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Why We Decided to Have Children! 5 Nigerian Couples Share their Parenting Experiences

BellaNaija Features

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Being a parent is sometimes the best thing in the world, other times, it’s the worst. One moment you think you have it all figured out and you are nailing it, the next minute you feel like you are spiraling out of control and your life is coming to an end.

Pay no mind to the perfect families on Instagram, patronizing ‘mummy’ posts on Facebook and of course, the myriad people sharing unrealistic comments on social media about parenting and how it should be done…there is no one formula to perfect or completely blissful parenting. It is messy and hard. And no matter how prepared you are or what picture you have painted about parenting, the fantasies don’t quite add up to reality.

From managing public tantrums to canceling appointments to attend a school events and giving in to weird requests, just so you can have peace… you will definitely find yourself doing, saying and experiencing things you never thought you would.

BellaNaija recently spoke to five sets of parents to learn why they decided to have children, their expectations versus the realities. They shared their experiences,their disappointments, challenges, and joys.

We hope you enjoy reading their stories.

Fatima + James

Movie producer and an event planner of Handywoman Events,  Fatima is married to James who is also a movie producer and director. The couple met at a film school in Abuja and hit it off immediately. They both knew they wanted kids from the moment they got serious, but wanted to wait until a year into the marriage. Four months into marriage, however, they started ‘actively’ trying to conceive as they felt there was no need to wait any longer.

What has been your experience as a mother so far?
Being a mom has been a sweet, but extremely challenging experience. Some days I feel like I can take on the world and other days I just feel overwhelmed and need everything to pause for a minute. I love my son, Toby, to bits and pieces but, some days, I want to put him up for sale.

The fact that I will be there after a few hours of sleep is beside the point. Being a mom, for me, is a beautiful learning curve. You learn about your child(ren), people, but mostly, yourself. Being a mom makes all your weaknesses evident, but it also shows your strengths.

It has made me a much more compassionate person…I now know what it means to wear your heart outside your body. I am more vulnerable and I even like people more! There are good days and not-so-good days, but it is extremely rewarding.

How do you balance career and parenting?
Well, my husband and I work but after I got pregnant, after 3 years of trying, I left my 9-5 job. Personally, I see raising a child a full-time job, but I left my job because I could. Not many women have the luxury of just leaving their jobs and most of them usually find a system that works with their lifestyles.

I believe that as long as you make time for your children and put everything in place to ensure their safety and happiness, without compromising discipline and structure, they will be just fine. I believe that if you give your children the basic tools they need for life and survival, they will thrive.

I just feel my child should be with me until they can communicate. That way, they can tell us if anything happened. Yes, I am more paranoid than most.

How has the reality differed from expectations?
Expectations – I thought motherhood would be easy. I have several nieces and nephews who grew up around me. I had changed several diapers and put several screaming babies to sleep, so I assumed that it was familiar territory and would be easy enough to navigate.

The reality is that, while I did all those things, I didn’t have to take the child home with me and be with them for the rest of my life. There’s no returning that child to its parent, that’s me! He’s mine now and I am his.

The reality is that I am a zombie. I don’t get enough rest, but everyone depends on me to function at my best at all times. So, no matter how many diapers you have changed and how many children have laid on your bosom, nothing prepares you for the reality of parenthood. Nothing. No matter how many books you read, no one teaches you how to function with just two hours of sleep, spread through an 11-hour night with a cranky human who depends on you for everything.

What are the greatest challenges you have had raising your child so far?
My greatest challenge so far is trying to raise a kind and compassionate kid in the world that we are living in today. I wonder how I can shield him from the madness, but also raise him to be independent and strong.

I also have a challenge with making sure I say and do the right things because some days I just want to cuss and smack him but, when I think I think about the long-term effects, I catch myself and just stop. Other days, I just let it rip.

Paying close attention to your child’s actions and reactions, figuring out what informed them and trying to correct bad behavior is an ongoing challenge. I just want to raise a well-rounded child but the challenge is how? But I shall figure it out, one day at a time.

