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Musings With Olulana: A Government's Indirect Role In Family Values


In 1973 Harry Chapin recorded a song and released it in 1974. It topped the USA Billboard Hot 100 in December 1974. I first heard the song about seven years ago. Ugly Kid Joe's cover was blazing out of my cars radio on my way to work. One line got my attention
"I'm gonna be like you dad, you know I'm gonna be just like him"
The Hard Rock version that I heard kept recoiling in my mind. That line reverberated for days and I just had to find out what story the song was telling. Of course I had an idea but you know, like so many of these songs, how many times do we actually hear the correct words?
Wikipedia helped me out. Here is part of it's entry: The song is told in first-person by a father who is too busy to spend time with his son. Though the son asks him to join in childhood activities, the father always responds with little more than vague promises of spending time together in the 'future'. While wishing to spend time with his father, the son starts to model himself on his father's behaviour, hence the verse with the thought – wishing to be "just like him."
The final two verses reverse the roles, where the father asks his grown-up son to spend time with him after his graduation, and then later come to visit, but the son responds that he is now too busy to find the time for his father. The father then reflects that they are both alike, saying "my boy was just like me."
Thank you Wikipedia. I go to you often for background information. Many feel you are not a good source of information but that is only because they do not know that the Internet is to be used to check up on itself.
So as a working father of young children, it hit me like a lightning bolt. I immediately remembered different times my son wanted to do some particular activity and I was too tired or busy. The various instances my daughter needed my attention and I only gave her part of what she needed.
In my family, at the moment, I'm the best chess player. I don't see that lasting too long. Yeah. My wife taught my son his first moves. Why? Because I was too busy. Or was I?
'Cat's In The Cradle'. That is the song.
Once I understood it's message, I taught my son the next chess moves he learned and I gave more time to my daughters stories. I don't want my children growing up with basically an absentee father and I sure don't want to end up with absentee children when I'm much older! How about you dads out there? Your children just want to be like you right? Do you want them to be like you?
I read an entry last week on a Facebook page where a father was complaining about the horrible traffic in Lagos State. He now has to leave his house on Lagos Mainland at 5 AM in order to get to work at 8:45 AM on  the Island. You can imagine when he gets home at night, five days a week! Of course, he hardly sees his children.
When I left Ile-Ife to go and live in Lagos back in 1987, the first culture shock that hit me were so many stories such as this man's own which I saw first hand. In order to make it to work at Ikoyi, CMS Victoria Island and other places on Lagos Island, one had to stop having much of a life at home with spouses and children! In my eyes  that was too big a sacrifice and I pitied those people so much then!
There are consequences for this culture forced on citizens of Lagos State who have to adopt such a culture and the insensitivity of Government in tackling this transportation problem which unfortunately appears to be rearing its ugly head now after being greatly reduced by Governor Babatunde Fasola's administration. To me, it is unconscionable.
Government is supposed to be a panacea for the plight of people burdened by the weight of societal woes. When it fails to alleviate the sufferings of the people, then it becomes part of that burden. The effect will be felt by several generations with daughters and sons not having their fathers at home to have the needed impact on the choices they make. A spiral of insolence follows.
Governments have an indirect role on family values and it can be a positive or negative one. When political leaders do not understand that the health of the family unit is an indicator of the health of society, it continues to make policies that harm the family unit and by extension, the larger society. This needs to change.
Countries such as Finland, Norway and Japan know this secret and take it very seriously which impacts the productivity of its workforce. Nigeria needs to figure this out and very quickly too. Hopefully, Governor Ambode finds the solution which will help families spend more time together and improve the quality of life with an improvement in the health of society at large.
Small increments add up to become huge changes.