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Busola Adedire: Your Parents, Their Prejudices & Your Relationship

Busola Adedire

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In my last article, we discussed arranged marriages, classism, and the role of parental consent in a marital choices {click here if you missed it}which leads me to today’s topic of parental prejudices in marital consent. You see, my grandmother is 81 and every time we speak on the phone the conversation ends with something along the lines of ‘ma fe Igbo, ma fe oyinbo oh’, meaning ‘Don’t marry an Igbo man, Don’t marry a ‘white’ man oh’ which right after my father gives me that side eye of ‘you should probably listen to your grandmother’. I love my family to pieces and I would do anything for them but when it comes to choosing your family and your happiness I often wonder where to place the limits? It is very blurry! Now before anybody accuses my family members of racial and tribal prejudices, I know it is wrong and I uphold a different opinion but many of our old generation parents’ fall into this category no matter how educated they are. There are also arguments of wanting to preserve the cultural heritage, to language barriers and other baseless stereotypes and generalisations that have infiltrated our minds about other cultures.

My first crush in Secondary School was an Igbo boy. Often, my mother would also give me that disapproving look of ‘you are just deceiving yourself’ whenever she questions who I’m talking to on the phone. Then, I really liked this boy and I was more than convinced I would have to put up a fight my parents if need be to marry this boy. But we all know how puppy love story ends.

I like to think there are levels to this issue of parental discrimination and consent. While I can possibly get away with choices outside my race and ethnicity, I cannot predict the same outcome for someone outside my faith. Infact, I don’t have to question it, I just know not to fall in love with my eyes closed.

Tackling such parental prejudice is very difficult as it is one of those cases of being between a rock and a hard place… especially where feelings are involved. And we all know that ‘love’ is a scarce commodity in today’s market, so what exactly are your choices? Concur? Elope? Or be disowned? I asked my brother about this hypothetical situation and he says he would not elope with a lover. He further adds that you can only elope when you are 100 percent certain with your choice. But, there are no guarantees with love. We can only hope that we figure it out somehow till end. I share a similar opinion too. I would not tell my parents ‘go to hell’ with my attitude over their biases. I would defend my truth within reason, and put up a good fight for it till they concede.

A friend’s argument as we discussed a certain Caucasian guy was justified by the Christian faith. A section in the Bible had written that Abraham ‘specifically’ instructed his servant to go to his home town and choose a wife for his son, Isaac. In his words, ‘there is a reason these stories were told, therefore it is still applicable today’. I also stumbled on an interesting Bible verse that says “So then he that giveth her in marriage doeth well; but he that giveth her not in marriage doeth better.

It was quite difficult for me to understand, but Bible scholars say it means that it is the father’s duty to have the final say whom his sons and daughters may or may not marry. This shares a similarity with the Muslim faith as I read here: that it is not permissible for a man to marry a woman without the permission of her parents/guardians. Till date, there is still a massive overlap in what we accept as religious and what stands as cultural, and in a subject as sensitive as marriage, the interplay between both ideals is obvious.

Prejudice is something we learn in different ways particularly within the context of intimacy – family relationships are intimate relationships and most children feel an obligation of loyalty to uphold parental beliefs. Conversely, such biased beliefs does not make people inherently bad but life experiences and cultural ideals make people more susceptible to flawed reasoning. I read somewhere that many African American families still object to interracial marriages which is not surprising given their history of slavery and racism. Yet, this is also another form of racism.

Tribalism on the other hand, ranks as one of the top problems in Nigeria, and it will be deceptive of me to say this problem will end any time soon. However, we can talk about it, re-educate ourselves and make up our minds not to raise our children with such flawed ideologies.

Now I throw it to BNers would you marry outside parental consent either on tribal, racial, or religious grounds, and if you’ve ever rebelled, let’s hear your story.

Photo Credit: Dreamstime | Spotmatik

26 Comments

  1. omo-ibile

    November 25, 2015 at 11:16 am

    The Bible clearly says that a ‘Man shall LEAVE his Father and his Mother and he shall cleave unto his wife and they become one Flesh’

    This is still the same Bible that clearly says Honor your Father and Mother, IN THE LORD, so that your days will be long.

    I hold on to the words LEAVE and IN THE LORD to apply this is choosing a life partner. Nigerian Parents ‘parent’ for life and they want to have a say in their children’s lives till they die. I’m sorry it is a controlling spirit and i have more than enough personal stories to back this up.

    The best answer to this, is to cut them off and move on with your life. Excess luggage comes with excess wahala. As long as they do not depend on you to eat, husbands shield your wives from your parents and wives shield your husbands from your parents. Just keep a distance. Abraham had to cut off Lot before he could experience peace in his home.

