ON human flourishing: Parents should inculcate values to children as coronavirus takes toll AT this particular period and season when Africa is moving forward in various spheres of its development, and yearning to see, among many of its values, especially that of the family, firmly entrenched in our communities.
The pandemic coronavirus has brought many uncertainties and unknowns and no one can predict what will happen to the COVID-19 trajectory over the next weeks and months. At the global level, the world is shutting down.
Life is becoming complicated because massive restrictions are put on our lives, and I know in some places lockdowns is the order of the day. Let me focus more on school closures, travel restrictions and bans on mass gatherings. We are faced with an unprecedented social restrictions, sadly during peacetime.
This means that families, a basic social unit consisting of parents and their children are now coming together and staying at home.
By my pen today I wish to highlight the fact that family, being the first and major agency of socialisation, is among the most affected institution and needs to be considered as the world and especially Africa battles with the virus.
And the question about the state of our families today is not a new agenda. We all have some ideas and others know it well. Most families are in crisis. African countries, and evidently the world, is suffering from a disease many call it a failure of parentage.
Let me reiterate, we are not only faced with health and economic crises, but family crisis too. Unfortunately, this family crisis is the most unspoken matter since coronavirus begun to hit the world and continuing to weaken the fabric of families- going beyond to make international order dwindle.
But it is uplifting though to hear confirming voices from the public square, indicating that the problems are real especially regarding the indiscipline of children as something not only growing at an unprecedented rate, but severely affecting our predominantly young population.
Put it simply, the general conclusion is that parents, and in African context society, looks as if they have nosedived in their duty to guide and instruct effectively. This speaks of what has and continues to happen in our traditional forms of authority as far as raising of children is concerned.
What does this opinion mean to us today as Corona pandemic brings and keeps our children home? Well, it is time for parents to bear the burden of inculcating values to their children. This we propose because family being the first and major agency of socialisation has and will continue to have great influence and bearing on value inculcations.
But why worry about family? And why now when families have an opportunity to come together due to corona pandemic? Well, Brenda Almond in her book “The Fragmenting Family” gives us an important clue on family.
She writes; the family is and always has been the foundation of communities in which the cherishing of each individual can flourish. This is an important truth.
Similarly, Alexis de Tocqueville in his book Democracy in America, described the family as the first institution to teach ‘habits of the heart’ and discourage the worst excesses of individualism by emphasizing responsibilities to others.
I see these observations as critical-implying that at this time the role of parents is bigger than expected, they have a lot to do, to mention a few, properly instruct, correct, rebuke, and support their children. We understand also that we have in our society, many dysfunctional family settings which are not known to be supportive family.
Some are good families which are able to act as a protective factor against any bad outcome. This is important to know because, each day of our lives we make deposits in the memory banks of our children, said Charles Rozell Swindoll, an evangelical Christian pastor, author, educator and radio preacher.
In a similar tune, M. Grundler, a researcher at Michigan University, aptly argues; The best inheritance a parent can give to his children is a few minutes of their time each day. For Charles Bradford Henry, an American lawyer and politician who was the 26th Governor of Oklahoma, combining parents and children, he strongly believes that families are the compass that guides us.
They are the inspiration to reach great heights, and our comfort when we occasionally falter. In other words, most homes now should be busy setting pattern for the children attitude towards people and society. Parents are expected, through homes, to aid intellectual growth in their children and support their aspirations and good values.
But this is not as easy as it is spoken or written. It is complex and can be challenging because parenting skills are also a major concern. The worry is even bigger to some parents who, sadly and for a long time, for one reason or the other, decided to relegate their responsibilities to teachers and other authorities.
These must be struggling very much now. My column is not enough to wrestle with this subject called family. I am interested in families and their ‘practices’, that is what goes on inside them, notably for their high significance because however constituted, they are the focal point in which emotional and material needs are met for the majority of people.
This said however, I have taken the current state of affair when corona pandemic forcing our children to stay at home as an opportunity to challenge parents to remember that for now, and possibly for many more days and weeks to come, it is not teachers nor educational institutions who will take care of the their children but parents.
Time for society to inculcates values through its various institutions and tools is now limited.
So, while uncertainty and fear from the coronavirus epidemic is top of mind, yet we should not ignore the fact that parents, at family locale, have a major role to play at this corona pandemic era otherwise if they do not do so, I am afraid, in the end COVID-19 outbreak will highlight critical gaps in family preparedness on situations like this making a restart of schools and other society institutions more difficult. It is time for parents to wake up.
Dr Alfred Sebahene, PhD Social Ethics Specialist and Anti-Corruption Consultant St J ohn’s U niversity of Tanzania Dodoma, Tanzania Email Addresses: arsebahene2@ yahoo.co.uk, alfredsebahene@ gmail. com Mobile: 076 7 233 997