I have always wanted to talk about the age of independence of the Nigerian child. At what point do parents realize that they have raised an adult who is able to make his her own decisions and choices in life?
Most people believe that when a child moves out of the home, starts earning, and probably sending his/her parents some kind of allowance, then he or she is truly independent. But within the Nigerian context, this is hardly so. Young people are barely ever seen as independent by parents even when they start earning or living on their own.
We have a culture of dependence in Nigeria. It’s convenient. It gives a false sense of belonging when the entire family gets into our business; everyone believes they’re invested in your life. Everyone wants to have a say in what you do, how you live, who you date, where you work and over time, we have come to see this interference as ‘love’ or ‘family concern’. But where do we draw the line between being concerned and understanding that an adult is entirely and hundred percent responsible for himself/herself?
An adult is not just someone who has reached the legal age of majority or biological maturity but an individual who is socially, psychologically, and emotionally able to make decisions over their own lives and be held accountable. The question is, do Nigerian parents allow their children to mature sociologically into adults?
A lot of young people cannot be independence because they still live with their parents, their elder siblings or an older relative; often due to economic reasons. How do you declare your independence when you’re being housed, fed and sometimes clothed by the person you want to be independent from?
I have also seen 28/ 30 year olds who earn their own money, have an apartment but still need permission from an older brother or uncle or parent to do something for themselves. For the Nigerian young person, your independence has to start from your mind.
You could be living at home for whatever reason but if you are not a dependent in your mind, you will not live or behave like one. When you make up your mind to handle your own business, take the necessary steps to do so. Be willing to work hard for it.
Living at home rent free, and eating free food is attractive but you have to make the sacrifice and break away from that. If you have to live at home, contribute to the upkeep of the house. Buy foodstuff, pay electricity bills, take responsibility if you want to be taken seriously.
And then know that once you declare independence, you will face resistance and opposition. You have to make up your mind to face it head on. Nigerian parents hardly give you control of own life. They love you, but they don’t know how or when to let go. You will have to wrestle to gain control. It might not be pretty but you need it.