What have been greatest disappointments as a parent so far? What are the things you would do differently?
Hmmm, at some point Toby started to hit people and I realized that it was because I was always smacking the little bugger. I was determined not to raise a ‘spoilt child’ so I smacked him whenever he was naughty. He started mirroring my behavior and it was quite disappointing, especially when he hit other kids. If I could go back, I would be softer, kinder, and slower to smack him. I do not regret having kids.

Some days are tough but, being a mom is a very rewarding and beautiful experience. I would say, if you are looking forward to parenthood, be financially ready! Everything else will come to you naturally, and if it doesn’t, ask for help! It’s okay to depend on your support system.

Eresi + Chukwuma

***
Eresi met her husband Chukwuma at a political meeting in his father’s house. Sharing a mutual love for kids, there was no debate on whether or not they would have kids. The decision to have a large family was also unanimous. Four years in marriage and 3 children later, Eresi is still excited about having more kids.

When did you choose to have kids?
My husband and I have always wanted to have kids, so the ‘if’ was never up for discussion. We only discussed numbers. We love kids and we knew we wanted a large family. My experience as a mum has been humbling, very eventful, and exciting. As expected, it has its stressors as well. It’s not easy to maintain a steady job, keep your husband satisfied, 3 kids in 4 years of marriage and balance it all out.

How has the reality differed from your expectations?
I expected it will be very demanding, especially since I wanted quite a number of kids. I already braced up for it. Living without a ‘help’ here in Houston hasn’t made it easy. Often times, I wonder how I pull through. I always remind myself they won’t be babies forever. My reality hasn’t been far from my expectations. I have always known it is not an easy road, but I also know the rewards are far richer than the present sacrifices.

What are the greatest challenges you have had raising your child/children so far?
My challenges haven’t been anything out of the norm. My kids are “low maintenance “. They don’t ask for too much. It doesn’t take a lot to make them happy. I try to teach them core values such as respect, being grateful, and having each other ‘s backs, and we seem to be going somewhere with that.

There’s no perfect method of parenting really. To each his own, so long as core values are instilled. I don’t believe in timeouts. I do minimal spanking and use my eyes a lot. I try not to raise my voice all the time, so I don’t push them into believing they should take me seriously only when I’m shouting.

Bottom line, pay attention to your child and know when they pick up strange behaviors and correct it immediately.

How do you balance career and parenting?
You need to work to be able to pay the bills. I get help from family, which is a blessing. Many people don’t get that. I also use daycare when I don’t have family to help. I spend a lot of time with them before and after work. My weekends are for them too.

Do you regret having kids?
Never! I enjoy being a parent.I love my kids with my life. I even hope to have more. And for those hoping to someday have children, do not flood your mind with the negatives. Brace up for it. It’s fun!

***

Titi + DJ

Mother of 2, Titi Sule, spends time on Instagram, inspiring people to excel and thrive. She is also a Product Manager at a HVAC company and a writer (working on her book, Unspoken Voices). Titi is married to DJ, a Software Consultant and a Real Estate Investor who she met on Facebook many years ago. They both wanted kids before they met as it was deeply rooted in their upbringing that having kids after marriage was expected (they both grew up in Nigeria but currently live in Charlotte, North Carolina). After marriage, however, Titi enrolled in a MBA program that forced her to wait for kids. She and her husband waited three years before they had their sons : Zaki ,4 and Zoltan,1.

What would you say was the very real disparity between what you expected parenthood to be like, and what it’s actually like?
With my first child, I really expected that our son would arrive and our lives would be the same. It was a big adjustment for me. From the beginning moments of struggling with lack of sleep to now figuring out what kindergarten school he would attend, each year presents a challenge.

With Zoltan, it is easier because most of the challenges have been experienced before. I learned to accept my new reality as a mom, especially reviewing my life goals.

