The Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), Abuja had Temple Obike, a Life, Marriage and Family Therapist speak about the loss of family values, glamorizing illicit wealth and societal decline currently plaguing our society.
Below are the excerpts written out from the full interview.
Introduction: Could you introduce yourself to us Temple.
Thank you for having me on the programme. My name is Obike Temple and I graduated from the Cell Biology and Genetics Department of the University of Lagos over a decade and half ago. I’m a certified Life, Marriage and Family Therapist from the Institute of Counseling Nigeria. A certified Hypnotherapist from the Karen Wells Institute in the USA and with my John Maxwell Leadership Development Program in view from the US as well, among other related field certifications.
Question 1: The focus is on family values and how the loss of these values correlates to corruption and societal decline. As a counselor what role do you believe you and your professional peers can play in restoring that value system?
In our traditional Nigerian society and by extension Africa, we were all taught the concept of kindness, respect for elders, honesty and so on. We are human because there are a set of societal value rules that make us different from every other animal. Over a period of nurturing and through a child’s formative years, they slowly become what they hear regularly. It’s a race against time because if you do not reinforce positive values in the family, the environment, peer pressure and negative media will do it for us.
TO RESTORE THE VALUE SYSTEM, WE NEED TO
Re–Emphasis The Importance of the Family Unit: Firstly, the family is the oldest human institution on earth.It pre-dates the government, it even pre-dates religion. The family I believe is supposed to be the cure for every social ill, psychological, social and spiritual if you asked me but its not happening because that unit is failing. It’s the smallest denominator of society. If we put a couple of families together you have a community and if we put a lot of communities together we have states and by extension a country. A country is only as strong as a family. Corruption, abuse, rape are all from the family. The family produced our society, our country. Children are dumped on secondary institutions to train them rather than the family stepping up.
Change the Thought Process – I believe we will be better the moment we stop trying to get the government, NGO’s to help the family but rather sort out the family unit so our communities, states and country as a whole can be better for it. Having children is the easiest part but training and instilling the proper values in them is the harder. As a psychotherapist, one of my primary assignments is to introduce every individual to themselves in the words of Socrates “Man Know Thyself”. Everyone deserves to know themselves, their values and live by it.
Comprehend Marriage Basics: Marriage isn’t an activity that must be achieved within a certain time-frame for women or when there’s enough money to take care of a family. Rather it’s a union that must be wholly understood to a large degree before getting into it. This is one advice I believe can reduce the rate of divorces we are currently inundated with. Parents, teach your children the concept of marriage and if you weren’t taught, seek for books, elderly couples or professionals who can guide you through the process. Age should not determine when you get married.
Question 2: Ideally, individuals with a strong moral compass are not swayed by illicit behavior regardless of circumstances. From your experience, what elements are typically contributing factors for individuals who do not have a strong value system, such as unstable family unit, absence of parental figures, etc and what interventions can be made?
Someone Didn’t Start Early: Personally, I believe when it comes to raising individuals who are confident with the set of positive family values they were raised with. The trick is starting early. However when parents do not actively instill a set of positive values into our children in their formative years, the environment, negative peer pressure and even negative media will do this for you. A child cant be taught respect in secondary school. Or delayed gratification in Uni.
We do not Model Positive Behavior: Children are the better psychologists than we give them credit for. A baby in just a matter of hours identifies it’s mother’s voice and after a few weeks learns to mimick expressions. If there was a game I remembered vividly as a kid growing up, it was the “Do as I Do” game. Where you mimicked a playmates every action. Many parents are struggling hard because they have given ground rules in their families that they do not model. During sessions, I hear parents say things like. I try not to use foul languages when the kids are there, I don’t drink or smoke in my house and so on. My question is what happens when they find out you are not really a respectful parent, you are a curser or aren’t totally an honest parent. It points to double standards. Don’t try to give rules you can’t keep up with because your children after a while will see through and tow the same path.It’s better you curse and apologize, this way you seem genuine and human rather than put up a no cursing rule and struggle. Parents need to model positive behavior and NOT grandstand on family values.
The Socio-Cultural Shift: 20 years ago, Most of our Generation Y individuals born between 1981 to 1996 grew up playing social games as ten-ten, table soccer and somewhere in between their growth, there was a socio-cultural shift. We moved from a fully social people to partly social, partly indoor-gamesy types. The video games came, then entertainment that wasn’t fully centered around values flooded our TV’s and shortly after our PC’s. Before we knew it, Mobile phones happened and now, social media. The question is, Are all these things I mentioned bad? Not at all. Whoever uses them determines what it becomes. How are children supposed to learn respect for elders when kids no longer visit their grand parents but on the reverse, these kids also see grandparents on social media who do not act their age, how do they learn trust when they can see their mum trying so hard to see what their dad is up to on his mobile phone and how do you teach them concepts of compassion, hard-work when people who show body parts have millions of followers Plus money while those professions that were once the pride of their practitioners are getting watered down by the day?
Family: We need family clinics, family empowerement centres. The more we train and show families how it’s done, the lesser the need for force, government, legal or security interference. I will value what the family that raised me values. SIMPLE.
Our Individual experiences: People need to understand that they are NOT what they passed through. The power to change your entire life’s narrative lies somewhere between your ears. When I know I have the ability to steer my life, I will feel a bit more optimistic and upbeat about my life.
