Blaming My Parents For the Good, Bad and Ugly

|
September 12, 2019

We want to know how young people become adults. The question we ask is “What’s your coming of age story?” Every Thursday, we’ll bring you the story one young Nigerian’s journey to adulthood and how it shaped them.

The young woman we spoke to this week feels like she turned out okay, but she knows she could have been in a better place if she mentally prepared for some of the things that happened as she became an adult.

My life as a child revolved around the church. My parents were ministers in a popular Pentecostal church at the time. They made my siblings and I go to church on Sundays, Saturday evenings and often after school for weekday services. My reading revolved around religious books. I read a lot of bible stories with the same reverence that I read books like Chicken LickenFamous Five, and Enid Blyton titles. My dad was an avid reader too, so there were books around me all the time. This made me develop a love for reading real quick. Reading was my escape.

In junior school, I read a court case and decided I would be a lawyer. A 10-year-old who knew what she wanted was everyone’s darling. I’d tell adults I wanted to be like Gani Fawehnmi, a human rights activist and a writer like Wole Soyinka, and they would smile. At every moment as a child, I knew exactly what I wanted and had all I needed to get to there. Knowing this made me confident.

My parents were bankers. Executives in two old generation banks. In spite of the money they had, my parents taught us to live so frugally. It was mostly my mum; she was strict. She made us save the little we had and invested in top companies on our behalf before we even became adults. When my dad bought us expensive gifts: new laptops, new shoes, dolls, etc., my mum complained. She shopped for our things on the busy streets of Eko market, while my dad bought most of our things when he travelled out of Nigeria. Somehow, this made me think we were poor, or at best average. 

When I joined a new secondary school that was different from my old school at the start of SS1 — in that they used both British and American curriculums — this feeling became even more profound. I was astounded by just how often my classmates travelled every summer. In my first week, when my new classmates asked where I went for summer, I shrugged and said, “Just South Africa,” because I felt it didn’t count. It wasn’t Greece, or London, or Rome, or Paris. 

They also had very liberal parents; parents who let them drive, allowed them to have sleepovers, boyfriends, and girlfriends. It was a very lonely period of my life because I felt left out. Worst still, the class bullies picked on me because I had acne and didn’t carry the best backpacks or wear the best shoes. 

Still, when I looked at my results at the end of every term, I was proud of myself. In the old school, we were 50 in a class, and each set had at least six classes. While my older siblings were the smartest in that school, always coming top of their set and winning prizes, I was never given any special award. I always came among the first 10 in my class. That was as good as it got. My mum’s response to this was always, “Congratulations.” Nothing more. It was her response to everything, even when one of my older siblings competed for the entire state in a Math competition and came in first. 

In the new school, we were 30 in a class; each set had at most 4 classes. I was often the best in government, Christian religious studies, and literature. I usually came in the first 5 in my class. This was largely because the teachers in the new school were very thorough and friendly — they never flogged students; they spent time helping each student develop in weak areas. I even excelled in subjects like Maths and Biology, subjects I had previously sucked at. One time, during a test out, I scored 14/20 and was the highest in the entire set. The best students from other classes, especially the science class came to me to explain it to them. That was the only time I felt like I truly belonged in that school. 

Things changed in 2008, during the financial crisis when stock prices crashed. My father lost his job — compulsory retirement — after his bank was merged with a new bank. It was a dark time, but my parents never painted the full picture for us. The only changes made were moving schools and my mum became the one to give us allowances. My older siblings were already in university at the time. The stability I had known for so long crashed. At first, I hated the new school. It was a lot cheaper than the old school, but still quite expensive than my first secondary school. Subsequently, however, I met new people and made new friends. I was still a star student, only now, in an environment that made me feel like I was truly accepted. 

I assumed my dad would try to find a new job, but he didn’t. He got an offer at some point, but he rejected it on religious grounds. Before he lost his job, I was really close to my dad; we had the same interests and look exactly alike. He was my shield from my mother. But I started to loathe him after he declined the job on a religious basis. I don’t know how it happened, but the contempt slowly crept in and soon, I discovered I couldn’t stare at him when speaking to him. My siblings and I complained about him to ourselves all the time. We had a house and cars; we were comfortable, but it didn’t look good for our father to remain jobless. We couldn’t continue to lie to people when they asked what our father did for a living that he was a businessman, when all he did was watch movies and read books all day.