    This is a serious issue i swear.

    • beecy

      November 25, 2015 at 12:28 pm

      cut them off? thats clearly not a good way forward…..

    • MEE

      November 25, 2015 at 2:21 pm

      @beecy, sincerely speaking, sometimes cutting off is the only way forward, if you want peace that is. In my household peace began when I entered university, that was when my dad’s mum was “cut off” from our house. The quarrelling and fighting was insane, I never imagined there would be a time of peace in my house. You can cut off and still honour your parents. @ Bella Naija, please post my comments. Thank you 🙂

    • larz

      November 26, 2015 at 11:02 am

      Cut them up doesn’t necessarily mean not talking to them. It means keeping them from having a dominant role in your marriage. There is a reason why nuclear family is man, wife and children. Keep it nuclear.

    • v-tech

      November 25, 2015 at 1:24 pm

      Please o. @ omo-ibile, ‘A man shall leave his father and mother….’ is clearly for within the walls of marriage. not before marriage. Before marriage you need your parents’ consent and blessings of course.
      How would you feel if tomoro your own daughter tells you, ‘hey mum, that’s my husband, we got married a year ago’ following your logic.
      Please parents are authority God has placed over our lives, we shouldn’t disregard them.
      I don’t support tribal prejudice, with prayers and convictions, they would come around, so long as it is God’s will. I don’t support disobeying parents or eloping.

    • NaijaPikin

      November 25, 2015 at 5:20 pm

      Well how about you do not create a hostile/unhappy environment that your child has to alienate you.

      And parents are authorities over you when you are a child. When you become an adult, the parents role changes. It should not be one of micromanaging. If they were good parents they should trust their ability to have trained you right. Yes they can counsel, but they cannot dictate.

      Why should i be concerned about hurting parents feelings if said parents are not conerned about hurting mine?

  2. Opsy

    November 25, 2015 at 12:06 pm

    It is not as easy as you think. Marriage comes with so much intrigues and disregarding your parent’s opinion is a recipe for disaster. God forbid but if you have challenges in that marriage, who do you run to? Spouses can take advantage of those who disregarded their parent’s consent. It is better to pray and wait until they give their go ahead.

  3. Anonymous

    November 25, 2015 at 12:53 pm

    We have to be clear on two things: marriage within the biblical Christian context and marriage outside the biblical Christian context. My opinion only considers within the biblical Christian context and in that the demon of racism plaguing many Christians will surely ruin many lives. Parents who are afflicted by this demon must be recognized and reeducated. At the American time one cannot wish away the existence of cultural difference that can’t eat ugly heads and cause problems in marriages where the couple come from different cultures but this can always be handled if both submit to the bible the Word of Gos as the final authority in their lives .. That means that cultural issues when they arise will be placed under the scrutiny of God’s word and dealt with accordingly. Blind hatred manifesting as racism and tribalism is utterly condemable. Isaac’s wife was chosen from among his people because of Go’s call on his life to be separate from the nations around him. Isaac was after all the child in whom the promise from God was placed. So using the bible to justify the demon of racism and tribalism in itself constitutes a sin before God.

  4. Anonymous

    November 25, 2015 at 12:55 pm

    Please I posted too quickly and saw so many typo errors. Corrections: one ca not wish away the cultural differences that can rear its ugly head in many marriages and can destroy many marriages.

  5. omo-ibile

    November 25, 2015 at 1:20 pm

    @Beecy. Clearly you may not be married but please correct me if i am wrong. I was speaking from a personal view as well, if you read my comments well.

    I am quite sure you won’t hesitate to cut them for the sake of your safety and children if God reveals to you that your in-laws are responsible for 2 miscarraiges, sending you foods from naija laced with jazz, leaving their items behind in your home e.g shoe or clothes (ask your pastor the significance of this) and constantly attacking you spiritually.

    Keep them along so u can clearly move forward!!!!
    Just saying my dear

    • OLS

      November 30, 2015 at 9:49 pm

      I understand very well what you wrote, as I just had a second miscarriage two days ago, and guess from what, as investigations is revealing? Overcloseness to in laws. I thought my mom in law loves me, with the way we gist and hugs we share. I live in the states, so I always get most of my foodstuffs from naija from her, as I felt it makes her happy. I ll reject my mothers own and take hers, not knowing that she has them laced with jazz . I didnt even suspect after 3 surgeries and years of not being able to conceive until recently. Now I hate her with my whole heart and have cut her and the whole in law tingy off.

