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Opinions of Tuesday, 11 September 2018

Columnist: Rahim Newton

Blame dad, not uncle; mom, not auntie

Rahim Newton, author Rahim Newton, author

One of the rational ethics society offloads on us during our upbringing is that, children must love their parents unconditionally and should never do anything to hurt their feelings. Thinking along these lines, it may be distasteful to think that parents (mom and dad) could be accused or blame for certain actions and inactions. Nonetheless, dear reader, bear with me as I share with you some interesting observations:

Usually, just as dad and mom encourage their kids to love them and always consider their feelings, they (some not all) do not hesitate to paint uncles and aunties in all kinds of unattractive colors. Being aware of how susceptible kids are, they shove it down their throats, how selfish, inhuman, and uncaring uncles and aunties are. One could confidently say that it is against this background that the belief—‘‘virtue or wickedness of a person is dependent on the upbringing he/she receives from the parents—’’has received much patronage.

It wouldn’t be that bad to recall some of the obligations of parents to enable us fully appreciate this conversation piece: Parents must provide material and spiritual welfare for their children; provide medical care and also keep them (children) in healthy environments; they must provide food, clothing and shelter. It is binding on parents to inspire their wards by their own exemplary lives, just as it is incumbent upon them to rear their offspring to be self-supporting, loyal citizens and well-informed members of society. Parents must be honest and bold to apologize to their children for bad stewardship.

We could easily make honest and accurate determinations if dad could literally recite to us the several advice uncle doled out to him when he gave up on the vocational skills he was acquiring to become a skillful and an independent person, and, rather, decided to trek the path of least resistance to success; we could, also, pass fair judgment on mom’s allegation against auntie, if she could tell us word for word auntie’s advice to her when she hatched the idea of quitting school. And since our parents will be somewhat reluctant to tell us verbatim, the genuine advice they got from uncle and auntie, we can only pass non-partisan judgment and figure out who to blame, if it’s necessary, through the tedious way of permutation and combination of the available facts and events.

Most successful people, in this case aunt and uncle, sat down to take the decision that would change the course of their lives—when to give birth and how many offspring to bring forth. They, exhaustibly, diagnosed the pros and cons of making babies based on their resources, their set down goals and some other important factors. Apparently, one would have thought that these people hated kids when they landed on the decision to make two or three, but the reality is that they wanted to live this stress-free and happy life that they are currently enjoying, which is somehow irritating to mom and dad because they expected auntie and/or uncle to adopt half of their countless children.

Some parents will relate to you, all, the verses of the revered books that frown on Coitus Interruptus and any other form of family planning if you dare tell them to consider those as options of poverty alleviation. They don’t also relent on reiterating how obliged we are to fill this dog-eat-dog planet with babies. I thought it was more of a sin for an innocent boy to metamorphose into an arm robber due to poor parenting! Maybe I will have to come again! This is not to pretend that all successful people have all their wards being compliant. But just as almost every law has an exception, it’s agreeable that some few responsible parents, also, do have some of their kids go wayward, chiefly, due to influence of bad peers; however, the joyful news is that it is less frequent.

Let’s fly questionnaires with ‘‘why will you want to have kids and why have you given birth’’ as the test questions. The overwhelming response we would get from a lot of parents will be that, ‘‘so that they (the children) will support me (the parent) financially when they grow up’’. It has always been that some parents do not consider the welfare of their children before bringing them into this every-one-for-himself world. All they care about is what they can harvest from their babies—sheer selfishness! This class of parents do say that, ‘‘it is God who takes care of His creatures.’’ But just as it is useful that we trust in God, it is also prudent that we trust in the minds and senses that He’s given us.

If we could uncover the number of mistresses of dad—who help him squander his meager earnings—we would have spared uncle, whose effort at educating us we are deceived to consider not enough. If we could dig further to unravel dad’s addictions (substance abuse, gambling, lottery, etc.) it could have lessen the burden of permutation and combination that we’ve been engrossed in, all day, trying to demonstrate who’s to be exonerated and who’s to be implicated. If we could quantify the myriads of plush jewels mom has and keeps acquiring while refusing to pay our fees in the name of lack money, we would have rather praised Auntie. If we could estimate the overpriced heels and exotic ‘materials’ mom has and keeps acquiring, to nourish her cherished ego, while we’ve been starving for some months now, we would have apologized to auntie for ignorantly ever despising her.

It is absurd but necessary to think that dad and mom have not proven enough, so far, to be classical parents if you revisit some of the written down responsibilities of parents. Parents should accept responsibility—and the truth is they are responsible for the welfare of their wards—and shy away from acting like victims. Parents apologizing to their children for not being responsible enough, and for bad stewardship as well as turning over a new leaf, can be a workable way of promoting responsible parenting rather than continuously inciting their wards against the humble ones who did not play any role in bringing those (kids) into this cutthroat world.