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I’m Worried About Our Sons

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Friday, April 1st, 2016
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Today, I am worried about our sons, today’s young men. I am truly worried and every mother should pause, take a closer look at her sons and daughters and answer this question: are you empowering your son for the journey ahead of him? Answer truthfully, after all you are alone and you don’t have to let anybody hear you.

I think Nigerian mothers have not done well raising future husbands and fathers. Let’s admit it, we have not scored above average, that is if we achieved average at all.

Take a closer look at your beautiful daughter and your handsome six-footer son. Who is better prepared for the task ahead? I know some of us had realised this and have done better than others but most Nigerian mothers need to buckle up. Our sons are not what they should be and we cannot have the society, the country we desire when we put unprepared men and overgrown boys in positions of authority. I’ll explain myself.

In too many homes, the wives are the bread winners. Too many women are paying the rent and picking bills that make a man the man. We do not need figures from the Office of Statistics because I know every woman in this country knows at least one family where the man is not truly the head. He is just a figure head. And every man who is a figure head is a sad commentary on his mother. Every young husband who waits for his wife to draw her monthly check before the monthly shopping can be done is a figure head, a proceed of a failed mother. That is harsh, right? Yeah, I know there is a place for God in what man becomes in life. It is from Him all blessings flow and only He gives power to make wealth. But did you, madam, even teach your son that simple fact or are you too busy preparing your daughter for marriage in addition to her getting the added advantage of attending the same Ivy League schools like his brothers? A son attends Babcock University in Nigeria or Imperial College in United Kingdom with a daughter but the daughter is trained to cook, pamper a man, be nice to in-laws and bring up children, all while she’s getting a degree. The son learns how to play basket ball and wash a car. The daughter learns how to bake and how to make hair and do make-up. Girls with Masters degrees see nothing wrong in going to learn dress making . Boys dust their CVs and write glowing stuff about themselves and send out thousands of job applications.

After two or three years of fruitless search for non-existent jobs, don’t our boys start ‘processing visas’ to travel to even the most ridiculous places, countries with no pastures, least of all green ones? Meanwhile, the girls set up make-up studios, start ‘mixing cream’ making hats and dresses and everything that makes money. The boys wait for the big time to arrive.

It doesn’t, rarely does. So the girls begin to grow in age and in bank balance. Ripe for marriage but no man is plucking because they are still waiting. See why girls are marrying late? They acquire degrees and cars, some even properties while waiting for Mr Right to come along. By the time he eventually comes along, the girl is already doing well in business, entrepreneurial skills honed. For a while, love covers the gap but men are not wired to be anything but the head. That is why most men quote how Sarah calls Abraham ‘Lord’ in the Bible. But Abraham was stupendously rich by Bible accounts. He also spoilt Mama Sarah silly. In other words, every Sarah needs an Abraham.

Inadequate, angry and frustrated, a man whose wife picks the bill soon finds avenues to vent his ire. Violence is one of those avenues. Shamelessly philandering to belittle his ‘richer’ wife is another, like impregnating the maid or a restaurant assistant. Are you linking the rate of failed marriages to what mothers have failed to do? There is a limit to a woman’s endurance and our millennium daughters have no threshold for suffering. In any case, a woman who bought herself a car is not the one her husband can threaten with ‘if you touch any of my cars…’ A woman who picks heavy bills in the home is not the one who will notice that her husband is not bringing his income home. These girls are liable to walk out of marriages too easily, too quickly.

And there is this ever present trouble of a bitchy daughter-in-law and her monster-in-law. If our sons have not earned the respect of their wives, how can we be free and happy and welcomed in our sons’ homes? The poor wife is simply going to see a visiting mother-in-law or sister-in-law as added disadvantage and a further drain on her patience, energy and finances.

It does not matter if women produce the next president and Central Bank Governor and 20 state governors, the achievement of Nigerian women and indeed women world over will continue to be marred if all we do is churn out half-baked and ill-equipped fathers and husbands. We cannot have a great society with just great women and less than good fathers and husbands.

We’ve got work on hands , girls. We’ve got to pay more attention to the quality of sons we are raising. Are we teaching them the right values? Have you sat your boys down and told them only impotent men beat their wives? Have you told your sons a man is not man if he cannot provide for his wife and children, that the ‘dangling modifier’ in between his legs is not really what proves his manhood in his home? Have you told your son lately that he needs to have extra skills to survive in Nigeria and that there is no big deal about having a first degree? We all should teach our sons to follow what they have a passion for and not sit at home waiting for the six-digit salary job. The young men that we all wish were our sons are most of the time those who made money early and you cannot make money early if you romance your CV for 10 years waiting for a telecommunication job. A few guys get lucky but we must prepare our boys for life without good luck.

Since this year’s theme for International Women’s Day is ‘Inspiring Change’, let us change the way we have brought up our boys. Let us teach them the skills that will protect their manhood beyond using the right condoms.

 Funke Egbemode is the Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief of New Telegraph

This article was first published on March 23, 2015

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