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!