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Seun Tuyo: The Intricate Art of Parenting Adults

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Just like many others, the story of how a young boy killed his father under very obscene circumstances made me cringe with fright and repulsion. {Click here if you missed it}
Arguments happen. We all get to the verge with our parents, especially as adults. There is bound to be conflict of interest as a result of differences of opinions. However, is it enough to strike your Dad or Mom? I certainly hope the majority reading this would have a quick and sharp response saying ‘No, Not at all’.

Traditionally, tt starts with a man and a woman falling in love, they get married and conceive a baby. The baby becomes the center of attraction as soon as its existence is known. Everyone is happy.  The parents are committed to ensuring that their little baby gets the best out of life, usually much better than they may have had themselves. Efforts are made to ensure the child is prepared in different ways to be independent and successful because someday, if all goes as planned, they will no longer be available to nurture, support, protect and counsel the child. At least, that is the initial idea.

However, children grow and they make changes while at it. Not just physical changes but also psychological changes.  Parents also grow and change too. While these changes happen, the parent/child relationship and mutual responsibilities changes. An easy way to look at it is to think that the role of the parent transitions from full-time managers (infant/toddler) to part-time managers (adolescents) and thereafter, consultants (adults). The demands of an infant are different from that of an adolescent, just as with an adult. As an infant, the child is fully reliant on the parents and therefore needs a full time manager. As an adolescent, the child begins to nurture relationships among peers, preferably independent of the parent. It is expected that they will make mistakes and learn from them with the help of coaching and guidance from parents. In this instance, parents are part time managers. Once the child becomes an adult, especially one who has left home, the relationship is different and so is the demand and availability of both parties. They require more consultation off their parents than management. But how do you come to terms with the fact that you suddenly have to let go of a child you have invested so much time, money and effort trying to raise? In as much as the adult child requires this transition, parents find this phase really daunting.

Here’s a scenario,

You are fully grown, you have everything under control, and you have moved out of the family house, you have a job, pay your bills, participate in positive causes and live generally, responsibly. You are proud of how far you have come and how you are holding up. And then a holiday comes and you decide to spend some time with the folks. As soon as you walk through the door, someone calls out “dust your feet outside so you don’t walk in with sand”, “Hurry in and shut the door because of mosquitoes”, “Take your hand off the walls so you do not stain them”, “and clear your plates from the table”.  And let’s not start with the “Come and greet Uncle” or “Take (handing you the phone randomly), say hello to your aunty” episodes.

…And suddenly you think to yourself while rolling your eyes and shrugging, “Oh there we go, I am home and I am 10 years old again”

This must happen to nearly all of us.

Once a child reaches their twenties, the relationship between the parent and the child fluctuates. Communication is tougher, conflicts are more likely to occur and more effort has to be put in to maintaining the relationship. The greater struggle becomes how to find a level playing ground without overstepping each other’s boundaries. This can sometimes be likened to walking on eggshells around each other. Common issues between parents and adult children that develop as a result of this stem from how much time they spend together, what they spend it doing, how much information they share, what battles they fight and which they brush off, what kind of advice to give, how it is given and when to give none at all. Gradually the parent and the adult child become more distinct individuals with different goals and priorities. It is that time of detachment.

Detachment processes can be tough for both the parent and adult child. Nonetheless, it is important because children need to mature and assume certain responsibilities for themselves and their immediate environment, at the minimum.  Most parents will always have a mental picture of “their little girl/boy” for a lifetime. However, some will go beyond that mental picture and never come to terms with the fact that the child is now an adult. They will constantly interfere with the adult child’s work, relationship and general living by rendering unsolicited advice and inadvertently “managing” the child. The communication techniques especially with para-language may not have changed from that of a teenager to that of an adult. The parent will still address the child as though they are the “little girl/boy”. Usually they convince themselves that this is done to protect the child from the unforeseen but in real sense, it breeds tension, anger, hatred and conflicts. Parents need to respect boundaries and accept the adult child’s maturity at some point because the child needs to grow and develop to be responsible.

