Hey hey hey. So in my usual perusal of blogs this morning, i noticed something that struck a nerve. How much do parents really owe us? In terms of education and life in general?

I ask this question because i have met people who think  i am “posh”, but when i relate many of my experiences, i become a “hard” babe. I can explain. I am from a relatively ok background, private schools till i got to university, lived in GRA, had a driver, spent summers abroad etc. Well i had a 3 year (jss1- jss3) stint in a comprehensive military boarding school in Ibadan where i learnt the phrase “half caste” and i sighted “lafun” for the first time in my existence.

From primary school, i got a daily allowance,  it was N1 per day. And i remember  been encouraged to save some of it. I also know during the summers i got just enough money to buy the things i needed for the full year. For instance if i chose $50 Nike sneakers, it meant i had less to spend on clothes and other things.

In retrospect at my tender age of 30 something, i dont think my father was poor, for the most part he was doing ok, maybe even better than ok. I always knew i was going to go to college in New York even as a primary school student. I would get that bachelor’s degree in America etc, but without much thougt as to how it would get paid for.

I left Nigeria exactly a week after i wrote my last ssce exam. And got admission to a small college in Brooklyn. I even got a half scholarship etc. My folks paid the other half. As it was  being paid in September 1998, i was told to gear up and look for a job. I had a U.S passport, but keep in mind i turned 16 June 1998. By the next January  i had my first two jobs. One as a baby sitter  and another under the America reads program. In hindsight, there was  no room for mess up- i took out loans and figured out how to apply for aid based on my meagre income. I had free housing thanks to my aunt.

From January 1998, till date i paid all my own bills- with the exception of my traditional wedding. When it came down to it, i always had a job (being married has helped to slow down the bills- this os my longest adult stint without a full time job of some sort).There was a time when my options for work were between being a locker room cleaner at a gym and being a health aide. I picked the health aide job – same amount of human waste involved likely, but i got  more time to study as a health aide. One time i even had 3 part time jobs. Lol.

I went on to get two masters degrees, both while working 80 hour or longer weeks working for a multinational in the middle east. At no point did my parents abandon me, i found my way and they let me stumble along in my own unique way. Recently i had a conversation with my father about it all, and he explained  to me that he didnt want any dependent adult children and wasnt sure he would successfully be able to set up companies for any of his kids to run, so he needed  to make sure without him or my mom, we could pave our own road and be damn good at it. He also began pointing to a lot of our childhood friends who were not able to get jobs outsidw of their fathers companies and lived in homes provided by the fathers.

I worked in the same multinational with 2 of my brothers, amd one of my fathers friends stupidly went to ask my dad, who he knew  in the company so he could help him place his kids. When my dad told him nobody, the guy said my dad was lying. So my dad called 3 of us on a joint convo to explain to the guy.

The point of the long epistle above.- what do parents owe their children?  My fathers opinion is high school is it. He also tells us daily that we dont have an inheritance, in his bid to force us to fall and rise by our own hard and smart work. I heard a man of almost 40 say he didnt go to graduate school because his father wouldnt pay. I am of the opinion that you shouldnt give  children everything – not as extreme  as my dad, i am willing to pay half your tuition or maybe even full tuition, but buy your own damn books and feed yourself. I dont see the point in creating  a liability for myself as a parent. Once we all graduated, we also get full household bills like light or water…minimum  $500 a month.

Imagine my surprise when i moved back to Nigeria in 2010  and my father offered me a full option 2010 Toyota Corolla- leather everything. ..i asked him if it was a setup. Lmao @ this point i had bought  my own Tokunbo Jeep amd it was already on the high seas. I told him thanks, but no thanks.

So after all my gist above, the koko of the matter. What does a parent owe their child/children?  When does it become enabling bad behavior? Afterall we see 50 year olds whose parents pay for their grandkids schoolfees? I also get irritated when i hear university students complain about fees in Nigeria, waiting for one rich uncle to sponsor their university education,  is it so hard to find something doing and be able to come up with some part of the money?

