There is no denying the fact that in Nigeria – a society organised on patriarchal lines, the title of “ the first son” comes with a lot of perks and major respect. Parents aspire to have sons, as such first sons receive a tremendous amount of love and attention.
However, while being the first son may seem like the best birth-order placement any Nigerian child could ask for, no one rides on the struggle bus more than this group of people. Here are the ten of the biggest hardships first-born male children in many Nigeria families can truly relate to on a deep level.
The pressure to be successful and fulfil all your parents’ long lost dreams
As a first child, you endure the eternal pressure from your parents to be successful. They view you as a reflection of their abilities as parents, and want to feel they are valuable. They do everything in their power to make sure you, at least surpass, their achievements or attain the feats they were never able to achieve in their own time.
Yes, they invest heavily in you: they will enroll you in the best schools, while your siblings manage the one on your street. They will save or even sell a piece of land to send you abroad and more; but in the end, you may be forced to live a life that you did not wish for, pursuing passions that are not yours and feeling completely unfulfilled.
You always get the largest share of everything
This sounds enticing. Sure when food is shared, you get served the largest and most sumptuous plate. At family events you get to sit at the high table; but, you also bear the largest share of responsibilities and you are expected to donate the largest share during family contributions – whether you earn the most amongst your siblings or not. No matter how you try, you cannot escape the responsibilities, because…well, you are the first son.
You feel like your mother’s second husband
When people suggest that first sons have a weird bond with their mothers, you keep mute, because while you don’t want to admit it, you understand exactly what they are trying to say. She comes to you for advice on how to run her business, handle your siblings, deal with your father and even resolve quarrels with her friends or extended family members.
She gets jealous sometimes when you talk about your girlfriend or wife. She compels you to plans activities with her and drags you to places you wouldn’t normally go on your own. You can’t say “No” because she is your mother, you love her and actually you enjoy her company. But on the days she demands that you do certain things for her that she could have easily done for herself, you go back home and silently question your bond, wondering if perhaps you are a momma’s boy after all.
The pressure to marry and give grandchildren to carry on the family name
Your friends are flexing and enjoying their 20s but from as early as 22, your parents are already introducing you to their friends’ daughters and showing you pictures, asking you which of them you would like to meet and marry. You cannot bring any girl home, because the moment your parents lay eyes on them, they become “our wife” and you cannot break up with them again. In the case where you get to 30 and you are still single, they start to send you prayers and you mother calls you to cry. She wants to know why you do not want to give her a grandchild to carry on the family name.
You’re expected to be responsible and set a good example for your siblings
The best years of your life become the years you existed without siblings; immediately after they arrived, your life became almost regimented. Not only do you have to endure their excesses, your parents make you the unofficial leader of the pack. You’re expected to do the right thing to do without hesitation, otherwise when the siblings eventually make mistakes, it is blamed on you – for not guiding them right.
You cannot stay out late, you cannot fail your exams in peace… and even when you are a full-blown adult or married, your business cannot fail. You still cannot engage in random activities, or even quarrel with your wife in peace, because… “what example are you setting for your younger ones?”
People often accuse you of being bossy
You have grown up being told what to do by your parents, and so you subconsciously believe that bossing people around gets things done quicker and better. Also, you have lived the most of your life being the boss: representing your dad at family meetings; running the family house when the parents are away; advising and telling your siblings what to do. It’s understandable that being bossy becomes your reflex move.
You are confident, assertive and even a little domineering. You may not even know that you get bossy at times. You just notice that people often ask you questions like: “Are you the first son?” out of the blues or they nod their head and say “ahh” when you tell them that you are the oldest child.
You don’t have an older brother to seek advice from
You have to figure out life and the intricate things about becoming a man by yourself, because there is no other male to explain it to you. Sure, you have your father, but there are things you just cannot tell him. He is probably from a generation way older and farther back than yours. Even if you go to him, he may not be of much help. You end up leaning on your male friends when you can.
You are always in the middle of problems and arguments between your parents and other siblings
Somehow, you become the unofficial magistrate of the family. Your parents come to you to solve their disagreements and settle their squabbles. Your younger ones also report other siblings to you. The worst part of being placed in this position is that even when you are certain you have given a fair judgment, the other party accuses you of being partial.
So, dear readers, can you think of anything else that first sons have to deal with?
Photo Credit: Jose Manuel Gelpi Diaz | Dreamstime.com