7 Nigerians On How Age Has Changed Their Relationship With Their Parents

March 9, 2021

Time changes a lot of things, like the quality of a wine. Maturity also helps put a lot of things in perspective, particularly with parenting. I spoke to a couple of people about how time had changed their relationship with their parents. Here’s what they had to say.

Derek, 21

I had a pretty okay relationship with my dad when I was much younger. I knew he was trash but respectable trash – he was a womanizer and everyone knew it. But at least, he never used to beat me. When I was 14/15, he married a new wife and things went left.

One day, she told him I eyed her. He came down to the section of the house my mum and I stayed and tried to beat me. He ended up giving me an injury on my back, a scar I still have.

I had to run half-naked across town to get help because he was beating my mum for trying to protect me. It didn’t stop. One day, not long after, I can’t remember what caused the argument but he disowned me. At some point, he refused to let me back into the house so I had to sneak back in just to eat, see my mum and sneak back out to stay with my cousins. I remember him telling me to leave his house or he’ll run over me with his car. He actually tried to. It took years to process the whole thing. Now, he is ‘trying’ to get back on good terms with me. But I have his numbers blocked.

So my mum and I were very close growing up. The older I got, the less close we became. I used to be an obedient church boy whose purpose in life was to make her proud. Then I became less of that. I stopped going to church, and it became worse after I came out as gay to her and she threatened to call the police. She hit me with a belt when I said I wouldn’t go to church in 2019.

Things improved when I became independent but not by much. I still get calls asking me to find a girlfriend, to remember God etc. Then there’s the issue of black tax. That played a major role in the decline of our relationship. I help with fees. Yesterday, I paid rent for them. This morning, I got a text that she wants to give some money to a friend of hers in need and I should help.

And I won’t lie, I have some resentment. Because I know what my life would be like if I had a little support and if I didn’t have to do so much by myself. It’s like my family gave me nothing but trauma and responsibilities. And they never let me forget about the responsibilities and pressure on me because they are always calling to remind me that they are counting on me.

Even during Christmas. I’ll send money for Christmas clothes, Christmas food, Christmas hair and they’ll still ask for more. It is exhausting. And tiring. And god awful.

Akin, 31

When I was younger, there was a lot of tension between my mother and me because I was kind of a disappointment but when I gained admission into uni, I became worthy, like Thor became worthy of the Mjölnir. I suddenly was a good example in the house. I think it also helped that I became a lot calmer and more grateful after I gained admission. Distance might have helped too because I schooled in the North while they were in Lagos.

My relationship between my father and me isn’t great but isn’t bad either. We hardly fight anymore since I moved out of the house but he’s always complaining about how I’m always talking to my mum but I don’t visit or call him.

Overall, I think I have a good relationship with both of them. They respect me, even before I started giving them money, which I think is beautiful.

Oyinda, 31

I’ve always lived with my mum and only see my dad once in a while. I’ve always had quite an amazing relationship with my dad and it keeps getting better. We talk about anything and everything.

On the other hand, my relationship with my mother fluctuates like NEPA. We had bad disagreements when  I was younger but I assumed it would get better the older I got but I was wrong. It’s like we take one step forward, five steps backwards. She doesn’t open upto me and evades personal questions all the time. Only God can help us at this point. Regardless, I love them both very much.

Sophia, 20

My relationship with my parents is the absolute ghetto. I grew up in a Catholic household, with a very misogynistic father and a mother who does everything to stroke his ego. They have always done everything possible to control every aspect of our lives; what we wear, who we associate with, the activities we engage in, every single thing. I find it difficult to forge relationships with people because I am hardly ever allowed to leave the house, except for errands. 

My parents think we are living in some sort of dystopian age and it always makes me feel like a character out of ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’. If you’ve seen it, you’ll know how bad my situation is.

Now that I’m older, my father is convinced I’m ‘possessed’ because I refuse to conform to his misogynistic standards of what a woman should be. I’m just waiting to move out by next year. They won’t hear from me after that.

I wonder how they’ll react when they find out I’m gay. 

Angelina, 28 

My dad is late and my mom is a super mom. When I was younger (21-24) I was so angry at my mother. She left us a lot as teenagers to work and care for my dad who was terminally ill. I had a really hard time navigating adolescence and young adult life and had to be my own parent (I can’t really cook nor am I homely). I was so pissed with her so I kept picking fights, being vile and just outrightly nasty to her. 

Some time passed and I start earning more money, navigating life and getting some sense. I realized all the trade-offs she had to make for us. Being a good, present mother or work extra jobs to earn money and care for my family. She chose the latter and I am well off today because she did. I now understand her in so many other ways and empathize with her. I can’t imagine how difficult it must have been for her. Today, we are best friends and I am always looking for any opportunity to spoil her.

Mariam, 22

I’m only 22 sha, still a baby girl under their thumb. There are three of us and I’m the middle child, but my older sister is extremely fragile, so I became the parent instead of her. My whole life, I’ve been grateful that my parents don’t care too much. They mostly allow us to do our own thing, which was really nice when I was younger. But I realised when I was 15 that my parents are NOT there for us emotionally at all. 

To say that my dad abandoned me isn’t even accurate because he’s never really been there in the first place. He just pays bills and occasionally tells us stories about himself. My mom tries, but she has her own trauma which means she’s constantly hurting me and my sisters and can’t take responsibility for it. Nowadays, I just think of them as bank accounts. They have nothing to do with my life. I’m basically parenting my younger sibling because my parents are so dismissive when they try to “connect” with us. I’m just waiting to be free of their financial control so I can ignore them.

Beke, 31

My dad is my best friend on this earth. I didn’t exactly grow up with him – I spent my school years up to uni living with relatives. Even then, he ensured he was close. We bonded over football, I remember we used to watch Miracle of Dammam, USA 94 and Atlanta 96 tapes together. He bought me footballs every holiday because it’s the one thing I always wanted.

When I got into uni, we got even closer. We talked about everything and he knows me very well. He once said I didn’t have the suspension of belief necessary to be religious, which was the best compliment I’ve gotten. He’d always say “Beke, it doesn’t matter. Whatever the issue is, we’ll deal with it together. You know I’m always in your corner.” 

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