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We have found over the years and through extensive
research that very few people dare to answer this question positively.
The African culture subtly discourages publicly
counting your blessing for fear of the neighborhood witch! Besides, at what
stage can you acknowledge that you have become a success?
When children are between:
0-5 years     a
new parent feels she knows nothing, she has seen nothing.
5-10 years   the parent still feels she knows nothing
though she is getting a bit more confident.
10-15 years          suddenly the stormy teenage years loom
before the still young mother.
15-20 years still undergoing stormy teenage years.
21-25 years,         years in which suitors should appear
and marriage should take place.
25-30 years child-rearing years of child, and cycle starts
again for parent, and now, new grandparent.
Ultimately very few can actually acknowledge that they
got it right, and teach others. Oftentimes it is acknowledged when it is too
late (as grandparents or even as great grand parents) to impart the knowledge
to those who need the help.
1.     What are our expectations concerning our children?
What exactly are the expectations of our generation
for our children?
Most of us are no longer the first graduate in the
entire village. We are not even the first graduate in the family.
When we were younger we heard stories of fathers
forcing their children to be doctors and lawyers and children being miserable
all their lives. Somehow we got to the point where we felt it was wrong for us
to make such demands of our children and then went to the other extreme of
making no demands at all, having no expectations and going “anything you want
Yet this is a generation that has probably invested the
most in their children. In terms of money we probably are spending on one child
what it would have cost to raise four children in our parents’ time.
Since we are investing so much more in these children
they have a lot more opportunity than we ever had and therefore our investment
in them should be expected to yield even greater returns than  our parents’ investment in us did.
It is only right to have expectations of our children
and it is also right to make demands of them. If we have No Goals, it is
obvious that we will have No Gains.
If we have been successful in our lives, all the
success will have come to naught if we do not have our children to hand over
the success to.
No matter how much of a free thinker one is, it is
fairly obvious that every parent knows, at least vaguely in the recesses of
their minds, that they want good things for their children.
If we are to be specific we can say that usually we
want them to have been successful in school, with their careers, with life
partners and family issues, and in life generally.
Perhaps we can summarize by saying we have moved from
desiring the acquisition of doctoral degrees for our children to wanting them
to be the best they can be and live happy and fulfilled lives.
What are our children’s
expectations for themselves?
Generally we find out that most children do not have any
expectations of themselves, and this is why they are children and we are the
parents.  When they do have expectations
we also need to examine them and help them fine tune them into practical goals.
We must also remember that it is possible for children
to have goals that are not at all practical or sensible. We must work with them
in respect of this matter and help them to discover themselves and make
successful lives for themselves.
Have we communicated this to
our children?
Since our desires are for our children’s life, it is
obvious that we are not likely to succeed if we do not communicate our goals to
our children.
Communication is the most important part of the execution
of this goal and we must very early begin to communicate our goals to our

To make our goals easier to achieve we need to make a
list of tangible achievements that are averagely recognized as evidence
of a child having been well brought up.
Short term
In the short term till a child is finished with
secondary school, usually till about sixteen we expect on the average, a good
child to be all of the following:
Good at school; successfully finished secondary school.
We expect a child to be averagely good at school. For
this we mean that the child should be able to get through his primary school
education and get into a reasonably good secondary school. He is expected to
finish secondary school with a minimum of five credits inclusive of English and
Mathematics and be expected to be able to proceed to a University. In Nigeria
we have a habit of arranging private tuition, ‘lesson teachers,’ as we call
them, for even children in Primary school. Some are lucky to have ‘A’ students
as children whilst some are not, but the level of awareness parents have to
educational challenges is quite gratifying. Except where there are health
challenges (and even in this area we are finding that there are special schools
springing up for children with special educational needs), the average playful
normal child with average parents is likely to get by educationally, and at
least successfully complete secondary school. 
Well mannered, polite to elders.
In Nigeria,
as is still in most of Africa, children are
expected to be well behaved. We expect children to greet adults properly and
respectfully and we usually manage to get these results.
Emotionally stable/ confident/ dependable.
Children are expected to be fairly responsible. For
instance we would expect an older child to have some degree of responsibility
for his or her siblings. We do not understand emotional instability as a nation
and therefore most parents would not understand it in their children either. A
child is therefore expected to be confident and responsible by the time he has
finished secondary school.
Well (and neatly) dressed.
This is an area where whilst the children are young we
can usually with the help of good nannies have our hearts’ desires. The
struggle to maintain this position commences when the children become teenagers
and begin to exhibit their own identities. Nonetheless, with consistent
monitoring we can still achieve decently turned out children. 
We also expect our children to be neat and tidy in
their rooms and with their personal effects.
Medium term to long term
Morally upright. In other words, not a 419, honest, and of high
Despite the amount of corruption in the country, no
one wants a dishonest child. As Africans, if an adult is immoral or corrupt we
report him to his parents or his family. In fact the African saying is that a
good name is better than riches. The average African looks down on families
that made their money through corruption. We therefore desire children that
have become adults that are morally upright. 
Caring, showing care and compassion to family
Another joy of the African
parent is to show off a caring child! The height of success is to have your
children care for you, not necessarily with material goods but with love and
attention. When as Africans we celebrate birthdays and major achievements, the
joy of the parent is to present their caring children to the world.
Easily re-integrated/ well adjusted to societal norms.
We want children that are socially and culturally well
adjusted, which means that regardless of the number of years the children may
have spent away either in a local or international school of higher education,
acquiring an education, we expect them to adjust to the society when they
return and to both socially and culturally take their place in our families.
Long term
Successfully catering for family with a job/ hardworking.
The pride of an African parent is to have educated the
child and now have him working and catering for his own family with a good job!
Happily and monogamously
It is amazing that even notoriously polygamous African
fathers teach their children to avoid the pitfalls of polygamy and settle down
with one wife. When for any reason a modern man takes on a second wife the
blame is usually placed firmly at the first wife’s door, in other words somehow
or the other she pushed him out! Bottom line, we expect our children to be
happily and monogamously married. This of course also means that we do not
understand the concept of gay couples or same sex marriages. I personally am
aware of one or two gay Nigerian men but they are either living in Europe, far
from the prying eyes of their African families, or they are very much in the
closet in Nigeria.
I know for certain that no parent will showcase a gay son as a successful child
in the Nigeria
of today.
Having children
Much as we acknowledge that children are a gift from
God, every parent wants grandchildren without remembering that it is not
completely up to their children. We are however now getting to the happy place
of adopting children so, hopefully, every parent’s dream of being a grandparent
will eventually come true. 
As you can see, achieving all of these goals in the
life of our children will take an average of at least twenty five to thirty
years. Little wonder very few people ever acknowledge that they have been
successful parents. It is also important to note that several factors these
days militate against all our dreams coming true. For instance, there appears
to be a dearth of marriageable men, which means our young princesses do not
automatically find their Prince Charming’s and live happily after ever.
Closely related to that, the economy has also greatly
affected job opportunities so our young men and women do not get jobs that will
enable them to care for themselves so easily. Ultimately these are all delays
in the fulfilment of our dreams.
I believe we have every right to expect a lot of our
children, especially taking into consideration the amount of resources in terms
of time, money, and love that we have invested in them, and the amount of
potential they have. If you have not made your list of expectations, do so now,
work at it and expect the best.
As we work at our list though, it is important to
acknowledge that parenting is more of a journey, than a task with a completion
We must therefore be wise and ensure that we enjoy the
children whilst on this lifelong journey.

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