Tell Your Nigerian Parents to Get Out, Respectfully

February 3, 2022

I saw an interesting tweet about setting boundaries with Nigerian parents as an adult. 

Hm, the Nigerian in me shuddered. I decided to ask other Nigerians about their experiences. Did it end in tears? Or did it end in praise? Find out what these six Nigerians had to say.

“I’d be on Zoom meetings while turning poundo yam”

I live with my parents, so this may not be the best approach for someone without thick skin. My mother is a workaholic, and it affected  how she used to run the house. I have a brother with special needs, so I had to do a lot of chores. I spend a large chunk of my day either cooking or cleaning. Even God rested on the seventh day, but my mother? I’d attend Zoom meetings while turning poundo yam, because I have a father that loves his “swallow” in the morning. There were interruptions between meetings without regard. She’d complain that I was selfish when I went out. 

My mind was overwhelmed and there was no mental release. I had to press pause in 2021. I decided to stop waking up to help out. I woke up to only attend my meetings and focus on chores later in the day. There was pushback, but I held my ground. Months went by and I stuck with the routine. The best I could do was buy food for the house when my mum seemed stressed. I wanted to show her that life can be easy. These days, not having to prove myself as a ”good” woman to my mother has been bliss. I’m saving to move out sha.

                                                                        — Tope, 24

“Honestly, there’s no way to set boundaries with a Yoruba mother”

My mum never respected my time. She believed she could always control me — I hated it. The annoying part was how irrelevant some of the requests were. I could be in class at uni and she’d call me to come home to sort out her make-up for a party. Any objection always spiraled into huge fights and horrible words being said to me. I remember rushing out of a class after one of her calls. I thought it was urgent because she refused to tell me what was wrong. When I got home, it was about my sister talking to men and how I needed to give her advice. I was confused. That was the moment I knew I wasn’t going to live at home after uni. Honestly, there’s no way to set boundaries with a Yoruba mother unless you move out. Now that I’m no longer depending on anyone, I can say no with my full chest.

  — Mimi, 26

“I had to block all of them from viewing my Whatsapp statuses and on every social media platform”

My mum and her sisters were fond of messaging me about ladies they saw on my Whatsapp statuses. Whenever I didn’t respond, they frustrated me with calls — those women were literally after my life. On one of their numerous amebo ventures, I had to cut the call. That’s where the problem started. My mum dragged me on the family group chat for disrespecting her. After that, I had to block all of them from viewing my Whatsapp statuses and on every social media platform. They probably can’t tell because I only let them view my status on Mother’s Day and on their birthdays. A while later, there was another confrontation about the women in my life, and this time it was physical. I said something I can’t repeat for other people to try. Let’s just say fire was set on the family group shortly  after. My life has been at peace since sha. So I’d recommend one or two comebacks when family members want to be a nuisance.

— Segun, 27

“All I did was leave the house and go off the grid for two days”

This was pretty easy. My dad made a list of rules and curfews when I visited home during the holidays. I don’t know what was triggering him at the time but I didn’t stress myself. All I did was leave the house and go off the grid for two days. When he couldn’t call or text me, his body calmed down a bit. He never brought up curfews again

     — Kingsley, 29

“I didn’t share my address with my mum or my siblings until after a year”

My mum talked carelessly to me. It affected my confidence and I couldn’t work on it in the same space with her. I had to leave. When I left, I didn’t share my address with my mum or my siblings until after a year. Whenever calls got heated or disrespectful, I politely told her I was leaving the conversation and ended the call. Honestly, if I wasn’t a Christian, I probably would never share my address with her. Now she calls before coming over and there’s mutual respect in navigating our relationship. Taking that step boosted my confidence a lot.

     — Temple, 28

“Forgiveness is better than permission”

With Nigerian parents, just do it. Especially if they are as conservative as mine. My parents are deeper life members, so there were boundaries with jewelry and clothes growing up. I wanted to explore as I got older and having equally rebellious siblings made it easier. I got piercings and dressed however I wanted as I got older. Asking was only going to end with a long conversation, so why bother? My mother has learned to accept us, but my father is still processing stuff. Either way, I’m out of the house so it doesn’t bother me. 

— Linda, 26

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