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Atoke’s Awkward Banter: Anybody Who Wants Grandchildren Should Pay For Them

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You know that thing Nigerian parents do after you’re married? Sometimes , if you’re delaying their plans with the whole marriage thing, they just wait till you’re past a certain age and they slap you with it….

I want grandchildren o! I’m getting closer to my grave.

Your parents don’t do that? How lucky are you?!

Okay, so for those of you who don’t understand this parental pressure to have kids, here’s how it usually goes down. From when you’re born, you’re told two important things: your parents are working hard to train you, so that they can reap the reward of their labour. Secondly, have your own kids, so they can take care of you, when they come of age. Essentially, kids are the Nigerian parent’s back up retirement plan. (I wrote about that here)

Nigerians encourage you to procreate. Children are a blessing from God, they tell you. If you argue that you are not ready, mentally, physically, emotionally or financially, you are shushed and told that God who giveth the blessings will take care of the blessing. Hmm… missed call.

Let me tell you a story of how one of my relatives entered this ‘one chance‘ with two eyes open! (Kai, I have to be very careful these days with spilling my family secrets. Life was so much sweeter when I was anonymous abeg) So this guy was in his 40s – not really up to anything in particular. He did not have a job, per se. He didn’t even learn a trade. He was just there, drinking, chilling, and roaming about the streets of Jos. His mother reckoned he needed some form of stabilising effect in his life; and what better anchor than to have kids? So, this woman decided to find a a wife who would fix her son. You know, do all she failed to do during the years of pampering him as a first son and all that.

Mama Relative arranged a match; and before long, Dutiful Son was popping out grand children. Of course, dude had no resource to fund this new family project, so he moved himself, and four kids into his mother’s house. Shebi, na she want grand children.

Precious Grandchildren! Those awesome little creatures that our parents are so eager to have. They are subject of discourse at many-a-Owambe parties, and the source of pain for those whose kids have failed to deliver on this campaign promise.
The way some parents go on and on about grandchildren, you would think that they missed out on the chance to raise their own children.

Some of these parents are not even content with just one grandchild. Oh no! From your child’s first birthday, they’re already coming to ask you “what are you waiting for now? Demilade needs a play mate!” Yes, your 14-month old baby desperately needs another human being in the house for entertainment. Toys are so last month.

Imagine my friend’s horror when her mother told her that her womb had been idle for little too long. She suggested that it was best to have at least 2 more kids. Do it while you’re still agile, Mummy said.

“But, I haven’t even finished taking care of Demilade. I am exhausted all the time. More children are the last thing on my mind right now”

When she narrated the story to me, I was just curious about why the Mummy suggested 2; why not 3? You know… for an even number. Two boys, two girls… 80s style!

For those who have complained about the high costs of raising kids in modern day Nigeria, their parents have hit them with the same old rhetoric: God will provide. You’re not allowed to go around asking for help when it’s time to buy Cerelac. Just take it to God in prayer.

God is probably tired of the population explosion and the birthing of babies just to fulfil all righteousness.

Someone also told me recently that her mother suggested getting pregnant as a way to minimize the quarrels she had been having with her husband.

Child not matrimonial duct tape biko!

Here’s the issue I have with parents who brazenly go on about how their kids should go forth and multiply: a lot of times they’re channelling their own pain and failures into their kids. They’re hoping for a chance to do-it-over. So they push, and push, and push. They want grandkids so they can re-enact the time when you were a kid. Before you became too saucy, before you started talking back, before you started making your own money. Parents just want grandkids that will be kids again.

In fact, they are just so anxious to accumulate grandkids that they start requesting that their kids keep up with each other. “Nifemi, your sister has 4, at least if you do 2 more, I’ll have an even number of grand kids”

Yup, grandchildren are like prized collectible items to Nigerian parents. And the best part of it is that, these items don’t need to live in your house. They can be safely stashed away at their parents’ houses, nurtured and raised by other people, but grand parents will get their shine. To be honest, it’s an almost perfect scheme for having a do-over at life. With grandchildren, you don’t even have to pay school fees, and all that trouble. (Unless of course, you’re like my relative who took his problems back to the original source. Smart guy)

Here’s what I suggest for people who feel pressured to have kids, because of their parents, or out fear of derision for their parents.

