Issue  

Restoring family values through ‘Search for the oldest couple’

Laura Oloyede


“If a country is to be corruption free and become a nation of beautiful minds, I strongly feel there are three key societal members who can make a difference. They are the father, the mother and the teacher.” Abdul Kalam

In a recent Fatherless generation statistics, report states that 63% of youth suicides are from fatherless homes (US Dept. Of Health/Census), 90% of all homeless and runaway children are from fatherless homes, 85% of all children who show behavioral disorders come from fatherless homes (Center for Disease Control), 80% of rapists with anger problems come from fatherless homes, 14 times the average.  (Justice & Behavior, Vol 14, p. 403-26), 71% of all high school dropouts come from fatherless homes (National Principals Association Report), Children who live absent from their biological fathers are, on average, at least two to three times more likely to be poor, to use drugs, to experience educational, health, emotional and behavioral problems, to be victims of child abuse, and to engage in criminal behavior than their peers who live with their married, biological or adoptive parents.

About 40 per cent of children in father-absent homes have not seen their father at all during the past year; 26 percent of absent fathers live in a different state than their children; and 50 percent of children living absent from their father have never set foot in their father’s home. Children with involved, loving fathers are significantly more likely to do well in school, have healthy self-esteem, exhibit empathy and pro-social behavior, and avoid high-risk behaviors such as drug use, truancy, and criminal activity compared to children who have uninvolved fathers.

Compared to children born within marriage, children born to cohabiting parents are three times as likely to experience father absence, and children born to unmarried, non-cohabiting parents are four times as likely to live in a father-absent home.

Youths in father absent households still have significantly higher odds of incarceration than those in mother-father families. Youths who never had a father in the household experienced the highest odds. A 2002 Department of Justice survey of 7,000 inmates revealed that 39% of jail inmates lived in mother-only households. Approximately forty-six percent of jail inmates in 2002 had a previously incarcerated family member. One-fifth experienced a father in prison or jail.

The U.S. Census Bureau also found out that divorce rates for most age groups have been dropping since 1996. It is a known fact that around 50 percent of marriages in the United States end in divorce. The number is similarly high in many other developed nations but when you break that down by number of marriages it was realized that 41 per cent of first marriages end in divorce, 60 percent of second marriage end in divorce and 73 percent of third marriages end in divorce, there is one divorce approximately every 36 seconds, that’s nearly 2,400 divorces per day, 16,800 divorces per week and 876,000 divorces a year. If parents are happily married, the risk of divorce decreases by 14 percent.

On the other hand, Africa with so much traditions and culture find it hard to record high number of divorced couples. Marriages are not either perfect on this part of the world but the custom of most African countries do not celebrate divorce even when it is desperately needed.

Delving into some African countries’ divorce cases, in 2015, 25,260 completed divorce forms were processed indicating an increase of 2.3% processed in 2014. The media ranges the divorce age in 2015 at 44 years for men and 40 years for women, about 45.4% of the 2015 divorces came from marriages that lasted less than 10 years. In 2015, there were 14,045 (55.6%) divorces with children aged less than 18 years affected. By 2015, 42.9% of the divorcees were from the black African population group and 26.1% from the white population group.

Chief Executive Officer of Laura and Lyoid PR, Laura Oloyede, stressed that there was a strong need to rebuild family values, “Nigerian families today have been littered with declining values, broken pieces of unfulfilled promises, failed expectations and dashed hope. The task to build a nation without a family, which attaches respect to the value of hospitality and high moral rectitude won’t work. The breakdown of family values today partly provides a significant answer for the degeneracy noticeable in Nigerian youths. Youths watch what parents do and being at the impressionable age, copy them.

“The attributes of old family values which include honesty, respect, purity, caring, and commitment have all been thrown into the garbage. Presently, families have been shattered by divorce and truth has been thrown out of homes, parents lack integrity and children are more criminally prone than being obedient.”

It would be recalled that, police operatives in Oshodi area of Lagos apprehended a teenage boy who identified himself as Muri Amidu, a member of the notorious dreaded cult group known as ‘OMIJE’. Muri, aged 13, hails from Ibadan in Oyo state. He revealed he had only spent two months in Lagos, Muri left his parents, Mr and Mrs Amidu at Ibadan after they divorced to come to Lagos. He said he stayed with his father’s brother for some time, but had to leave since he was not properly taken care of, he said his father is a Muslim Cleric and his full name is Amidu Alao. In a video, Muri reveals shocking details about the evil ‘OMIJE’ cult group; he also reveals how he and his friend were initiated. These are part of the consequences of divorce in marriage.

Oloyede further stated, “Family decay condition is one of the things that lead to high rate of crimes in the society, there are a lot of things that happen in families that often cause people to get into crime and here again lies the factor of deprivation. People, who are neglected by their families and do not get the love and attention that they desire also get into criminal activities.

“With a strong family, we can build a strong nation where the social challenges currently confronting our dear country such as corruption, drug addiction, cultism, teenage pregnancy, kidnap, armed robbery, among others, which were uprooted from dysfunctional families, will have reduced presence in our society.

“The problems in our society can be traced down to positive values being thrown into the wind in many family homes. It is a fact that he who has failed to plan has already planned to fail; a successful marital life devoid of death-inclined bitterness and rancor requires planning, adequate knowledge and information. Marital breakdown is a cankerworm that destabilizes the family and brings about untold hardship to the children of the marriage, the best way to handle this is to take necessary precautions and further celebrate those who have withstood the thick and thin, the storm and shackles and have ultimately survived the marital challenges.

“In order to rebuild our world, we must rebuild our families. Rebuilding Nigeria is not the sole responsibility of any government; it starts from the home. It is our collective responsibility to make it work and to rebuild our crumbling moral and family value system.

“We are losing family values and as such peace and tranquility of the society is threatened. We adopt western culture which has to a large extent, adversely affected many marriages. These days, young couples need to be reminded of family goals and ways through which usual challenges of early stages of every marriage can be managed – a stage where problems often begin. If we succeed in raising family values we will have a peaceful and better society.”

In this light, she advised that Nigeria must return to the basics and begin afresh as, family and marriages are failing. While proffering solutions, she disclosed that a search was being put in place to help. “The search of the ‘oldest living couple’ will help beam torchlight on the lives of those couples, who have with different mechanisms stayed together through thick and thin. There are lessons to be learnt in their approach. The search for the oldest living couple will be carried out in each state. The oldest living couple in each state will be sought in order to position their values, lifestyle and celebrate them.

She said the focus of the search for the oldest living couple in Nigeria was to ultimately restore family values. The initiative seeks to awaken a national call to rebuild our homes with the hope that a new Nigeria will emerge: a Nigeria with family values and regard for human lives.

This initiative she hopes will not only identify the gloom and bliss of the lives of different aged couples and marriages but also celebrate the icons who have sacrificed to safely remain in marriage; this search will bear a new marriage and love orientation for the greater good of all.

In this article:
Laura Oloyede


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