I thank the Board and Management of Omolewa Nursery and Primary School, for setting aside today 18th July, the birthday of the Founder, the late Chief Mrs. Gladys Aduke Vaughan as the ‘Gladys Aduke Day’ of Omolewa, the school she founded nearly 60 years ago! We thank God for her foresight and being proactive enough to identify the need for private education and to meet the need. So many of the schools founded at that time are no longer existing today. We must thank God for the life of Mummy Omolewa, a woman of great impact and an outstanding philanthropist. We thank God for her successors who are keeping the dream alive and ensuring that the vision does not die. We thank them for setting today aside to celebrate the Gladys Aduke Day. I pray that the Lord will grant us more grace to celebrate this day annually, by His grace. Amen.
I am extremely honoured to be invited as the very first speaker at the 1st Gladys Aduke Day. Indeed, there are more qualified people than me in this town and this State. I thank the Board and management for counting me worthy, and I hope I perform to your expectations. Indeed Chief Mrs. Vaughan’s shoes are way too big for me to fill. She was my mum’s cousin/ aunt and she was extremely close to my mum especially when they both studied in England in the 1950s. I grew up in a family with Women of Strength and I make bold to say that Mummy Omolewa and indeed Granny, her own mum, were definitely pacesetters and forerunners in their time. Mummy Omolewa lived a long purpose-filled life till the age of 93, when she went to be with the Lord. We thank God for her beautiful life, wherein she was a blessing to humanity and of service to her family, community and Nigeria.
Today I have been asked to speak about Parenting in the 21st Century. I have tweaked it a bit to ‘Raising Amazing Children’. Parenting is a skill and everyone can learn to be a better parent. Being a parent in the 21st century is more complex than centuries before, mainly because of the information and technology overload, as well as the battle for our children’s minds in these present times. However, one thing that remains constant from generation to generation, irrespective of the century, is the desire to raise amazing children, who will be for signs and wonders, in Jesus’ Name, Amen.
I want everyone to know that I am not holding myself out or bragging about being an amazing parent or bragging that my children are amazing, I am sharing my personal insights and my experiences as I consider myself as ‘work in progress’. God has definitely not finished with me! But I know for sure that my latter days will be even more glorious than the former, in Jesus’ Name.
I consider myself extremely fortunate to have been borne and nurtured by both Atinuke and Bola Ige, both of blessed memory.
My parents wanted me, prayed for me from conception until the day they died! Situation of birth is very important. Some couples refer to some of their children as a ‘mistake’ or an ‘accident’! It is very Important for children to have a sense of belonging and be brought up in a loving home. I read somewhere that the best gift a man can give his children is to love their mother! I believe the same is true vice-versa.
THE ACTIVE INVOLVEMENT OF THE FATHER IS CRUCIAL..
A lot of children are dysfunctional in this 21st century, because of ‘fatherlessness’. Usually the fathers are not physically dead, but they are dead to their responsibilities! They are R.I.P. alive! A lot of women are raising their children alone, because of divorce, or their spouse’s recklessness or economic migration- when men have deserted their homes in search of what to eat, whilst wolves have devoured their children!
Another growing phenomenon is the ‘Big Girl Syndrome’, where mature professional women, with financial wherewithal decide to have children on their own, either with a ‘Baby Daddy’, by adoption or by surrogacy. A lot of couples are marrying later and find it difficult to conceive through no fault of their own. Some women are single because they are widows or just because they didn’t find Mr. Right, the bone of their bone and the flesh of their own flesh. This is not their fault.
Studies have shown that children thrive best in stable marriages and non-dysfunctional homes. Homes where fathers have taken an active role in the nurturing and rearing of children. Active and fully present, physically and emotionally, at children’s milestones- birthdays, school activities and co-curricular activities, eating, playing and praying together. Talking to them, encouraging and complimenting them, telling them ‘i love you’ often, and meaning it!
I was very lucky. My dad told me he loved me, put it in writing to me and acted it fully. He said it nearly everyday of his life and I had no doubt whatsoever, from childhood up until now that I was and i am thoroughly loved! I know my case isn’t typical, of many Nigerian homes, but even if your parents were not so expressive, you can be the ‘transitional parent’. You can break the jinx of lack of love and expression. There are many books on Parenting. Parenting is a skill, we get better with knowledge and practice. Anybody can father a child, but not everyone can be a father.
