An elderly looking client walked into the consulting room with a young child – about 9 – year old – who urgently needed a paed. review. Having settled in into their chairs, we exchanged greetings and without wasting time, I asked the first question:
”Where are his parents?”
”Is he on holidays in your place sir?”
”Are you the grandparent?”
My patient’s supposed caregiver did not respond to any of the questions posed; I had goofed actually.
In what looked like the hundreth hour, I managed to sit up and let out an embarrassing cough.
Then, I switched over the initial questions to:
”How long has this boy been staying with you?”
There you go, he answered: ”He has been with us for a while”; his expression barely describable.
What would I do than to continue my legal luminary – like questioning (clerking and brainstorming) while maintaining the expressionless facials. We went on the history of the present illness till examination was concluded.
All the child’s responses to my direct inquiries were phraisal, explosive, inconsequential and on many occasions would shut the caregiver in a flash: I told you: ” I don’t.”
”You like water melon?
” I don’t.”
But you told me when we were coming, you wanted some
”Do I care?” was the blurted response.
That was his Father and I was sweating!
I managed to finish the encounter with all the patience I could muster: it was a break down; I brushed him up that late morning though.
If Mr XY’s child was feeling pampered, wait till you hear another 5 year – olds telling their mums:
”You hurt my feelings,”
” forcing me to give my drinks to sister; its my drink!”
”Didn’t sister finish hers in a gulp?”
And I would be like: what does he know about feelings?
The lecture on feelings with its aetiologies is usually deafening:
”its from the cartoons they are watching these days o doctor,”
a number of parents would submit thus. You know they have Tvs and video games in their rooms now. They would not allow us watch our own favourite programmes. We had to let them have their screens in their rooms. Yepa….
The endless cares and freedom parents lavish on their children these days are unprecendented. There is nothing called a ”no’ in our new parenting styles….Its a forbidden word in many of our homes.
”Please give him jare!”
Let him have it o, before he wakes up everybody in this area. Oh no, he would start crying o.
Of course, he would cry. Why wouldn’t he? Is your child a robot or a manequin that must be muted by all means?
Or how does a normal growing non – fully verbal children communicate?
Its by crying and babbling really. It is part of their responses to unfavourable stimuli, yet children can use crying against naive parents by turning every delay of request into series of tantrums and breath holding spells. This is the beginning of loneliness of life: having things in their own ways, or they would die.
But would they if you insist?
By the way, breathholding spells or tantrums do not kill any child unless there are other issues like suffocating on recently taken feeds. The key is making sure the space of tantrum is clear of injurable objects and pretend to look away, they would stand up in no time.
Your panicking mode is the recipe for many temperamentally difficult children: STOP IT BIKO!
Unfortunately, these children’s neurons keep wiring a ”no no” upbringing with significantly innumerable number of nods and go – aheads: an addiction which the frontal lobe loves so much; even Mr Akeredolu of my state would not serve his proposed cannabis to these ones.
At the other side of these enigmas of over-pampering and false camaraderie are life challenges that recognize no parents’ socio – economic status, religion or biodata!
If parents realize that they cannot buy their children a flawless tomorrow, they would stop worrying. But nope, many of them think otherwise.
From poorly prepared students who deserve to fail the exams, still their parents scavenge and buy UTME/WASSCE questions at mouth gagging prices, to those children whose well deserved F9 stands ”gidigba” and yet their parents are insisting their children must pass or their lecturers be sacked:
”this is a private institution for goodness sake; we pay your bills.”
Here, these ones continue their games of yes and always yes into the University with no mental maturity of the consequences of these ceaseless yeses!
And the well – prepared students? Those ones whose only music from cradle till ”uni” is you shall never be the tail, you will be the head; you must always come first:
”Those ones who did not clinch the first position are never do wells”
”he who fails has no God. My God has failed (on the cross) that I would no longer fail…..On and on the parents dogmatize their innocent children.
I cannot but weep at the verbalizations of such fatalistic heresies, the shallowness of their knowledge of the holy books and the cheating of the innocent ones: a moral accident!
Suicide – the process by which an individual intentionally causes his or her death – is a multifactorial entity of many conundrums. And suicide in its entirety is a misnomer even in term of its definition because the individual just pull the trigger, the society had placed the gun on the head of the victim ab initio by their actions and inactions!
Yet, many parents have become a psychological torture for their offsprings in the name of steering them up: a genetically destructive parenting!
The pressure, the competitions, the stressors, the expectations we put our children through are terrific and we must halt these nonsense codons.
These are the departure trains of depression until the child find life unbearable, where pleasurable activities become a no – no; arriving at the bus stop called Suicide!
Unfortunately, there are many intrinsically contented and happy children who, despite their poverty stricken childhood have struggled all their lives to have a stake in their futures. They have been hit several times yet they survive till the mid life crisis of having nincompoops as leaders set in: no way forward after graduating, no responsible government to take up where they have stopped. When those ones are hungry with their degrees gathering dusts, they see our certificate – less political leaders order pizza from Uk flown in a fully paid for aircraft, they shrink and shrink till they cannnot afford to see a Shrink.
Can we see how the roads to suicide are painted year in, year out?
Nevertheless, the contributions of poor parenting plus stone – aged, self – seeking destiny thwarting leaderships in Nigeria cannot be wished away by just reciting the Our fathers or by Bisimilahi; our faith would soon die if we don’t start working on this nation’s style of governance that waste so much on those who serve us.
Nigerians suffer for their leaders’ opulence and wastages; that in itself is suicidal!
And is it not so now? Those brilliant unemployed men and women who found religion an escape from poverty; those vibrant youths and undergraduates are commiting suicide at random: a fall out of our past irresponsibilty and we still care less till date. We are nations of talkers and zero percent actions.
Thus the suicide path in Nigeria seems endless as we rant intermittently and superficially and we move on.
How do we put an end to this snag and anguish called suicide?
In the final analysis of this national shame resulting from primitively and poorly managed mental health, we have a long way ahead of us as a nation to militate suicide:
Firstly, its time to engage the Nigerian youths with all seriousness. Turning out graduates with no blue prints for their future is an anathema that must be fought to a standstill.
Yet, a large chunk of these youths snatch ballot boxes and aid election malpractices. How can they fight a government with stolen mandate then and there?
Also, mental health evaluation remains an integral part of suicide prevention. But how does a ”broke” youth access a psychiatrist?
There need to be a subsidized psychiatrist’s evaluation services for many depressed or stressed school going populations. This looks like a mirage.
In addition, responsible parenting may need to be offered as a college course in many institutions. Feeding the children’s naivety with all yes answers is worse than the highest form of child abuse and its a form of substance abuse too.
The personality changes that accompany frontal lobe insults from reckless parenting are bedrocks for other mental vices. Community system of parenting in which the whole street trains a child needs to be revisited. A bad child is a bad adult with potential for undeniable assaults on the society:
Community parenting for better tomorrow!
Closing in the words I chose to scold many of children like Mr XY’s at the many of our consulting rooms:
”That you have a responsible father and mother who provide all for your comforts does not make you different from those children you see hawking on the streets while you ride in daddy’s car; they had parents too who are apparently unhelpful by will or otherwise:
Stop walking on your parents’ head, walk through their hearts by cooperating in your upbringing.
Its already a mental health risk being born in Nigeria; don’t make it worse!”