There is something about most African families that doesn’t sit quite well with me. A man and a woman decide to get married. They decide to have a couple of children without putting their financial struggles into consideration.
They are obsessed with the vain idea of leaving a legacy. Being remembered. It doesn’t occur to them that after we have died, and as the generations go by, eventually we are completely forgotten.
Anyway, as their children grow, they are subjected to a life of constant struggle. Those who are lucky and/or persistent start making a living when they get older.
And then expectation and entitlement set in. The parents feel that it is time to be rewarded for the sacrifices they made.
They put heavy price tags on their daughters when they are getting married. “As you can see, our daughter is beautiful and educated so we did a good job.”Basically, it’s like they have been fattening a cow and now it is market day.
They subject their firstborn children to frequent coercion into financial assistance even if it means that those children drown in debt just as they start to navigate the challenge that is adulthood.
Woe unto those who do not achieve financial success and therefore do not offer good returns on their parents’ investment. They will forever feel the sting of disappointing their parents through subtle guilt-tripping statements. “Eh. Our neighbor Maria has brand new chairs in her house. Her son, your age-mate, bought them for her.”
Let me categorically state that I am not against providing financial assistance to parents or other human beings in general. It is the right and noble thing to do.
What I am against, though, is treating children like financial investments. What I am against is feeling entitled to a lifetime of reward and gratitude for deciding to become a parent, and to perform the duties thereof. I think that it is extremely selfish and also unfair to children considering that they don’t ask to be born.
If I should be lucky enough to become a mother, I will bend over backwards to give my children the absolute best. I will give them all the tools within my reach to help them become decent, mature and independent human beings. I will help them achieve their idea of success.
After they have grown up, I will continue to give without expecting anything in return because to me, parenting is a lifetime job. And God knows that from time to time, life gets hard and children need their parents.
If I join the rest of the world to put pressure on my children so that they can’t run to me in their time of need, then I will consider myself to have failed as a parent.
I believe that the legacy of those who decide to have children should not be in increasing world population. It should be in making the world a better place for future generations.
How can that happen if we expect children to keep paying back instead of investing in their future?