It’s popular opinion that firstborns are third parents. They form the last leg of the Holy Trinity of Nigerian parenthood. But it’s hardly bliss to the firstborns themselves, who are managing their own lives while being the bridge between two generations; their parents and siblings. 7 Nigerians share their experiences about what it really costs to be a first-born child.
Toyin, 56, Male
I think my case is peculiar because I’m not just the first-born child, I am also the first-born in a large polygamous family. I have 14 siblings, all of whom I have to cater to in some way. This gets overbearing sometimes because I have my own family to care for. On a good month, I spend an average of ₦1m on helping the family alone. This ranges from school fees and rents to my mum’s medical bills. While I wish I didn’t have to carry such a heavy burden, it’s quite gratifying to help out in every way I can.
Ibraheem, 25, Male
I recently started working full-time. And I transitioned into this by taking freelance jobs from time to time. I don’t think I make a lot of money, but I feel like I give out a lot. I often have to send some money to my parents every month for upkeep, and to both of my siblings as allowance. It feels good to be able to do that. But it just constantly reminds me that my money is not really my own.
Shade, 38, Female
I don’t have to spend this much every month, but I find that I often end up doing so. If I had to describe how it really flows out, I’d say it’s the random requests for favours I get from family. I’m often seen as the most successful member of the family, even though I don’t think it’s true. This puts a lot of financial expectation on me that simply doesn’t make sense. I used to spend a lot more on these favours, but I had to make a clear plan. ₦100,000 for my parents and another ₦100,000 for my siblings. Anybody else, I give them excuses. This has worked really well.
Nkechi, 22, Female
I’m not bleeding a lot of money right now, but I can already feel it coming. The small jokes that end with “sha give us money”. The random calls I get from my siblings because “I don’t want to ask daddy”. I appreciate them though. They make me feel good and useful. I’m also already hearing whispers from my parents about monthly upkeep. God, abeg.
Demola, 45, Male
I get random calls from my siblings about how they just want to check up on their big brother. But no, it’s all lies. They know I’m fine. They’re really checking up on my bank account and the amount of money that’s going to depart from it. If, like me, you have six female siblings, you’ll know what I’m talking about.
Olutayo, 60, Male
Yorubas have this mini-title, “Olori Ebi”. It loosely translates to “Head of the Family”, and the surest way to get it is to be the first-born child. I took this title after our parents died and I had to be the one keeping everyone together. It comes with a lot of responsibility, mostly financial. It’s the same as adding three nuclear families to your own. Whatever financial situation they face, your pocket will feel it somehow. I help out on everything from school fees to upkeep and even rent. I don’t even keep track as much as I used to.
Seliat, 57, Female
Apart from my kids, the only things that take money from my pocket are my business and my mom’s health. I have my husband to pay for most other things. Also, my siblings are doing pretty well for themselves. So there’s really no pressure to spend money on anyone.