When I became a feminist, I loathed him even more — if he was going to be a stay at home dad, the least he could do was pull some weight around the house, but he didn’t. My mum still returned home after a hectic day at work, to prepare his meals. His demands of her, and us increased. I soon realised how fragile masculinity was. He had to assert himself somehow, so we could continue to respect him. And the ways in which he did it were terrible.

When it was time for university, I hoped to go to school in the UK, like most of my classmates. I searched online for scholarships and started speaking with people. I didn’t want to write JAMB, just because. My parents made me take it, and I ended up in a government university in Nigeria studying the course of my dreams.

It was at this point adulting started in the true sense of the word. However, if I’m being honest, I’ve always felt like an adult, even as a child; there’s one part – the unfair pressure of growing up as a girl-child in Nigeria. Then there’s this goodie-two-shoes maturity I’ve always had, that some of my classmates and friends didn’t. It’s the attitude that makes me a stickler for rules, always so scared to break rules or offend people. Sometimes, I blame my mum for this. She made us grow up fast because she didn’t want us to make mistakes she might have made. She wanted us to be independent, and with a mother like that — a mother that started a business on the side while being an executive in a bank just to support the family — it was easy. 

With all the strikes and poor facilities, law became the course of my nightmares. I was on a 4.8 GPA in my first and second years. My older siblings had finished with first class, so I wasn’t about to be the exception. But in my third year, my grades dropped and I really didn’t care. I mean I did care to some extent – I became depressed but I eventually stopped caring. All my studying and burning the midnight candle wasn’t reflected in my results, so I settled for 3.8, second class upper. Sometimes, I wonder if I had put a little more effort, I’d have done better, but I’m not sure. I’ve always been laid back especially in uni:

I can’t come and go and kill myself. o

I could also fault my parents for this: we had drivers all through the time we were in primary and secondary school. We were pampered and sheltered to an extent, and suddenly, I get admission into university, and I’m expected to suffer by jumping busses and feeding myself? That’s hell. To cope, I found writing jobs that paid, which allowed me to take cabs and live in a decent place off-campus. This afforded me some comfort. 

While in university, I abandoned religion. When my dad first lost his job, I thought things were falling apart, and so I found solace in religion. After a while, I realised that humans would always be stupid and find a way to say it’s religion. I didn’t make a conscious decision to stop, I just abandoned it. 

If there was something I could do differently, it would be to mentally prepare myself right from a young age that mummy and daddy’s money won’t always be there. Although I’m comfortable and happy with life now, I still always have it at the back of my mind that if things go to shit, I can always call my mum and she’ll give me money or ask me to move back home. Maybe that’s not necessarily a bad thing. But that independence my mum always wanted me to have — financial independence that meant I wasn’t relying on men for money — made me rely on her for money. I feel like I’m ambitious, but I also feel like I’m too lazy and laid back. 

Right now, I work a job that isn’t giving me the optimum satisfaction I want, and I’m afraid to quit because the money is good and I’m afraid I’ll never get another job again and end up like my father. Which is an irrational fear because I’m poached regularly, either to join companies or become freelance. 

In the end, I’m comfortable with one thing: I am not turning out too badly. Yes, my relationship with my father might not be all that, but it’s getting better. I’m starting to see the future a bit clearly, and that’s good enough for me. 

Ope

Join The Conversation

Bring a friend.

You'll like this

July 8, 2021

Moving out sounds easier than it looks. Anyone that has successfully done it will tell you how emotionally exhausting it is. This is why we have decided to share six tips on how to successfully move out of your parents’ house.  1. A great resolve  You will cry PLENTY. Furnishing a house is expensive as […]

Watch

Now on Zikoko

July 24, 2021

Puff puff is a popular African snack. It is basically fried dough. Some people love pepper in it, while some people don’t like it at all. Today, we’re going to teach you how to make puff puff. First, you get your ingredients: Flour (duh) Yeast Warm water Salt Sugar Cooking oil Now that you have […]

Sex Life
July 24, 2021

Whether you’ve been reading Zikoko Sex Life for two years or you’re reading it for the first time today, here are some stories you must enjoy at least twice. 1. Awakening My Bisexuality At 27 I remember when we were making out, it was so intense that I suddenly felt the urge to tell this […]

