I have always said that Knowledge is a critical resource for victory at any level. Knowledge is the foundation of intelligence. And intelligence is required for any level of warfare regardless of the kind. Knowledge is more than important. It takes you beyond where you can ever imagine, it reduces your error rate, it keeps you safe and helps you maximize your greatest potential. Knowledge is the take off point of any kind of value. In the 2000s, knowledge is the essential tool for managing complexities. Because when complexities are intensified, there is always a greater and greater demand on knowledge. Equally, the greatest challenge of society is the family institution. And the family institution has suffered consistently all through history simply because the children of yesterday who lacked adequate upbringing are now the adults of today and will create the children of today and the adults of tomorrow, and the vicious cycle continues.
So, ignorance is the common ingredient all through generations. But note that this ignorance is not the ignorance of all things but the ignorance of key things. Just as we do not need a bunch of keys to open a door but the right key, so we do not need the knowledge of all things to organize the society. Instead, we need the knowledge of key things; and the family is key. The crisis of the family is the crisis of the nation and the crisis of the nation is the crisis of the family. And if there is any tool that weakens the potential to build great families, it is the place of correction. If you ask me, what is the one thing that if you can learn, can increase your capacity and potential for success in building a great family? What can increase your success potential by almost 70% as far as building a family is concerned? I believe the answer will be: correction. You see, misbehavior is a constant and error is nature. Perfect behaviour eludes humanity so much that even you as a full blown adult sometimes still misbehaves and makes clear mistakes. Our individual and collective peace must not; I repeat must not be tied to perfect behaviour since none of us can be perfect. If this is true, correction also becomes critical to manage a reality as constant as imperfect behaviour. If you lack the skill to administer correction, you will be miserable, frustrated and depressed.
All through history, families have never been destroyed until they get the correction skill wrong. Now, there is this terrible assumption that punishment is correction. Punishment is never correction. Correction is a skill while punishment is an imbalance in nature in that any fool can punish. You don’t need formal training to know how to punish, you only need to be born; but you need education and training for you to know how to correct; it is not a gift of nature. It is a skill that must be learnt. While everybody can sleep for example and anyone can determinedly wake up at a particular time, to perform surgery, you need more than determination. Determination without skill in the surgery theatre is murder…clean murder and an honest and sincere jail term. Determination to correct without skill in the home is a vice. The goal of punishment is to acknowledge your hurt and to share the pain of your hurt with the offender. It does not by any means transform. On the other hand, the goal of correction is to bring the offender to a human state of acknowledgement of error, remorse, and to govern behaviour in a way that transforms the offender and blesses both his immediate environment and society at large.
Studies have shown that over 90% of parents never correct in their lifetime, they only punish. The reason they don’t correct is simply that they don’t know how.. See, “The plaster should be no wider than the sore.” It’s as simple as that. Punishment never fits the offense and never governs behaviour. To achieve that, actions must be carefully thought out before they are stated or applied, and even then it will be necessary to modify and refine them as they are being used. That’s correction and that takes learning. In the following example, I illustrate how correction and consequences should be selected, applied, and enforced, and describe the principles of behaviour upon which the procedure is based.
Correction demands that we make the decision of whether we want to be right or we want to progress. Punishment underscores how right you are, but correction creates transformation and progress. Now, a 10-year-old boy has been leaving his bike lying in the driveway. His parents frequently have to stop their car, get out and move the bike, then get back in the car and drive into the garage. Not only is this annoying, but a less careful or alert driver might hit or run over the bike. A punisher will give the boy a piece of his mind, a good scolding, a heavy dose of logic, a spanking, and the pronouncement that “If I ever see that bike lying in the driveway again, you won’t see it for a month—if you ever see it again!”. See, this action is obviously worse behaviour than leaving the bike in the driveway.The better way is to decide in advance exactly what the boy is expected to do with his bike. This is correction. It might be as simple as having him put his bike on the lawn, against the house, beside the porch, or out of the way in the garage. This then becomes the expectation of the boy’s behavior. Knowing in advance the expectations of his behavior is fair and is of primary importance.
Next, the parents must decide how to state their expectation to the boy so he fully understands it, and can demonstrate that he understands it! This is best accomplished in a simulation or role playing exercise. But on this altar of punishment, families have been ruined, children wrongly programmed to become malfunctioning adults and society is always the victim. I hope i’ve helped a bit.
I fondly recall the words of James David wolfensohn. James Wolfensohn is the 9th president of the World Bank group. He served meritoriously for two terms of ten years. He is credited among other things with being the first World Bank president to bring attention to the problem of corruption in the area of developmental financing.
Wolfensohn is 80, a husband of one wife of close to 60 years, father of three children and grandfather of seven. On Sunday July 18, 2010 in a guest appearance and engaging interview on One on One with Riz Kahn of Aljazeera,
he was asked by the famous anchor, “How would you like to be remembered?” Looking straight and confidently into the camera, Wolfensohn replied with enthusiastic conviction, “As a decent father.”
