Ordinarily, in a typical conservative African setting, single parenting is not a welcoming fashion or acceptable trend. Shockingly, it is becoming a fad nowadays in Nigeria. The sad news is that youths, mostly young ladies, are imbibing the trend simply because they believe that they cannot have their cakes and eat them. ANNETTE AMADI writes
Those days, it was considered a taboo for an unmarried lady to announce to her parents that she was pregnant; it was also almost a taboo for her to nurture the baby outside wedlock! It was just a culture seriously frowned at. But as time rolls by, technology advanced, and civilisation crept in, the subtle craze for western ways of doing things to the maximum took and gradually single parenting is fast becoming an acceptable norm.
According to Sarah McLanahan, a professor of sociology at the University of Preston, children born into single-parent homes are greatly disadvantaged across different outcomes, they are more likely to be distracted, have low self esteem and lead disturbing lifestyles.
She continued in her research that more than half of children born in 1994 will spend some or all their childhood with only one parent, typically their mothers and if current patterns hold, they will likely experience higher rates of poverty, school failure, and other problems as they grow up.
Gary Neuman further explained there are two categories of single parent, the unintended single parent who due to unforeseen circumstances happen to train their kids in the absence of the other partner, such case manifests when the husband or wife dies, need for divorce arises, abandonment and as a result of unpleasant situations while the other category, willing single parent on the other hand is the willingness of an individual to raise kids without the support of the other party. Usually the second category of single parents desire to have kids but do not wish to raise them in the nuclear family setting.
Neuman also said that “while any of the parents may be involved, majority of single-parents are women, who by nature are ‘primary care givers’. So when the topic about single parenthood comes up or is being discussed, it would unavoidably involve women. In the world of single parenting, the situation of a woman is rather complicated. Apart from being the primary care giver, she becomes the bread winner and head of the family”
He explained further that being a single mother sometimes requires a woman or a young lady to sacrifice her social and financial independence just to be there for her child or children.
Human right activist and President of Women Arise for Change Initiative, Dr. Joe Okei Odumakin said: “Being a single mother in Nigeria can be quite difficult considering the social stigma, economic hardships and inconvenience, not having another trusted care giver. According to her, single mothers are usually regarded as heroes. It is a position that makes a woman more confident and extremely closer and protective of her to child or children. The activist further opined that she hasn’t still seen the reason why youths of the present generations have decided to engage in something so serious as raising a child as if it is now a game, a play thing that anyone will dabble into because everyone else is doing it.
She further said, “Single parenting is undoubtedly a menace that affects children psychologically and emotionally is significantly and is significantly stigmatized in Nigeria society because of the accustomed culture in African society. She pointed out that it is often assumed as a conventional norm for a woman to remain in her husband’s house regardless of the challenges encountered and this makes some women, even ladies stay in abusive marriages and relationships because of fear, especially when children are involved.”
New Telegraph observed that while some women who are single mothers in Nigeria presently are trying to make sure that none of their children face the stigma, hardship and uncertainties that comes with a broken home or marriage, some ladies find being single mothers as an escape route to playing second fiddle to any man. To these young women, single motherhood is becoming a norm and many ladies are fast subscribing to the lifestyle of raising a family without the necessary help of a man or husband.
The observation was followed by series of interviews and these young ladies had quite interesting things to say about the latest parenting style and New Telegraph gathered that the traditional concept of family of husband, wife and child or children is facing challenges and single parenting is fast becoming a norm.
According Odega Deborah, a 200 level student of the University of Ibadan, she said she does not see anything wrong being a willing single parent and as a matter of fact she intends to be a single mom In a near future.
In Miss Odega’s exact words: “I really don’t mind being a single mother, matter of fact I am beginning to feel like that is the best bet right now. The way this our 90s generation is going , the boys you end up dating are very unserious, all they do is smoke and carry on multiple relationships at once.”
Another aspiring single mother, Tolulope Ajibare a Corp member said she lives with her aunt and while she was growing up, she has always discovered that her aunt was always having swollen lip or eyes when she woke up, little did she know the husband was battering her. Ajibare said her aunt had endured for years until she could no longer endure. The aunt confided in her that she was going to run away as she could no longer cope with her husband anymore and needed to keep her children away from such environment. “I watched my aunt get battered by a man that claimed to love her; he drank incessantly, made little or no contribution at home and desired utmost respect from my aunt. The whole experience I had growing up has made me see things differently. Men are beginning to change and when responsibilities creep in, they turn into monsters and become very aggressive to their wives. Living with my aunt has made me tough at heart; I do not really believe that men are worth being married to before one can have children. My aunt went through a lot of stigmatisation because she left her husband’s house. My aunty had to move back to the village with her two children, I had to move back with her to my parent’s house in the village. I was barely 13 years when all these happened. My aunty really suffered from her husband’s family, they threatened to take away her only child from her if she did not return to her husband’s house in the city” She further said that after all the suffering her aunt went through, she vowed not to let any man do that to her. “I have vowed to make enough money and I will have a daughter, I have vowed to be a single mother without husband troubles, it is a daughter I want but I must make money first,” she said.
Naturally, one would think it is only ladies from dysfunctional homes or even slay queens who just started getting small money and is getting into their heads that have decided to embark on these quest but for Nmasinachi Chukwuemeka, a working class lady in her late 20s and very successful at her job but while most people agree that children are better off in families with two parents (as long as both parents are non abusive) many believe that the negative impact of single parenting is just over emphasised.
For her, single parenting is last option. The 27 year old said she has had her unfortunate share with men and their lies. She said a man can tell you all sorts just to get your money and when they notice the money is not fourth coming, they will walk away faster than their shadows. “I have been in different relationships and I had started dating since my university days, men have not been overly good to me. I have been heartbroken constantly and a higher percentage of men that have been with me have done so because of my money and not because of true love. Now after over 12 years of on and off relationships not leading to marriage I am tired. After much consideration I realised that single mothers with stable jobs are not doing badly off. If I’m not destined to marry, I should have a child, at least. I know my parents will not be happy with the decision but they should go and look at Linda Ikeji, the famous blogger is not married but is happy with her son. I want to be like her, successful single mother or baby mama as they call it. And I noticed that single mothers are not so afraid of what people will say to them nowadays, the world is more civilised and everyone is doing what makes them happy and if that includes being single parents, that is fine,” she added.
She pointed out that in this age and time, no wealthy woman really wants to sit in a husband’s house and be saying yes sir to a man who might end up being unworthy just because of staying in her marriage. “The world is revolving and things are changing, women are no longer subscribing to be in emotional and physical stress just because of a man and that even though society still stigmatizes single mothers and wonder how they got in such position. She continued that the role of women as caretakers saturates every aspect of our culture.
“Women perform most care giving work for children, elders, and dependent persons, both within their own families and as paid employees so why can’t we just decide to get pregnant and have a child without necessarily being married. It is not all relationship that is healthy for a woman, society should not start forcing women to go or endure toxic husbands just because they women should be married before having children, let us encourage young women to do what makes them happy, as long as it is not illegal and does not harm anyone,” Okechukwu said