In retrospect if i didnt have so much responsibilities at that young age, i might have been an absolute nuisance.  Who knows? Please share your thoughts. I am genuinely curious



10 Comments on Entitlement

  1. Let me start with a statement which one of the richest man in the world said about his wealth and his children (I paraphrase) – ‘I’d give my children just enough to do anything and not so much as to do nothing’

    You largely grew up in a widely different society from what is obtainable here in Nigeria hence it might be a bit cursory to draw conculsions from what prevails in the western world.

    Apart from the necessary food, shelter and clothing (good health care inclusive), that a parent owes his/her offspring, I strongly feel a good formal education is also supposed to be provided by the parent. Reason being that Education provides the necessary empowerment and leverage often needed to be successful or make something out of life.

    In the western world, right from high school, anyone has the opportunity and avenue to work and earn money. This work might take the form of waiting tables, a store keeper, mail delivery, a nanny, a paid volunteer for a cause or like you an health aide. This means such a child/person with a reasonable level of education can start fending for his or herself although a higher level of education would provide capability to impact the society at a greater level.

    Here in Nigeria and much of the African landscape, such avenues and informal work sector are almost non-existent, thus there isn’t any possibility to make money – which is core for everyone’s existence. Coupled with the inefficiencies in our academic sector ranging from strikes (industrial action) to half-baked graduates to inefficient lecturers etc, it is difficult to provide a good education or leverage that would make one’s child a ‘contributing’ member of the society rather than a leech.

    I’d conclude by taking a stance, that a parent in this part of the world owes his/her child the necessary care (rent, money, food) till the achievement of his/her bachelor’s/first degree/NYSC. In age terms, this might be around the mid twenties. With the harsh economic realities on ground, I feel a few more years (2-3years) extension might be a much appreciated goodwill (It is not every job that the first salary can provide good accomodation and mortgage is still relatively new in Nigeria).

    Just as in my first paragrah, a parent should be concerned with providing just enough to make the offspring achieve anything. And this off course varies from geographical location to another.


  2. www.thelmathinks.com // February 18, 2015 at 14:26 // Reply

    There are many ways I would love to answer your question(s) but let me answer as succinctly as I possibly can and share a little story. Basically moderation is key.

    Miss Pynk I’ve got a friend who is very qualified but seems to be unemployable. Everywhere she works she has issues, her colleagues continue to gang up against her, her bosses cannot stand her, her subordinates simply hate her. Some months ago she was frustrated into quitting her job and after her mum sympathized and empathized she finally conceded; “maybe it was our fault. We gave you everything and never let you do anything for yourself”. I will try to be as brief as possible. Everything; excess break money when we were in QC, excess money for shopping on summer vacations, never reprimanding her when she was wrong. College in the US, bought her a house and a car, she never had to work for one day, gave her allowances to the tune of several thousands of dollars, once in our early 20s she bought an Hermés bag for $6000 which she “lost” after a month or two, at that age she had jewelry worth millions of naira. Still from her excessive allowances she would fly into Nigeria every vacation she got to see her bf, she would never fly coach and she would pay for the hotel fees (she used to stay for a month or two). Long story short, graduation came, she went for her Masters in the UK, came back to serve and her parents said God forbid that our daughter should do NYSC, so they “settled” that and immediately got her a very appealing job. Some months later she said she was tired and daddy got her an even better job with bigger pay package. Age 25 her parents bought her a duplex, gave her a new car and a driver (she has refused to learn to drive herself). Even with the salary, the allowances continually pour in.
    I’m trying to keep this as brief as possible, bottom line right now is that this girl cannot keep a job, from what I gather everybody finds her very insufferable. She cannot take orders because she is simply too proud and cannot empathize with people. She cannot keep a relationship either because her parents never thought she should learn to cook and point blank told her ex fiancé that their daughter would never do any house chores or cook (so he should get a chef and a cleaner before they allow him to proceed with wedding plans), of course the boy eventually took a walk. So she cannot keep a job, and also has no skills. She’s at a point in life where she’s feeling very hopeless and confused. Why? Because she is so out of touch with reality, thanks to the way her parents raised her, this has made the real world and basic social interactions very difficult for her.