Growing up, a child will experience pressures from their peers to behave a certain way but if the parents instilled the right discipline and showed good example at an early age,most often the child will return as a responsible adult that any parent will be proud of, regardless of the pressures. Therefore, the adult child will not require a parent cum manager but an advocate of their independence and self-confidence.

Each generation comes with unique pressures and expectations. Adult children are so busy with life that they forget sometimes that parents need to feel warmth and affection from them. As parents grow old, retirement comes and they get lonely. They miss the laughter and bond they had with their children. Why not make it a point of duty while you still have them to remember them? Make a mental note to call or text at intervals; these little gestures warm their heart. If you know you may not remember, add it to your to-do list. Write it down and commit to it. Technology makes it easy these days. I believe that most parents mean well for their children, unless in some rare and very delicate instances. We cannot tell our history, good or bad without them. Parents play a major role in ones’ life and need to be appreciated and acknowledged. Most importantly, they will not be around forever.

Patience, tolerance and forgiveness are major pawns in the game. Enjoy your time together while you can. We all are unique individuals. It is better to relax and enjoy the moment than to put unnecessary pressure on each other and foster avoidable grievances that will eventually create room for anger and frustration. Live in peace and love.

Photo Credit: Dreamstime |Konstantin Sutyagin

Seun Tuyo is interested in social development. She loves to interact with people and has a desire to make a profound and positive impact around the world. She suffers moments of weaknesses at the sight of a cold bottle of Coca-cola and Chocolates. Feel free to reach her on twitter and instagram @seuntuyo.

38 Comments

  1. TheMaestress

    September 9, 2014 at 4:13 pm

    I am currently living this “nightmare” of parental figures over-stepping boundaries and me trying to figure out how to be my own person while still according them the honor and respect they deserve. May God grant me wisdom and favor. Please just say a prayer for me that peace and wise, Godly counsel will reign. It is well.

    • Seun Tuyo

      September 10, 2014 at 3:57 am

      Amen TheMaestress…i believe patience and prayers will bring you the peace you desire, remember you are not alone, most people just learn to live with it in their own way.

  2. ibi

    September 9, 2014 at 4:47 pm

    seun thank you for this piece, just brought tears to my eyes, i was upset with my mom a few months ago, and then i prayed to God, to help me forgive her. (IT WORKED) and NOW i miss my life before marriage, i miss my daddy’s jokes and laughter, i miss him not being soo busy, i miss gossip with my mom. i miss my parents!! and they are just a few miles from me yet it seems so far cos everyone is grown, out and responsible for themselves. cant wait for christmas :). lord go before us oooo

    • Seun Tuyo

      September 10, 2014 at 4:01 am

      Thank you Ibi. My mom and i also disagree from time to time, however, i prefer to look beyond the basis of the disagreement and see other things – we both are different individuals, how much longer i have her for and the love she has for me and vice versa. I am glad you made peace with your mom!

  3. Mz Socially Awkward...

    September 9, 2014 at 5:11 pm

    I read this particular line whilst rolling my eyes heavily in empathy:- “And let’s not start with the “Come and greet Uncle” or “Take (handing you the phone randomly), say hello to your aunty” episodes”.
    I tell you ehn, na my mama wey you just describe so and it never gets old with her. You visit for a holiday and every few hours, she’ll just be handing me her phone to greet random “Uncles” and “Aunts”, to the extent of even waking me up from sweet sleep. And when the Uncles and Aunts are physically present, she go just corner me for upstairs, ask whether I get “any small gift” for them and the hot frown on my face doesn’t deter her query at all, she go still send me make I go check my boxes for “anything”. I don tell her many times say anyone she want make I shop for, make she wire the money to my account plus additional money for extra luggage, then, ehen! I shall have plenty gifts to appease all such Uncles and Aunties. Hahahahaha! Mumsie is a trip, I tell you. 🙂

    Okay, serious talk now. Detachment is really difficult for Nigerian parents, especially when they have daughters who have no option other than to live at home until they get married. The only scenario that I see where Ngierian girls are allowed to move out is when they’re in Lag and can use the excuse of traffic delays to finally escape the home they grew up in. My relationship with my parents changed dramatically once we stopped living in the same town and I noticed the shift in our interaction moving from a child-> parent relationship to an adult-> parent relationship. My papa wey before I left Port Harcourt will be breathing fire and all kinds of threats if I dare step into his house after 8pm or if the shadow of a male admirer darkened his front door – nna, once I only started going home for visits, na to even offer me car keys make I enter town with friends until nearly midnight (although the fear of kidnappers etc. no go even gree me to stay out in PHC until midnight) and he’ll be greeting my male guests with a smile and a warm word. Note that I lived at home as a working woman until my late 20s.

