I have taken time out of my preparation for my final exams for the year to unpack this issue of relationship with parent. Don’t mind the topic suggesting that of a female character. Please apply it to yourself even if you are a male.
Growing up in a nation like Nigeria, I bet there were a lot of things we can never bring up to the attention of our parents – father or mother. Such issues include our emotional feelings.
Who does that? Daddy… I like this girl in my school, or Mummy… One boy is asking me out.
The few experiences I encountered, a slap would follow that statement so that the next time the guts want to push you, you will caution yourself. I remember the year I stopped telling lies to my mother, some 10years ago, I knew I was clocking 16 and I was tired of being afraid of my mum and not been able to share how I feel having lost my father at the age of 9. I told myself that year – as a new year resolution, whatever will come out of it, I will never lie to my mum even if I have to rebel, I will but no more lie. That was a liberating experience for me, fast forward 10 years after, I am my mother’s confidant just because of that single bold step.
A few months ago, I was skyping one of my god-mothers who was visiting her daughter in one of the Western countries where she is studying and raised the issue to relationship between parent and children and how that can protect the children against sexual abuse. We talked about a lot of situations and also reflected on several young people who are being traumatized because of sexual abuse by both close relations and strangers but cannot talk to their parent about it because of the fear.
I will give two examples and you can add yours. I have a friend turned sister in the USA who because of her Nigeria background cannot mention a guy’s name at home even has a friend, she however has a secret relationship and anytime she had issues, she seeks the advice of a third party. Another one in another developed country cannot mention that she is reading in the library with a boy, her parent will make sure they make her regret that action. However, this friend of mine has several relationship she keeps and since she cannot discuss with her parent, she gets the comfort of numerous guys to keep her company.
Please do not blame my friends, we all are guilty one way or the other. A typical Nigerian parent will remind you of the boy or girl you were talking to some 2 years ago if you fail a test in school. They will link your failure to the opposite sex you keep without giving you that much need freedom of association you require. Dear friend, I am not just writing out of context, there are psychological effects to every oppression we face as young people even when our parent think they are protecting us. We can never cheat on nature. Please read more on psychological effects on the internet to ascertain my submission.
Where do we go from here, do we continue to endanger our relationship with our parent because we have been cultured to be silent? How do we improve our standard as individual and create a safe space for those inferior to us to trust us.
Let’s break the silence.
By Damilola Apotieri-Abdulai
Damilola Apotieri-Abdulai is Nigeria’s first Applied Dramatist, expert in Drama in Education, Communities and Social Context. He is the CEO of Media Advocacy and Development Initiative (MADinitiative) and a playwright for social transformation. He is a postgraduate student at the DRAMA FOR LIFE, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa.