Building bridges with children when relationships fail

In a situation where the children are involved, how does one managed a not so happy situation so the children were not the one that bear the highest brunt of the break ups.

The two situations here were narrated by both Mr Thomas and Mama Ajana. Both had failed marriages but today in old age, one is in touch with the children the other, not so much.

Mr Thomas left Nigeria in the 1960s to study in the UK, a few months down the line he started a relationship with a lady at his university – they had a baby girl. Mr Thomas went back to Nigeria after his studies with his Oyinbo girlfriend. The girlfriend was not approved by the family and had to leave after one week. Mr Thomas came back to the UK to work but did not keep in touch with the mother of his daughter. In the late 1980’s Mr Thomas relocated to Nigeria permanently. During this time his ex girlfriend sent photos and news about their daughter to Mr Thomas and when the said daughter wanted to get married, she informed Mr Thomas about all the arrangements but Mr Thomas did not attend. Now the daughter has long relocated to Canada – that much Mr Thomas knows.

Mr Thomas is 76 years old now he told this story when I asked if today he would do certain things differently from what he had done in the past- he wished he kept in contact with his daughter. But you can do that now, you can search for her, we just put words out, I suggested but he does not want to look for his daughter as he fears it has been too long and that she may have written him off.

Mama Ajana’s story is very similar to the Mr Thomas’  however the approach in keeping in touch with the children was different.

Mama Ajana’s  marriage broke down when their two children were 7 and nine years old. Her ex relocated back to Nigeria from the UK and prevented Mama Ajana from seeing the children. Mama Ajana recounted that for several years she didn’t know where the children were as the ex did not go back to their old home in Sokoto. By sheer luck she says she managed to locate the children when they were in their teenage years. She did not seek any legal help as ex remained in Nigeria.

However, Mama Ajana joy shows all over her as she revealed that since she found the children, she kept in touch with them and gets updates about their schooling. Now, it is even better as they are grown and independent. Mama Ajana spent quality time with her children today, and in her old age feels she is glad to have managed to build a bridge – can’t be easy I bet.

10 thoughts on “Building bridges with children when relationships fail

  1. It’s sad that some people don’t value the relationships they have, or have had. But it is wonderful when a mother can re-connect with her disconnected children and grandchildren. Praise the Lord for those people who do value their relationships, even when they have been hurt, or have indadvertently caused hurt.

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  2. All too familiar story pattern but hard as I’ve tried, I’ve never been able to understand how people, especially the male specie are able to walk away from relationships, particularly of their own flesh and blood without ever looking back.

    You must be a generous soul, Folakemi, because this Thomas Baba that is supposedly nice seems rather selfish, pardon me. Even though he may not intend it that way and may not even know it, all the volunteering he does is actually to fill a void that will remain empty till he leaves this earth as long as he continues to run away from his past.

    As you seem to know him, and despite of the age thing that calls for total respect in Yoruba culture, do talk to him and let him know it is never too late or “too long ago” to go back and reach out.

    Thanks for sharing.

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    1. You are right, I have seen/heard about too many of this and I always wonder what they think children will magically forgive without some heated argument first.

      I found Mr Thomas very honest, I would not know this story if he didn’t tell me. I think you are right with that assessment of filling the void.

      I do know him, when he told me this a few years back, I did suggest that he search, actually it wouldn’t even be too hard for him as he knew a lot about the ex girlfriend’s family – hopefully I will summon the courage to bring it up soon. Thanks for the encouragement.

      Generous soul? Fathers leaving children behind is another issue that get my blood boiling.

      My father left home for seven months because of mid life crisis that affected the whole family but was too overbearing for him. A lot could have gone wrong if not for God and my mother’s handwork and determination, my mother was very forgiven so let go, but it scared me that my sisters and I could have ended up being fourth wife of some Alhaji. My father pulled the Yoruba father, mother cried and begged but in the end my father admitted he was lucky to have someone like my mom and apologised to my siblings and I – all sweet now thank goodness.


  3. Mama Ajana’s experience warmed my soul. It always pays to build those bridges & keep tending them. Something Creepy about The Thomas fellow…..
    I know a Mr Thomas in Makurdi, Benue State; a Tiv man….He died 2 years back at 78. He had a daughter in the US in the late 70s & 2 sons (Twins) in Denmark, from the early 80s, all with different European mothers he never got married to. He never married all his life & didn’t have anymore children. They were all here for his funeral; the 2 mothers & their 3 children & a number of grand kids. There was no doubt that he stayed in touch & impacted positively in his children’s lives. Certainly you were not writing about the late Mr Thomas I know, but you can imagine my thoughts as I was reading. LOL

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    1. I know re Mama Ajana, really happy for her.

      Mr Thomas is actually a really nice elderly man, hence I wish he could do something. He is retired and volunteer for all sorts of org. to help whenever he can and would spend so much time helping other people. He did remarry and have four children, all grown now and away from home. However, his relationship with his wife broke down too so now living alone but in very good term with ex wife and children.

      Wonder what the daughter is thinking now, to be honest I would want to meet my father, even if just to spit on his face then we can make up afterwards.

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  4. This story I am all too familiar with as my son finds himself in the same position. Thankfully, he and my 24-year-old grandson reconnected last year, after a more than a 23 year separation. Our entire family was blessed to spend Christmas 2013 with him and he is scheduled to be with us again this year.

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  5. These are challenging situations no matter what the circumstances and to be across two countries even more so! It is scary that a parent can so easily hide children in another country. I am glad that Mama Ajana has been reconnected with her kids!

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