This response speaks volume and gives us a perspective of his most cherished legacy. For all his accomplishments in business and the World Bank, his response showed that he prized his role as a father above his outstandingly successful career. It is obvious that fatherhood occupied a prime place in the estimation of his legacy. His response is indeed food for thought and worthy of emulation.
I believe the father is a source of life, values and inspiration to a child. He teaches vision and keeps inspiration alive by positive examples. Sadly today, fathers are failing grossly in these responsibilities. This fact is corroborated by a saying that fathers give to their children what they make but they never give to their children what makes them. It has
been estimated that fatherhood failings will cost the United States over a trillion dollars this decade.
When a father is misguided, there is every tendency to produce a dysfunctional family. It is therefore apparent that Fatherhood is the cornerstone of the family and the family is the cornerstone of civilization.
Despite the inherent challenges, I love being a father and husband. I have recognized that having a great family life is one of the greatest blessings a man can know. I also have realized that Wisdom, time and energy are necessary to create a fatherhood legacy. A man must have the energy to invest in his children and create the time to invest that energy in the proper development and moulding of his family.
I say this because most fathers in our nation have signed up for the rat race of social and economic empowerment. I sincerely empathize because being a father in our third world nation and considering our political and socio-economic peculiarities, makes it a difficult responsibility. Society is unforgiving, regardless of a man’s moral values, if he is not
economically correct and so men are buffeted by varied pressures and demands.
We can’t blame the men because some of our antecedents didn’t lead any better. We are just hapless victims of own upbringing. Despite this ugly scenario, I still believe today’s fathers can turn the tides around and take responsibility for becoming a positive precedent in responsible fatherhood. They can become the heroes whose memories our children, family and society at large can be eternally grateful for.
In 2014, we must ask this pertinent question as fathers – what legacy do we want to leave with this world in desperate need of true heroes? A Ghanaian proverb is instructive here, “The ruin of a nation is in the homes of its people”. The life of a man is incomplete if he accepts the responsibility to be a father and discount the responsibility to be a decent, loving and available one.
I will conclude today with Mandela’s admonition, “To be the father of a nation is a great honour but to be the father of a family is a greater joy but it was a joy I had far little of.” For the much celebrated Mandela to call absentee fatherhood a regret is very instructive and a priceless lesson to prevent today’s fathers from making the same mistakes.
Again I want to remind us that Parenting is a skill and not a gift of nature. It has to be learnt and intentionally cultivated. If we ever hope to know lasting growth and prosperity, then our family system must get better and good parenting is the key.
Good parenting is a competence that can be developed and requires good parenting skills. Parents understand their difficulties especially with teenagers are accentuated when imagined negative possibilities about their children begin to match stubborn displayed negative behavior. Young people in their minds and in response to parental disposition consider their parents as witches, wizards, wicked, uncaring, mean and even doubting their heredity.
But there is no such thing as a stubborn child, we only have ignorant parents.
When parents get it wrong, children react with rebellion as the tool. They are willing to self-destruct just to get back at their parents. They join cults, gangs, cut tattoos, engage in wild partying, drink to stupor, keep late nights, roam the streets endlessly, abuse sex, seek love and material succour by dating older men and women even if married.
During festive periods, these promiscuous kids intensify their soul search for the dad or mum they never had. They look for dad and mum in the men and women around them with their bodies and sex as the tool of attraction and of retaining those people in their lives. Others are busy looking for the emotional connection and affection they desperately wanted from their parents and never got.
As a coach, mentor and family counsellor, I have lost count of how many young girls have told me they don’t enjoy sex. They say that while they give sex to their boyfriends and to the men in their lives, it is the romance, the foreplay, love talks and the touching that they enjoy the most. Most claim that penetration sex is always painful to them but the kisses, the touches, the love talks are the real inspiration for them. They simply seek in their partners the affection and meaning their parents should have given. The deep desire for connection wasn’t met by their parents, leaving them insecure as they grew older. This is a gap created by weak parenting.
It is emotionally distracting to see that all of the pain, and shattered dreams between kids and the parents they love so dearly primarily created by parents through ignorance, fear and opacity. know the best movies, lyrics of the latest songs, latest fashion cars, latest gossips and soft sells, how to make money, how to grow professional career or a great business. They know how to have sex and bring their partner to orgasm. They can analyze the economy and peculiarities but they know next to nothing about parenting.
Information, though helpful is not knowledge. The goal of information is to empower the head, the goal of knowledge is transformation. Information doesn’t connote practice or application. Knowledge is information applied. It is active with movement and progress.
Now is when we must stop the unskilled, lazy, parenting-by-default style we are embracing. I would advise parents everywhere and would-be parents to invest in parenting education. It is the way to the peace you seek in your parental responsibility. No school or religious set up can substitute your effort in protecting and nurturing your family.
Spend two hours online every week learning a parenting skill. Subscribe to a parenting journal, join a parenting club or even start one. Pay for a parenting course on your next holiday. Just do something.
Never forget that the destiny of your kids and how they turn out will be largely shaped by the attitude and behavior you model at home. You are responsible. But you can’t behave better than the quality of information and truth at your disposal. This is the Life.