Religion and/or culture: They have a very important role to play. Despite the bad press and happenings in the religious community, I still believe they have a part to play in becoming family center’s. Many places of prayer and worship are already functioning within this capacity but we need more Let them partner with psychotherapists, counselors and give them an opportunity to regularly speak to people on what needs to be done to heal and strengthen our family units.
Political leaders: Growing up, I learnt from my father that Leaders are men and women who are willing to sacrifice themselves and their time so that others may gain regardless of religion, culture or upbringing. That made me feel safe, Great leaders make us feel safe. When an individual feel safe within an environment, they concentrate on loftier ideals such as building their community, raising healthy families, serving their nation.
Reward Systems : I think we need to create community touch points where Values are re-instilled and openly rewarded. A man who returns a lost purse is appreciated by the ruling class. This is especially important in a period where social media could make anything trend regardless of the reason. Let’s get hashtags rewarding great work and also reward accordingly because that is the second part of the puzzle. If a man receive a badge of honor plus handshakes for returning two million dollars he found somewhere, I’m sure he will be happy. However , he will be happy when this comes with maybe something like employment opportunity that will have him in a position where he becomes a custodian of truth.
Question 3: For impressionable youth, corruption and bribery are normalized, excessive wealth is glamorized disregarding its means. What needs to be rectified in Nigerian society from your professional standpoint?
That is a question with answers staring us in the face but people are afraid to tackle it directly. Take a look around you. Corruption and bribery are normalized because many people have gotten away with it and have also ended up becoming pillars of society. So if I may ask, when someone who has been known as corrupt and open to bribes is still moving around free, wealthy and very influential with access to the best things of life. How do you tell an impressionable youth without the fundamental values that CRIME DOES NOT PAY? Infact, even the youth with the right foundation will struggle with this concept.
On the issue of excessive wealth being glamorized regardless of it’s means. It goes without proof that wealth attracts people and because we are at our core social animals, it’s only normal that an uninformed and impressionable youth would follow this natural urge. Secondly, the media is to blame because entertainment has been tilted to favour displays of wealth rather than building value. An impressionable youth that has NOT been taught the concept of positive values will value and respect a glamour model with 4 million followers rather than a teacher with 20 followers. Due to this simple reason, a lot of professionals have been pressurized into following the trends and loosing themselves in the process. This is the reason a reality TV show targeted towards building entrepreneurs will never get the right funding as opposed to any other type. I believe our leaders and every right thinking Nigerian knows what to do but there are factors still contending with this progressive step.
WHAT NEEDS TO BE RECTIFIED…most importantly these youths need to be taught from their families how to become independent and critical thinkers. Once they are confident in their ability to process information and not be pulled into the “Herd Mentality”, they are ready.
Gang/Affiliation Cultures needs to be re-examined. The Gangs are becoming more common, and their appeal to young people is growing. They aren’t to be blamed because they now understand that for you to make it, you need to be with the winning team, have the right political affiliation or just be with the right squad. While it’s great to have a team, I think the rudiments, culture and belief systems of every gang, party or team needs to be stripped down to it’s core beliefs.
Crime is Crime and every crime attracts a punishment. Set live examples. Let them see even the influential class being punished for being corrupt and accepting a bribe.
THE Media – The media is simply a channel via which something gets to you. I do not need to mention that materials out there on our social media, mobile media and entertainment media needs a bit of re-allignment. They make Family values look like yesterdays news.
It’s NOT All About the Naira: Wealth is glamorized by people who have it and the ones who do not have it are pretending to have it. What this does to a youth is narrow everything down to Naira and Kobo. We al need to understand that money is simply an enabler. If you were a simpleton before you became wealthy, you just upgraded to a wealthy simpleton. Our youth need to understand that money answers all physical things but it cannot attend to the issues of the soul and spirit. When you build depth and value in yourself, money will definitely come. If they understand this, the race to do whatever it takes to become wealthy would become greatly reduced.
Use the Right Channels – Lastly, I implore our agencies, our activists and youth centered initiatives to meet these youths where they are. They are all over social media following, retweeting, liking and hash tagging whereas most initiatives supposed to reach them are taking place at an event centres. Let’s up our targeting game and reach them where they are..
Closing: Thank you Mr Temple Obike for your time and we do hope this message and genuine discussion will get to the right quarters as this would enable us begin the process of salvaging our society from a bleak and obvious destination. We hope to have you again on our show once we regain our movement and a bit of our social life.
Interviewed: Obike Temple.
Temple Obike is a licensed marriage and family therapist, speaker, author and psychotherapist who has counseled over one thousand, two hundred clients comprising of couples, individuals, abuse victims (substance, physical, emotional and sexual) and grief-stricken clients. With over 70,000 in-counseling minutes (1,000+ hours) accrued in practice. He runs his private psychotherapy & counseling practice out of Lagos, Nigeria and has counseling centers in Abuja and Port-Harcourt. His practice also provides options for both online and on-site services.
His private practice has positively empowered lives through his online counseling, podcasts, free advisory services and free online materials. Readership of his articles also receive a growing number of visitors alongside subscriptions to his email newsletter at templeobike.com. His passion for empowering and uncovering the secrets to lifelong marriages and personal development led to his new book titled “Soul Bodega” available on amazon and across other online and traditional stores.
Never give up on yourself! You are a journey happening through various destinations.