Becoming a parent helped me become a more balanced individual. Initially, it was a bit weird that I had a child. Even now, it still feels weird that I have two kids…There are certain moments I miss about my pre-kids life: the ability to travel whenever I wanted, the ability to sleep in or watch movies all day on the weekends, and more. Planning is now required to have fun and spontaneity is limited with kids at a young age. But, my favorite moments of being a mother is seeing them grow. Be it their first moment walking or their first word or their first day at school. Each moment brings excitement for us. I’ve learned to not take myself so seriously and laugh at the silly moments. The kids give us plenty of those moments.

What are the core values you try to instil in your children and how do you go about it?
Definitely kindness, discipline, hard work, and fun. We do it in different ways. There is more focus on Zaki, because he is the older one, and we hope that Zoltan will pick up the behaviour from us.

With kindness, we continuously encourage them to share with each other and strangers. They share toys together at home and at school. For discipline, we focus more on rewarding good behaviour.

I use fake coins to reward Zaki when he does his task without me asking. For example, if he picks up his toys and organizes them. Once he reaches a certain number of coins, he gets a surprise from us. I enjoy teaching him, he learns at school but after school, we spend about twenty minutes together a few days a week learning. Fun happens in our house every day. It could be just playing football in the living room or dancing to music.

What are the greatest challenges you have had raising your children so far?
I hope I am not painting parenting as rainbows because there are challenging moments. The early days of many sleepless nights are brutal. We have two little people that depend on us. The bills are far from cheap, especially for working parents. Daycare/Preschool charge is above $1000 per month per child. Also when there are multiple kids, you have different personalities to deal with.

My kids are quite different in their personalities. Zaki is quite calm, very much an introvert. With Zaki, we never had to do any childproofing around the house. He is organized and pretty much happy playing with his cars. Zoltan, on the other hand, is highly curious. He digs into every drawer in the house. So their needs from us are quite different. Zaki prefers to have quiet moments. Zoltan prefers to have interaction. With each addition, my happiness level has been the same or increased. I believe the law of diminishing returns also applies to giving birth and raising kids so we are satisfied with two kids for now.

What advice would you give to people itching to become parents?
My first advice would be to laugh as much as you can. Laugh at your successes. Laugh at your failures. Please don’t spend time judging yourself. Deep down in your heart, you know your intentions are right with your child (ren) and they can feel it too. I guess the other advice I would give is : save a lot of money.

Nonye + ND

***
Nonye, Procurement Specialist at Diageo, and her husband ND, Creative Director at 7interactive, have two sons who they dote on. They met through a friend, and while it wasn’t love at first sight…love struck years later when they met again. Nonye and ND knew they wanted kids from the start as they talked about it right from when they began dating. While Nonye admits that parenting has been “crazy” …as nothing prepared them for the amount of screaming and worrying they now have to deal with, she is convinced that in being very traditional parents who are strict with rules, christian values and family principles, she and ND are nailing it.

When did you decide you wanted to have kids, and why?
ND and I knew we wanted kids from the start. We talked about it all the time when we were dating and it was something we both felt passionate about. As for why we wanted them, I think it’s just natural yearnings.

How has the reality differed from your expectations?
It’s been crazy and amazing! Nothing prepared us for the amount of screaming and worrying we now do.

What are the greatest challenges you have had raising your children so far?
Dealing with developmental delay. It wasn’t easy measuring our son’s milestone against what we thought it should be. It was mental torture

What are the core values you try to instil in your children and how do you go about it?
Kindness and the love of God. We teach them to pray and we make sure they are the kids who reach out to the new pupil in the class. We have them tell us daily about their friends in school and how they showed love to them.

Do you believe there is one best way of raising a child?
We don’t believe there’s any such thing as perfect parenting. We do our best and count on The Holy Spirit for assistance.

How do you balance career and parenting?
We have a great support system. Family, friends and an amazing nanny. We, however, do not compromise on the quality of time spent with the kids. Our jobs can be demanding but we both work in organizations that support healthy work/ family life balance.

