I need you to read a part of the email my father sent to me concerning my piercings.
I wanted to know that I wasn’t alone in this. So I asked young Nigerians to tell me about the times their parents overreacted to simple situations.
“My dad threatened to disown me if I went for a job interview”
— James*, 30
My dad threatened to disown me if I went for a job interview. I was staying in Port Harcourt back then, and I wasn’t really getting great job opportunities there, so I decided I wanted to move to Lagos. I applied for a job and got an interview that required me to fly to Lagos. I told my dad about it and he started shouting.
He told me I could still find a good job in PH, but that was not part of my career plan, I knew I’d find better opportunities in Lagos. I’d always been the good child who did everything my parents wanted, and this was the first time I stood up for myself, to my dad’s shock. A few days later, I was getting ready to leave for the airport when my father’s lawyer called me (I didn’t even know he had one) and told me to stop by his office on my way. When I got there, he told me that my father had asked him to take me out of his will, and he wanted to find out what happened. I explained everything, and the lawyer said he’d speak to my father and that I should go for my interview.
When I got back to PH three days later, my father had calmed down. He wanted me to stay in the city where he could keep an eye on me, (I was 22 years old then) and that was why he was so angry about me looking for opportunities outside. This was basically his Nigerian father way of saying he was going to miss me. Anyway, I got the job and moved to Lagos, and my father was prouder than ever.
“My mum called my boss to complain”
— Tunde*, 25
My mum hated it so much when I came home really late from work. One day, she got fed up with it and she started complaining about my constant late hours at the office and doing so much work despite being paid so little. I didn’t say anything, and after a while, she stopped talking, and I thought that was the end of the matter.
On Monday morning, as soon as I got to work, my boss called me into his office. He told me that he wasn’t going to keep me past office hours again. He mentioned that my mum called and complained that she didn’t like her son coming back home late. The level of embarrassment I felt cannot be explained.
“My mum threw away all my G-strings”
— Amina*, 25
I’d recently purchased a new set of G-string panties and I was wearing one of them on this fateful day that my mum saw me, because she was in my room at the time. She told me I wasn’t going to leave the house in such, and that I had to either wear full underwear under the G-string, or change completely. She won the argument, and I changed.
By the time I got back, the panties were missing, and I knew who took them. I told my mum that if she didn’t give them back, I’d leave the house every day without wearing any underwear. Alhaja checked my bum every day for so long, to make sure I was wearing undies before leaving the house. And I never got my sexy G-strings back. My mum won.
“My father got upset because I didn’t introduce my boyfriend to my family”
— Adeola, 25
To be honest, I blame myself; I’m the one that carried my hands to tell my father that I have a boyfriend, and that’s why this wahala happened. My father lives abroad and I live here with my aunty. One day, I told him about the man I’m currently dating. The next thing my father said was, “Have you introduced him to your aunty?” I said no, and he asked why, and I said I’d do it eventually, but that it was too soon.
He asked again two weeks later, and I gave him the same answer and tried to explain that you can’t just introduce someone you just started dating to your family, that you have to give it time. That was how my father got upset and went into a long rant that involved a sprinkle of emotional blackmail.
He said, “I don’t understand why you have an issue with introducing your boyfriend to your family. I have nothing to gain from this; I’m just looking out for you. I think you’re just embarrassed about our family’s financial situation, and that’s why you don’t want him to meet your aunty. Anyway, it’s your life. I’ll never ask about you and your boyfriend again in my life. You can carry him and go. I don’t care, do whatever you like.”
The part about the financial situation blew my mind because both my boyfriend and I are in the same financial bracket. Oh well, my father has kept true to his words; he hasn’t asked about him again and I’m grateful.
“My father slapped me for losing my earring”
When I was ten, I misplaced one of my earrings in church while running around. My father noticed the earring was missing when he came to pick me up. Without asking any questions, my father gave me a resounding slap, right in front of all the parents and Sunday school teachers.
Everyone froze. My father quickly apologised sha and bought me ice cream.
“My father made me sleep outside for lying to him”
— Mark* , 26
When I was in JSS3, my father’s colleague told my dad to ask me if I could help him get the admission form required to get into my secondary school. He gave me the money to buy the form, but I foolishly used the money to buy a G-shock wristwatch.
My dad asked about the form many times throughout that week, and each time I told him a different lie. One day, he showed up at my school to find out what was going on, and the bursar told him that I hadn’t been to her office. My father was shocked, but he didn’t say anything. He paid for the admission form and waited for me at home. When I got home, he asked me about the form again, and I told him another lie.
Before I knew it, he went into his room and came out with a cutlass and said he was going to use it to design my body. It took my mother, my sister and my aunt to intercede for me. He said the only way he wouldn’t use the cutlass on me was if I slept outside that night. I slept on the pavement and it was the worst night of my life.
“I got two nose piercings and my father couldn’t take it”
— Amaka* , 21
In April, I got two nose piercings and my father couldn’t take it. We were on a video call and I could see that he saw them, but he didn’t say anything. Hours after the call, my father sent me a text addressing me by my full government name. Then he began to talk about my piercings and about how only prostitutes get such.
He also sent me Bible scriptures about how godly women should behave. He complained about my piercings until I finally decided to take them off because I no longer had the strength to endure his complaints. I’m getting them again this Saturday sha and I’m even using his money. This time, I have the energy to confront him. He should do whatever he wants to do.
“My father threw me out of the house because I came back late”
— Peter*, 21
My friends organised a party for my 18th birthday. I got permission from my parents to go, and they agreed as long as I came back early. Unfortunately, I got carried away and came back home by 5 a.m. When I got home, my father had thrown all my clothes outside the house. I banged on the gate, and my father came out and yelled at me. He told me to go back to where I was coming from. My aunt, who lived about 45 minutes away had to come beg on my behalf. I didn’t get to enter the house until 1 p.m. that day and my father didn’t speak to me for a few days.