She’s 15: How parents enable the ‘stray children phenomenon’ in Nigeria

She's 15

Hassan is flogged every morning because he has not learnt to avoid bedwetting. He has gotten used to the beating and has accepted his fate as a bedwetter. From another home, Emeka has stopped bedwetting because his parents keep talking to him about the shame that accompanies bedwetting, in case he were to resume at a boarding house. In yet another home, Shade has become a drug addict and a bus park agbero, because her mother thinks she should learn the hard way.

Parenting indeed comes in different forms, and many cultures of the world tend to provide a standard considered normal and the most appropriate in bringing up a child. In some climes, like Nigeria, the Bible (spare the rod and spoil the child) is used as a yardstick to determine the parenting style to be adopted.

Nigerians woke up to a now-viral video of a young 15-year-old lady captured smoking what was alleged to be cannabis and it appeared that she had recorded herself – such things that cannot pass the eyes of hyperactive users who love to talk about certain issues when given the opportunity; this time, parenting and children who make bad choices.

The reactions:

We can argue that the internet, her peers might have influenced her newfound way of life, but it will be digressive to not ask questions or point to her roots, especially when we consider that parents play a critical role in shaping the future of a child. But when you see what is obtainable these days, you already sense that parents might have got it all wrong.

There’s quite a number of things that parents do, albeit unknowingly. Overprotecting the child, saying ‘yes’ to everything, confusing intelligence with maturity, running from their own past, poverty and negligence.

And, while parents are conscious of the fact that their actions and decisions while nurturing their kids influence the child’s character, we might want to play the blame game with the children too, who take bad choices, even when they are not oblivious of the consequences.

Now that the viral video may have opened the discussion on who is to blame – parents or external forces? – the truth is that the 15-year-old child may have picked up habits from her parents and allowed her choices solidify those said habits. 

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