  6. ElessarisEllendil

    November 25, 2015 at 1:25 pm

    ” Now before anybody accuses my family members of racial and tribal prejudices”: No Nigerian will do that, we all live in glass houses on this matter.

    “Now I throw it to BNers would you marry outside parental consent either on tribal, racial, or religious grounds, and if you’ve ever rebelled, let’s hear your story.”: Seeing as I’ve been a co-parent must of my life, my Mother will inevitably bow to my decision.?

    But to put in the wider context, I’m one of those people(hopefully not the only one) who believes you people who are hung up on “love” have an inside joke you’re not telling me. In my opinion, marriage is about ‘duty’ and not solely about the two of you, but your families as well.

    Long story short, if my Mother dislikes a Woman for whatever reasons, I’m siding with my Mother, there will be other Women, my Mother is singular.

    • MEE

      November 25, 2015 at 4:29 pm

      Good luck to you on that note. I do hope your mother isn’t the type who believes no one is good enough for her son. From my experience, even I wasn’t good enough for my dad in my grandma’s eyes. I do not mean to brag or anything, but I was a model child, great results at school, cook, clean, respect, stay out of trouble, anything you ask for I would dish out. I could understand if I was misbehaving, but the sad part is I wasn’t. Sometimes I wish I did while growing up, at least I would have had some fun. She would act all nice when he’s around, when he wasn’t it was mortal combat. After provoking anyone who isn’t her son, she would spin tales by moonlight, and stories that touch the kidneys (there was no touching the heart in this matter) laced with crocodile tears to my dad, everything went south from there. As far as parental consent goes, we truly know our parents, it’s disappointing they’re not the super heroes or angels we wish they could be or thought they were. If your parents are the kind who are just looking for trouble, making a volcano from a match stick, abeg put them in their place and stop this denial. A lot of Nigerian parents are like this, but there are those who mean well.

    • NaijaPikin

      November 25, 2015 at 5:14 pm

      Why don’t you just marry your mother then?

  7. O

    November 25, 2015 at 1:32 pm

    This is quite sad and it doesn’t end with tribal/religious/racial prejudices, you have very petty prejudices such as “oh his uncle has a hot temper…therefore it’s in their family”, “his mother is a divorcee” “his brother/sister dropped out of school” etc

    Also, Igbo parents are the worst with their inter tribal prejudices – anambra can’t marry Imo, this village can’t marry from that village (even though it’s the same darn state) or is it the Osu issue. You hear educated exposed and ‘religious’ parents talk about Osu and outcasts! Smh

    Older generation parents can just be extremely myopic when it comes to their children’s marriages. It’s no wonder some kids just put dating on the back burner. You can’t even date in peace without your parents jumping in. As soon as a guy comes to visit me my parents immediately begin to “investigate” him. If they don’t approve (regardless of where or what the relationship is) I must cut him because they don’t want me to start somehow liking him.

    My parents prejudice lie in everything. My parents will say don’t be swayed by the wealth of a guy they disapprove of because “we have ours”, yet turn around to accuse any guy who is interested in me of being a gold digger. Heck left to them they will just pick the guy for me and dump me there, regardless of my feelings.

  8. FABULICIOUS

    November 25, 2015 at 2:37 pm

    Some people will not understand the depth of this issue ooooo. A friend of mine has neglected 6-7 suitors just because they are catholics and the parents don’t want her to have anything to do with catholic men but the big irony is that yours truly fabulicious is a catholic married friend of hers who the parents know for more than 8years. They treat me so nicely and are never biased towards me at but she keeps on insisting that she’l listen to her parents.
    Madam Fabulicious come ask my friend mama oooo,why she no wan make my paddy marry catholic and she said because when her husband’s greatgrandfather was ill,they needed help from the catholic church and supposedly the catholic church in their village said they cannot help him because he was a traditionalist and all that. Hmmmm….i was like what kind generational related unforgiveness is this that will make you someone to block her own child’s way and all. I thanked the mother for sharing and i had to advice the mum in the best way i could without having them throw me out….hahahahaha. I also encouraged my friend to try and see beyond what they experienced. It is unfair for parents to carry past experiences and assume that such will happen to their own child.
    The funny part of everything is that as God works, na only my church men dey come find her. Thank God for my friend’s life. She was married to a catholic last month after standing her ground and the parents attended and were happy.

    Please try and ask your parents questions in depth as to why they don’t like something, discuss it with them, pray and also use your common sense. Sometimes our parents allow their personal dislike for a certain tradition, social status, religion to block our happiness UNCONSCIOUSLY. As much as we ought to respect and honour them. They aren’t always right.

