I am personally very curious about what the lives of men whose realities are underrepresented look like. Over the weekend, I had a conversation with a friend about his brother who was a single dad and it made me wonder about what it is like being a single dad as a Nigerian man living in Nigeria. So I spoke to him and to a few people he knew who are single dads about what being a single dad in Nigeria is like, and I found their stories fascinating.
Here are some of the most interesting stories:
My wife died giving birth to our second baby. She lost a lot of blood and before the doctors could even do anything, she was gone. For the first few months, after she was gone, my kids had to stay with my sister because I was in mourning. My sister was the one who took care of my newborn baby with the doctor and everything, I was just out of it. But I told myself that I couldn’t shirk my duties as a dad. My kids were in mourning too and needed me. So after we buried my wife I took my kids back. It’s been three years now and I have been their father and mother. I have had to make some decisions I wouldn’t have made otherwise: limiting how much I travelled, how much I stayed out, sometimes even some job opportunities. I have no regrets because my kids will grow up in a house with an involved parent and as long as I am alive, I’ll be both father and mother.
My wife and I divorced and went our separate ways a few years ago and I was insistent on keeping my son – we have just one kid. She wanted to but I made it clear that I wasn’t budging on that. I wanted to be involved in my child’s life and she could do whatever with hers, she eventually gave in. She visits monthly but I don’t care about whether she does or not. I have a horrible relationship with my father and I can’t let history repeat itself. Being a single dad harms dating opportunities because when women see that you have a kid they feel like the other woman can always just come back but I am willing to risk never dating anyone else.
My wife and I split when my kids were five and eight and after splitting, we – me and my kids – relocated to Lagos from Abuja. My life mostly reverted to what it was before I married but with kids. I have help from my family but I try to be as involved as possible in my kids’ lives. I date regularly and still try to be a good dad.
I had a kid when I was in my first year of university with a girl I had been dating then. My mum took care of the baby till I finished university. I did have a level of misplaced resentment for my daughter when she was born but that is gone, her existence is the best thing in the world to me. I hired help to look after her when I am not around and to deal with the messier things but I am otherwise very involved with my daughter’s life. Whenever I show people my eleven-year-old daughter they almost choke and that is amusing to me. I’ll likely get married in the future but I don’t see myself having any other kids. My life is perfect with just my daughter who is almost my height now.
- Names have been changed for the sake of anonymity.