Passing on the baton as a parent

I am not an athlete, but I enjoy athletics – especially the 4×4 events. I enjoy the changing of the baton aspect. Most of the 4×4 events are won or lost during changing of the baton. As a result, the 4×4 runners mostly spend more of their training time practicing changing the baton than the running itself.

I have witnessed international events where a leading 4×4 group lost the gold medal painfully because they messed up on one of the baton. The one handing over did not hand over well and the one receiving it was not patient enough to grab the baton before taking off. The baton fell in the process and the time spent picking the baton up and continuing the race made all the other competitors to bypass them. This cost them the gold medal they were comfortably heading for.

In the same way, parents and their children are running a baton race in this life. Parents are supposed to run the race of life and then hand over the baton to their children at some point in time, for their children to also continue and hand over to their children, too. It is the most effective way society, tribe and family traditions are preserved and advanced. Societies, tribes and families that have made conscious efforts to successfully pass on the baton from one generation to another have made tremendous advances over those that have failed to do so successfully.

Just like the 4×4 race, if any generation of any society, tribe or family fails to hand over the baton to the next generation properly it affects and draws the next generation and subsequent generations backward. The next generation will have the herculean task of restarting life from ground-zero instead of building on what the previous generation started. In Ghana and Africa in general, it is very difficult to find multinational businesses because the Founders of businesses most often die with their businesses. We are not able to pass on the baton of our businesses to the next generation, and over the years we have not been able to learn how to do it too. As a result, so many businesses are on the line waiting to die with their Founders.

In other jurisdictions, family businesses have grown to become multinational companies because they painstakingly pass on the baton of the businesses to the next generation successfully. We do not teach our children about our businesses. We are happy having our children sit in the house and we make money and give it to them to spend. Our children therefore only know how to spend money, but they do not know how to work for the money. Even when we pass on the businesses to them, they do not have the technical know-how to manage the businesses; so they mismanage and collapse them.

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Joel 1:3 says” “Tell it to your children, and let your children tell it to their children, and their children to the next generation”. This is the best Scripture for all of us as parents to run with. Everything we are doing today as parents, we must get our children involved and make every conscious effort to teach them about it so they will be equipped with the necessary knowledge and capacity to take over when we are old, or dead and gone. It is not only our businesses that we must teach our children about, but our faith and culture too.

I have observed that we have lost a lot of valuable and life-transforming knowledge, traditions and practices over the years because parents have failed to pass them on to the next generation after them. And this has hugely retarded our progress as a people. Parents have allowed foreign cultures to infiltrate into our culture – and they have totally taken over our culture. Parents have sat down and allowed our culture to get drowned in the global pool of cultures. God knew that one day the world would get to a point where cultures are pooled together in a global village, and it would be only the fittest that survives: so He asked Joel to tell us that we should teach His Word and culture to our children, and let our children to also teach it to their children and their children to the next generation.

The Word of God did not say parents should sit down and complain about the proliferation of foreign cultures in the media that is negatively affecting their children. It says, “Tell it to your children, and let your children tell it to their children, and their children to the next generation”. Our children are learning and drifting toward the foreign cultures because we are not teaching them ours. It is good that we are gradually doing away with the negative cultural practices like female genital mutilation – but while we buried our heads in doing that, we have failed to teach them of the good ones that make us a unique people.

I remember as a child that I saw my grandmother apply cow-dung on her forehead anytime she had headache and I learnt it heals headache fast; but she never told us anything about it. I know many of us remember simple remedies our parents or grandparents use to make use of, but they never taught us anything about them and we have missed opportunities to develop them for our use.

We also have committed Christian parents of the past whose children do not know what a church auditorium looks like now. They left the church long ago. R. Kelly today is not a Gospel Music legend but a R & B music legend, even though he started his music career in the Church at the age of 8 years. I am sure there are many more whose parents or grandparents were committed but their children have left the church and the faith because their parents and grandparents did not teach them about the faith.

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We must replicate the example of Lois: Paul wrote to Timothy and said in 2 Timothy 1:5 that, “I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois, and in your mother Eunice, and I am persuaded now lives in you also”. Lois passed the baton of her faith to her daughter Eunice and Eunice also passed it on to her son Timothy. Are we doing the same? A few weeks ago, Ghana stood firm and fought the introduction of Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) in our educational curriculum for fear that it would corrupt the morals of our children. I am sure our fathers did that because it goes against the values their parents taught them.

The question I keep asking myself is whether if in some years to come when these leaders are no longer around and this pops up again, our children will have the moral values to stand against it as we do now. Whether our children will be able to stand up to it (the CSE) or not depends on whether or not we as parents are teaching them these moral values that made us to reject CSE. We must not fail our children by refusing to pass the baton of our faith to them. If we do not fail them today, they will also not fail us tomorrow.

Over to all of us parents. Let us all do well to pass the baton of our faith, our values, our cultures and our businesses to our children so as to continue building on what we have started and grow it optimally. We cannot afford to continue to build and break them down at the end of our lives for our children to come and start all over again. This attitude is reflected in every area of our lives, including our national and political lives. When one government starts something, immediately it goes out of power the subsequent government will abandon everything of the previous government and start new projects altogether. This has cost us a lot as a people, and it is taking us forever to learn our lessons. It is my prayer that we will learn to pass every baton in our hands as parents or leaders successfully to the next generation.

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