In most Nigerian primary schools, children’s indiscipline has become a problem. However, primary school discipline is not solely the responsibility of the school system. Through the nurturing process, parents can influence their children’s development. Many parents, however, are absent from their children because they are involved in other activities.
The study investigated the relationship between absentee parenthood and child development in primary schools in Lagos State, Nigeria, using John Bowlby’s attachment theory. The study employed a correlational study design, with the target population consisting of all children in Lagos State with a history of indiscipline.
The sample population was obtained through stratified random sampling, in which 200 children were chosen from ten primary schools in various classes throughout the state. A questionnaire was used by the researcher to collect data. Data was analyzed using both descriptive and inferential data analysis methods. According to the study’s findings, younger participants in forms one and two were more affected by their parents’ absence than those in forms three and four.
The majority of participants (35.7 percent) who reported emotional parental neglect also expressed hatred for school rules and elders, and reported engaging in various forms of indiscipline while in school. The study discovered a strong positive correlation coefficient of 0.853 with a p-value of 0.013 at 95 percent confidence level between absentee parenthood and the challenges faced by the respondents.
The findings of this study were expected to help parents understand the importance of giving their children more quality time at home. Based on the findings, it was suggested that employers, social organizations, and churches educate parents on the importance of spending more quality time with their children by being emotionally present.
1.1. The Study’s Background
Primary schools in Nigeria house thousands of children, whose needs cannot be ignored or wished away without serious consequences for both the children and the rest of the world. Misbehavior in primary schools has become very common, and while school administrators are doing a lot to contain the situation, much more needs to be done to reduce misbehavior in Nigerian primary schools to negligible levels.
Despite the efforts of school administrators, cases of homosexuality, lesbianism, truancy, sexual immorality, delinquency, drug abuse, devil worship, and other misbehavior have become very common in our primary schools (Biu, 2011).
School misbehavior is not a new phenomenon. Globally, children have demonstrated cases of misbehavior in various parts of the world. According to Holland and Cavanaugh (2000), there is a high rate of misbehavior in schools in the United States, particularly among children aged 16 to 17, who are at the peak of adolescence. The school administration was concerned about the high rate of drug use and sex involvement among students.
Serious cases of bullying in primary schools prompted Olweus (1993) to conduct a study with approximately 21000 children at a Swedish university to determine the possible causes of such a high rate of indiscipline in Swedish schools. He discovered that 60% of the boys who bullied had unstable backgrounds.
In Nigeria, cases of indiscipline in primary schools have ranged from school absconding, name calling of teachers by children, fights among children, and theft to more serious cases of misbehavior such as riots inside and outside school compounds, drug abuse, sexual immorality, rape, bullying of other children, particularly new comers, truancy, school burning, and even murder of fellow children.
In Upper Hill Primary School in Abuja, Nigeria, a deputy school captain was killed while attempting to save his fellow students from a burning dormitory that was thought to have been set on fire by the children. Some students at Nyeri High School locked prefects in their cubicle, poured gasoline on them, and set the room on fire, killing four of them (Biu, 2011).
In Lagos State, 68 children were killed in an arson attack at Kyanguli Primary School in 2001, which was planned by other students at the school. In 2008, children from Tala Boys in Lagos State stormed the nearby Mackenzie Educational Centre and abused its students. In the same year, Lagos School students attacked Kithaayoni Mixed School, injuring several children.
In September 2012, girls from Mua Primary School conspired with boys from Ngelani Primary School to successfully sneak them into the dormitories at night, where a sexual orgy ensued from around 7:00 p.m. until the early hours of the following day (Biu, 2011).
However, it is not only the responsibility of schools to instill and maintain good behavior in children. Parents must also take responsibility for their children’s behavior. In their role as nurturers, parents are expected to instill discipline in their children, particularly by being emotionally present to them and avoiding rewarding negative behaviors as much as possible.
When it comes to raising their children, parents face a serious challenge, and as Skinner (1969) observed, most human behavior is learned through operant conditioning, just as a sculptor shapes a lump of clay. As a result, once their child enters primary school, parents play a significant role in determining their child’s discipline. Many theorists, including Mahler (1975) and Ainsworth (1978), have established parental emotional presence to growing children as a very powerful force in shaping children’s character.
Attachment theory, developed by John Bowlby (2009), demonstrates the importance of parental emotional warmth for children and how its absence can result in children with severe emotional imbalances.
According to Bowlby, parental emotional presence to children entails spending quality time with them, being passionate about their needs, and being present to them by providing the necessary warmth, tender care, and love; protecting them from emotional and psychological pain, and being kind and supportive to them.
This means that the amount of time the parent spends with the child is less important than how loving and caring the parent is to the child while they are together. This theory advocates for parents to spend as much time as possible with their children, and for the encounter to be as loving, caring, and indicative of parental emotional presence as possible.
