Wednesday, November 11, 2015

CHILDREN FOREVER: NIGERIAN PARENTS' INABILITY TO LET GO OF THEIR CHILDREN





This subject was addressed by a very good friend of mine on Facebook. In her post, she indignantly expressed her view on how African parents' keep such a tight rein on their children that even when they are past 18; they still feel they have the right to tell them what to do and constantly interfere with their lives.
So true, especially here in Nigeria. Culture dictates that children should respect, listen and obey their parents because being their parents; they are older and wiser. Children are brought up to take their parents' guidance and as the years go by, they find themselves continually doing as they are told and decisions made for them... after their own decisions are tossed aside and ignored.
"Mummy and Daddy" are always right and we are the ignorant children who must listen to them because Culture (which is held over our heads like a gun) dictates it. If in the situation where the grown child stands up to them, they are dubbed 'disrespectful', 'stubborn, and sometimes even 'ungrateful'.
 "After all," so goes the usual tirade meant to manipulate and guilt, "we are your parents, we raised you, clothed you, sent you to school and you think you know better?" In the eyes of Nigerian parents, children are still children and don’t seem to notice they’ve grown at all.
 In more developed countries, children go off to begin their lives away from their parents when they get to 18 or 21. Here, such a thing is pretty much impossible.
One reason is economy, with the staggering cost of rents and hard-to-find jobs; what 18 or 21 year olds will be able to get their own place?
The other is  parents; who adamantly refuse to let their children move out of the safety of the family house, either  in a misguided sense of over protectiveness or they simply want to keep their children under their control.
When my friend talked about how a young woman she knew was forced to quit her job and move to the village because her tyrannical father ‘said so’; I felt very sorry for her, especially since she had her life planned out only to be ignored and shoved aside because Daddy for some reason wanted her to move to the village. It’s more about control, than knowing what’s best for her.
That’s all we hear in Nigeria; ‘Mummy and Daddy knows what’s best for us’; in almost every aspect of our lives; from what we were to what course to study in the University. They do all they can to guide us, except on  how to be independent and they are seldom given the chance to stand on their own. In the end, the children’s lives are ruined because they cannot stand on their own, after such a long period of dominance and dependence.
I know a woman in her thirties who still lives with her mother.  Even if she had enough money to rent a place of her own, her mother has already warned her she will not allowed it. 
Her reason? “Letting you live on your own will be like putting a curse on you.” I’ve gone over that weird sentence and till now, I still don’t know what that means.
Nigerian parents would say that parents in the Western world spoil their children and don’t discipline their children enough and spoil them. But it’s not like Nigerian children are better off under their parents’ dominating control either. How do they expect their children to grow if they won’t let them grow?
There’s a major emphasis of having children in this country, if you don’t have children, you’re nothing. Yet children most times are treated like property, not human beings. Their needs are met yes, but what about their emotional needs?   
They say they know what’s best. I say they are  being damn selfish.

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