What would you say you are doing differently from what is the norm with raising children in this day, and would you say it has been effective?
We are very traditional parents. We are strict with rules, christian values, and family principles. It has been effective because even though we have very expressive kids, they understand authority and respect it.

What have been greatest disappointments as a parent so far? What are the things you would do differently?
To be honest, none. For me, as the mum, the only thing I’ll do differently is to sleep throughout my pregnancy. I didn’t know kids meant no more beauty sleep.

Do you regret having kids?
Never!

What advice would you give people who are looking forward to parenthood?
Be mentally prepared, it’s not a cake-walk. If one is not careful the arrival of the children can seriously strain relationship with your spouse. You must learn to create a balance.

Walter + Favour

***
Clergy, Entrepreneur and Music Minister, Walter and wife Favour got married in 2010 and decided to start having kids 1year after. Currently parents to 2 sons, the duo see themselves as just channels through which a child discovers his path in life. As a father, he believes that the Word of God is the best way to train a child as ‘perfect parenting’ is parenting done by The Word of God.

I met my wife in school in 2006/2007. Our hostels were close-by so I saw her, loved her person and decided I was going to make her mine. And the rest is history. We got married in 2010 and decided to start having kids 1year after… And we did. We have two boys now. The reason was that we needed to enjoy our companionship at least for a while before allowing the sweet intrusion children bring into parent’s lives.

What’s your experience been so far, as a father?
As a father, I have to give leadership, discipline, provide for them, love them and protect them. It’s been challenging yet fulfilling. So far we have been able to balance parenting with our work life: My wife works where our children go to school, so we know what’s happening with them. We have a nanny stay with them over the weekend. Other times we are with them. We are pretty much around them most of the time for now.

What were expectations of being a parent? What has been the reality?
So far, the reality has been within expectations. I knew children will change my life and it did. Your privacy has been ruled out except you enforce it by locking yourself up, but even at that… Hahaha. The greatest challenge has been monitoring what gets into their minds. But soon I will sort that out totally. I believe that the foundation given at home controls how a child processes what comes from outside home.

Do you believe there is one best way of raising a child?
The Love of God is the core value. Acknowledging the sovereignty of the Most High God. Every other thing falls into place when that is achieved. I model the way for them and show them from the Word of God too. Discipline when they err so they know what’s right and wrong. Perfect Parenting is parenting done by The Word of God. Scripture said: “Train up a Child in the way he should go…” (Proverbs 22:6). The way a child should go has been planned by God the Creator… We are just channels, so we should find out (by observing them) what path the child should take and guide thru the Word. The Word of God is the best way to train a child.

Do you have any regrets? What are the things you would do differently?
No, I don’t regret having kids. I have not had any disappointments at all. God’s ways are up-to-date in any age and time. If you go with The Word, you will always be up to date with Parenting. I have two boys. I am OK.

What advice would you give people who are looking forward to parenthood?
Parenting is an exciting adventure and there no better way to go about it than to follow the path laid down by the Creator Himself in His Words recorded in the Bible. You will never fail as a parent following God’s Word.

22 Comments

  1. An African

    November 28, 2017 at 5:29 am

    All these people taking pictures of their big happy black Kids, thinking anyone is going to be inspired and happy for them! HELL NO!

    Its cultural appropriation at its finest! and a move from African cultural values (It has to be a woman’s idea – because its flawed & stupid!) Secondly its a overlydrastic gross misrepresentation of their future selves!

    BLACK PEOPLE DONT DO HAPPINESS, WE DO ANGRY!!!

    How i understand it, Its like Why would you turn a Lion into a Pet!

    Then feminsim is going to take emergence in our African society, and then women libertarianism and eventualy the guy in the ‘BUKA’ video is just going to shoot the one girl he was arguing with, if he runs into her Again!

    All this conditioning and confirmity takes away from the personal satisfaction i get for just being Myself! An African.

    We should be bring them up as Spartans! Not this crap!

