As the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) Lagos in collaboration with Tehila Women and Youth Empowerment Foundation (TWYEF) joined the rest of the world recently to mark the Global Day of Parents, one issue that has remained on the front burner of public discuss is the challenges of parenting digital savvy children. At the Panel Discussion programme organised to mark the day in Lagos, Nigerian parents have been urged to keep abreast of their children and be social media smart.
Speaking on ‘Contemporary Parenting and the Social Media’, Dr Ifeoma Amobi of the Department of Mass Communication, University of Lagos, warned that interaction of young people on social media platforms should no longer be dismissed as a ‘waste of time’, but must be acknowledged by parents as a part of contemporary communication.
‘The new way of life, brought on by the spread and development of communication technology, demands different ways of parenting due to the altered fabrics of parent-child relationships,’ Dr. Amobi contended, ‘Parents should be their children’s best friends and should do so by becoming “social media smart”. She added that in order to fulfil parents’ duty of protecting their children, online activity should be treated with the same diligence as offline activity.
Established by the United Nations General Assembly in September 2012, the Global Day of Parents is observed on the 1st of June every year to honour parents around the world. It acknowledges that parents of every race, religion, culture and nationality in all parts of the world are the primary caregivers and teachers of their children, preparing them for a happy, fulfilling and productive life.
The Panel Discussion programme chaired by the Erelu of Lagos, Her Royal Highness, Abiola Dosunmu, attracted men and women, literate and non-literate, from all walks of life they gathered just to commemorate the Day3 in Nigeria.
Welcoming the participants, the Director of UNIC Lagos, Mr Ronald Kayanja, highlighted the importance of parents to the development of the child, the community and the nation. He observed that the success of the United Nations’ mission to promote international peace and security, ensuring a world free from war and conflict, was dependent on the direction parents provided for their children and the society.
Quoting from the preamble of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), Kayanja observed that “Since wars begin in the minds of men and women, it is in the minds of men and women that the defences of peace must be constructed”. He added that parents played an integral role in peace building through teaching values of tolerance, respect for one another, hard work and integrity among others.
In her remarks, the Executive Director of TWYEF, Mrs Stephany Nwanma, re-emphasised the importance of education and restoration of values through parenting and urged parents to rise up to the challenges of contemporary parenting.
Speaking on “Critical Issues and Challenges with Parenting in Nigeria”, Dr. Ebun Sonaiya, Chief Medical Director and Director of Total Health Trust, observed that peer pressure from an early age, the excessive use of technology and gadgets, being subjected to bullying, a sense of entitlement, drugs and substance abuse, sexual experimentation as well as sibling rivalry were the challenges children and parents face at this time in the global development. ‘The parenting skills needed to tackle these challenges are not taught in schools or homes rather parents need to devise a more practical approach to navigate the challenges,’ he added.
Her Royal Highness addressed the issue of gender equality and women’s empowerment stating that fathers and mothers should be equally responsible for parenting, as “women have always been working side by side to create a happy home for children”.
In her ‘Testimony of a Parent’, Mrs Chinyere Anokwuru, the former Senior Special Assistant to the Governor of Lagos state on women ethnic groups, recounted how her parents upheld integrity and values in the face of hardship and poverty to raise her. She added that the values handed down to her by her parents had brought her to where she was at the moment.
Participants called on UNIC Lagos and TWYEF to organise a similar programme but for a larger audience. They also requested that the presentations be published for wider circulation of the issues and for references purposes.