Mama’s Boy? — Nigerian Men on Growing Up With Single Mothers

March 2, 2022

Parenting is a hard job, even when two people share this responsibility. Imagine when all that responsibility rests on one person alone. And in a country like Nigeria, being a single mother or being raised by one comes with a lot of underhanded compliments and side comments. But what exactly does being raised by a single mother look and feel like to the men who’ve experienced it? These four Nigerian men share the most important lessons their mothers taught them. 

“My mother taught me resilience”

— Tomisin, 34

My mum and dad had been married for less than six years when he died. I was four years-old at the time, and growing up, my mum was my mum, dad, teacher and everything in one woman. Even though we struggled financially, my mum always made it work. She always said, “You can’t control what happens in your life, but you can always control what you will feel and do about what happens to you.” But the truth is, even though she said this, as I grew older, I began to notice that she felt a lot of guilt about not being able to provide all the things I wanted. She’d never admit it though. Deep down I know she did her best and prioritised the things I needed. As a parent now, I know that goes a long way. 

She inspires me to be resilient and always try to make things work, if not for me, then for my kids. Do I miss my dad? Yes, but it’s just the idea of him that I miss because I never got to know him. That being said, my mum is such a large presence in my life, there has never been doubt about me being loved or special. 

“My mother taught me to love hard, but give people space to grow on their own”

— Chisom, 30

My parents separated when I was ten years-old. As I got older, I realised that he’d left my mum for a younger woman. How cliché is that? As a child about to become a teenager, I didn’t take it well. I blamed my mum a lot and became distant. Also, as the only child, I didn’t want to be seen as a “woman wrapper” or a “mummy’s boy” at the time, which sounds stupid now that I think of it. I was a problematic child because I wanted to differentiate myself from her and have my own masculine identity. After all, the truth is, as Nigerians, men are largely defined by how much they aren’t like women. 

Even though I continued to push her away, she never made it a big deal. All she did was love me and be there for me. She didn’t even force it. Over time it dawned on me that this man I desperately wanted back had moved on. The society I was trying to please — well, they weren’t that important in the grand scheme of things. This woman loved me despite my stubbornness and she gave me time to grow and find my way back to her. 

“My mother taught me the importance of delegating to ensure peace of mind”

—Tijani, 28

My dad killed himself when I was about three or four years-old. Till this day, no one knows why he did it. My mum was 28 at the time and had to care for three young boys. You can imagine how hard it was for her, but she never showed it. That can be a good and bad thing because a part of me growing up felt like she didn’t feel anything and it’s probably because she was putting up a front for us. 

One thing I appreciated, though, is the fact that she delegated tasks in raising us. We had uncles around who we could talk to about boy problems, while she just focused on being our mum. I love that she didn’t sacrifice our mother-son relationship by trying to be a father figure too. Note that, while It’s helpful to have someone of your gender to look up to, I don’t think it’s a do-or-die thing. We were just lucky. 

“My mum taught me to hustle hard. You can’t sit around waiting for help”

— Paul, 31

My dad died when I was 14, and just like that my ajebutter life became history. He had spoilt my siblings, my mum, and me so much that losing him flung us into a terrible state of “what do we do now?”. But my mum is a G mehn. The way she picked herself up and hustled to make sure we were okay? I don’t think I could’ve done half of what she did for us. This woman was working long hours and also running a business on the side just so she could afford to pay our school fees. We never went back to the way we used to be financially, but she made sure we weren’t suffering or seriously lacking. 

She made sure we always had jobs, not for the money, but just so we understood the importance of responsibility. At 31, I have so much experience across the formal and informal sectors and it’s all because she pushed us to be the very best. No matter what life throws at you, alaye, you just have to jazz up and make it work.

Join The Conversation

Bring a friend.

You'll like this

June 2, 2021

We don’t hear enough stories about men being heartbroken or dumped even though we all know it happens. Today, we spoke to four Nigerian men on the worst ways they’ve been dumped. Tokunbo, 24. I had this lady, we had been dating for about a year or so. I was still in uni then and […]

June 30, 2021

As told to Femi As men, our testicles are the mainstay of our reproductive system. Asides from sperm production and storage, they’re also responsible for producing a hormone called testosterone, which is responsible for our sex drive, fertility, and the development of muscle and bone mass. Needless to say, it’s quite important to ensure they […]

Watch

Now on Zikoko

Recommended Quizzes

April 1, 2020

Everyone has a Nigerian bank that matches their personality. You could either be as likeable as GTB, as efficient as Access or as mature as First Bank. Either way, all you have to do is take this quiz and we’ll let you know with almost 100% certainty. So, go ahead:

November 19, 2019

Regardless of what society has tried to tell us, enjoying sex is not something to be ashamed of. So, in a bid to celebrate our generation’s sexual agency, we’ve created a quiz that will accurately (again, keep your complaints to yourself) infer how many people you’ve spelt with. Try it out: 11 Quizzes For The […]

November 1, 2019

Twitter is buzzing right now, bringing a new conversation to the concept of cool vs not-so-cool, especially in relationships. If you’ve been thinking about how much of a red flag you are, why don’t you let this quiz help you decide once and for all?

November 20, 2019

Last month, we thoughtfully made a quiz telling you guys exactly when you’ll marry, but some of you claimed that your spouse was nowhere to be found. Well, now we’ve created one that’ll tell you exactly who you’ll be dragging down that aisle. Take and start planning that wedding: 11 Quizzes For Nigerians Who Are […]

how tall are you
March 11, 2020

Did your parents give you enough beans when you were growing up? If they did, then you’re probably around 6’0″ and above. Either way, we created a quiz that can guess your current height (pretty accurately, if we do say so ourselves). Take to see if we nailed it:

More from Man Dem

Watch

Trending Videos

Zikoko Originals

September 13, 2022
Vs The World is a Zikoko original video series that follows best friends Astor and Hassan as they take on the world.
August 23, 2022
Zikoko Ships is a Zikoko Original series where we invite two people who share a relationship to play the Zikoko card games
December 14, 2020
What happens when a group of chatty young Nigerians talk about things they're passionate about? You get Nigerians talk. A show that discusses very familiar struggles for the average Nigerian. From relationship deal breakers to sex education with Nigerian parents to leaving Nigeria, be prepared for a ride.
November 2, 2020
'The Couch' is a Zikoko series featuring real life stories from anonymous people.
October 26, 2020
A collection of videos documenting some of the events of the EndSARS protests.
June 22, 2020
'The Couch' is a Zikoko series featuring real life stories from anonymous people.
June 22, 2020
Hacked is an interesting new series by Zikoko made up of fictional but hilarious chat conversations.
June 4, 2020
What happens when a group of chatty young Nigerians talk about things they're passionate about? You get Nigerians talk. A show that discusses very familiar struggles for the average Nigerian. From relationship deal breakers to sex education with Nigerian parents to leaving Nigeria, be prepared for a ride.
June 2, 2020
Quickie is a video series where everyone featured gets only one minute to rant, review or do absolutely anything.
May 14, 2020
Isolation Diary is a Zikoko series that showcases what isolation is like for one young Nigerian working from home due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

Z! Stacks

Here's a rabbit hole of stories to lose yourself in:

Zikoko amplifies African youth culture by curating and creating smart and joyful content for young Africans and the world.
X