I grew up in an irreligious home. My father never went to church.
My brother was an atheist whilst studying Philosophy (I think he
believes in God now). My mother went to church only at the tip of
the year – December 31. She runs to the nearby catholic church to
thank God for the year. But she prays quietly everyday in her
house. Church or religion had no place in our lives.
I went to boarding school. My parents had an 11 year marriage
which left my mother angry most of the time. My father was cool
even though he was part of her major angst. Lol!
So yes, I grew up with parents who split when I was 10. I had two
homes. I liked both homes. When my mother annoyed me, I went over to my dad’s where nobody disturbed me. For a teenager, it was pure bliss.
Now, this is where I am headed.
There’s no manual for raising children. As long as your child is not sexually/physically/emotionally abused, as long as they are not denied food, shelter or education, as long as they don’t hawk plantain chips in traffic, exposed to the harsh realities and hard-knock life of third-world disgrace. Then whatever parenting skills you have employed in your home is fine. Do not let anyone badger you into what kind of parent you should be.
Don’t leave your husband, it will affect the children.
Don’t take your kids to boarding school, it will make the children
Don’t be a career woman, you will not have time for your kids.
You must have eyes on your children 24/7. Do not leave them with housemaids or nannies.
I know the panic is real, but relax, if a mother has eyes on her kids 24/7, will she find her life to live?, what about her aspirations, her dreams?, we guilt trip mothers so much, it makes me cackle.
There’s no straight-and-narrow road to parenting. It’s a busy
street with detours and pavements and junctures and lanes.
Some parents believe in strict parenting. Personally, I don’t even know how to be a Nigerian mother. I don’t scold my children. I dont have the energy for it. I tried being a Nigerian mother at some point, you know, worry about every little thing. But I snapped back to form. I find it ridiculous. So I decided to be their friend instead. It works for me. It may not work for you. But they are not your children so it doesn’t matter what you think. I have receipts to show that they are doing just fine with my style of parenting.
I am a friend to my kids. They tell me everything. When they talk to me about classmates dating each other, I don’t panic. I don’t scold them. I don’t start a sermon on how to keep yourself for later.
I listen to their stories, then I simply advice them.
You know you shouldn’t be dating at this age. I trust you are not.
We are not. And we talk about the demerits of dating as a teen.
If I suspect they are keeping anything from me, I might simply
employ the services of the admin head as a detective to get me
information. I don’t threaten my kids. I don’t abuse them. I don’t panic. I told myself a long time ago that I will not acquire one wrinkle on my face for the sake of parenting.
I can guarantee you that your children have similar stories in
school but they are afraid to talk to you about them because you
are a NIGERIAN MOTHER – first of her name, burnt in matrimony,
queen of anger rules, submissive to one man, maker of shackles,
mother to kids who have not one thought out of line.
If it works for you, fine. But I choose to be a friend to my children, because that energy women dissipate just for a plate of rice that mistakenly drops to the floor, I reserve that energy for more useful pursuits. If the plate of rice falls, take another one, and clean my floor. Not one more word of the matter, that’s my parenting style.
Last month, my mother went on and on about how I cannot boil
rice. Too much energy just to boil rice. I told her calmly, Then teach her. But how come she doesn’t know?” she queried.
You really want to go mad on something so simple? To cook rice
requires water and rice and salt and cooker. You don’t need a
lifetime to learn how to cook it. I haven’t seen the need to teach
her because I hardly cook. She will learn how to cook rice and wash ponmo and clean stove and sweep with precision with a broom and dust a table. She will learn how to wash the bottom pot of burnt jollof rice. Those things don’t matter to me now. If it does to you, then teach her. I told Ife later, you want to eat, right? Learn how to make rice.
When grandma cooks, learn. End of story. No headache.
Now she makes rice. How long did that take? Barely four
trials of cooking rice within a week. The things we worry about regarding parenting are always the inconsequential crap. My kids changed schools at the middle of the term and still came first in their new school. They were top 3 in their previous school, and in this new school they are top 2. Their beautiful faces grace the wall of a new school as Top Students. Yet I’m supposed to worry that they can’t fry plantain?, If they are hungry as adults, won’t they fry the plantain however they like and eat it. Except they want to be chefs, I don’t see the point belting a tenor on something quite trivial and priorities.
I learnt how to cook all the soups my mother can cook before I
turned 18. I don’t see how that changed my life. I am not a chef. I haven’t made a dime from cooking. So I stopped cooking. It’s that simple. It’s a waste of my time, open market shenanigans, boiling meat
for 35 minutes, cut leaves, blend tomatoes, chop onions, grate
garlic. All that time, I don’t have it. But the books I didn’t read in my teens, the library I didn’t have as a child, the knowledge I could have acquired much earlier than now, I regret that.
Now as a parent, I focus on what I believe is priority. And note, I do not believe you have to teach them everything, how
to cook, how to sweep, how to clean, how to wash thick winter
coats, how to scrub the bathroom and how to pass exams.
They do that to girls, spread them out so thinly there’s not one
thing that stands out. But boys, does anyone care if they can cook spaghetti? If the ultimate reward is for my daughters to learn how to cook rice to feed some dude, starting from a bunch of boyfriends
leading towards the ultimate price of positioning self for a
husband, acquired by cooking a delicious pot of jollof rice, then
that’s a problem. Because if we badger our daughters to cook because we care so much for their self sustenance, then the badgering is over the top. A hungry stomach will learn how to deal with it’s own hunger
eventually. The reason we badger is so that their skill can benefit others husbands, mother in laws, disgruntled relatives etc.