    • A Real Nigerian

      November 28, 2017 at 9:58 am

      It’s sad that after all the effort you put iinto this comment, no single part of it makes any sense whatsoever.

    • An African

      November 28, 2017 at 5:37 pm

      BTCH PLZ, stop watering down African culture, with all your fancy techniques acquired from keeping up with the Kardashians.

      Our painbody – is different!

      We dont look good sissified, and it creates problems like those of that boy u saw on that ‘Buka’ parking video commosion. im sure u know which one i mean.

      We dont do well, sissified and overly emotional. We are like soil, hard and compact! but if you water us down, because of our Huge giant pain bodies, you just end up with overly whinny wingey, thugs like u saw in dat ‘buka’ Video.

      ‘MUD’ Basically.

      Somethings are better when not watered down, secondly feminism is harmful enough when it exists solely in the mind of a woman, dont let it spread to your sons, who have to be leaders one day and make exucutive decions.

  2. iHeart

    November 28, 2017 at 6:02 am

    Such an interesting feature. Parenting- Exasperating. Rewarding. Overwhelming. Enriching. Exciting.

    Nothing truly prepares you for parenting! It’s literally a “take it one day at a time” type of adventure. Very humbling experience but oh so rewarding.

    Love my little ones so much, they make life so much brighter, richer and fuller. God bless everyone looking to receive theirs. Amen.

  3. Loki

    November 28, 2017 at 7:32 am

    I don’t get this article. You’re asking a bunch of NIGERIANS, why/when/how they “decided” to have kids and if they regret having kids? NIGERIANS? It was decided when we were born to Nigerian parents. It’s in our DNA. It is part of our volksgeist. Our reason for being. Not marrying and having kids is like having some terrible incurable contagious disease…that comes with seepage and a bad sulphuric smell. You are an incomplete human being. This is like an article asking people why they eat food.
    You’d have been better off with an article interviewing Nigerians who don’t want kids and have built a bomb shelter to protect themselves from their families. That would have been interesting.

    • Bade

      November 28, 2017 at 7:49 am

      LOL

    • Olanne

      November 28, 2017 at 8:22 am

      Thank you! This is an article that is ridiculous. How can you ask anyone who was born into a Nigerian household why they decided to have kids? it is like asking why many Nigerians are so desperate to get married. There is nothing about this article that reveals what none of us know. Go ask Nigerians who are in inter-ethnic relationships how they managed to be together. Go ask Nigerians who decided not to get married why they chose that path. Go ask Nigerians who chose not to have kids why they do not have kids. Not this. This article makes no damn sense and reveals absolutely nothing none of us know. This is even borderline pretentious.

    • Engoz

      November 28, 2017 at 9:16 am

      ??????????

    • Ramat

      November 28, 2017 at 9:27 am

      Where is the single parent perspective?

  4. Mrs chidukane

    November 28, 2017 at 7:45 am

    I don’t regret having kids but I sometimes feel like running away. The stress involved no be here oh. Can’t wait to be done with it. I think about my life before kids and how free I was. Chain, those were the days.

    • Ec

      November 28, 2017 at 10:42 am

      ???? oya run.

  5. northern lights

    November 28, 2017 at 8:28 am

    Only d mums point of view on parenting and it’s joys and woes r documented. Please,we need to do better. Parenting isn’t a one-man(or rather WOman) job.

  6. Uberhaute_Looks

    November 28, 2017 at 9:03 am

    At times I feel like having a child makes me take 2 steps forward and 10 steps back.
    Nigeria doesn’t even help matters because immediately you are married, have a child and above 30, your chances of getting a good job dims however, I’m so grateful for the beautiful treasure He gave me…she’s adorable!

  7. VivaMaria

    November 28, 2017 at 9:21 am

    Oh how badly i want to have kids. Thanks for this article.

  8. Ola

    November 28, 2017 at 9:21 am

    Now.. You know what would have been an interesting article? “Nigerian couples on why they decided not to have kids”. I mean it’s not even stuff folks here think much about, peeps just know they are gonna have kids.

