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Character formation – A parental determinant perspective on quality personhood

Character formation plays a pivotal role in shaping an individual’s identity and values, influencing their actions and decisions throughout their life. In the Nigerian context, parental influence is critical to moulding a child’s character and the family is the cornerstone upon which the society is based.

This article explores the profound impact of parental and family influence on character formation and its significance in fostering Personality which in this context are the unique attributes, beliefs, and characteristics that distinguish a person, shaping their identity, thoughts, and actions in distinct, personal ways. Moreover, we will draw inferences from the recent incidence of the passing of Ilerioluwa Aloba also known as Mohbad, a prominent Nigerian singer, who passed on recently at the young age of 27 years to highlight the relevance of this discussion.

In the face of rapid social, technological, and cultural changes, the role of parents in character formation remains as crucial as ever

The Nigerian family: A crucible of values

As the nucleus of society where reproduction and regeneration take place, the family serves as the primary source of socialization and character development for the child. From an early age, kids today are surrounded by diverse cultural, religious, and moral influences and values that shape the core of their personalities and beliefs. Parents are the foremost custodians of these values, and their influence extends far beyond the mere provision of material needs.

Read also: The church, character and university education

Parents as role models

Parents are the first and most influential role models for their children. Children observe and internalize their parents’ behaviours, attitudes, and ethical standards, a process that shapes their own understanding of what is right and wrong. For instance, a child raised in a household where honesty, respect, and empathy are emphasized and practised is more likely to incorporate these traits into their own character.

Discipline and boundaries

Effective character formation requires a balanced approach to discipline and setting boundaries. Parents play a crucial role in instilling a sense of responsibility, accountability, and self-discipline in their children. This provides them with the tools needed to navigate life’s challenges and make sound decisions.

Nigerian cultural values and traditions

In Nigeria, we boast of a diverse cultural landscape, with over 250 ethnic groups, each with its unique customs and traditions. These cultural values passed down through generations, significantly impact character formation. Parents play a key role in transmitting these traditions, which often revolve around respect for elders, communal responsibility, and a strong work ethic.

Read also: Interpersonal relationships, character and nationhood

Religious influence

Religion is also a cornerstone of Nigerian society, with Christianity and Islam being the dominant faiths. Religious ideologies, rituals, and practices play a central role in shaping an individual’s moral acumen. Parents, as the primary facilitators of religious education, instil spiritual values and beliefs that guide their children’s ethical competencies.

The Mohbad incident: A cautionary tale

The recent demise of Mohbad, a rising star in the Nigerian music industry, serves as a poignant reminder of the importance of character formation. While the circumstances surrounding his passing remain under investigation, it implicates the potential consequences of neglecting the role of family and parental influence in an individual’s life.

Mohbad’s story is emblematic of the challenges faced by many Nigerian children navigating the complex terrain of fame, success, and societal pressure. It underscores the need for a strong foundation of character and values to withstand the allure of instant gratification and external influences. How?

Parental and family influence in the modern era

In the face of rapid social, technological, and cultural changes, the role of parents in character formation remains as crucial as ever. In an era of unprecedented connectivity and exposure to diverse influences, parents must act as guides, helping their children discern right from wrong and navigate the complexities of the modern world.

Read also: CHARACTER: Without it you cannot lead

Character formation is the bedrock on which quality personhood is built. In the Nigerian context, parental and family influence plays a paramount role in shaping a person’s character, providing them with a moral compass and a sense of identity. The recent passing of Mohbad and the complicity of parental presence is a testimony to this reality. It is imperative for parents or guardians to recognize the profound impact that they have on the development of the next generation, and to take seriously their roles in character formation. By instilling values, setting boundaries, and serving as exemplars, parents contribute to the creation of individuals who are resilient, principled, and capable of navigating the complexities of the world.

Research also shows that children develop character and values between the ages of 2 to 12; while the ages of 13 to 18 are adolescent years where children require healthy learning environments, and open parent-child communication, so with love they can develop the willpower and grow in self-confidence to resist peer pressure and become leaders in a globally competitive environment. At the Institute for Work and Family Integration, we aim to promote the education of the child in excellence and good use of freedom to the end of helping them grow in virtue and self-mastery.

Regardless of socio-economic background, children with involved parents excel in all areas of their lives and adjust incredibly in an increasingly Volatile Uncertain Complex and Ambiguous (VUCA) environment such as Nigeria.

Ezeugbor is Programs Manager at the Institute for Work and Family Integration, Lagos. She can be reached on: 08025789454 OR

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