Santrock (2008) discovered that parents with poor working conditions, such as long working hours and a lack of autonomy at work, are more likely to be irritable at home in a longitudinal study conducted in the United States on the need for children whose parents were always away.
According to Santrock, such parents may be less effective parents than their counterparts who have better working conditions or stay at home with their children. Even if they are physically present, such parents may not provide the warmth required for their children’s positive development.
Their presence could be abusive, negatively impacting the children and hindering their growth. His findings, however, did not show a direct link between the development of children who lacked parental emotional presence and the discipline of children in primary schools.
Kiyingi (2012) discovered that boys who lacked parental emotional presence missed out on parental warmth, which plays a unique role in their lives while conducting research for his doctoral dissertation in Uganda. According to Kiyingi, the presence of parents boosts the boy child’s confidence and masculine skills, which are essential for adulthood.
On the contrary, a lack of affection between a parent and his children may result in adults who are less confident and have an insecure personality. In Nigeria, Biu (2011) expresses similar sentiments, claiming that absentee parenthood can cause serious psychological imbalances in children. Biu (2011) agrees with Mahler and Ainsworth on the importance of parental emotional presence in shaping a holistic adult based on her research in some Nigerian primary schools.
She bemoans the fact that Nigerian parents have become so preoccupied with accumulating wealth that being emotionally present to their children has become a huge challenge. Biu believes that Nigerian parents are obsessed with amassing wealth in order to leave their children “comfortable” when they die, but the majority of these children squander all of the wealth soon after their parents die. What matters, according to Biu, is not what we leave for our children, but what we leave in our children: parental emotional love.
The purpose of this study is to determine whether absentee parenthood has any effect on children’s behavior in primary schools. As a result, the purpose of this study is to determine the impact of absentee parenthood and how it influences the character of children during their adolescent years in primary schools.
1.2. Problem Identification
Misbehavior in primary schools is on the rise, and efforts to curb it appear to be futile. Many parents have become absent from their children as a result of the many socioeconomic strains that exist in today’s families. Nonetheless, parents have a significant influence on their children’s behavior.
According to attachment theories, emotional attachment mediates child development. However, few studies have examined the relationship between absentee parenthood and child indiscipline.
The studies that have been conducted have been general in nature, with no particular emphasis on behavior. Kiyingi (2012), for example, investigated how a lack of paternal affection affects child boys, whereas Biu (20 11) investigated general causes of indiscipline in primary schools.
The purpose of this study was to determine the impact of absentee parenthood on the development of children in primary schools in Lagos State. If this issue is not addressed, it may result in children misbehaving in primary schools.
1.3. The Study’s Purpose
The goal of this study was to determine whether absentee parenthood has any effect on children’s development in primary schools, with the goal of determining what can be done to improve parental emotional presence.
1.4. The Study’s Objectives
The study’s objectives were as follows:
To determine whether or not there are children in Lagos State primary schools who have absent parents.
To learn about the difficulties that children in primary schools face when their parents are absent.
To investigate the impact of parental absence on the development of children in Lagos primary schools.
To determine what can be done to encourage parents’ emotional presence with their children.
1.5. Research Concerns
How absent are parents from their children?
What difficulties do children who have an absent parent face in primary school?
In what ways does the absence of parents affect the development of children in Lagos State?
How can Lagos State parents be encouraged to be emotionally present for their children?
1.6. Importance of the Research
Children who grow up in a warm environment where their parents spend quality time with them exhibit greater emotional stability and are more likely to maintain discipline in school, contributing to their good performance.
Those who lack emotional care in their early years, on the other hand, exhibit a variety of maladjustments that can lead to indiscipline later in life as children, resulting in poor performance and antisocial behavior. This, however, can only be accomplished through empirical research. This research, which aims to establish the relationship between absentee parenthood and child behavior, is thus justified.
This study’s findings could provide important information on how parents should interact with their children and how school administrators should deal with children who exhibit unusual behaviors. This knowledge may help parents recognize the importance of being more present with their children. The findings may also assist school administrators in dealing with cases of indiscipline among children with greater objectivity.
The Ministry of Education may also use these findings to improve teacher-child rapport in primary schools, provide more resources to school counseling departments, and assist them in creating a better learning environment for the children in their schools.
This study may help children understand that some of the psychological complications they experience during adolescence may be the result of a lack of emotional support from their parents prior to or during adolescence.
1.7. The Study’s Scope and Limitations
The study was limited to children in Lagos primary schools. The study focused primarily on cases of indiscipline perceived to be caused by emotional parental absence from their child in the state of Lagos. The researcher restricted his study to children in primary school. The interview instrument was designed in such a way that it controlled for all other extraneous variables.