  9. Deleke`

    November 28, 2017 at 9:38 am

    I decided to have kids cos that’s the only way I’d get laid so 2 boys= do the math

    • iHeart

      November 28, 2017 at 12:16 pm

      You’ve only had sex twice in your marriage o_O

  10. The real dee

    November 28, 2017 at 9:48 am

    I really enjoyed reading this. I even got some parenting tips from it. If you have kids, you can relate to the article. Being a parent can be quite overwhelming sometimes and reading this makes you understand you’re not alone.
    I praticularly liked the first interview. When I read the part where she said sometimes she feels like putting Toby up for sale….?, i was like, is this woman in my mind??. Other times, you just want to run away…lol. I was even feeling bad for having those thoughts, of course it’s not like I actually want to put my child up for sale or run away, sometimes you just want your ‘me’ time. But its great to know I’m not alone.

    I’ve been preparing to write the GRE for grad school and with my 13 month old, it’s been such an arduous task. Before I opened this article, I was already getting discouraged, doubting my ability to suceed, doubting if I would even be able to achieve my new career goal and not end up becoming a permanent SAHM with how active my child is, but reading this encouraged me. I understand other parents also experience challenges with parenting but they are able to pull through. I’ll utilize the advice of the last interviewee – perfect parenting is parenting done by the word of God.

    BN pls keep posting articles like this, they are really helpful. I remember when I just got married and my husband didn’t know how to disvirgin me? and we kept trying to no avail,( he didn’t know the hole to enter?? and I was so stiff because of the pain) I had to revisit Dr. Craig’s article( here on BN) on that topic, it was very enlightening.

  11. Mamamia

    November 28, 2017 at 9:50 am

    U need to go back to bed right after you have had your meds.??????

  12. Ajala & Foodie

    November 28, 2017 at 3:52 pm

    While I see nothing wrong with the purpose/intent of this article. I just wish there was more to it than your “average ” Nigerian response i.e we love kids, it is expected of us response. I for one, although not yet a parent, when we decided to begin trying it was solely because of my husband. I don’t hate kids but I won’t say I love them (though people tell me it is different with your own), my hubby on the other hand, loves kids and kids love him too, we have sat at airports and had random kids walk up to him and play with him while we and their parents wait for flights. His colleagues and co workers always bring their kids by to see him when the kids stop by because the kids love him. We decided to wait for a few years until I was mentally ready. After years of trying though I am now ready and sometimes anxious to have my own but what motivated me to begin trying was not societal expectations or some “love” for kids, it was my spouse’s love for them. I knew it would not be fair to him and to our kids to deny him of his own and them of such a great father. “Expectations” never really worked for my siblings and I. My siblings (brother and sister) are both successful and happily single. They are not averse to marriage but they are not keen on it either. My parents have come to accept that to a certain degree though they were the ones that raised us to be this way.

  13. The queen

    November 28, 2017 at 4:29 pm

    Fatima and James are the realest. Jeez, Fatima, can I kiss you? Just this morning, I asked my sister again to buy my son lol. Not that I’d actually sell him, but I was almost ‘loosing it ‘ again with him.

    I spank him wella. Indeed, like Fatima, I cannot come and go and raise a spoilt kid . Not after all this stress, you will come and spoil for me. But Fatima, since he’s spanking other people now, how do you now discipline him? Whew *

    Just look at Fatima again. Look at her hair and her makeup free face, lol. That’s me. Everyone depends on you and you’re supposed be 100 for them all the time. ?

    I love this article lol. But BN, don’t ask us why we decided to have kids. Once you’re a Nigerian, you just KNOW you want kids.

  14. memebaby

    November 28, 2017 at 5:50 pm

    nothing out of the norm here.
    It would have been really interesting if it was something else.. eg.. been married and CHOOSING not to have kids, being a single mom/dad in nigeria, parents of adopted children, parents of kids living with a disability in nigeria..or gifted kids now this would have been an interesting read.

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