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Luke Ogar: Parents – Life Givers or Not?

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Your parents, they give you your life, but then they try to give you their life.”-Chuck Palahniuk

The joy of parenting lies within its seeming perennial burden: indeed, it is no small job to partake in. It’s been said that from womb to tomb, a child will always be a child in the eyes of his/her parents; perhaps this becomes problematic than we expect. No doubt, parents will always want the best for their children, but what if their plans were just time-worn or outdated? Time, as slow as it may seem, often outruns our expectations for the future. This article takes a closer look at the well known dynamics affecting the role of parents. Are they still in the past, yet trying to enforce the future?

“A Bouncing Baby Boy” vs “It’s a Girl”
Right from birth, or even before birth, a sort of distinction between the male and female species has been made. It so happens that there’s a sort of “quiet” celebration when a girl child is forthcoming, and vice versa for the male child. Somehow, parents seem to have an outline of the entire future for their children: what schools they’ll go to, the vocation they’ll do, etc. If only the babies could decipher their parents’ thoughts. Perhaps that’s why some of them cry with so much rage – just joking! It all happens within a single statement from the doctor.

Right-Handed Or Wrong-Handed
Even from our local languages, the left hand is often given a derogatory name. It becomes little wonder that many parents tend not to accept the fact that a child is oriented to being a leftist. Of course, there is nothing wrong (medically speaking) with being left-handed – it’s a matter of which side of the brain (cerebral hemisphere) controlling motor activities. But what do we see in reality? Variable weights are tied to left hands of children, and repeated verbal reproach for the use of the left hand. Somehow, the child begins to feel he/she is, in a way, abnormal. But it’s a bitter pill for parents to swallow. Even my parents who are educated still occasionally view my left-handed cousin as clumsy and weird: “You can’t even eat with your right hand?”

“Do Your Mates Have Two Heads?”
As school begins, it is the expectation of every parent that their children come out tops in class. But is this possible? NO. Never! (Except each child has his/her own private school.) It’s good to encourage children to do better at school, but we must realize that it is not a battlefield where the winner takes all. Each child is unique in his/her own way, but instead of assessing children based on their abilities and cognition, we do so on the basis of what position they came in school. Is the child who came last in class worse off? Very unlikely. Perhaps parents make them think so. There was a time I slipped from 1st to 4th position. “You must stop watching TV”, my father said, “It’s making you lazy.” Was he right? Maybe…perhaps he saw something.

“Doctor”, “Engineer”, “Lawyer”, Or Nothing Else
What if the first son of the family has an interest in photography? Does he stand in the line of favour from his parents? Not likely. In a bid that their children be successful, most parents feel children must partake in the societal “elite” jobs. Consideration of the child’s passion and interest becomes a secondary thing. We often hear of disputes between parents and children concerning their course of choice. Filling of the Matriculation Examination form becomes a debate. It’s a shame that the option of “lesser” courses comes as a last-minute decision. Perhaps my mother wants to be addressed as “Mama Doctor”. Can I blame her?

Would I Do Better?
From all that’s been written so far, one may think I’m trying to hype the mentality of the younger generation (the so called Generation Next). But no! Generation Next is likely to be outdated in the coming twenty to thirty years. Why? Already, many young people believe there’s not much to be changed in the future. Believe me, 3-D TVs and 4G internet facilities would become outdated; so also would be our present mentality. Our prospective children may face different circumstances and challenges, and it’s up to the Generation Next to remain “updated” or stand the chance of being obsolete; but more importantly, are we going to be an impediment to our children? It starts with the realization that we are never too smart to bend to the wind of change.

Photo Credit: thesavvysista.com

Luke Ogar is a medical doctor, writer, and author of First Light: 50 Selected Poems. He blogs at lukeogar.com

7 Comments

  1. Ogey

    February 5, 2014 at 11:40 am

    Typical African parents! My mum still tries to stop my lil sis from using her left hand till date. As a result, she now has a very bad hand writing cause she was forced to learn to write with her right hand. I remember how cute her hand writing used to be whenever she used her right hand. Well the upside is that she’s now ambidextrous (yep they do exist in Nigeria). Her right hand is for only when mum is watching, hehe.

  2. ENIOLA

    February 5, 2014 at 12:30 pm

    SO TRUE! I remember the argument I had with my dad while filling my Jamb form over studying Law and Mass Communication. My papa said okay you can fill Mass Comm, knowing that he’d be the one to go and submit the forms. Where white corrector fluid dey, my papa changed the silly mass comm to law!. He only confessed jokingly last year. LOOOOL. Love him still!

    • Bobosteke & Lara Bian

      February 5, 2014 at 3:00 pm

      Kai! Your Daddy is no try!

  3. SweetestTaboo

    February 5, 2014 at 12:39 pm

    Whenever Nigerians say not to hand them something with my left-hand, I always ask if they will turn down ten-thousand dollars being handed to them from that same left-hand. Many Nigerian parents are just too rigid with their thinking- whether about career choices of the children or even their handedness.

  4. memebaby

    February 5, 2014 at 5:27 pm

    ha! being the first born, my parents made sure I will become a doctor smh. science classes in high school, then entered university and failed extremely. I didn’t even tell them, I just switched to accounting. You wanna read medicine ? carry book and go become a doctor daddy! He is praying that his fourth child decides to be a lawyer or doctor when she grows up as the rest disobeyed daddy’s wishes lol

  5. Tosin

    February 5, 2014 at 8:50 pm

    truth is being told.
    my sisters are ambidextrous too.
    my mother suffered mucho because she was born leftie and that was not an option in her time.
    my sisters suffered too, until one day they read in the papers about how it was not right to change kids, then they immediately stopped.
    what can i say, everybody’s learning. and parents try to do their best, and in all their trying sometimes they mess up big time. everybody hustling for success, nobody trying for greatness, why?

  6. Okechukwu

    March 20, 2014 at 12:11 am

    Nice piece, Dr. Luke. I think parents should come to terms with allowing their children chose what they want to study in the university based on their passion. If a child is very much interested in Physics and you prevent him or her from pursuing it in the university, you might as well have prevented the emergence of another Albert Einstein, Marie Curie or Isaac Newton.

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