family

Metaverse parenting

A couple of months ago, a 9-year-old boy decided that rather than celebrating his birthday like children of my generation would do, he would have his party in the metaverse. Using their avatars, he and his friends marked his birthday virtually. There was no need for party souvenirs, bouncy castles or party cooking for the birthday. To this boy and his friends, it was still a real party. They played games, had a DJ scratching his discs and generally had fun hanging out. To older folks, this would have looked quite bland, not the kind of stuff a party should be made of, particularly a Naija party!

Guess what! The metaverse is here with us and it is where people are going to be spending a decent part of their lives in the immediate future. Have you ever had a dream where you were watching a movie or an event and suddenly you found yourself in the centre of the action? The metaverse looks like that.

In case you are still wondering…generally speaking, the metaverse is that virtual world where people can play, work, connect and buy things, yes even buy physical things. It is an immersive world around us that has the potential to suck us in, in dimensions not yet fully explored. At its basics, it is a combination of Web 3.0 technology (next generation of the Internet), artificial intelligence and virtual reality/augmented reality.

There are a lot of positives expected from this relatively new tech – lots of money to be made, opportunities for businesses, music, entertainment, security, social commerce and so on. There are opportunities for solving new and age-long problems in the education, health, and real estate sectors. It also provides platforms for collaborations across multi levels, pushing up productivity.

There are also challenges, challenges parents would have to deal with, because, the metaverse would probably be where our children would spend most of their lives. They would be absorbed in it. Virtual spaces may appear more natural to them than our universe as we know it today.

They would have their birthday parties in the metaverse. Party planners take note…no more bouncy castles, balloons and decorations or clowns…you’ll need to evolve.

They would marry and divorce in the metaverse. They would probably raise families there too. Church or court weddings may not matter to them. A digital token or NFT would be sufficient proof of marriage.

They would seek independence at younger ages because they would start making money on their own, thanks to social media and new technology.  This throws up another issue. Why would a 12 year old need the supervision or control of a parent when he or she can legitimately make money to take care of his or her needs and possibly that of his or her parents? That child could probably be making more money in a month than his or her parents make in a year.

What about faith and religion in these digital spaces? Metaverse churches and concerts?

Who polices behaviour in the metaverse. If a child is reported as being a virtual bully, how is that dealt with?

How would you monitor or manage your children’s spending when purchases are only done in the metaverse using digital coins and tokens?

If your daughter’s avatar is sexually violated and it affects her mentally, how do you deal with that? Cyber bullying is a thing already, it is going to be very present on virtual streets in the metaverse.

Then there is the issue of mental health. Children would always be connected yet so isolated and withdrawn from the traditional society because they would love the virtual world more. New forms of addictions and maladies may spring up.

There wouldn’t be noise pollution from wild pool parties and shows anymore. The pollution would be in their heads and minds.

Homes would be silent and appear peaceful (everyone with gadgets on their heads) but individuals would be dealing with storms and uneasiness in their virtual worlds.

You would have people with dual personalities  – one for the universe and one for the metaverse. They may appear haggard and unkempt in real life but don the best designer labels in the metaverse. They would define the personalities of their avatars so that they have the outlook in the metaverse they really want, which could be very different from what they look like in the physical world.

Sometime in the future, people may move between the physical and virtual world so seamlessly you wouldn’t know the difference between both worlds. The definition of reality begins to take on a new meaning.

The metaverse may be so real to younger minds that they take more seriously the instructions their parents give them in the metaverse than those given in real life. Think about having to give your son or daughter a life lesson and having to do it via the metaverse.

These may be mere speculations or just a peek into what lies ahead. What is clear is that we can’t run away from the future that is unfolding before us. So how do you connect with your children in the metaverse? Are these thoughts far-fetched? How do you prepare your children for the future? Are you prepared for the future? What choices and decisions should you make as a parent? What are the boundaries? How do you involve yourself more in the life of your child? What values and morals should be imbibed?

I would like to get your thoughts on this. Send me a message…we might have a follow up article on this topic based on your comments.

The Village Doesn’t Know…

The family is the smallest unit of the society. Every society is made up of products of families. We can safely say that if there were no families, there would be no societies.

Robert Sandifer was already stealing cars and breaking into houses by the age of eight. He was a killer by the time he was eleven years old and was himself murdered by members of his gang shortly afterwards in 1994. His mother, Lorina  Sandifer was arrested over 30 times while prostituting, a number of which were drug-related. Robert Akins (Sandifer’s father) was absent throughout his life.

