Over the years, the family as a unit of social system has been under pressure. The pressure emanated from dealing with issues of poverty and meeting the essential needs of members of the nuclear family and the larger society.
Regrettably, the need to make ends meet, especially in a depressed economy such as ours, has eroded many family values as most parents pursue wealth at the detriment of their children, who are not being brought up in accordance with societal norms.
It has been said that the seeming parents’ negligence to show commitment to their children’s decent upbringing resulted from structural injustices that have kept the lowly down for years. There are injustices being built into organisations or structures of the society that ensure that the wealthy and privileged groups have everything going for them. It might not have been their industry or wisdom that led to the widening of the gap between the rich and poor; rather the economic, social and political structures of the society were responsible.
In order to meet their obligations to the family, most parents devote much time and energy to the pursuit of material wealth while the children’s right to parental care and love is neglected. Most agonising is the fact that some families, as fall out to their crass materialism, devote insignificant time to the proper education of their children.
Every morning, every day, parents will hurry to their businesses or workplaces while the children go to school. All will come back late in the day tired. The members of the family would just manage to prepare and have dinner and go to sleep.
Matters that have been gradually tearing the family fabric or unity have remained unattended to because no one has time to discuss such issues, let alone fixing them. The family as the basic unit of society should be the cradle of any egalitarian society that boasts opportunities that promote awareness on issues relating to families and increase knowledge of the social, economic and demographic processes for the growth and development of such a society.
Sociologists have maintained that highlighting the importance of family in the society and recognising the fact that stronger families result in stronger communities, is an elixir to the current debilitating and fractured society we currently have. This is so because families (both traditional and non-traditional) are the foundation of society. Most formative years of life are spent growing up within the family circle.
COVID-19 and family reunion
Before now, there was the general assumption that all was well with the average family. The implicit love and cohesion that seemingly pervaded most families were mere deceptions and hyped. There were some cracks in the family walls, which were not patched.
The situation was cloaked in secrecy because every day, the husband and wife would leave for their respective places of work while the children would be off to school. Everybody comes back home in the evening tired. They will manage to prepare dinner and retire to bed. None had time to discuss burning issues raised during some quarrels or mix-ups. The deceitful family lifestyle continued till COVID-19 pandemic set in.
That was the routine until the Federal Government took steps to curb the spread of the Coronavirus. It then imposed lockdown in some states, forcing people to stay at home.
With this, there was no room for charades. Family members had to face the reality of life. Every inconspicuous character became bare.
In the circumstances, the COVID-19 induced lockdown provided opportunities for such wobbly families to fix whatever had gone awry. Some family matters that were disregarded before now were talked over and the family bond became stronger again.
A resident of Ilamoshe Estate in Isolo, a Lagos suburb, who preferred not to be named, told The Nation that his 16-year-old daughter had to convene a family meeting that helped in restoring lasting peace in his home.
Sadly though, some families didn’t take the advantage provided by the lockdown to either maintain peace or bring about one in their homes as there were reported cases of domestic violence during the period.
Declining family values as major challenge
To experts, family values are so important to society. While there are significant efforts through education and various opportunities, there are signs that there are too many young people falling victim to negativity as a result of waning family values.
“The real problem of declining family values runs far deeper than the issue of young, single mothers. In some two-parent homes, children are exposed to crude, foul language and even physical abuse,” they maintained.
The onus is on parents, guardians, government and all key stakeholders in the society to ensure that the pristine era when children are raised in accordance with social norms is in place through a commitment to social re-engineering.