July 23, 2021

On Saturday, July 24, 2021, the Lagos State Independent Electoral Commission (LASIEC) will conduct an election to elect the next chairman and councillors in the 20 local government areas and the 37 local council development areas in the state.  Why should you care about this? Provisions in the 1999 constitution and the Electoral Act of […]

Recommended Quizzes

April 1, 2020

Everyone has a Nigerian bank that matches their personality. You could either be as likeable as GTB, as efficient as Access or as mature as First Bank. Either way, all you have to do is take this quiz and we’ll let you know with almost 100% certainty. So, go ahead:

November 7, 2019

These days, everyone is always talking about how much sex they’re getting, or how little sex they’re getting, or how disgusting sex is etc. There’s just so much talk about sex, it’s almost impossible to know who’s lying and who’s telling the truth. In anticipation of our new series about the sex lives of young […]

April 3, 2020

While the rest of the world loves to treat our continent like a country, there are actually 54 African countries. So, in a bid to test your knowledge (and educate you), we’ve created a quiz to see how many of their capitals you can correctly name. Go ahead:

December 11, 2019

In the past month, we’ve made quizzes that guessed the last time you had sex, how many people you’ve slept with, and just how good you are in bed. For our latest attempt, we will use your taste in Nigerian music from the 2010s to ascertain what you’re like in bed. Take to find out:

December 3, 2019

Are you a professional Yoruba demon? Are you walking around in search of whose life you can wreck at any given time? Well, this quiz knows exactly how many hearts you’ve shattered to date, and before you lie that your result is inaccurate, just remember that Zikoko is never wrong. Now, take it and be […]

More from Adulting

February 7, 2020

“Congratulations, you got the job.” comes with its own brand of anxiety. That’s when imposter syndrome from your village people comes out to visit, asking questions like: “can you perform? how long before they discover that you are a fraud?” There are also other problems more work-related with a new 9-5, especially in Nigeria. So, […]

September 19, 2019

The 22-year-old man we spoke to this week is an accomplished sales manger. Getting there wasn’t easy. Still, with his history of low self-esteem and agoraphobia, characterised by bouts of anxiety and panic attacks when speaking to people or speaking in public, he’s somehow managing to breakthrough and record milestones I grew up in a […]

September 12, 2019

The young woman we spoke to this week feels like she turned out okay, but she knows she could have been in a better place if she mentally prepared for some of the things that happened as she became an adult. My life as a child revolved around the church. My parents were ministers in […]

August 22, 2019

I’m one of those few people who can say, not so proudly, that in 2000, the year I was born, my parents didn’t exactly want me. The circumstances of my birth, as I’ve heard a few times, were weird. My parents were entering their forties at the turn of the Millennium. They had ticked all […]

Watch

Trending Videos

Zikoko Originals

December 14, 2020
What happens when a group of chatty young Nigerians talk about things they're passionate about? You get Nigerians talk. A show that discusses very familiar struggles for the average Nigerian. From relationship deal breakers to sex education with Nigerian parents to leaving Nigeria, be prepared for a ride.
November 2, 2020
'The Couch' is a Zikoko series featuring real life stories from anonymous people.
October 26, 2020
A collection of videos documenting some of the events of the EndSARS protests.
June 22, 2020
'The Couch' is a Zikoko series featuring real life stories from anonymous people.
June 22, 2020
Hacked is an interesting new series by Zikoko made up of fictional but hilarious chat conversations.
June 4, 2020
What happens when a group of chatty young Nigerians talk about things they're passionate about? You get Nigerians talk. A show that discusses very familiar struggles for the average Nigerian. From relationship deal breakers to sex education with Nigerian parents to leaving Nigeria, be prepared for a ride.
June 2, 2020
Quickie is a video series where everyone featured gets only one minute to rant, review or do absolutely anything.
May 14, 2020
Isolation Diary is a Zikoko series that showcases what isolation is like for one young Nigerian working from home due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
March 12, 2020
Life is already hard. Deciding where to eat and get the best lifestyle experiences, isn't something you should stress about. Let VRSUS do that for you.

Z! Stacks

Here's a rabbit hole of stories to lose yourself in:

Zikoko amplifies African youth culture by curating and creating smart and joyful content for young Africans and the world.
X