No matter how intelligent/well schooled, creative, competent, well spoken and nice a person may be, if s/he does not have strength of character, all those aforementioned qualities s/he possesses will not matter.
Because it takes having upright morals/values and strength of character to navigate the good and bad, as well as right and wrong in the real world. And how well you do that ultimately determines how authentically successful you become in life.
But no one is born with strength of character, or the right conception of morals and values.
It’s society that teaches each of us what they are. Right from childhood in our parents’ home through school, till we arrive adulthood in larger society.
As a child I spent my early years (10 to 16) getting into – often spectacular! – trouble (causing my parents major embarrassment) because despite being given the right exposure at home, I repeatedly let peer pressure and influence push me to act contrary to what I’d been taught about doing right and wrong.
Luckily for me, the Nigerian society back then still practiced what I like to call “Societal Parenting” – in which a child that misbehaves away from home gets promptly corrected by other adults/parents/strangers.
They then report his/her misconduct to his/her parents who go on to reinforce the corrective feedback to the child.
I share 5 such true stories from my childhood, in my Best Practice Parenting book titled (Kukuru Danger).
The book is dedicated to all those uncompromising adults and parents who diligently pulled me back in line each time I derailed while I was away from my parents.
Without their efforts, I doubt I would ever have gotten the awakening that has since led me to reform myself into an uncompromising stickler for doing right at all times, no matter how hard it may be.
Doing the above however requires a clear sense of right and wrong.
The moral upbringing given me by my parents and the larger society helped cement my character, which in adulthood now equips me to do right when it matters, regardless of the circumstances I may find myself.
For instance, my ability to overcome years of prolonged heartbreaking struggles as a startup entrepreneur unwilling to do crooked business in a society where that prevailed, is due to that foundation of sound character that I established in my formative years.
Today I enjoy authentic non-corner cutting success providing my unique range of unconventional Excel-Visual Basic software (like my popular Ration Formulator and Poultry Farm Manager apps), Information Products (like the Feed Formualtion Handbook), and services to a global paying audience.
To get where I am now however, I had to fight many attempts to make me compromise and do crooked business – especially during those years that I still focused my efforts exclusively on selling offline.
As a result, I suffered severely prolonged lack of money and humiliation as a result, to the extent that I could not fulfill my obligations to my wife and kids.
I’ve shared true stories in past articles about this, and how my siblings and parents had to bail me out time and time again.
If you’ve read some of them, you’ll know that I described myself as being the “Bambiala” (aka beggar) of my family during that phase.
I also noted how some friends and relatives repeatedly told me I could not make useful progress if I insisted on NOT doing things like over-invoicing to get assigned projects by decision makers in some (not all) companies. But I refused and kept looking for alternatives.
Eventually, through a process of trial and error in using the web, coupled with creative thinking in showcasing solutions I offered offline to an online audience of pre qualified prospects, I’ve gradually built a passive income generating system that continues to evolve today(which I now teach others about)!
Using it has helped me limit exposure of myself to the offline annoyances I faced in the past, and I am better able to reap rewards for the work I do, without needing to compromise on my morals or values.
All this courtesy of the positive character moulding impact of Societal Parenting on me, from my childhood.
Sadly howeevr, things have seriously deteriorated – on the Societal Parenting front, since I had my childhood experiences.
It’s so bad now that adults and parents today often openly engage in teaching kids to do wrong e.g. to tell lies, bear false witness, deceive, scheme, and to be lazy or detest hard honest work for reward etc.
And it shows in what we see daily around us.
Youths who prefer to cheat to pass exams (actively aided by parents in collaboration with invigilator’s), who enjoy living on the wrong side of the law doing email fraud. Young female students who engage in sex for money or marks, and male counterparts who become campus cult members and inflict bodily harm on peers or even kill them when they disagree.
That’s to mention just a few!
Simply put, today’s Nigeria is brimming with human beings the larger majority of whom have seriously warped morals and values. This distorts or clouds their view of what constitutes right and wrong, effectively making them unreliable where decision making to uphold the law in words or action is required.
Now, apart from the nuisance they cause, the presence of this majority also poses a danger of corrupting influence on the impressionable minds of kids.
Not just their own kids, but more importantly the kids of the minority who still uphold the right morals/values and who teach their kids to do the same.
I happen to belong to that minority, and my concern about the above makes me limit my kids’ interaction with their peers in the Nigerian society. To do this I have taken certain drastic steps that’s gotten close relatives worried that I’m being too extreme.
But engaging the kids in discussion about societal happenings has revealed very clearly that my concerns are NOT unfounded.
Let me share one true story to illustrate what I mean…
I recently asked my 16 year old son if he knew about special centers where exam mal practices were openly carried out in the country.
This is something that’s earned Nigeria Number 1 ranking amongst ALL countries that enrol students in the West African Examinations Council exams. The media regularly reports it.
He replied that some of his friends had told him about such place, but that he had not personally seen any instances where it happened.
I then asked him if he felt what he’d heard that people like parents and invigilators did there (telling students answers to exam questions), was right.
His answer confirmed my suspicions about how open occurrence of wrong doing can make young people who grow up in such an environment, come to accept them as normal.
He said (his exact words):
If it was not right, I don’t think they would do it so openly.
I could not believe my ears.
He had said it with an innocent look in his eyes which confirmed he actually did not know what was being done in those centers was wrong!
But I understood why he saw it that way. The impunity with which it was all done, and the fact that there was rarely any news that culprits were caught or punished made it appear to him that it was okay!
Unregulated exposure of impressionable minded children to unethical acts on a regular basis, can cause them to get so used to it that they think it’s normal.
That day, my determination to counter the corrupting influence of the society on them was renewed as a result of that incident.
I promptly called his siblings to join him and proceeded to explain to them why such practices were VERY wrong, and why it was important that they ALL never accept to see them as being otherwise.
To encourage them, I told them of the many instances I had suffered harassment in my personal and work life for refusing to do wrong that others did, and how staying firm that the Creator would open alternative doors for me to follow, yielded positive benefits for me, time and time again.
What could be worse than a brilliant child with wonderful God-given talents and abilities who grows up learning to see hard work as needless and corrupt enrichment as worthwhile?
I refuse to let it happen to my kids.
And I will continue to take every step I feel necessary to TEACH them why they must not be that way, and also shield them from such corrupting influences, UNTIL such a time that I am convinced that they have developed enough strength of character to RESIST it all.
I suggest you seriously consider doing the same – IF you want to have peace of mind regarding your child’s LONG after s/he leaves home.
Those who do it right will never be afraid of getting news that their adult children have been found engaging in unbecoming conduct.
They will confidently say: MY SON OR DAUGHTER would never do that, and stand by their child no matter what.
I want to be abel to do that.
You’re reading Your Child Needs Strength of Character to Successfully Resist Corruption by Tayo Solagbade, originally posted on his Daily Self-Development (SD) Nuggets™ blog. If you loved reading this post, be sure to follow Tayo on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+.
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