Please clap for all the fathers present here!
If you find your child, or any child, in a ‘fatherless situation’, you can adopt or be a father -figure to him or her. It could be an in-law, an uncle, brother, Pastor or a man who shares the same core values. The best way to cure this ‘fatherlessness’ / lack of active parenting is for our children to know and accept Jesus Christ as their personal Saviour, Father and Lord. We all have a heavenly Father who loves us inspite of all our weaknesses. When we know Him, we have the full assurance and comfort that He is only a prayer away! The Bible enjoins us to raise our children in the way of the Lord so that when they grow up they will not depart from it. The important thing is for us as parents to know what the way of the Lord is, so that we can teach our children. We cannot give what we don’t have.
It is vital to let your children know your FAMILY’S CORE VALUES.- What are the things that are important to you, your family’s fundamental values? Values like HONESTY, INTEGRITY, GODLINESS, HARD WORK, PUNCTUALITY- even speaking of Yoruba at home can be a family’s core value! These are the foundational pillars of one’s character and what makes the family unique. A lot of parents don’t have clear-cut values themselves, so they have little to hand over to their children. These values must be well-articulated to our children, and we must always be able to walk our talk. Our children will not do as we say, but as we do. We can’t ask our children not to cheat in school when they see us accept bribes in the course of our official duties.
MANNERS MAKETH MAN.
To raise amazing children, we must teach them manners and etiquette. No matter the age of the child, they must know and use the magic words, PLEASE, THANK YOU, I AM SORRY, MAY I DO…..? We must teach them to greet elders courteously and even their peers. A lot of parents make the mistake of raising their children in a Western fashion- where their children greet them saying ‘Hi!’. We have to be careful not to lose the beauty of our cultural values. Even the British Royal family courtesy and demand their subjects to do the same. Our children must be able to speak their mother-tongue fluently and it is most beneficial to read and write in their mother-tongue. Studies have shown that children who are fluent in their mother tongue acquire many more languages fluently and faster than their peers. I am a living example- I speak 4 languages!
The early childhood years are the best times to lay the foundation of what we want in our children’s lives. As parents, we must model what we teach- do as I do, not do as I say only. We must walk our talk and be consistent. Our children need a lot of adults and peers reinforcing the values we want to instil in our children. Significant adults and role-models mirroring the same values at home, school, church and playground. We need to be extremely careful about the influences to which we expose our children. Unfortunately in these perilous 21st century days, the bad strangers are not always the dirty old man lurking in the street corner, the bad influences are just a click away on their cell phones and laptops! There are all kinds of forces competing for our children’s mind! The mind is a battlefield with the ammunition being in the music and entertainment industry, taking our children away from us.
What kind of music, movies and literature feed your children’s minds? Who are your children’s favourite musicians and actors? Who are their heroes and role models? Who do they copy in their dressing and the way they speak? If you can’t answer these questions offhand, it shows you are not sufficiently observant of your child! Some parents don’t know what class their children are in, who are their best friends, male or female, nor where these best friends live. In today’s world, our children have ‘virtual friends’ who they communicate with nearly every time, on whatsapp , Twitter and Facebook. Teenage girls are ‘chatting’ to mature men, and they aren’t discussing JAMB syllabus! If you are not there, not just physically, but emotionally engaged and spiritually connected with your children, other people will take your place, even under your roof! The families that raise amazing children, pray, play and plan together. If you have been too busy to spend quality time with your children, you can start now. Get to know your children, when you pray with them, you learn what they are thankful for, and also what they are anxious and fearful about. When you play with them you learn their slang and their coded messages. You get to know their friends and the influences upon their lives. Encourage them to invite their friends home and take them to their friends’ houses, so you can know their friends’ parents and from there, you know whether you share common values.
DISCOVER YOURS FIRST! THEN HELP YOUR CHILDREN DISCOVER THEIR LIFE’S PURPOSE.
A purposeless life is a meaningless life. God has given us children so that we can be their custodians and in the final analysis, we are going to be accountable to God for how we raised them. It is important to help our children do a SWOT analysis of themselves. They must know what they are strong at- which one of your children’s temperament do you know? Which one is a Phlegmatic, Sanguine, Melancholic or Choleric? Do you know their best learning style- acoustic, visual, spatial or kinaesthetic learner? When they know their strengths, they feel self-confident and comfortable in their own skin. Many parents live their failed dreams through their children. Parents who wanted to do medicine and couldn’t, force their children to study medicine. Also when parents don’t know their children’s strengths, they force them to follow a career path that they are not cut out for. Just because you are a lawyer doesn’t mean your child should study law. Let them follow their own dreams and passions. There are lawyers like me and Chief Mrs. Leila Fowler of Vivian Fowler Memorial College, who are schoolowners. No knowledge is wasted, when you learn more, you earn more!
