Parents relying on their kids for money is a regular thing, but we don’t really talk about the effects of having such a responsibility.
In this article, seven Nigerians speak about what it feels like to be the ones providing for their families while also trying to take care of themselves.
“I’m happy to help, but I sometimes feel resentful”
— Amaka, 30
Sometimes it feels like the only thing I’m useful for in my family is sending money. I’ve been paying black tax since I started NYSC in 2014.
My mum used to work in a federal government parastatal but got retrenched in 2007. She managed to put me through secondary school somehow till I finished university.
Now, I send money to my mum, two siblings and cousins who stay with us for their upkeep every month. Asides from that, my mum also randomly calls and asks for money. It got so bad that almost all my income was going to family expenses, both necessary and unnecessary. Having to spend my money on family consistently sometimes makes me feel resentful. Other times, I’m happy to help.
My mum has a pension, but the money she gets is very small. The pension fund administrator has even refused to pay them for the longest time. So I’m all she has.
“I feel some financial strain, but it’s a privilege”
I come from a large family of seven children, and we collectively cater to our parents’ needs.
My dad lost his job in 1992 and couldn’t get stable work afterwards. My mum worked for over twenty years in a Chinese firm until the entire family was forced to flee the north during the Sharia crisis in 2000. So we returned to our village in Imo state.
As time passed, we kids got different opportunities that took us out of the village. My oldest brother made enough money to build my parents a six-bedroom house.
My siblings and I stopped my parents from doing any work three years ago  so that they could rest. Now they depend wholly on us. We’re a large family, so the financial burden isn’t that much. We pool funds together to send to them.
I feel the financial strain once in a while, especially when we have to contribute towards paying for my dad’s medical bills. But I shrug it off. If my parents had a pension, it’d have given us less to worry about and more to spend on ourselves. However, we consider it a privilege to do what we do.
“How am I paying for someone else’s mistake? It’s so frustrating.”
— Aduke*, 56
I’m retired, but instead of me enjoying my money, I spend it taking care of my also retired younger sister.
The difference between both of us is that I have investments and a pension, and she doesn’t. This is because she finished her money on jaiye lifestyle. My sister was a woman of enjoyment; she was either always attending a party or throwing one. And each time, she had to sew an outfit for each party. She liked the finer things of life, and she wasn’t afraid of spending money on them. Now, look at what that has caused. She’s broke and relying on my money to survive. She has a child but can’t ask him for money because he’s in secondary school. I pay his school fees.
How am I paying for someone else’s mistake? It’s so frustrating. And I’m stuck with this for the rest of my life.
“Maybe it’s the pressure of being the firstborn son, but I feel the need not to let my parents work”
— Anthony, 31
As the firstborn son, I feel a certain responsibility to take care of my family. My parents don’t ask for money, but they expect it. Very subtle signs show that they rely on me to provide for them.
I get paid decently as a logistics manager for a start-up oil and gas firm. It allows me to send money to my parents monthly. My youngest brother, the last born, is now in university, and I send him pocket money too. There are times when I’ve had to come through in significant ways. There was a time my mum had surgery, and I contributed 80% of the money. My dad recently fell seriously ill, and I had to buy drugs that cost ₦53K every month for six months.
Maybe it’s the pressure of being the firstborn son, but I feel the need not to let my parents work. They sacrificed so much to send me to the best schools. The best I could do is spend part of my money on them.
You have no idea how many times I’ve asked God, “Why me?’”
— Shelia*, 35
My mum has chronic heart disease. This means my salary is spent on consistent hospital bills and drugs. Since my mum is sick, she obviously can’t work, and she doesn’t have investments or any other source of income that could, to some extent, make things financially easier for us, it’s all on me.
My dad passed ten years ago, and I’m the only child. So I’m the only one handling such a huge responsibility. My extended family tries to help out once in a while, but that’s not enough. You have no idea how many times I’ve asked God, “Why me?” Why did I have to get stuck with a sick mum? Why does all my money go to her sickness? I’m tired of it all.
Right now, I just want a higher-paying job so that I can at least be able to get myself some nice things.
“I rarely do things for myself because I earn the most in my family. It’s tiring.”
— Abraham, 27
I get paid about ₦350,000 per month, and I barely get to enjoy any of the money because I’m spending it on providing for my family.
Both my parents are retired, which means I’m responsible for their upkeep and that of my siblings. I’m currently paying the school fees of the last child who’s still in uni. My two older siblings can’t contribute as much because they don’t earn enough. I’m the one my parents call whenever they need money for one thing or the other. Sometimes my older siblings call me too.
I need a break from it all. I wish I could just travel to a really far destination and not think that I’m financially responsible for my family at such a young age.
Having your family members rely on you financially can be a lot of pressure. It can also be emotionally and physically exhausting. But what if you didn’t have to do it all on your own?
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