    Parents, we understand the need to want to give your children EVERYTHING, but please know that in doing that you’re doing them more harm than good.

    Forgive any typo(s) please.

    PS I wanted to do a post on this with my friend as the case study but it’s all very delicate and I wouldn’t want to subject her to judgement when she’s already very fragile.


    • Hey i think your friend just needs to pull back. She needs to figure out how to detach herself from the excesses. She needs humility. She can start from small things. Like volunteering for chairites..note i didnt say give money. She can keep collecting the funds she is getting from home but also start diverting it. She can make independent investments, help people who she has never met and will never meet. Interacting with people who we stand to gain very little from materially does a lot for our soul. Thelma encourage her to go on clothing drives, volunteer, learn a trade at a vocation centre for free so she can interact wih people. Lastly she has to give it all to God and work on fixing herself.


  3. www.thelmathinks.com // February 18, 2015 at 14:28 // Reply

    Ok, @ my first paragraph “many ways to answer your question(s)”, I see that Chris above has dealt with the points I’d wanted to make.


  4. I think the parents need to learn to strike a balance on how they enable their kids, yes you love them and want the best for them, but don’t try to create people who are overly dependent on you in the process.

    For the kids, a lot of them need to ‘find sense’ every single thing you receive from anybody including your parents is a privileged. there are lots of people who had to pay their way from primary school to university level. so that your parents pay your school fees shouldn’t give you a sense of entitlement.

    My eyes opened in university when i meet people who couldn’t feed more than once a day and weren’t even receiving pocket money from anybody.Someone even had to take a year off to work for school fees. that day i was humbled, i called my parents to say a very big thank you. i’m very fortunate that my parents have supported me fully or partly in getting to where i am and i never take it for granted.


  5. Chris just spoke my mind


  6. @chris, I concur with you sir. The environment here in nigeria is very different.


  7. As someone who spent almost her entire childhood and adolescence in Nigeria, with middle class (but sometimes very poor) parents, I think I have a unique take on the matter. My parents helped us when we were younger, but also taught us to stand on our own two feet…they did the necessary until after secondary school then you’re on your own, still with the knowledge that they’ll help if you really need it.

    I disagree with Chris about not having avenues to make money in Nigeria like in western countries. My dad comes from a very wealthy family, but it was a fractious polygamous home where some children and/wives were the chosen ones and others left unwanted and unloved. My father was (un)fortunately part of the second group and his father basically refused to pay his school fees from secondary school onwards. Humiliating as it was for my dad (family known in the community), he had to do odd and “dirty” jobs to pay his way through school. By uni, he was able to buy a second-hand car which he then gave to others to drive as a taxi…long story short, he hustled his way through Uni and pulled himself up by his bootstraps.
    He then thankfully passed this on to us. Immediately after secondary school for instance, I was apprenticed to a tailor, and started taking computer lessons (and being a secretary in my dad’s firm with minimum pay), even though they knew I’d be off to the UK in September for my A-Levels! I didn’t find it as shameful as some of my friends claimed I should. Then in the UK nko, hustling continued, I’ve worked as a fruit-picker/in prison/as a healthcare assistant/baby-sitter etc. All of this before or during uni where I fully supported myself!

    Of course this meant that arriving in France without the language skills didn’t faze me at all, as I started to hustle again and was able to ( for the 6months it took me to learn the language and start nursing) set up my own English teaching business (even though many people thought it’d be difficult because I am black and didn’t grow up in England). I still managed to survive and even thrive.

    So I am thankful to my dad for giving all us (my siblings are also hustlers), the sense that no job is “dirty” or menial, and that hard-work is actually something to be desired.


  8. chukwukadibia // February 20, 2015 at 19:05 // Reply

    Pykn,thank your parents for giving you that kind of platform..i don’t no if you would say the same if you came from a very average home and an environment like nigeria.@your dad’s friends that wanted a job for his child in d same company as your siblings,i do not blame him because the truth is who you know most times increases your chances of getting a job in nija.@ thelma,i realy pity your friend,shes not young anymore,changing would be realy difficult.


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