It worth mentioning again that the diverse majority in our country must resist the thinking that only in our separation can our peace be ultimately found. It is a wrong thinking aptly refuted by the success of nations such as Singapore, The US and even post- apartheid South Africa. These nations have managed to subjugate their diversity to a common national interest and have displayed great wisdom in handling their diversity.
I mentioned in the last post on diversity that their success rest on five ideologies – Identity, Legitimacy, Penetration, Participation and distribution.
Identity implies a subordination of your original identification with a religion, tribe or location to a unifying national identity. We are to view ourselves first and foremost as citizens of a nation above tribe, ethnic or religious sentiments. Legitimacy speaks to a display of commitment by the people to a government they have selected and accepted. It suggests that we must accept the wisdom of a government when it delivers the value we understand and prefer while when we are totally rejecting its foolishness, we must have the character to seek to understand it.
Penetration demands that government must reach out to all people everywhere on the land and get them to want to follow (desire) and to follow (act on) its ideas, rules, laws and commands. Penetration will be realistic when government demonstrates a visible willingness and commitment to meeting people’s basic needs and satisfying the freedom, the right, attention, peace, welfare and resources their individuality deserves.
Now, Participation discusses people’s needs to participate and have a say in the affairs of their state and government. Here every atom of talent, gifting and individuality is represented in all affairs of state. Please I mention only talent, gifting and individuality not colour, ethnicity, religion, race or tribe. Participation demands that everyone is carried along in the creation and sustainability of resources and opportunities within the nation to achieve the kind of peace and prosperity that in itself meets the individual and collective aspirations of the people.
It includes equal opportunities for children to grow up, to hone and grow their careers without manmade barriers and limitations. It is an ideal that supports the freedom, creativity and individuality every citizen deserves regardless of the language they speak, where they are from and the religion they practice. It promotes meritocracy while regarding the less privilege that providence has not naturally endowed to compete favourably within the strict demands of excellence and merit. It poisons the pettiness and prejudices that discriminate opportunities for people based on class, religion and ethnicity.
Lastly, Distribution is about who gets what, when and how. However, if the principles of identity, legitimacy, penetration and participation are already in force as the primary experience of every citizen, distribution becomes a very simple and automated experience of the people.
Let’s call the bluff of the falsehood that our diversity is a weakness or limitation. What we need now is to accept that we can think and solve problems. We need the courage to define and accept our diversity as a unique blessing and embrace the mental rigour and exertion to convert it to great value. We must press for creative interdependence without hatred, bias or sentiments.
I will mention it again, to deny the great possibilities just because the effort has not been invested will be unfair to our national integrity and peaceful coexistence. We are where we are only because we have not stretched enough to find out the other great places we can be. THIS IS THE LIFE!
Amidst all the eulogies that have poured forth on Nelson Mandela, I’m not quick to forget that the best lessons in a man’s life are not usually in his strengths and triumphs but in his weaknesses and failures. For this reason, I’m studying his regrets as a deliberate attempt to manage my times better and drawing crucial life lessons from those who have gone ahead of me.
Mandela chose a noble path to follow but nonetheless it came at the expense of one of the greatest joys of human experience – the joy of a rich family life. In his book ‘A long Walk to Freedom’, He described how his first marriage to his first wife which was blessed with four children disintegrated and led to a total break up. He described further that the breakup of a marriage is traumatic especially for the children. “Our marriage was no exception and all of our children were wounded by the separation”, wrote Mandela. He described how Makato, gentle child, a natural peace maker tried to bring about some sort of reconciliation between him and his wife, the emotional reaction of his last child and how Thembi stop studying and became withdrawn and would frequently wear his clothes in reminiscence and longing for his father’s presence.
Mandela described a painful break up with his long term wife Winnie Mandela who stood by him in his years of incarceration, who at age 55 got involved in a relationship with a young lawyer, who already had a child with another woman. On April 13, 1992 announced in a press conference his separation from Winnie. In the book, he mentioned that he and his comrade Monzamo had contracted their marriage at a critical time in the struggle for the liberation of their people. He said “owing to the pressure of our shared commitment to the ANC struggle to end apartheid we were unable to enjoy a normal family life”.
He lamented how his role blinded him to fulfilling his responsibilities to his wife and children. He mentioned at his daughter Zindi’s wedding “It seems to be the destiny of freedom fighters to have unstable personal lives. When your life is in the struggle like mine was, there is little room left for family. This has always been my greatest regret and the most painful aspect of the choice I made. We watched our children grow without our guidance.”
He also mentioned his children saying after his release from prison, “We thought we had a father and one day he will come back. But to our dismay, our father came back and he left us alone because he has now become the father of the nation. To be the father of nation is a great honour but to be the father of a family is a greater joy. But it was a joy I had far little of.”
Mandela is a noble man in admitting his failures despite a saintly accord by the world. He communicated the truth that above all things, family is king. He refused to celebrate a lie, bringing home a lesson that no height of human achievement can make up for failure in the family. He knew this clear in his conscience and if he could live his life over again, he would do things differently.
To repeat his own words, “To be the father of nation is a great honour but to be the father of a family is a greater joy. But it was a joy I had far little of.”