In the shadows of our parents

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Much of my 24 years on earth has been a conscious effort to please my parents and to live up to their high standards. It was their call. Every thing had to be the way they wanted it. They gave me the name I bear, decided the schools I attended, regulated my friends, and influenced what I studied in the university and by extension my career line.

I mean, I couldn’t have done otherwise. Obedience to parents is not just an African value; it is also a biblical teaching and if you had disciplinarians as parents, you would appreciate the import of the saying “spare the rod….”. I thus was a very obedient child with the huge pressure to deliver and fear of failure that went with it. As important and innocent as parental guidance is in the life of their children, it is important to note that the effort to make our kids into what we want them to be might not always be the best for them. Naturally, responsible parents want their children to be successful in life and this often drives them into taking various decisions for their children some of which might not just be what they were cut out for.

First of all, setting certain high standards for your kids develops in them the fear of failure which could ultimately be their doom like the character Okonkwo in Achebe’s Things fall Apart who was pushed by a determination to prove he wasn’t a failure like his dad into greatness and equally into committing suicide. Choosing careers for kids could lead to life long regrets as most parents often do not take into cognizance the talent, interest and capabilities of their kids and would rather they studied the popular courses; medicine, law engineering and the like. The kid in an effort to keep his reputation of being a bright chap would work very hard and graduate but might never find fulfillment in that profession.

The same scenario plays itself out in other situations like in choosing life partners, job preferences, etc. I have a friend who has a wonderful entrepreneurial spirit and has developed a winning Business plan for an SME, but his father has decreed much against his wish, that he must go to the UK for a Masters after his youth service.

A great percentage of Nigerian youths find themselves in the same predicament.

While I hold nothing against my parents for the decisions they’ve taken or made me take all these years,-though I am not at home with some of them,- I have however decided that from now henceforth, I shall be responsible for my actions. This doesn’t in any way suggest my doing away with their superior advice and wise counsel, it only means that in taking decisions especially on issues that relates to my life and future, the first consideration shall no more be what would be pleasing to my parents, but what I want for my self and how such a decisions fits into my plans for my life.

We must at a certain age begin to mould ourselves into our dreams, not that of our parents. We must be bold enough to leave the comfort zone of our parent’s protection and chart a course for our own lives. It doesn’t mean we should rebel, but to find a way to make them understand that we’ve got some plan which can work out fine with their support. If you show confidence at what you are up to, your parents a sure to give you some benefit of doubt.

The crux of this discourse is that, we shouldn’t let anything keep us from pursuing our dreams and finding fulfillment in our own lives. Our parents have had their own lives. This is ours and it is incumbent on us to make the best of it.

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