well as doing wrong and producing crocodile tears while denying it, has been elevated to an art form by today’s kids.

That’s why I challenge YOU as a parent to get close to your child – and be sure you KNOW him/her as well as you think you really do.

This is the time to do it – while s/he is still under your care, living under your influence and authority. You still have a chance to detect and correct any character flaws that s/he may pick up from corrupt society.

You owe yourself, and your child, a duty to play your role, so you do not have cause to regret when s/he becomes an adult, and leaves home.

So, the question comes up again: what do YOU tell your child in the face of rampant wrong doing s/he sees in society?

I say tell him/her NEVER to accept that standard – no matter how attractive it appears.

I say make yourself a shining example of a superior standard, and let him/her know that the Creator approves of that standard: That is, a standard which does NOT condone cheating, lying, stealing, deception or wrong doing in any form.

And I say, demonstrate to him/her in words and action on a daily basis that you truly BELIEVE what you tell him/her.

Do so by walking your talk with pride and dignity, even if it means having to accept humbling circumstances for a while, until the Creator elevates you.

Do this without fail, every waking day, and by the time that child leaves home, NOBODY will be able to tempt him/her to go off track.

S/he will therefore always be a source of pride to you, and your entire family.

Don’t waste time. Start doing it today. Your child’s future most likely depends on it.

Good luck!


1.Is It RIGHT To Do Wrong, So As To Fulfill FAMILY Obligations?

2.Prepare Your Kids to Succeed Despite Society’s Ills

[IMPORTANT: This blog's contents are being updated following the transfer to www.tayosolagbade.com from my former domain - Spontaneousdevelopment.com. As a result, some parts of it may not work properly for now. Quick Tip: If a link contains "spontaneousdevelopment.com", simply change it to "tayosolagbade.com" - and it should work. This applies to article links as well as image links. Work continues to update the links(in over 500 articles). Tayo K. Solagbade.]

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