1: Ask them to commit to bearing 50% of the financial responsibility of the children. Yes, they will tell you God will provide for his own. Gently tell them that God will use human beings to do his work. If they can be used as a vessel to encourage the birthing of more kids, they can be used to open trust fund. Drive them to the bank, get the paper work done.

2: Ask them to commit to baby sitting, and attending all school, hospital and social activities. These parents think they’re sly. They will push you to have kids, and when it’s time to come and baby sit so you can rest, they will start telling you the story of how Mungo Park named the River Niger. Do not let them get away with it. They wanted you to have children, ask them to step up to the plate. It’s “OUR” pikin.

3: If the first two suggestions do not deter your parents, simply move back in to live with them, and be a pain to them, the same way a child will be a pain to you. After all, they say experience is the best teacher. Help them see what an inconvenience an unplanned and unwanted child will be to you.

Anyway, these parents know what they’re saying. They’re just trying to help you secure your future.. Besides, who needs a retirement home when you can move in with your kids under the pretext of looking after your grandkids?

I guess what I’m trying to say in this long round about way is, don’t feel pressured to do anything you don’t want, nor have the capacity to do. Don’t worry about people who will look at you somehow, or talk about you. That’s the way the world is… they will ALWAYS talk & look. If you’re not up to it, just chill, and do it in your own time.

Peace, love & snowflakes!

You probably wanna read a fancy bio? But first things first! Atoke published a book titled, +234 - An Awkward Guide to Being Nigerian. It's available on Amazon. ;)  Also available at Roving Heights bookstore. Okay, let's go on to the bio: With a Masters degree in Creative Writing from Swansea University, Atoke hopes to be known as more than just a retired foodie and a FitFam adherent. She can be reached for speechwriting, copywriting, letter writing, script writing, ghost writing  and book reviews by email – [email protected]. She tweets with the handle @atoke_ | Check out her Instagram page @atoke_ and visit her website atoke.com for more information.

26 Comments

  1. mama zee

    March 23, 2017 at 12:29 pm

    hmm! tot it was only illiterate parents like mine that say such o, so refreshing to know that its a general saying lol how nice!

  2. B.

    March 23, 2017 at 12:50 pm

    Me I don enter am. Baby on the way, no Job. Sooo much pressure from both sides. Oya pay for antenatal na, come and see story. God will provide blah blah blah. 1st lesson learnt. Stick to your very reasonable plan, never give in to sentimental family b.s.
    All in all We’re grateful for the gift of life. Many people are looking for kids. At least that’s what I tell myself.

  3. ogo

    March 23, 2017 at 12:53 pm

    i missed you so much ,Atoke!!! hilarious and refreshing piece as usual.

  4. Blackbeauty

    March 23, 2017 at 1:08 pm

    But why should anyone pressure you into having kids when you aren’t ready though?
    Nigerians are nosey folk and that may never change. You can either set them right or ignore. I do the latter. Was still recovering from post-op pains when an uncle suggested I pop them out fast. Huh?
    When I told my sis my plan is to wait till my son is 18-20 months, she went’ who’s supposed to wait that long for her niece to come along’?
    Madam Aunty, shay you have a womb too, put your uterus to use. Let’s stop living to please people abeg.
    My mum won’t say it directly, she takes it to God in prayers from what I’ve heard.

  5. AceOfSpades

    March 23, 2017 at 1:08 pm

    You know Atoke I’ve been reading females talk about bad parenting male children and since all this days no one has ever tried to correct any of y’all. Is it the parent’s fault that a child turned out bad? You are going to be a mother one day (or maybe not) and then imagine someone parent(ing) shaming you.

    You people need to stop this rubbish! I am not a father yet but if a female child starts acting badly, I never see anyone here talk about bad parenting. You all say it’s her choice blah blah but when it’s the male child you start blaming the parent like what is wrong with you.

    We all see male children of a man who beats his mom turn out good. We see male children who got over pampered (if that exists), and they still turned out great. How about male children who never got any sort of parental care at all and they still turned out success financially, morally, emotionally and every other kind of ‘ally’. You come here and talk of a mother finding a wife for a man so she can do what the mother failed to do. Have we not seen men and women who had the best parents yet they turned out bad? If a woman or a man turned out bad (as you like to say), then blame the person not his mother or father abeg!

