It’s not strange for a child to admire and want to be like his father. Apples don’t fall too far from the tree, but how many of these traits are learnt or unconsciously adopted? These Nigerian men share their stories.
“I don’t really socialise, and I suck at communicating” — Mayowa, 32, Lagos
I personally didn’t see the parallel traits, beyond the complexion of my skin, until puberty set in. I’m a mirror image of my father now. Our physical resemblance serves as an identifier within influential circles where my father is well-known. But the flip-side is it’s challenging to establish my identity when others perceive you solely as Mr. X’s son.
But it’s not just our physical appearances. We’re both pragmatic and introverted, which has its drawbacks. Asking for help, networking and socialising don’t come naturally to individuals like me. I make a conscious effort to introduce spontaneity into my life. I recently put a permanent reminder on my calendar, labelled “Call Dad” — a gentle nudge to prioritise regular communication.
“We both go on a rampage when we’re angry” — Bright, 21, Lagos
When I was about nine years old, I noticed my dad had anger issues. He has a short temper and gets furious very quickly. Growing up, I’ve noticed I do things to the extreme when I’m angry too. Like one time in 2021, I was in a heated argument with my sister because of something she did, and it got to the point where I smashed her phone on the floor. But I’m working on controlling my emotions now. I try not to react immediately to anything; I’m learning to be more patient with people. And when I have the opportunity, therapy is something that’s prominent in my mind because I’ve seen my dad’s attitude to his anger issues — he’s not phased by it all but we’ve kind of grown to live with it.
“We overlook things a lot” — Femi, 29, Lagos
My behaviour and mannerisms are closely linked to how my father handles things. He hardly takes offense. During NYSC in 2018, I met different types of people who’d annoy me a lot, but I had an impressive level of restraint. I kept thinking this is what my dad would do. Ironically, he gets inflamed by what you’d consider petty; like slippers scattered around, little dirt unpacked. No one else in my family is like that. Just him and I.
“We can’t ask for help” — Anonymous, 26, Osogbo
I can’t seem to ask for help from people, no matter how dire the situation. I found this out pretty early and chucked it up to my introversion until I was 15. That’s when I noticed my father is like that too. At a time we went through some rough patch at home, I saw him grind through it alone and quietly. I don’t think it’s a pride thing; I’d attribute it to over-independence.
I was surprised when I noticed our similarities because I always thought we were totally different. I think weighing the costs of this “over-independence” every time I need to ask for help goes a long way towards navigating it. When I think about the people who could be affected, I tend to ease up and speak up.
“We both have retentive memories” — Stephen, 59, Oyo
My father (of blessed memory) liked to sing or recite the Oriki of everyone who passed through the front of our house. My father knew the Oriki of every Yoruba names and towns; l’m also good at that. I noticed these traits in me when l was young. I even released an album in 2023. Just like me now, he also dressed well and abhorred dirt.
“I might die helpless if I don’t start opening my mouth” — Babatunde, 26, Akure
I never thought much about it until I was 22 years old in 2019. The country’s economy was struggling, but things were harder at home. I felt like why were my siblings and I even born if our parents wouldn’t take care of us like they should. I always thought with the number of important people my father had as contacts on his phone, there was no way we’d go through hard times.
Fast forward to 2022, I quit my first job and started looking for fresh opportunities, but nothing came. Everything was choking me. Then, a random check-in on a friend turned into an extensive conversation, and I had to come clean that I was jobless. We came up with a solution that helped for a while, but then, I thought to myself, “This is the same thing I correct daddy about. I might die helpless if I don’t start opening my mouth.”
“I don’t want to make mistakes around people” — Micah, 35, Anambra
I’m always trying to be on people’s good sides, especially within the family. I don’t want to make mistakes around anyone or offend them. Whether I’m the wronged person in a situation or not, it’s like I just want you to love me. I’m still trying to figure out what type of hell I’ve found myself in, but this is a major trait I share with my dad, and I think about it every hour of the day.