When children know their strengths, they can better discover their weaknesses and they are more confident to tackle these obstacles and turn them into stepping-stones. Children are more vulnerable, and are empathetic to the plight of others when they know and are aware that everyone has weaknesses. It is in discovering their purpose through guided self-study that they will find out the solution to the problem for which God positioned them on this planet.
Parents empower children when they help them discover opportunities that will distinguish and set them apart. God created us as solution-providers, through finding opportunities. I tell my students that Nigeria is the Land of Opportunities. We all agree that we have millions of problems, but do you know that inside every problem there is a solution, waiting for you to discover? In the school curriculum, government is just introducing Entrepreneurship as a secondary school subject. Before they do the theory in school, teach them the practical. Start by giving them pocket-money and making them accountable, later on, you can give them seed capital to start a small scale business like arts and crafts, beading and wire jewellery, baking, cooking, hairdressing, teaching piano, maths etc to younger children for a small fee. It keeps them busy, empowers them financially and enhances their mentoring skills.
Children must know the threats to look out for in their life’s journey. The threats are many for today’s children because the distractions and temptations are legion! When they are well aware of the dream killers, such as drugs, premarital sex and unplanned pregnancy, drinking, promiscuity, cultism and general lack of focus, they can plan against them or better still, they are aware of the dire consequences of these ugly vices, so they are better able to totally resist succumbing to these evil pressures. Children in these situations fare much better under the loving but firm guidance of their parents.
Above all, what every amazing child, indeed any amazing person, needs, is the unconditional love of their parents or significant adult, family member in their life. You don’t love your child because they come first in class or they got prizes- though that helps! You love them for who they are. Many parents don’t know how to love unconditionally because they say their parents didn’t love them like that! All you have to do, to experience unconditional love is to give your life to the Lord Jesus Christ and have a personal relationship with Him. He loves His children unconditionally and with an everlasting love. Even though Christ hates sins, yet He loves the repentant sinner. Learn at the feet of the Master, Jesus Christ our Father, Saviour and Advocate.
NO SUCCESS WITHOUT A SUCCESSOR.
A lot of parents are too busy, chasing after money so they can be successful. When both parents are preoccupied, running in the pursuit of wealth at the expense of their children, that ‘success’ comes with a heavy price tag. In the Rat Race of Life, even if you win, you are still a RAT. A lot of parents build big businesses, instead of investing in a strong relationship with their children. A Yoruba proverb says that the child you didn’t raise well will tear down and sell off all the buildings you raised! As we struggle to make ends meet, let our children share in our struggles to appreciate that life isn’t a bed of roses. When we lay a strong foundation for them, they will build a beautiful edifice on it, based on the immoveable values and unshakeable faith in Our Lord Jesus Christ. It is only when we have done this, can we go to Our Creator, with satisfaction and confidence that we have fought the good fight, we have run the straight race and then do we know for sure, that a crown of blessing and righteousness lies in store for us on the day of Christ.
This is the same thing that our mother, grandmother, Chief Mrs. Gladys Aduke Vaughan did. She set up a school which has outlived her because she had a succession plan and worthy successors. May we not build for others to inhabit and tear down, in Jesus’ Name. Amen.
Finally, BE STILL AND KNOW THAT HE IS LORD.
This is not a sure recipe, we as parents can only do our best to raise these children entrusted to us. Sometimes, parents raise 2 children in exactly the same way, while one turns out ‘amazing’ the other one is ‘less than amazing!’ However, we should never give up on any child, no matter the trying circumstances. The trying times will surely pass away and always remember that the prayers of a parent are extremely effectual and ‘availeth much!’. Please continue to pray without ceasing for all our children and by His grace and mercy, the glory of the Lord will shine upon them, in Jesus’ Name.
I thank you all very much for listening and I thank the organisers for inviting me. May the Lord bless all our homes and families, in Jesus’ Name. Thank you and God bless.
-Funso Adegbola, Director, The Vale College
+234 803 324 5574