By Chinaza Mgbemene
I was in a bus that was filled with elderly people with me and one other girl as the youngest people in that bus. I was busy operating my phone while the other girl who was with a button phone was constantly receiving calls on her phone to a point that she got carried away and was not aware that we had gotten to the check point and you know the usual check point rule.
We were signalled to stop and the girl was asked to go and explain to the army officials her reason for defaulting their rule of which she did and we were asked to continue on our journey. When she got back to the bus, trust Nigerian parents, she was scolded and even asked who she was on call with and she said it was her boyfriend. The reaction obviously showed that they got angrier at the mere mention of boyfriend. The girl in question should be in her mid-twenties.
Things got out of hand when one particular man took the whole thing personally and starting shouting, saying that the girl was supposed to be already married and not messing around with some guy; adding that any of his daughters who was ripe for marriage and probably still unmarried would cause him to pray to God to send her life partner her way. He expressed his disgust for relationships, saying that it was a waste of time.
I must say that the girl’s response was somewhat rhetorical as she asked, ‘If God would send me a husband to locate me in my father’s house and probably just go ahead and pay my bride price’, and everyone in the bus laughed.
A teenager once shared a story of how her mother extorted her boyfriend, thereby causing a breakup between them. According to her, her mom would always call her boyfriend, demanding for money for upkeep, claiming that she used the money to take care of her for her boyfriend whom she already called her in-law.
So her boyfriend got tired of the constant billing and broke up with her. Lots of stories, both ugly and funny, abound of how parents react to dating but the underlying fact is that nowadays dating has become a prerequisite for marriage, quite unlike what was obtainable in the past when marriages were arranged, according to what my mother told me.
The first story depicts how some parents are ‘fuddy-duddy’, even in this time and age. In those days marriages were as a result of arrangements and betrothals, hence, leaving the brides at the mercy of their grooms. Those days when women were seen as ‘bed warmers’ and ‘domestic tools’ whose place was in the kitchen and as ignorant as they were, they remained in their various abusive marriages. Going home to their parents was never an option, especially in the Igbo Culture. The compatibility of the partners was never ascertained because they saw dating as a grievous crime. Polygamy was very common then.
Surprisingly, the rate of divorce cases is on the high now compared to then and one would ask, ‘Why is that?’ The reason is simply because women are now empowered and educated, making them stand for their rights. Marriage is no longer ‘For better or for worse’, women have vehemently awoken to back out of abusive relationships and marriages as the case may be.
You would agree with me that children who were raised by parents with same ideology as the man in the first story would end up being grounded and not allowed to associate with the opposite sex. The female gender is often the victim of such and this is because this makes her to resort to lesbianism and masturbation.
The second story typifies irresponsible parenting. A responsible mother would not expect her daughter’s man to take care of her, no matter what. In cases like this, the girl, feeling that her Mom is in full support tries to mess around. She gets herself involved in multiple relationships in order to gather enough money for herself and her supposed mother.
I have heard girls say that they give their moms commission; some call it allowance, and when I inquired, the reason, I was told they do that to get their mom on their side and I ask, as a mother, why would you expect or even collect a huge amount of money from your child who is not working or who might probably be a student? Mothers, especially, have a very vital role to play in the relationships of their children.
The first role of a mother in her child’s relationship is to monitor the child carefully. As a mother, create an enabling environment for your children. Don’t be too strict, as well as harsh, on them. Be that mother whose child can walk up to and share her personal experiences with, as well as her fears. Some people hide their relationship status from their parents because of their perception about it, just like the man in the first story.
Call your child and ask her about her relationship. Sit her down and ask her some questions pertaining to her relationship. You never can tell, some of them might be going through hell all in the name of relationship.
Some may be probably doing ridiculous things that you can’t even imagine and you may probably be among people beating their chest outside that their child is a saint, whereas they are doing worse things outside the confines of their homes. Most parents see asking their wards about their relationships as immoral but they somehow indirectly ask them these questions, and, believe me, it ends there.
Your child may be starving herself of food all because of her boyfriend and be lying to you as well. Some might have been conceiving the thoughts of abortion in order not to taint the family’s reputation. Do not throw caution to the winds because the end might be disastrous. Also, once in a while, it is advisable to go through your child’s phone, know who they talk to and how they relate with them.
If you see any compromising picture on their phone, endeavour to ask them questions, let them know that your eyes are on them. Many youths block their parents from viewing their posts on various social media platforms only to unblock them when they want to post what they feel is harmless. In other words, they dictate what their parents could see.
Sometimes, just ask for their phones when they do not expect and scrutinize, because nobody is a fool. They might have deleted some things they probably would not want you to see on their phones. You see that child of yours that is always hiding to receive calls or always using terms you are not familiar with to answer calls?
Tell them to answer that call in your presence and it should be on speaker. Same applies to video calls. Parenting does not stop at teenage age but it translates to adulthood also. Know that your perception about relationships consciously or unconsciously makes or mars your child’s behavior and psyche.