This looks like a very extreme example of what could go wrong in a child’s life but there is every possibility that things could have been different if both parents were present and responsible. The troubles and crisis we have in society today are not caused by spirits but humans raised in our societies. So if members of the society are brought up as responsible citizens with decent moral standards, we may have a healthier society.

There is an African proverb that says, “It takes a village to raise a child”. Loosely interpreted, it means the whole community is involved in the upbringing of a child.

But these days, it appears the village doesn’t really know how to raise a child.

The village doesn’t know when children are old enough to be exposed to media with adult content.

The village thinks if it is called a children’s TV program then children of all ages can watch.

The village thinks it’s cool to buy grades for children.

The village thinks effrontery trumps honour and respect for elders in the village square.

The village is confused about what age children should be exposed to tech gadgets.

The village is not sure if it is to raise the child to be a man or a woman.

The village doesn’t know what is true about God and what isn’t.

The village thinks money must be gotten at any cost and that everything including love can be bought with money.

The village thinks we should celebrate people irrespective of how they have earned their status.

The village does not know how not to raise rapists, racists, con men, kidnappers or terrorists.

The village doesn’t know the difference between excellence and mediocrity.

The village doesn’t know what love, fairness and equity means.

The village does not know what is wrong with jungle justice

The village does not know…

So, should we leave our children to be trained by the clueless village? Or should we create a new village? Or should we train OUR children in the way they should GO?

Parents today are concerned about protecting their children from rapists, racists and bandits. But parents should also check that they themselves are not raising rapists, racists and bandits in their homes.

Parenting must be deliberate, particularly in this age.

We must model the right behaviour because children learn by example and observation. We must instruct, guide, mold and correct in love.

Food for thought: What is your contribution to grooming the future of the society?

OF TIME AND VALUES

I took some time to reflect on the passing of time and its effect on our lifestyle. I thought about the impact time has had on our values and how we have changed our preferences over the years. I realized that what was hype to my generation a couple of years ago is now old fashioned. And what we were crazy over a decade ago now has a distaste in our mouths today. What we built our lives around before has suddenly become an unwanted relic in our space.Pebbles

Material possessions come and go and even an insurance policy cannot keep them longer than their determined lifespan. At best, you would get a replacement. Take a look at your parent’s house and look through the things you find in the house. Now imagine you want to build a new house for your parents and equip it for them making it as comfortable as you would for them. I bet a lot of the stuff they had in the old house would be given out, sold or destroyed. Those stuff would have no place in the new house. You might consider such things an intrusion in the new ambience you are trying to create for your parents. Now, some of those things which are now unwanted were da bomb in the years past. It appeared there could be nothing better than those items. We held unto them dearly and acquired more and more. Remember the TV in a box with shutters in front that now has a broken tube or the lovely 1980’s suitcase we were eager to take on a trip because we thought it just showed class. What about the trending fashion styles of the 90’s you had in different colours? Now you probably would be ashamed of wearing them today. Of course, there might be similar styles because of the fashion cycle we are sucked into, but it would not be that exact item, if you get what I am saying.

Time also has its impact on values. Time can appear to strengthen values and it can also erode them. Over time, we have redefined the values of beauty, confidence, devotion, faith, individuality, love, truth, … the list goes on. But I have learnt (and I am still learning) to reinforce the fundamental essence of certain values, placing value on the things that matter most – my relationship with God, my marriage, my family and the relationships I have built with people around me. The wind of time would blow over the things we hold on to, to twist and redefine our values in varying ways. We need to hold on to the things that matter most – things that bring real benefits, the things that money cannot buy. Know that material possessions are temporal and we can always get better ones. But getting a messed up value system can wreak a future. So never have a heartbreak over the loss of a material item. God is bigger than it.

Focus on nurturing the values that define your life. For example, nurture the habit of giving and generosity. Let giving be a very convenient virtue and not an act of compulsion. There are things you really can do without. There are some things you really would not need in future, contrary to what you think now. Bless someone else with those items. They would bless you from the heart. Remember, what you give out has not left your life, it has just become a sown seed in your ground. Luke 6:38 in the Message translation says, Give away your life; you’ll find life given back, but not merely given back—given back with bonus and blessing. Giving, not getting, is the way. Generosity begets generosity.

