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By Ahmed Yahaya Joe

The circumstances behind this photograph are too painful and mind boggling to recount here. As the details have already gone viral but irrespective of the heinous actions these teenagers committed the truth is simply that no matter how hard we try to color or panel beat the situation the spike in kidnapping, rape, substance abuse, suicide, vandalism, crime and other forms of vice pervading our nation are all symptoms of the breakdown of traditional family values.

We are all responsible either by acts of commission or omission of making monsters out of these kids because the virus causing their ailment is what is known as “father absence”
Being a father is the world’s most difficult job. It is beyond the culmination of our lust and not a job description of just physical presence but of psychological relevance. It is being there taking responsibility, communicating and mentoring. Paying the bills and providing for them is mandatory but not enough. That is why the Biblical definition of being an orphan is fatherlessness.

Th

e main challenge is that no matter how well you package your children as long as those they hang-out with are badly packaged yours are in constant danger. It is called Peer Pressure. There is no perfect formula against it but being there for them is a good beginning. Then there is wisdom, tact and good luck. Being strict and vigilant monumentally helps. It is however a double edged sword because the teenage years are the most radioactive. At that age all systems are at peak performance and willing to experiment and be inventive. It is a precarious stage of experimentation.

What therefore is the best way forward? Fathers must take back their children by spending more time with them. What teenagers hate most is being judgmental on them. So create ways and means to channel their enormous energies and imagination. Back in the day there were outlets of positive character formation and confidence building Boys Scouts, Man o’ War and so on. Now its social media all the way!

It is within that double edged sword context that we must find the solutions. Fathers must become more media savvy and checkmate our young in the battleground that takes so much of their attention.
There is however nothing that beats spending more time with them that is why it is called “quality time” Give them freedom…….wahala don’t give them freedom…..wahala. I do not subscribe to the Hausa adage of “Ka haifi yaro, baka haifi halin sa ba” – Fathering a child does not make you responsible for his faults. Nothing could be further from the truth. This is a very lame excuse. Their faults are ours. Without teaching them about taking responsibility how can they transit from being boys to men? The teenagers in the above picture certainly have or had fathers. There must be a missing link somewhere. Exploring these missing links by all fathers is the most veritable solution for us despite our social class, religious and ethnic differences.

We are not perfect but as fathers we must constantly improve our brand equity. After all it was another father like us who ought to have known better that raped an underage Busola Dakola. This kind of double standard confuses young minds. Lord Have Mercy!