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The ripple effect of family on community

Bady Okita receiving a return ticket to Dubai courtesy of Emirates. He is a 3rd year student in the Faculty of Information Technology studying Computer Science

It’s 2:00 am. You are cozily lying in your hostel chatting up a bunch of friends you met only two weeks ago, but whom you already call ‘fahm’. Just when you think you are done blue ticking everyone (just for fun), a message from your dad (it has been five years since you last spoke) lights up the screen, stating in no uncertain terms that something is wrong back home. It is at that moment that you distinguish between ‘fahm’ and family.

The family can either be the foundation for the development of an amazing society or the root of everything wrong with such a society. A family is where one receives their first education, and where one spends most of their formative years. Family plays an important role in teaching children how to tackle issues that arise in their daily lives, and so parents have an immense responsibility to mold their children into what the world will be tomorrow. As Josemaria Escrivá aptly stated, this mandate can be carried out efficiently by following one simple step: Make the family a Home.

Like many young animals, human children learn most from what their parents do. It is imperative for parents to streamline their conduct with Christian values so as to be exceptional role models for their children. Parents should not expect their children to be much different from what they portray themselves to be, so they need to choose what to portray carefully. Want a more loving society? Be more loving to your children. They will be in a better position to be a beacon of love to the world if you sowed that seed in them in their developmental years.

In order for parents to implement this watch-me-do technique, they should cultivate lasting friendships with their children. Parents need to prioritize their children, even if it is at their inconvenience, so as to lay foundations for meaningful conversations. Nothing is too serious or too trivial to be discussed in a family. Parents ought to realize that shying away from “uncomfortable” topics opens doors for their children’s curiosity to reach out to the world, which can be quite a harsh teacher.

Most of us come from the traditional African culture where parental authority is painted dictatorial. Father’s word is final, with its contravention resulting in severe punishment. This upbringing, as would be expected, creates fear-based family relationships. It is no wonder that fear and manipulation of power are at the forefront of destroying many African societies today. Josemaria Escrivá offers a solution to this: Be approachable. Parents should put themselves at the same level as their children to be in a better position to understand them. Similarly, children need to be malleable, realizing that their parents’ advice is inspired by love.

Faith is the cornerstone of any successful family, and, by extension, of any successful society. God should not be a stranger approached only on Sundays or in times of crisis. In this regard, it is critical for parents to introduce their children to God, then to give them an opportunity to create personal relationships with Him through prayer, Bible reading, and church attendance. Just like families in the New Testament who were converted to Christianity by apostles through the family heads, modern family heads (parents) should recognize that it is through them that God will be a familiar being in their homes.

Similar to a tiny pebble that creates ripples when thrown into a pond, the family in all its minuteness has an extremely significant impact on the composition of the world.

This article was written by Bady Okita

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