Paul and Toyin Olaleye. The reasoning behind this choice is as important as the choice itself, so I’d love for every one that has a family or that intends to have one to read through. Every man thinks he has the most beautiful wife at home, but if that’s arguable everyone has got the best mum and dad in the world – at least on their birthdays. Beyond that blind biological partisanship though, some parents are not worthy of the office, while a few are shining lights for others to follow. Parenting is not the ability to go into a room with a woman, and have that woman carry a load within her for about 9 months, producing a child (or children) afterwards– any man with a penis can score at that because It does not take a genius to win a rodeo challenge. Parenting is different – it is an office, it is a responsibility and it comes with its challenges. There are many fathers and mothers but few mums and dads, few parents.
Every word has got its many meanings in terms of the denotative and the implied, but irrespective of what your dictionary says about the word parent, I just want you to know that that title is earned not by being able to sire a child but by being able to build a life – it matters not whether that life was sired by you or by your maid. The dictionary meaning that comes closest to my understanding of the word parenting is the raising of a child by its parents…the taking care of someone in the manner of a parent as defined by my companion of many years – Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary. The same also defines a parent as someone who brings up and cares for another.
If our societies are falling into some sort of moral and social decadent abyss, it is because the smallest unit of the society has lost its place in the development of the individual. Much recognition will be given by various credible and incredible organizations to various people and groups alike with respect to perceived successes and achievements in the past year, but many of those will fall flat on the same altar of insignificance and cluelessness.
Very few will honour those that truly help to make the society better. Terrorists, prostitutes, high way robbers…and all of those became that, because their families failed to build in them the right spirit and attitude. Never blame the government or general society for a man’s failure because it is easier for a family to lay the right foundations that’d help the citizen live a productive life – the society only provides the platform to display what one has been taught and instilled with by the family. The society helps to amplify the sense or nonsense.
I understand the troubles parents go through to balance the act – children/wards, work, extended responsibilities, friends e.t.c. I understand this because I am privileged to be a part of many families. I help to give paid private coaching to young people – teaching them regular school work and life work – and I see the challenges our parents have to deal with. It is monumental and most times fathers give-in and instead focus on work, trusting the money they make from work to do what they the dad ought to do. They make all the money, provide all the needed and wanted material things save for the most important thing – teaching the child in the way he should go. Besides my privileged position of being let into the homes of many families and to the lives of many young people, I also have the enviable position of having the richest and the poorest of friends – I exist between both worlds . I have friends whose parents can afford islands in France and I’ve also got ones who parents will almost worship you if you give them a gift of N20,000.00. By friends I mean people I visit, relate with their parents and in selected cases even spend days and nights with. One thing is constant on both ends, the rich are carried away by their wealth, the poor are distracted by their poverty – they both blame materiality for their irresponsibility. By these, I mean those whose children are on the verge of self-destruction.
I was led into the home of a friend of mine last December -a London home where my skype cameras showed some family ritual tools. The most curious being a clip board. While discussing with my friend, I paid attention to the board behind her. I tried to listen to her but the curious me took charge as I was carried away by the content of the board. I saw the names of every family member from the dad (who had his nick name on the board “Paulo”), the mum to every child. I was thrilled. After taking in enough to keep for life, I felt I needed to talk about what I was looking at.
I admitted to my friend that I was looking at something she was not aware of and we went on to discuss the board, its content and its purpose. That led me to learning about how a certain Mr. and Mrs. Paul Oleleye helped to train their children and from what I saw and heard they lead by showing. My friend Omolola –who was introduced to me by the most beautiful sixteen year old in the world – matter of objective fact – Yosola – went on to tell me about international mails from Nigeria to UK that dwell on helping to keep them all focused on their plans and goals while dad was away at work in Nigeria. She told me his strategy of ensuring the mails got read and also highlighted the consolidating role the mum plays at keeping the ball rolling – here I was learning something absolutely new and crucially useful for the family I’d love to build. Without knowing it, my friend was putting me through Parenting 101 as shown by her parents. That was one of my most telling experiences for 2010 and I am glad I fell in love with Yosola’s words to this article http://gidilounge.com/?p=5025 ), Which prompted a friendship that is making me a better man and a potentially better husband and dad. So help me God.
In a generation as ours – the Me generation – where we all seem inclined to do the exact opposite of what our parents say ( unconsciously because we see them do the opposite), it is apt for me to state that, speaking or chatting with the Olaleye senior girls, most of what you get is “My dad said…My mum said”. That’s sounds normal but I know it is not; The role models of my generation are not the fathers or mothers, they are people whose successes are often paled by unforgivable shortcomings. It sure felt like a new year to find a group whose model is the mum and dad.
Take heed people, building a family has to be the most challenging issue for today’s families but it is not impossible. It takes commitment and it also takes a bit of doing things differently – allowing the children an atmosphere of freedom and expression where they are not hemmed in by old useless rules of engagement. That is the lesson I have since learnt from The Olaleyes. Hear this (okay read this carefully would go better), I have not spoken to the parents about these things, they did not tell me anything about all of these – heavens! I have never even spoken with them – but I know enough to say they are a symbol – the symbol – of Parenthood. I am proud they are Nigerians. It shows we can still lead the way at the most important things. Omolola Olaleye did not know a thing she was doing, but she successfully showed me her parents’ family success formula. I have them written in and on my mind. My heart would need it for when it’s time to start my family.
Dear friends, let’s celebrate the family, let’s celebrate the duo that did a perfect job of keeping it real on that front – Mrs. Toyin Olaleye and Mr. Paul – Paulo – Olaleye whom I refer to in my conversations with ‘Lola as The Legendary Mr. Paul. Success is something but Significance is Everything ( see http://omojuwa.com/?p=194 ) It takes more than a year to build a family but every year counts – make that Everything counts. Happy New Year 2011. Always keep your family in and on mind. It’s the most important thing. Cheers
@omojuwa on twitter.