Rich Nigeria parents – resolving conflict with adult children

“…It reminds me that it’s not so bad, It’s not so bad”

“…And I want to thank you
For giving me the best day of my life” Dido

That’s not too bad I thought to myself, time to count my blessings and show a bit of appreciation to the universe I suppose.

I would not have thought of how pleasant my upbringing was if Kola didn’t assume his rich Nigeria parents are harder to make mends with their adult children because of their socio-economic status. That to me is unbelievable. I have always thought parents are parents and should love their children no matter what.

How do we resolve conflicts with our parents as adults especially when parents were in the wrong? It was a very good friend of mine. His parents were the perfect parents anyone could wish for. They are different from typical Nigerian rich parents, who sometimes can be overbearing. They are well read and have travelled the globe. They are the type you want to get stuck with in an elevator for hours, they let you have a say and share from their wealth of knowledge easily. In fact I have been stuck in a car with them from Lagos to Ife on one occasion, we were in traffic for nine hours travelling to Ife via Ore road. It was a raining day, and the number of petrol tankers were far more than cars so one thing led to another, we were stuck, not a big deal – Nigeria roads.

Throughout this time, I was amazed by how accommodating my friend’s parents were. We were not short of conversational ideas – not for one second. From Fela Kuti to Yoruba people in Brazil and to how to take advantage of iTunes cloud.

Kola is a good child, raised well and loved his parents, his parents do not see this half the time. Kola and I get close because of his family drama. He’ll rant about his rich parents and I will do the same about my not-so-rich ones – no need for therapy fees here. Kola is one of four siblings and the first and only male child. He is humbled and posses the dignity rarely found with children of rich parents in Nigeria. He set up his business right after graduating in early 1980s and still at it today.

Where has it all gone wrong that Kola’s parents refused to forgive him? Kola married a girl not approved by the parents – that was his sin.

After about a gazillion times that Kola has narrated the same story to me, I still do not get it and honestly I don’t get why parents will not see their own grandchildren for 15 whole years just because their mother did not fit into the box of socially acceptable lady suited for their family.

The short version of the story according to Kola was that there was a girl next door to his childhood home. The parents were friends and because they all belonged to the same social economic circle, they wanted Kola and Bimbo to marry. So they dated for a while in high school. Kola was a bit tired of the relationship toward the end of his university program, broke up with Bimbo on the ground that she likes to “show off” way too much for Kola’s liking. Bimbo took it very badly, and there was the beginning of drama that will last for almost two decades.

By now there are five children – Kola  went through lots of rough times trying to get his parents to love him again and to respect his decision while he maintains a happy home with his wife and children, it was tough. Kola is now 49 years old, the trouble started when he was thirty-two.

Two years ago, Kola and I were chatting yet again about what he could do next to appease his parents. Mrs Kola by now did not want anything to do with the in-laws who have never see anything good in her. So I said to Kola how grateful I was to have  parents like mine, who would never be angry with us for too long whatever the case. They haven’t travelled the world, and in completely different socio-economic class from Kola’s. Their love is felt everyday and even when I did not do exactly what they wanted, conflicts are settled within days – enough to give each party a chance to make amends with dignity. My father usually would not apologise but he has his many ways of saying “Sorry, I was wrong” without the words.

Adeolas are in the late sixties and last year for the first time in seventeen years, had Kola and his family over for a few days in their Lagos home. I was happy for Kola when he called to share the news, he was genuinely happy. This summer, he dropped his children there for a few days on their own to spend time with the grandparents – children were happy but wanted to come home after two days to their parents.  This is where I think our Nigeria parents get it all wrong, it is never all about money. If you take a little child from my village right into US White House, she will love all the neatly arranged photos on the wall and the spotless well polished floor, however, after sometime, she wants to connect to someone in the language that she understood – belongingness. Give it time, they’d get used to the grandparents, and in time will learn to relax enough hopefully, stories of the past will emerge, I told Kola.

Kola’s story reminds me to be grateful to my parents because really, it has not been bad, not at all  – Thank you Moomi and Daddy for your giving me your love even when I did not do everything the way you would have preferred.