    If you like post, if you like don’t post because it seems you, Atoke, are the moderator. You have seen it and so be it.

  6. funmilola

    March 23, 2017 at 1:20 pm

    I think I should be grateful, I’m 28 and never for once I’ve I been pressured to get married by my parents….they even encourage me when I complain.
    I hope it will be the same when it comes to having grandchildren too….one can’t mix garri with sugar and pour inside feeding bottle, according to my mum.

    • No pressure too

      March 23, 2017 at 1:57 pm

      My mother doesn’t pressure me, she only said openly in the church that she wants to be an inlaw and grandmother (this was when asked her greatest wish), i guess she decided to pressure all of us. And once I tell her a friend is married or pregnant, she stares at me like she expects me to feel bad and when she sees I’m not, she starts quoting ‘the spirit of God will gather them, my sons-in-law are great men from every side’ but she has never directly asked when I’m getting married. Okay, to be honest, she did say I should pray about marriage, she said this sooo gently (my mother believes I don’t want to get married and I just want to be a mistress). I had to assure her I was praying

      The funny thing is I’ll pressure my kids, I’m sure of that. I’m 27 and want to be a grandmother before 55 so if I have kids by 28 or 29, that’s pressure for my kids oh, I have to have grandchildren when I can take selfies and prune and pout with them.

  7. Nunu

    March 23, 2017 at 1:20 pm

    Funny piece ! Im still at stage one which is finding bae and getting married . I’m strong willed (in agood way lol ) and not letting the subtle pressure from my mum get to me . Chasing money ATM and rounding up school soon .

  8. Another side

    March 23, 2017 at 1:41 pm

    Parents want grandchildren and I’m not sure it’s for the reasons set above. I guess they just want to achieve it all; marriage, children a successful career etc.

    It’s like my want for an MBA from an Ivy league school or the courses I do, It’s just one of those things I always wanted.

    Our parents had a vision; be married, have kids and have grankids and to be fair, a lot of them help out with baby sitting. A lot of my friends take their children to their parents house each day saving creche costs. Infact i had a colleague who would take her son with a maid to the mother’s house during the week and take him back on Monday.

    When the boy stayed with her for 1 month straight without seeing his grandparents, they called begging her to bring him back, they offered to augment school fees oh as the schools close to her parent’s house were in the price range of Grange, etc.

    Let’s cut our parents some slack biko, I don’t have kids yet and I’m already looking forward to my grandchildren. I have the names of my children and their grand children set.

    And yes, children are the ultimate pension plan.

  9. Chinma Eke

    March 23, 2017 at 2:37 pm

    I saw the heading and I was like; Atoke o!!! But, it’s a good idea, next time mommy mentions grand children I’ll ask her to agree to hear a percentage of the cost. Lol.
    I can imagine how that conversation will go.

  10. tunmi

    March 23, 2017 at 2:37 pm

    The madness

  11. Lol

    March 23, 2017 at 2:38 pm

    Bellanaija fix bug in your site.

    I used to also be super idealistic until I witnessed my dad going through I’ll health. TRUSt me in old age you need your own family, and your kids need siblings to weather the storms of life together. Till you experience loss of your parental comfort you don’t understand how real life is. All your lofty ideas and dreams will melt away! Your parents mean well, but they may be going about it the wrong way. We don’t know it all, there is never any absolutes to life and we can’t make judgment calls for people. One thing life has taught me though is you need your own family. Only pray to raise them well to love each other

  12. that uptown girl

    March 23, 2017 at 3:14 pm

    Funny thing. I just had a baby and I was discussing with my MIL, i. complained that my wrist hurt, she goes. Only one child your hands are already hurting, what about the remaining four? I screamed, “mama mba o, five? Children require resources o”. She laughed and said, ” don’t worry I’m capable, just let me know if you need anything ” By the end of that discussion I told her my husband and I were planning to buy a generator but hadn’t saved up enough money, true to her words, she bought my baby a big generator and sent it across. In my mind. No amount of bribing will make me have 5 children. O! And she is visiting us soon, I can’t wait to have her. She is the kind of people I like- talk and do.

    • Blackbeauty

      March 23, 2017 at 6:12 pm

      Your MIL is Bae!!! MIL that cannot put her money where her mouth is, is that one a MIL? ???

