I’m writing this from somewhere in Nigeria. It’s a complex dilemma that
(a) I made up my mind on what to do even though it may not be the “right thing to do”
(b) I cannot discuss this with anyone other than my husband due to the sensitive nature of what happened and the other parties involved
(c) I will really love to hear BN readers thought and feedback on this
(d) Minor details have been changed to protect my identify
I’m a married yummy mom of 2 based in Nigeria. Due to the nature of my dad’s job, I grew up in various cities around the world and only moved back to Nigeria with my husband. For that reason, I sometimes feel a cultural disconnect with the way things are done in Nigeria. I’m talking about parenting, family, dealing with staff etc…
Here is my dilemma. My father and mother in law are nice people but my mom in law has previously “teased” me about my “oyinbo” attitude. She also teases my children about being too “oyinbo” which I do not appreciate because I do not want them to develop a complex about their identity. Even though I work, I do not have a nanny or a driver or a cook, I know that is “weird” for Nigerian standards but I am very particular about raising my children, protecting them and instilling them with the values that myself and my husband hold close to our hearts.
I had previously criticized my sister-in-law (Husband’s sister) for certain things I noticed in her home. I’m sorry but I could not help myself. My sister-in-law and her husband leave their children with the help all day – the nannies get them dressed in the morning, the driver picks them up from school, the lesson teacher does their homework with them and then the parents arrive from work at the end of the day.
Our “face-off” occurred when I found out that she and her husband travelled out of the country for 2 weeks and left her children in the custody of the nannies and other staff. I was shocked as I felt that was unsafe and I told her about it. She was really offended, raised a big fuss and even caused some family drama. My mom in law got involved and accused me of judging her. She said that because her son was “taking care of me”, I could get an “easy job” that give me “all the time in the world” to be “playing with my children”. After that incident, relations were strained.
Then, the incident.
I can barely talk about this without being emotional. I shudder to think of what could have happened.
I do not let me children have sleepovers with friends or let friends sleep over at our house but when my husband insisted that his sister’s children should spend a few days in our house because she was going on another trip and needed a place for her children to stay (after all, since I was the one who complained the last time), I opened up my home.
One of the schools I attended while growing up was an all-girls school. After hearing the horror stories from girls from all around the world including Nigeria, I vowed to protect my children. I taught my daughter about her body very early so she knows what should never be touched and what should never be exposed.
While my sister in law’s children were staying over at our house, her very young son tried to abuse my daughter. I do not want to go into explicit detail but what he tried to do was totally shocking! He did not succeed and she immediately ran to our room to report the incident. She was so scared but still brave as she explained what happened in detail. He had even tried to threaten her after she refused.
I was hysterical; my husband was so upset and emotional.
In the middle of the night, I drove him (my sister in law’s son) and his siblings to their grandparent’s house and dropped them there. I said that they were being rude (which they are) and didn’t give more details.
Since then, our daughter has had to undergo professional counseling. She is still scared to sleep alone and sleeps in our room. Even though nothing happened (Thank the Lord), the almost is still traumatizing.
The bottom line is, I have totally cut off my in-laws since then and haven’t given them a reason. I did not allow my children to attend the annual family Christmas celebration (because I knew sis in law’s children would be there) and have not told anyone what happened. It has really put my husband in an awkward position as this is a major family talking point.
Now that my anger has subsided, I am actually very worried about my sister in law’s children. For a child that young to attempt something like that, I suspect that he has been abused and might be doing the same to his siblings and friends. I feel as though if I say anything, my daughter might be ostracized or accused of being a liar. From everything I had read, that could have long term negative implications on her. For me, my children are my primary priority, I will rather just keep away, pray for them and let them handle their issues on their own.
So, BN friends, what should I do?
An important note for my fellow mothers and fathers, please please please be vigilant with your children and be careful about who you leave them with. A moment of abuse can cause a lifetime of guilt and trauma. Teach them (boys and girls) about their bodies and maintain an open relationship with them so they can tell you if (God forbid) anything happens. If something happens, do not sweep it under the carpet, they will not “forget”, get professional help for your child.