Taking Up Responsibilities At A Young Age : The Pressures Of Being The First Female Daughter

By Regina Agada

Let me tell you the story of the princess of light, Uwanna. She is a vibrant young girl and so full of life, her childhood was full of beautiful memories. She grew up having both parents in her life, her dad was the breadwinner and her mother was a stay at home mum, she oftentimes refers to herself as the general manager of the household.  Growing up in a middle-class family, she had hopes of furthering her education to the highest level possible, but death shattered these hopes and dreams, she was fifteen years old when her dad passed and his demise herald the beginning of struggles for her family. Being the first daughter with three siblings, Uwanna was forced into adulthood at a very young age.

sudan women

For some unfathomable reason her mother never got a job or even tried starting a trade, she relied on the tokens and gifts from visitors that were handed her by visitors and sympathizers. As time went by the visits and calls from sympathizers and extended family members reduced, then reality began to set in, there were days where they had little or nothing to eat; Uwanna once confided in a friend that there was a day that all they had was tap water. She and her siblings were eventually transferred to public schools and to help out at home she got a weekend job at a pastry shop to help out with cleaning and handing out orders, to earn some extra cash she worked on weekdays sometimes.

Years passed and her mum still never bothered to get a job, she relied mostly on what her daughter brought home and the little cash gifts she got from people. Uwanna started sorting out different ways to earn extra money to help out at home, her mother never missed a chance to remind her that she is the first daughter of the family hence it’s her duty to look out for the welfare of her siblings. Her eyes were filled with so much pain and anger but she could not express herself or let our her frustrations because she had been made to believe that looking out for one’s family at such a young age is considered as being responsible. Her only route to escape from all these problems was running away from home, months passed and her whereabouts were still unknown.


Uwanna’s mum’s behaviour seems unrealistic, right? the roles between her and her mother does not always play out in our society, right? The first female daughter across various cultures in Nigeria is a role that is taken seriously, Ada, Ene, are a few names that first female daughters usually go by. These names when used serve as titles that bring joy and happiness to both parents and their daughters; however, these names come with huge and endless responsibilities. The communalistic nature of the Nigerian society teaches us to maintain close ties with members of or immediate and extended family. Just like Uwanna first female daughters across various cultures in Nigeria, were exposed to the idea of taking on family responsibilities at a very young age. Without a doubt helping out family members can help one become responsible but not at such a young age or in a case where there is barely enough resources to sustain oneself. From the constant guilt-tripping, the emotional blackmail and unending demands one can easily get overwhelmed with some of these problems; hence first female daughters keep putting the needs of others before theirs while they suffer in silence. These unending responsibilities have led to a lot of women growing old without planning for the future with the intention to also be dependent on others which may not turn out well and they end up being a burden as well.

Interestingly, when it comes to sharing family responsibilities first female daughters who are married are included in contributions and expenses when there is a family emergency or an occasion, but in some families when it comes to sharing of inheritance or benefits when there is an absence of a written will they leave out married first daughters with the excuse that they are married hence they should be left out. The issue with regards to female inheritance is an entirely different and controversial topic that deserves special attention. Conversations’ surrounding these responsibilities is one that many are not willing to have because a can of worms will definitely be opened. Without doubt, there is joy in shared wealth and helping out ones’ family but saying no sometimes helps with relieving one from some of these unending demands, while trying to make others happy it is important to also look out for one’s self and your mental health as well because you cannot give what you do not have, it is advisable to make family members know when there are limited resources to spare while being open about your personal struggles as well.  Like the popular twitter saying goes “try dey enjoy yourself problem no dey finish”, thus while helping out with family expenses it is important to sometimes put yourself first, in other to avoid being in Uwanna’s position whose only escape route was running away.


Source: Above Whispers

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