  9. FABULICIOUS

    November 25, 2015 at 2:39 pm

    I am not for eloping ooooo but I am a testimony to the fact that it is possible to convince your parents to permit your choice because it makes you happy.

  10. Nuna

    November 25, 2015 at 3:12 pm

    First of all, I get what you mean about Igbo people, but I’m an Anambra girl married to an Imo man and there are thousands like me. But that is not to say the the prejudice in Igboland is not horrible. But I understand its thesame in other parts of the country. Nigerians are genereally extremely tribalistic. I was dating a Yoruba dude who wanted to marry me and his mom said over her dead body would her son marry an Igbo girl. I was not ready for that kind of negativity early in my life biko so I jejely told the bobo to stay off my case. Its generally a Nigerian thing- we are too darn tribalistic and its just plain horrible. God help us shaa bc its really stifling our growth as a country and its just sad

  11. NaijaPikin

    November 25, 2015 at 5:14 pm

    Thank God my family is a democracy. As all the children in my house are adults, everyone can weigh in on a situation but at the end of the day, each individual does what they want. And yes even the parents fall into place.

    I understand parents warning against marriage with someone who causes you pain. But for someone to try to destroy your happiness because of insignificant/petty/archaic issues is beyond crazy.

    Yes i will very much marry without my parents consent if I have happy. My happiness and peace of mind is the most important thing to me. Anyone who cannot align with that is a threat to my sanity and needs to be cut off.

  12. Tosin

    November 25, 2015 at 6:17 pm

    I’m pretty prejudiced myself. I stereotype more than you’d expect. Parents can express their own, but for many years I used to respond to them “hey, I could marry somebody from Iceland, so everybody chill”, when they’ll be there saying no Ibo, no Akata, no Ijebu, no Muslim, no Afin, no Mallah, no…
    Now that I’m a million years old, I don’t think they care. Yeah, I think they’ve FINALLY found new hobbies to occupy them 🙂 😀
    It’s always been my life, my choice sha. And I’ve been pretty open, like United Nations open. Who knows the future – maybe I will go and find one Ekiti brotha after everything 😀 😀

  13. big lad

    November 25, 2015 at 6:44 pm

    met this beautiful yoruba girl,so surprised how beautiful and well mannered she is ,got talking to my friends and family how i feel about her,found out how prejudice or tribalistic we re,down here it’,s cool to have a white but once she from another tribe and marriage intent is mentioned,few people re willing to support you.

  14. The real D

    November 26, 2015 at 5:42 am

    My parents used to have an opinion about who we should marry, they were opened to all ethnicity in Nigeria as long as he/she was Nigerian they were ok (although my dad was super happy when his youngest brother came all the way to the US and still married someone from the same village in Nigeria…for me that is weird!!!). but they did will tell us not to marry “oyinbo”. My dad would say “ki omo mi ma lo so nu” so my child will not get lost.

    Fast forward 13 years, my brother and lil sis are still single and not looking like they will be settling down anytime soon, now they just want anyone, black, white, grey, purple. Just introduce us to anyone (he he he). How the tunes have changed. BTW my brother that used to insist he could not marry a person of color or Nigerian too as changed his tune, not because he is eager to be married but he has grown up and realised it is not about the color of one’s skin.

  15. Suweddy

    November 30, 2015 at 2:59 pm

    If our parents reasons aren’t based on selfish reasons. The words of elders can be wisdom sometimes.

    For bible lovers Abraham choose his son’s wife from his kindred (like minds).

    Wished I listened to my parents and not pastors before my marriage. Been bornagain doesn’t wish or disappear some habits, traditions etc.

    Be wise. Be guided!

    • OLS

      November 30, 2015 at 9:38 pm

      Yes that is true, and it worked well for them, as nobody was involved in their affairs when Rebecca waited on the Lord for twenty years to have children. My sis, please what worked for Isaac and Rebecca might not work for another. Undue family interference is usually the cause of most problems.

  16. Chi nice

    November 30, 2015 at 3:15 pm

    I actually don’t care if my folks accept my partner.. What matters are my siblings opinion and that’s good enough… I’ve been dating a calabar man since college (now 4 years) and my folks don’t wants to get to know him coz he’s not an edo man like wtf! In this day and age I should look for an edo man to date in the US ? Folks are edo but they are divorced so I don’t get it and that’s their problem coz I am chilling.

  17. Olayemi

    November 30, 2015 at 4:11 pm

    I have told you people the solution to this thing before. Wait till you are 35 then tell them who you want to marry. No one will stop you. Yes, even for guys. Mama wey go don dey find grand pikin no go stop you. Hahahahaha

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