    However the detachment still isn’t complete as they both like to proffer their own advice about careers, personal investments, etc. and while their counsel can be very useful (personally, my mum gave me very good advice on how to negotiate the salary package of a role I was once offered), you have to caution yourself that your decisions need to be taken on the basis of what’s ultimately good for you and not what Mum and Dad say. My sister who was trying to diversify her experience had to rebel against my parents as they strongly opposed her decision to leave what they considered to be a “job for life”. God was good and the step outwards has been a rewarding one for her so I’ll say to always weigh up what they say against what your own instincts.

    And finally, yes oh, patience, tolerance and forgiveness are very necessary to manage the relationship. Even from this distance across the ocean, my folks still know how to do my nut in (“What do you mean you’re not coming home for Christmas? You better start making arrangements and looking for tickets, we want to see you oh”) but I have to keep telling myself that a majority of the annoyance they cause me comes from a place of love and I won’t have them forever so gotta make the most of this time that I’m still being treasured as somebori’s pikin. 🙂

    • Seun Tuyo

      September 10, 2014 at 4:04 am

      Oh my! You brought so much gladness to my heart with your response. I thank you seriously Mz Socially Awkward for taking time to read my write up, make some sense out of it and pour out your heart like this. Your examples got me cracking up seriously. We cannot help it it, they are our parents!

  4. babe

    September 9, 2014 at 5:39 pm

    O my God! My mother needs to read this! She is so damn annoying.I love her and know I cannot have another mother but mummy I wish you could learn stop talking too much and giving he same advices that my teenage sister already knows what is right and wrong.I just wish you could learn from my dad. I am not saying I do not care about aunties and uncles but seriously I have alot on my mind not to mention of this aunt and that uncle cos my family isnt that close.O mummy I really wish you could just learn to let go.At least thank God you are beginning to understand that I am not a kid a bit but I know it would take lots of fights to totally sink that I am not a kid at age 23 for pitsake! Nigerian parents need to learn this please. Daddy I am not saying you are perfect too but learn to please stop been a control freak over everybody’s life. Especially about our future careers and marriage especially now you are not really receptive to my bobo of 5 years whom I know is most family oriented person ever but because he is not the type that studied finance/ hot courses and neither he is the type that is ready to talk so much about career and jobs like you never get tired of doing ,you are thinking he is not the best for me. Or because you have sense that he is not thetype kisses ass or worships riches and then be running to you for advice like other guys du you just do not like him. Most importantly because you know I would have to relocate outside Nigeria if I end up with him and you want me to stay back in nigeria to work in consulting firms and then come back to your company, you are just been cold about him. Stop been a control freak dad too.This is my life and I know I am been rational in my thinking just let go Geez! BN sorry about this rant but I have been hoarding this and this beautiful article has just given me a platform to pour out my frustrations..

    • Seun Tuyo

      September 10, 2014 at 4:07 am

      Thank you Babe. I believe somewhere in-between these rants are the deep love you have for your mom. I suggest you find a subtle way to share how you feel with her, you never know, she just might not know it is time for detachment.

    • ada1

      September 10, 2014 at 4:10 pm

      lolz, babe i feel u lots and lots. my mum still bangs, i mean bangs my room door loudly every other morning to wake me up for prayers. u go to the sitting room with a headache and she starts the morning devotion with a long sermon on people that need waking up before they pray to their God… we love them no matter what they do and everyday i pray to God to bless me so i can bless them beyond their imagination.

