Friday, September 17, 2010

An open letter to middle-class Lagos parents

Just got sent this (I guess its gone viral):

If we want our children to bring about the desired change we have been praying for on behalf of our dear country, then pls, pls let begin now and teach them to work hard so they can stand alone and most importantly be content....not having to "steal"....which seem to be the norm these days.

Pls pass it on and you are welcome to join the group.

Subject: An open letter to middle-class parents in Lagos


“30 is the new 18”. That seems to be an unspoken but widely accepted mindset among the last 2 generations of parents in Nigeria .

At age 18 years, 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 + or -, 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 UK trained Recruitment Consultant and I have been practising for the past 10 years in Nigeria . I have a broad range of experience from recruiting graduates to executive director level of 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, 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 apart from my parents from age 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, not at all. 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 by 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. 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 underwear and wearing Jimmy Choo’s, fully paid for by their “loving” parents.

I often get calls from anxious parents, 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” is my usual question. Why are you the one making this call dad/mum?

I am yet to get a satisfactory answer, but between you and me, chances are that big boy is cruising around Lagos with a babe dressed to the nines, in his dad’s spanking 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 years old 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 is 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. I ask if that is per month or per annum? Of course it is per month. Oh, why do you think you should be earning that much on your first job? 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. I try very hard to compose myself...

Overparenting 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 are practically loving 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?

(Author's name witheld)


Bola,  2:18 am  

There is so much truth in this. I've heard of 30-year old grown men who are still completely dependent on their father for everything. Not just the basics, but they cruise their father's cars to pick up girls, spend daddy's money on shopping trips abroad and stuff like that. It's absolutely disgraceful. I hope this trend is reversed pretty soon, otherwise we'll have a thoroughly useless generation of young people in the next 10 years....

but meanwhile, those that find opportunities, continue to exploit them.

nne 5:30 am  

The failure to grow up...both a Nigerian and American phenomenon. There was an article in NYTIMES not too long ago about this mad rush of twenty somethings (like myself) back to their parent's homes.

Anonymous,  5:34 am  

I will glady say this isn't an issue in the side of the country I grew up

Anonymous,  7:35 am  

The sad irony of it all is that most of the parents here will not see themselves in this scenario. For sure they will see recognise their friends and their friend's children, but never themselves.

These kids are generally rude and their parents, especially their mothers condone. Many of these mothers, even turn their children into their best friends where they tell them their secrets and like the idea that children(read daughters) friends or boyfriends thing think that they are cool. Yet, the parents are also quick to lament how rude their children are. I wonder why?

UKMedic,  3:56 pm  

This of course is the exception rather than the norm,so let's not all get carried away by erroneously subscribing to the idea that what the author has painted here is what's rampant in Nigeria these days.

Clearly,his business caters to the very rich and super-rich.I mean who gets to give their kid 200,000 naira as allowance PER MONTH??...certainly not those of the middle-class and definitely not the majority of the population who earn less than what can be classifed as middle-class income.

My parents taught me the value of hard work,self-confidence & self-reliance and i am proud and forever grateful to them because these have helped me & made me what i am today as an accomplished medical professional in Britain.

I am sure i am not the only one.

These values of solid work ethic,drive,dedication,determination,self-reliance and desire to succeed in spite of all odds are fundamental principles in the typical average Nigerian Household and may perhaps not be given elevated status in the aloof,over-indulged select few homes of some extremely wealthy folks

Anonymous,  4:36 pm  

I agree with everything UK Medic has written.

Thi writer obviously caters for only the extremely wealthy. Perhaps s/he is part of the problem.

Anonymous,  9:34 am  

What an accurate post.

Adeleke Pitan,  4:45 pm  

This is a bloody inaccurate post; ask why?

For starters,With the way education is in this country, the average school leaving age is like 24/25 - add 8 months of waiting for NYSC and another 1 year of actual NYSC and you have an idea of how old you are gonna be when you get a job (hopefully it pays a livable wage).

Secondly, its kinda hard to believe folks give their kids 200k pocket money - unless of course your Pop is a corrupt public office holder or just a stinking rich dude like Dangote; if its the latter, why would you be looking for work on the streets?

Thirdly, need I say these are very rare cases - so rare, I only know of one (dude is the only loser among a bnch of other perfectly well-adjusted kids).

Oh and yeah, I'm midddle-class - I pray my folks can even to give me afford a quarter of that as pocket money on a regular (no stories) basis.

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