What happened to Family values? (Part 2)

By Matthews Otalike, Sokoto, Northwest Nigeria

Family values inadvertently caved in to pressures from many sources, thereby impacting negatively the family and the society. Among the pressures are domestic violence and abuse, separation and divorce, the influence of the internet, trending social habits, drug and substance abuse, etc.

At the turn of this century, the Catholic Laity Council of Nigeria came up with a discussion on challenges in the way of families and the Church in the 3rd millennium. I was privileged to discuss the topic in a few parishes. Part of what I pointed out was the effect of cable TV on children (that time the South African cable TV’s Channel ‘O’ was the choice in most homes); abdication of parental responsibility of bringing up their children; engaging house-helps to become surrogate parents of sorts to children (a role they were not prepared for); reliance on the ubiquitous television for children in place of parental closeness; and a host of others. In the country’s changing economic climate, so much premium got placed on money at the expense of integrity, the poor attitude of teachers in public and many private schools, and the newfound protection of children by parents against every form of punishment by teachers for misbehavior in schools. These and more were the factors that contributed to eroding family values.

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The role of institutions: The first most important institution for the restoration of family values in my view, is the family. The family institution can and should regenerate family values. This is possible if parents realize their failure and resolve to commit themselves to reverse the situation. This is because every family is a unit of society, and families together make up the society. So whatever happens in families negatively, impacts society. The family is a domestic church according to the teachings of St. John Chrysostom. The family as I remarked at the beginning is the first school for children to learn to pray, the first school of catechesis, the first school of social relationship, etc. (Familiaris Consortio).

When heads of the family institution (father and mother) resolve to restore their family values, it will happen. It requires re-orientation and the need for it is urgent. We were taught as we were growing up to imbibe family values to be worthy representatives of our parents. Today’s parents should remember their upbringing and do what one may say, “physician heal thyself”. That is possibly what informs the position of the Catholic Bishops Conference in March 2015 in a statement: “We urge married couples, especially Christian spouses, to restore and strengthen love and mutual respect in their marital lives.  In our need to restore family values, let husband and wife mirror the love of God to each other. By their example as parents, let them be the first and the best teachers to their children”.

The Bishops further cited Familiaris Consortio that: “The social role of families is called upon to find expression also in the form of political intervention: families should be the first to take steps to see that the laws and institutions of the State not only do not offend but support and positively defend the rights and duties of the family” (Familiaris Consortio, 44).”


The second very important institution in my view is the Church. The three cardinal missions of the Church are evangelization, sanctification, and the renewal of the temporal order. I make bold to say that the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Most Rev. Matthew Hassan Kukah is wholly on the match for the mission without fear. Other levels of the Church should toe the same line to restore confidence among the Christian faithful. Added to that, I thought I should add that no matter the social status of any member of the Church (laity in particular), they should be made to abide by certain rules of the church. They should attend instructions for the baptism of their infants, present their children for other sacraments when they come of age. Our priests should not pander to those who feel they should circumvent laid down guidelines by the Church.

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