  5. Frustrated Adult

    September 9, 2014 at 6:56 pm

    This write-up is literally the story of my life. I get harrassed consistently by BOTH my parents over the same damn issues. Marriage…Career…Weight. They want to control everything and are extremely vocal about it….Sometimes descending so low as to throw insults at me in the presence of other family members. Im 27yrs old for crying out loud…I should be free to make my own choices but nooooooo its their way or the highway. So frustrating!!!!!

    • Seun Tuyo

      September 10, 2014 at 4:10 am

      Thank you Frustrated Adult. What you have described is typical of most of our parents. Like i said they see us as their little girl/boy who needs all the guidance on anything and everything. Tolerance is key, and once you can manage them and find a middle ground, everyone will be happy

  6. Spoken

    September 9, 2014 at 7:45 pm

    My goodness! How apt is this article! This is a battle i’ve been fighting with my parents for as long as I can remember, even worse as i get older, and I am pushing 30.

    My parents assume its their responsibility to dictate MY life’s decision. I could land a pretty cool dream job tomorrow, and my father will say “yes, that’s good, but you need to find a job in xyz industry, it’s better” THE HECK?! What part of “my dream, job” is he failing to see? especially as more often than not the pay is much better than that of the job/industry he’s suggesting. This type of attitude cuts across all aspects of my life, especially relationships. This is where my mom takes the cake.

    My mother believes every guy I date or who is trying to date me only wants to do so because i’m from a “comfortable” family or because I have dual citizenship, EXCEPT, it’s a person who is introduced to me through the family AND is from the same hometown as ours!!!! In 2014? How absurd is that? How about because I am a very likeable person? or because I’m attractive (both of which I am of course :)) It’s gets so bad that i’ve been verbally and physically assaulted by my mother, repeatedly, because I have disagreed to breaking up with my current bf, who btw is the most amazing guy any girl could ever date (This statement is profound coming from me…I can be very stoic when it comes to expressing emotions and being won over). Several pastors have been sent to pray for me as my mother believes I am either possessed or i have been drugged by my bf. She actually said that, that she believes my bf put “something” in my food to make me behave this way. All because she doesn’t like his family, even though she’s never met any of them personally and he is not from our place (even though its the same tribe and our villages are literally minutes apart) .The bitterness she expressly towards any mention of him is out of this world, and all that frustration is poured out on me in various ways, not to mention our typical naija parents way of reporting you to everybody!!! So i’m constantly being bombarded with calls from “relatives” as well as random folks admonishing me for giving my mom stress and making her sad? See wahala, who is stressing who?

    I really just wish and pray that when our nigerian parents can learn to render advice, and not dictate how their adult children decide to live their lives. Our parents did what was best for themselves, made mistakes and learnt from it. Pushing, ordering, dictating will only push the child away. A colleague of mine was just telling me that she does not “talk” to her mother because of how controlling and domineering her mother is, how she will get severely punished for the slightest offence such as inadvertently breaking a plate or something. As a result she prefers to live with her older brother than her mother? How sad is this?

    Communication and mutual respect is key. Each person, parent and child need to extend that to the other. Parents should to advise their adult children and step back, trusting that the discipline they instilled in them as young kids will lead them in the right path, anything more will be construed as interference which ultimately breeds dislike and animosity.

    • Seun Tuyo

      September 10, 2014 at 4:14 am

      Thank you Spoken, your last paragraph hit the nail on the head for me.

  7. Tobi

    September 9, 2014 at 8:06 pm

    Sameto here too am a medical student and I just got back to skool and am already missing them back home in naija……a times they can be too overprotective especially during this Ebola period….telling me to stay at home not to go out as if am a kid…and u can imagine how this can affect ones self esteem …..but still am so lucky to have them so I will just use this opportunity to be so close to them…..u know our parents will not be with us forever so it’s best to make peace with them than to regret later in life….I really thank GOD for providing me such parents……they are even worried that am not coming back to the country next yr ..they will wait for 4 years. I think we as adults should not judge them becos we don’t know wat it feels like to have a child….and when we do we will appreciate them more…..so pls to those ranting take it easy with them…have seen cases where some kids would rebel to their parents and both parents are dead now…….now they are even regretting bcos they are nowhere to fit in society ,,no one is there to provide for their education…they are already low lives ….so sad….remember they are the only ones we have …they know wats best for us…let’s take life easy and appreciate them….life is to short…….I love u mum and dad