    • ogeAdiro

      March 23, 2017 at 9:29 pm

      Ana ekwu ekwu, ana eme eme!

  13. BYstar

    March 23, 2017 at 3:43 pm

    I can remember vividly when I told my mom that I plan having two kids,she was like are you out of your mind?I went further to tell her that I plan sending my kids to a good school .Immediately she replied,dont worry I will pay for there fees even if you have a dozen.

  14. Deleke

    March 23, 2017 at 3:45 pm

    @That uptown girl
    Lucky u, great MIL you have there. I envy u

  15. Obi

    March 23, 2017 at 4:10 pm

    @Uptown girl

    – wow, thats a good MIL. God bless her real good. Congrats on your baby.

  16. It Works

    March 23, 2017 at 5:13 pm

    My grand mum wanted my dad to have a lot of children but He wanted a size-able number (2/3) She kept on pushing for more until my dad told her that He wants to have more kids however He will cut short her upkeep allowance to take care of the kids. Well that settled the matter, she gladly backed off. lol

  17. hmnn

    March 23, 2017 at 5:16 pm

    I have a Pakistani Doctor friend who has negotiated with her fiancé that they’re not having children. I thought she was weird but now I understand. Unfortunately, we don’t have enough facilities that cater to old people in naija if not I’ll go that way. I have severe endometriosis that has spread to other parts of my body. I have had 2 surgeries. I don’t see labour pain, weight gain, saggy breasts and shouting at children as glamorous. I don’t support spanking kids and I don’t want to overwhelm myself with financial responsibilities. My mum sacrificed A LOT for us and she uses it as a bargain/manipulative tool sometimes. She has placed curses on me for something trivial like forgetting to bring out chicken to thaw. If we complain, she will start talking about all she went through for us. Up till my mid 20s, my mother was still spanking me, I still have low self esteem self. The shouting and curses are too much. I think about the sacrifices I might make for my own child and I wonder if it would make me bitter if things don’t turn out the way I want. I think she knows how I feel and she has never mentioned anything about grandchildren even as I am in my 30s.

    • Idomagirl

      March 23, 2017 at 10:15 pm

      *hugs*

  18. that uptown girl

    March 23, 2017 at 8:43 pm

    Thanks.

  19. Lolz

    March 23, 2017 at 8:52 pm

    My parents never pressured me for marriage, I guess they had been too strict & career crazy , I was too! and here I was late 20s no bf not to talk of marriage (well I had a bf) , then I got married at 30 , my husband and I lived in diff continents .
    One day my mom asks me if we had done tests to show we were fine to have children cos I wasn’t pregnant yet.,Let’s just say that was the first and last time it came up.

  20. Adia

    March 23, 2017 at 8:54 pm

    So after being married for a year, my mum started throwing shade about me not wanting to give her kids and how she was sure i was preventing myself (I was tbh, lol) We finally had a kid when we felt financially ready, and I remember asking my mum to bring her money for educational trust fund, as we had “our” baby and she responded with “O mulu zua” which is essentially, the one who births a child, trains the child. I was like really Ma? So why all the pressure. She is a great grandma though and loves and supports her grandbaby,

  21. Idomagirl

    March 23, 2017 at 10:14 pm

    *hugs*

  22. Abimbola

    March 24, 2017 at 11:23 am

    My own mother has pressured me into depression,i hv attempted suicide twice .all i hear is marriage nd children. She goes as far as saying iam not making progress in life after all she went thru to raise us .i dont hv a good job nd iam unlucky with men.the good ones either hv no jobs or are just bitter.she has gone as far as saying ders nothn wrong being d bread winner of ur family,feed ir husband nd children.i think our parents are selfish.is it my fault daat 31t iam not married or dat i dont hv kids .i even once told her dat perhaps i shld hv gotten preggers in uni .see d cost of tuition in good schools,u cant bring a child to dis world without a concrete plan or support system,u wld blame urself.now iam thnkn of relocating to a far away land where i can live peacefully without d pressure cos iam losing my mind .ihv told her thank God she has other kids.d3n d guilt trip on ur conscience is somthn else .i agree with toke tho.if ur folks pressure you go dump d kids with dem when u hv dem cos i dont get our parents anymore.

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