21 Nov 2013


I attended a program organized by the Lagos Business School in conjunction with the Institute for Work and Family Integration (IWFI), sometime last month (shoot me for not posting immediately, thanks to procrastination). The seats for the conference were hot cake, as it was for the working elite, but I was fortunate to get a seat, thanks to my sister who asked me to take her place.

The conference was about how technology could transform business, serve as a change tool in the family, and aid in the work-life balance cycle.I got to know that most organizations are inflexible in keeping their promises of giving employees the freedom to choose flexible work hours for themselves. In all of these, little emphasis was placed on those at the receiving end, the children. I had a question I wanted to ask the facilitators especially Mrs. Adesuwa Onyenokwe of TW MAGAZINE (she was pretty and stylish, with her red tinted hair). 

"How do we help young people whose parents are so choked up with work, that they do not have time for them?" .

I wanted to ask this because, these young people would not attend this event.  Someone mentioned how some parents forget their children in school, and the poor children stay in school till about 7pm or 8pm waiting for their parents to come pick them up. I wasn't surprised because I was once in that situation. My mom would forget me in school, till 6pm, then I would be left with no other option than the start walking home, from Abuloma to Woji in Port-Harcourt. If you live in Rivers state, you would know that this is about 11 kilometers or 2 hours brisk walking. There was a day she completely forgot, and remembered some minutes to dinner, when she noticed the TV was off, and I wasn't hiding under the table to watch super story. My Dad worked in Lagos. The good part of the story is, I never got kidnapped and as a result, I know my way around Port-Harcourt city.

Back to the conference, they did not talk about how children and youths could balance the absence of their parents in their lives (maybe they assumed we would not be there, but somehow, we the youths are everywhere). Times have changed, we now have twitter, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, etc. The average 13 year old Nigerian child has a mobile phone, these children would watch and read all sorts when their parents are not around, and pretend to be innocent kids when Dad and Mom are in. Their parents are not there to listen to them, hence they grow on their own. Soon you begin to notice that your kids are not as close to you as they were. They do not tell you things, they become rebellious, they even dislike you. When you realize this, it would be to late to get close to them, they would have grown, and you as a parent would miss the years they grew and you never had that father-son/mother-daughter relationship you always wanted to have. Your relationships with these kids would be strained. They would be so used to seeing you less often that the euphoria of "Daddy is back" would be lost. Then you begin to wonder, "why don't my children confide in me anymore?", or "why haven't I met any of their friends?". No matter how much flexible working hours or how much time you get to spend at home later in life, once you have lost upon your children in their childhood and adolescence, you have lost that forever. They would have grown up, and you would be trying to grow into them. 

Where do your kids stand in your work life balance?

PS.: I have been down with malaria for a week now, I hope it gets better.