    • Seun Tuyo

      September 10, 2014 at 4:15 am

      Thank you Tobi, life is indeed short

  8. Tobi

    September 9, 2014 at 8:09 pm

    Yes and also some people don’t have parents and will do anything to be in our position

  9. flora

    September 9, 2014 at 8:46 pm

    Seun thank you for this piece. I can relate with you on some of the issues raised. The truth is a good parents we inherited some of the traits from our parents. Unfortunately times are changing and no doubt we must change too. It’s not easy but rather than allow the relationship between parents and children degenerate to anger and out right out bust my advice even to my self is to allow them have their way for peace to reign. These days I have to pray hard not to step on my children s toes. After all , all of us need to enjoyave before we part for ever

    • Seun Tuyo

      September 10, 2014 at 4:15 am

      Thank you Mommy

  10. flora

    September 9, 2014 at 9:12 pm

    Flora. Seun well done. I can allaign myself with you in this write up.we as parents inherited it from our own parents. It was done as a way to show love. Well things
    Are changing and I think we should change too. There are many ways to demonstrate love to our children. With this current situation of things as parents we should allow them space. If they need us they will come to us. Time is too precious to be spent checking on our grown up children. Let’s enjoy the rest of our time together as anything can happen tomorrow. .let’s have quality time together and give them the benefits of doubt that they can go it alone that way peace will reign. Thank you for this wonderful thought provoking write up. Keep it up. God bless you

    • Seun Tuyo

      September 10, 2014 at 4:16 am

      Thank you Mommy

  11. Akaahan Terungwa

    September 10, 2014 at 3:31 am

    No one has it easy Seun, believe me.

    However, for parents, the key is proper formation during the pre teen years…believe me, if you train a child properly, even in his/her most angry or volatile moments, there would still be some elements of self control evident.

    For children, the key is learning that parents, for all their faults, still remain parents and disagreements have to be properly channeled and respect – unconditional respect – accorded.

    Be certain to have a great day, Seun.

    Always,
    Terungwa

    • Seun Tuyo

      September 10, 2014 at 4:17 am

      Thank you Terungwa

  12. wunmi

    September 10, 2014 at 10:53 am

    Thank you so very much Seun for this beautiful piece.it is so well written. @ Ms Socially Awkward you cracked me up real good with your 1st paragraph. Teary eyes @The last part – “still being treasured as somebody’s pikin”. I’ve lost my parents (my mom when I was a teen & my dad 3yrs ago) and trust me its the hardest thing to deal with. I often feel vulnerable & unprotected you know kinda like our public facility(maybe choice of description is too strong) but you just don’t have that someone to have your back & looking out for you as when your parents were there. @ Spoken I understand your frustration I used to feel that way too. In fact I was so looking forward to leave the house and get them off my back then my mom died and I had the horrific privilege of seeing my dad die & I tell you nothing else matters at that point. Not the unnecessary things we fight about or ANYTHING. you just want them back & THERE. Now there’s no one to scold me or advice me or nag me and I miss it all.. Our parents may not know how to communicate with us in a way that will endear us to them but they mean well. I have 2 younger ones and now I know parenting isn’t easy ; not as we see in the Cosby show, family matters et al. I have difficulties reasoning with my younger ones & so I know what my parents struggled with. Lets cut them some slack & not let any menial thing come between us & our parents. They wont be here forever & enjoy all the presumed embarrassment to give us, all the come & talk to Aunty/Uncle. all the naggings enjoy it cos you will miss it

    • Mz Socially Awkward...

      September 10, 2014 at 10:03 pm

      I’m really sorry to hear of the loss of your mum & dad, wunmi. This comment from you is a much-needed sober reminder of how fleeting our time with loved ones really is – not just parents; annoying siblings, relatives, friends, etc.

      My prayer goes out to you that God always sends the constant assurance of His Presence and protection, to remind you in every way that you’re never alone & not defenceless or without help. Your younger ones are really lucky to have you. 🙂

    • Seun Tuyo

      September 11, 2014 at 2:04 am

      Thank you Wunmi.

