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I have been a student and then resident in the UK – and I live in Lagos now. The first thing that I discovered about UK-born, white, English undergraduates was that most of them did holiday or weekend job to support themselves – including the children of millionaires among them. It is the norm over there – regardless of how wealthy their parents are. And I soon discovered that virtually all other foreign students did the same – the exception being those of us that are status-conscious Nigerians. I also watched Richard Branson (founder of Virgin Airline) speaking on the Biography Channel and to my amazement, he said that his young children travel in the economy class – even when the parents (he and his wife) are in upper class. Richard Branson is a billionaire in Pound Sterling. A quick survey would show you that only children from Nigeria fly business or upper class to commence their studies in the UK. No other foreign student does this. There is no aircraft attached to the office of the prime minister in the UK – he travels on BA. And the same goes for the Royals. The Queen does not have an aircraft for her exclusive use. These practices simply become the culture which the next generation carries forward. Have you seen the car that Kate Middleton, the lass married to Prince William drives? VW Golf or something close to it. If we want our children to bring about the desired change we have been praying for on behalf of our dear country, then please, let’s begin to teach our children to work hard, so that they can stand alone and most importantly, be content, and not have to “steal”. This seems to be the norm these days. “30 is the new 18”, seems to be the new age for testing out the world in Nigeria now. That seems to be the unspoken but widely accepted mindset among the last 2 generations of parents in Nigeria. At the age of 18, a typical young adult in the UK leaves the clutches of his/her parents for the University. Chances are, that’s the last time those parents will ever play “landlord” to their son or daughter except of course the occasional home visits during the academic year. At 21 years and above or below, the now fully grown and independent minded adult graduates from University, searches for employment, gets a job and shares a flat with other young people on a journey into becoming fully fledged adults. I can hear the echo of parents saying, “well, that is because the UK economy is thriving, safe, well-structured and jobs are everywhere.” I beg to differ and I ask that you kindly hear me out. I am a UK trained Recruitment Consultant and I have been practicing for the past 10 years in Nigeria. I have a broad range of experience from recruiting graduates to executive directors for large corporations. In addition, I talk from the point of view of someone with relatively privileged upbringing. Driven to school every day, had my clothes washed for me, was barred from taking any part-time job during my A-levels so that I could concentrate on studying for my exams! BUT, I got the opportunity to live away from my parents when I turned 18 and the only time I came back home to stay was for 3 months before I got married! Am I saying that every parent should wash their hands off their children at age 18? No! Of course, I enjoyed the savings that I made from living on and off at my parent’s house in London – indeed that is the primary reason for my being able to buy myself a 3-bedroom flat in London at age 25 with absolutely no direct financial help from my parents! For me, pocket money stopped at age 22 – not that it was ever enough for my lifestyle to compete with Paris Hilton’s or Victoria Beckham’s in the first place. Meanwhile today, we have Nigerian children who have never worked for 5 minutes in their lives insisting on flying “only” first or business class, carrying the latest Louis Vuitton ensemble, Victoria’s Secret’s underwear and wearing Jimmy Choo, fully paid for by their “loving” parents. I often get calls from anxious parents saying, “My son graduated 2 years ago and is still looking for a job, can you please assist?” “Oh really! So where exactly is this ‘child’ of yours? Why are you the one making this call dad/mum?” is my usual question. I am yet to get a satisfactory answer, but between you and me, chances are; that “child” is cruising around Lagos with a babe dressed to the nines, in his dad’s new SUV with enough “pocket money” to put your salary to shame. It is not at all strange to have a 28-year-old who has NEVER worked for a day in his or her life in Nigeria but “earns” a six figure “salary” from parents for doing absolutely nothing. I see them in my office once in a while; 26 year old child … sorry, man with absolutely no skills to sell, apart from a shiny CV, written by his dad’s secretary in the office. Of course, he has a driver at his beck and call and he was driven to the job interview. We have a fairly decent conversation and we get to the inevitable question: So, what salary are you looking to earn? Answer comes straight out, “N250, 000. 00.” I ask if that is per month or per annum. “Of course it is per month,” he replies. “Oh, why do you think you should be earning that much on your first job?” I ask, hiding a mild irritation. “Well, because my current pocket money is N200, 000 and I feel that an employer should be able to pay me more than my parents,” he smugly replies. I usually try very hard to compose myself. Over-parenting is in my opinion the greatest evil handicapping the Nigerian youth. It is at the root of our national malaise. We have a youth population of tens of millions of who are being “breastfed and diapered” well into their 30s. Even though the examples I have given above are from parents of considerable affluence, similar patterns can be observed from Abeokuta to Adamawa! Wake up mum! Wake up dad! You practically love your children to death! No wonder corruption continues to thrive. We have a society of young people who have been brought up to expect something for nothing, as if it were a birth right. I want to encourage you to send your young men and women (anyone over 20 can hardly be called a child!) out into the world, maybe even consider reducing or stopping the pocket money to encourage them to think, explore and strive. Let them know that it is possible for them to succeed without your “help”. Take a moment to think back to your own time as a young man/woman. What if someone had kept spoon-feeding you, would you be where you are today? No tree grows well under another tree. Children that are not exposed to challenges, don’t cook well. That is why you see adults complaining, “my parents didn’t buy clothes for me this Christmas”; ask him/her how old he/she is? Maybe 30 years+. Too bad! Because of the challenges we faced in our youth, we are where and what we are today. This syndrome: “my children will not suffer what I suffered”, is destroying our tomorrow. Hard work does not kill; everything in Nigeria is going down, including family settings. We are approaching the season in Nigeria where only the RUGGED will survive. How will your ward fare?       – A concerned citizen  

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This article was first published on 23rd April 2015

Comments (2)

2 thoughts on “What Every Nigerian Parent Should Know”

  • Ken

    You really did have a privileged upbringing and that you made it at the age of 25 in UK is why you are talking down your nose at others. It is okay, many successful people look down at others, my friend colleague who is the CEO of our small IT company does that everyday.

    I grew up comfortable but in a poor neighbourhood. I saw others work to put themselves through school, but what school…LASPOTECH? how much were they earning working at petrol stations or Mr Biggs? 8k – 15k. With no NHS or healthcare or free education. The over pampered kids you complain about will inherit the country because of their parents’ influence and they know it. That you are asked to place them somewhere means those ones are usually the runts of the pack but in the end even those ones do not loose at all.

    It is not an equal playing field, the average Nigerian on the lower tier knows what struggle is and some give up because the rich ones hold all the cards. Talent is compromised for connections and favours. The government is our greatest undoing not over cuddling parents reacting to the state of the country. You are hardworking, through but you are one of the lucky ones who took advantage of living in a better government.

  • Great article.
    Please I am a publisher of children magazine, The Covenant Child magazine. We are billed to go to press in 2 days and I write to inform you and hope you would not mind our featuring your article in the MAG. Despite what anyone may say, you are very right, over parenting is indeed hurting our nation real bad but to worsen it, most parents end up hurting their children’s ability to thrive in the end.You forgot to mention, that these super grown-men-children’s wedding when they did manage to grow up to marry is fully their parent’s affair… over feeding indeed!

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