Be generous with words of appreciation. Find good things to say about people around you. When you condemn, criticize negatively and put others down, you have not improved your own life and you have not blessed another either. But when you appreciate others and speak kind and positive words, you attract goodwill, you speak into your future and you bring a smile to the face of another – which is never a bad thing to do. Proverbs 16:24 says, Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the bones. Everyone has the capacity to appreciate others and to do so generously. If you can have a conversation with anyone, then you can appreciate someone. You only have to make up your mind to be more appreciative than critical.

You would also want to place value on your relationship with God. You could determine not to let anything interfere with that relationship. This is one relationship, like the one with your spouse and family, which must improve with time. You should be able to look back and say you have become more intimate with God over the weeks, months, years… Are we reading more of His Word, are we spending more or less time in prayer and communion? Has there been a change in attitude and character? Or are we explaining away our shortcomings, taking our acquisitions as a sign of God’s approval? Dear friend, time must have a positive effect on our relationship with Jesus (2 Thessalonians 1:3).

These are just some values that time must strengthen. You can keep getting better if you focus on what matters most in your life. These would always be relevant to your world and would never go out of fashion.

Thought check: What are my core values? How important were they to me five years ago and how important do I think they would be five years from now?

 

MEN OF THE TRUTH

Sometime ago I shared some thoughts on fatherhood at a men’s meeting. At a time like this when we celebrate fatherhood, I consider it is appropriate to share those thoughts with you trusting you would glean some positives from them.

According to God’s design, a child’s complete development is dependent on the presence of a father and a mother in the home. Thus, fathers are crucial to the balanced development of children. You could be the father to your biological children or adopted children. Or you might even have the privilege of being the father figure to the young men and women around you. Sadly, we are beginning to see that the place of fatherhood is under threat from the subtle movement of the proponents of the convergence of sexes who believe that roles are interchangeable and can be carried out by anyone irrespective of the gender. The roles of the father and mother are not interchangeable and cannot be swapped. And thus the influence of fathers on human development cannot and should not be waved away.Father

Fathers must be role models for their sons and daughters and one of the dimensions of influence fathers bring to the mix is the influence of truth.

As fathers, we must speak the truth always. We must be people of our words. We see lying celebrated and promoted everywhere around us. It appears it is the preferred instrument of transaction in a world of competition and rivalry. Of course, it is the language of the devil. People lie and even lie that they are not lying. And really, you would always have to support a lie with another lie. When truth is thrown in, the cookie crumbles. Any agenda, institution or task built on a foundation of lies would inevitably collapse sooner or later. Lies, no matter how simple, can be very destructive. Interestingly, that little lie in what you thought was a trivial situation might portend a precarious situation for someone else. Make it a decision to always speak the truth, even when faced with a life-and-death situation. Tough words, right? But the truth always saves!

We must live by the truth – live by the Book of books. Our lives must be governed by the Word of God. That means we pass all issues, choices and decisions through the filter of God’s word. As fathers, let our words and conduct dovetail with the things we read in the Bible or hear at church meetings (where God’s word is taught). For example, we should, by our actions, demonstrate our respect for authority. When we run red lights at traffic stops, are we teaching respect for constituted authority or rebellion against order? To gain the honour of having your children hold unto your words, you must govern your life by the Word of God. Also, when we develop family cultures, these should be based on God’s word. When we introduce family traditions and develop values for our homes, the word of God should be our sounding board. We might want to ask, ‘How does this tradition or value resonate with what God thinks?’ Am I pushing a cultural ideology or building a godly home? These questions can be helpful as you develop your family culture.

We must defend the truth. We must be consistent with our stand. We defend the truth when we speak for the truth and practice what we say. We should be able to explain biblical truths and principles to our children so that they are able to deal with the challenges of life. Fathers should guide their children in developing the right perspective to life. Children shouldn’t be left to form their own opinion or viewpoint on life-defining issues. We are to train up our children in the way they should go. There is a way they are to go which we should guide them to set their feet on.

To be men of the truth, we should know the truth ourselves. We should know the word of God and know it thoroughly. Be as confident with the scriptures as a lawyer quoting sections of the constitution in a courtroom. We must fortify ourselves with sound knowledge of the truth. For us, the word of God is an invaluable and indispensable tool for building great families and it should not be far from our hearts.

Have a truly happy Father’s Day.