  13. Flames

    September 10, 2014 at 11:45 am

    My mom has refused 2 believe dat I’m a grown pesin, she’s a full tym manager in my life n she even adds overtym. I’m 22 n a graduate 4 dat matter bt I tink she still sees me as a 2 year old. She criticises everytin I do, lik notin I do is ever ryt 4rm d hair I make (lik since I started making hair, my mom has only approved 1ce I fixed a very short hair)2 my make up 2 my dressing 2 d way I walk 2 wat I do. Literally everytin, every single tin n its really hurtful cos u try n try 2 b do ur best n 2 show u’re mature n in 30 seconds, she’ll make u 4get all ur resolutions. If its nt her exact way, den its nt ryt even wen ur own way is tested n trusted, 4 wia. It wnt happen

    Even ryt nw we’re arguing on wia I’ll serve, I tell her I’m wnt 2 serve in south south n she’s saying I must serve in my state. Like she doesn’t c me as being able 2 take care of myself alone bt I take care of d house n all d males dat live in it n dey’re nt dead yet. Serzly its so annoying n u dnt rmbr tins lik dey’re nt going 2 b dia 4eva n stuff lik dat, resentment n anger will jst fill ur hrt

    • Seun Tuyo

      September 11, 2014 at 2:05 am

      Thank you Flames

  14. Gods child

    September 10, 2014 at 1:16 pm

    Being brought up by a single mother u’d think we have the closest and most understanding kind of relationship, yes we now actually do but trust me it was very very difficult to accomplish, during my teenage years my mum and I fought like cat and dog, we never agreed on anything. I believe all the fights eventually made us understand each other better particularly our likes and dislikes and also wat makes us “tick”……like now my mum wouldn’t come to wake me up early in morning to come out to greet one uncle or Aunty. We barely fight now but I’m also very careful as to what I say or do not to offend her as well. I believe making the effort to understand a person and of course fervent prayers would work for both parties in terms of minimising conflicts

    • Seun Tuyo

      September 11, 2014 at 2:06 am

      Thanks Gods Child for sharing

  15. www.eniwealth79.blogspot.com

    September 10, 2014 at 2:58 pm

    I really don’t have much issues with my parents on wanting to dominate my life other than the fact that they often mistake my very independent nature to mean I’m proud and that I keep pushing men away.
    About, them phone calls. Once, my mum handed her phone to her friend without my permission and I didn’t know the phone was already with the friend, I said ‘””mummy mi ni ke gbe phone fun won o, e kan bami ki won”-”mummy, I didn’t tell you to give her the phone o, just greet her for me. Her friend also jovially said, ”ah, she has given me this time, how are you…” I just laughed and did the general mushy-mushy stuff. I’ve been careful ever since and I’ve come to learn that. That is how it has been, it still is and will forever be.

    • Seun Tuyo

      September 11, 2014 at 2:07 am

      LOL, i also learnt the hard way on speaking too soon, so now i whisper or use sign language to say no from the start of the call. Thank you

  16. okpaneje Chris

    September 12, 2014 at 3:11 pm

    Nice one Seun

    • Seun Tuyo

      September 21, 2014 at 1:30 am

      Thank you Chris

  17. faith abassah

    September 12, 2014 at 4:09 pm

    It’s easy na…Once my mum picks her calls , I pick my imaginary call too..she knows I can’t hang my call to greet anybody so it’s “oh faith is here but she is on her fone” as regards managing my life….to every suggestion I say “oh ok, y dint i think of that” den I do only what I intended cos Av learnt d hard way dat “na I no gree dey tear cloth”

    • Seun Tuyo

      September 21, 2014 at 1:30 am

      LOL, Thanks Faith

  18. uncle gee

    September 13, 2014 at 2:57 pm

    Nice piece…mummy usually calls back to say ‘I didn’t tell her to ask you oh…hope u r not angry’…I love her like that…what will life be without such worries?

    • Seun Tuyo

      September 21, 2014 at 1:31 am

      Yes o, Thanks Bro

  19. Ola

    November 6, 2014 at 10:22 pm

    Lolllll…. Faith abasa

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