By Maria Famakinwa
The primary environment in which a child grows is the family, while the larger environment is the society. The family, being a smaller fragment of the society, is seen as a moulding place for lifetime character. It has been generally recognised as the basic societal unit where children are raised and taught the art of communication, alongside culture to fit into the community.
It is quite disheartening today that the bond of family relationship is not as strong as it used to be during the days of our forefathers which is evident in different societal ills that have pervaded our society. It is no longer news that children in most homes hardly recognise members of their immediate families except their parents.
Gone were the days when different members of a family organised a quarterly or yearly get-together, anchored by the eldest in the family who introduced everyone to other family members, after which issues affecting them were discussed. Now, many families have come short of response to their needs for family cohesion which is presently impacting on the society negatively. Some people who spoke with The Hope gave reasons for this.
A trader, Mr Yemi Eniola, in his opinion explained that most homes today are not peaceful and that affects family relationship. His words: “If dying family relationship is to be revived, it should start from every home in the society,” he said.
In the submission of a businessman, Mr Jamiu Aminu, he hinted that lack of trust among family members hinders unity in different homes and among relations. He said: “With various reported cases of relations conniving with ritualists and kidnappers to lure innocent family members to where they get kidnapped for ransom or killed makes one to be wary of trusting any relative, especially those whom one has not seen for a long time.
“Aside this, lack of family cohesiveness can also be traced to cultural and religious beliefs of some family members. Failure to understand these two words in a family will no doubt affect love and unity in such a home.
“There are some family members whose religious practices differ from others. Some may choose to be Christians, Muslims or traditional worshippers. Failure to tolerate each member of the same family with their belief may breed enmity among family members. There are some siblings who don’t see eye to eye because of religious intolerance and they passed same attitude to their children. Families should understand that blood is thicker than water and should see everybody as one irrespective of their beliefs to foster family togetherness.”
A septuagenarian, Mrs Olawumi Oladele, stressed that to strengthen the cord that binds families together, every member must play his or her part. Recounting her experience, she said, “my husband married three wives and I was the third wife. Before his demise, we used to gather every January to celebrate New Year with other members of the extended family. Surprisingly, the celebration stopped the same year he died. Since then, I have not heard anything from other wives and their children.
“The only people I see are my children. Even some of the extended family members who praised my husband while alive have since abandoned us. How can a family be united in such a situation? Another factor affecting family bond is divorce. Children who were brought up under the watchful eyes of their loving parents tend to appreciate family synergy compared with those who are denied parental affection. It will be advisable for every home to right the wrong so as to solve some of the challenges confronting the country today, because every society starts with a family,” she said.
In the contribution of a civil servant, Mr Adeolu Temitayo, he explained that there cannot be a cordial family relationship if one has no social or political position in the society, and if one is not financially buoyant. He said: “Most families only recognise those who are wealthy and can help them financially. Those are the sets of people family members associate with,” he said.
On if distance can affect family cohesiveness, he replied in the affirmative, but maintained that if the person is financially alright, distance cannot be a hindrance. He concluded that genuine love among family members will help to revive the loss family bond.
A Guidance and Counselling expert, Mrs Olaitan Akinbo, reiterated that dying family relationship should be traced to negligence on the part of the parents to teach their children the essence of family unity. The woman who observed that most parents hardly travel to their home towns with their children, warned that if such is not addressed, it can prevent the children from knowing members of their extended family except their siblings, which she said can affect the children in the future.
Her words: “There is more to family relationship than mere bearing of the family’s name. This is what many fail to understand. Building family relationship encompasses showing love and care, sharing moment of joy and pain together and travelling with the children to the village to interact with other family members. This is very important because when children pay regular visit to other members of the family, they get to familiarise with them and enjoy the good relationship that exist in the family. Keeping children away from other members of the extended family kills the joy of family togetherness.
“Most children today cannot speak their native languages. Some cannot differentiate their States from villages because their parents see no reason they should interact with other family members. The belief that some family members are witches or wizards have been sold to some children as young as they are. I agree that some family members have questionable characters but not all of them are like that.
“The issue is so serious that there are some siblings whose children don’t recognise one another. Some are not even on talking terms. Lack of love among family members is one of the reasons the country is facing serious challenges, because children who are not trained to love others around them cannot grow to show such care. No wonder the rise in kidnappings, rape, robbery involving teenagers. Parents should revive family cohesiveness by bringing up their children to meet other family members and show love to them,” she said.