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Avoiding Barracudas

January 16, 2024

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Parenting is a lot of hard work and tough decisions

The tough decisions are not always about parents instructing their children to live and act the right way, it is also about parents deliberately choosing to give their children the room to become established in life without being a burden to them

I have had many housemaids in my life, many of them from a particular tribe in Nigeria

I try to pay my housemaids well, and I treat them the same way I treat my biological children

As long as they have done the medical tests required and passed and I am sure they do not have any communicable disease that can affect my children, I take them in and they have the same rights and benefits as my children

My first male house help became my adopted son and he is currently writing his final project at the University; I will be seeing him around Christmas day

I decided to sponsor his education when I discovered that all the money he made while working for me was being sent home to cater to the needs of his parents and siblings

When I interviewed him for the job, he told me he wanted to save enough money to buy JAMB form and write the exams so that he could be in the University the following year

I paid him fifty thousand Naira a month and his primary assignment was to babysit my children, help them with their homework, and be their big brother

He took very well to the job and I fell in love with his character

I have had several female house helps before him, all with different characters but all with the same issue

They work hard, not to keep their earnings to make their lives better or to build a better future for themselves but to send the money home to their parents

These are not teenagers- my house maids as a rule must be above the age of 21 If at 21-25 years old, you are working and sending all the money home at the end of the month, without acquiring any skill or getting an education to prepare yourself for the future in the name of needs at home, your parents are not good parents.

I don’t care what the circumstances are, they could wait a few more years for you to sort out your future before milking you dry

My adopted son’s mother came to see me after he told me he had no savings, I was angry because I had been careful to open a bank account for him and I deliberately transferred his salary into the account so that he could save his earnings

His mother fought with her next-door neighbor and bit a huge chunk of flesh off the poor neighbor’s neck in anger

The neighbors saw blood everywhere and rushed the victim to the hospital

The victim’s husband arrested his mother, his father didn’t have money to bail her out and pay the hospital bill

This was why they emptied all the money the young man had carefully saved for his future

His mother begged me to keep him on the job for another year but by then he already had his admission and I insisted he would be going to school

This was primarily how I ended up adopting him

Today, both his father and mother are late. He has a younger sister who had been taken in by another relative

I am praying that girl will not end up as a housemaid in the next few years

It is wrong to put your children to work so early so that you can feed off their sweat like a parasite

If you cannot provide for them as you should, it is wrong to make them provide for you at the detriment of their future

I once wrote the story of Anita- A young lady who attempted to travel to Europe through Libya at the age of sixteen

After suffering from a lot of hardship including rape in three different locations in Libya, she returned to Nigeria to stay with a friend’s aunty in Lagos

The woman told her she had to pay for her accommodation under her roof and feeding, as she was not running a charity organization

This led the young lady into prostitution

Guess what, her mother and siblings also demanded money from her almost all the time

If somebody was not sick, someone’s house rent would be due for payment

When she was in Libya and unable to communicate with them, they survived somehow without her help but now that she was back, they could not survive without leeching on her and picking her to the bones

I sponsored her to acquire tailoring skills at a good school in Ogba in a bid to help her get back on her feet.

Still, the leeches were always on her neck and I had to stylishly cut her off when I realized she would rather drown in a pool of sentiment than take a stand to fight for her future and stay away from prostitution.

I remember the mother of a twenty-two-year-old shop attendant I met at one of the shopping malls in Ikeja

She said, “Sir, I would like you to pray with my daughter on her marital destiny, she has met someone and I want to be sure it is the will of God”

I asked her how old she was and she told me she said she was undergoing her National Youth Service and had been posted to the shop at the mall as her primary place of assignment

I asked her who the man she wanted to marry was and she mentioned his name

I knew the man, his wife, and his children

I asked this woman calmly why she wanted her daughter to be married to this man

She replied that the man had been kind and generous to her daughter

I said, “Madam, are you aware he is a married man?” “Is this what you want for your daughter?” She said, “Oh, he was married but he and his wife are having serious issues”

I started laughing

Of course, this woman knows how the game has been played since the days of Moses

Her daughter might fall for that story but I knew she knew better

She said, “He gave me the funds to set up a small business and he is sponsoring her education. I just feel we should not be ingrates”

Of course, the man had no intention of marrying the girl. I told her, “Your daughter is sleeping with him as a side chick, Ma, he has no plans to marry her and if she brings up the issue of marriage with him, he will break up with her or keep pushing the discussion until she gets the idea”

A few weeks later, she called me and said they saw the man and his wife at an event and the man’s wife was pregnant

I said, “Sorry”

Parents shouldn’t encourage their young daughters to bring money home to help them set up a business, feed or pay rent especially when the daughter is not working or earning enough to be of help to them in such a capacity

You cannot tell a child not to steal or sleep around and then start asking the same child to help you with rent money or money to set up your business when you know he or she can only raise such an amount by doing things that he or she will not be proud of

You are eating the fruit of a poisonous tree! Parents have to do better

It is tacit endorsement when your daughter or son is bringing home gifts and money from men or women you know they shouldn’t be having sex with and you receive or collect such.

With your mouth you are saying, “Stop sleeping with married men” but with your hand you are profiting from the relationship indirectly

Please, try and borrow some dignity

Being shameless is not an attribute of a good parent

I remember a pastor saying he had to call a family meeting in which he told all his relatives to stop asking him for money for a few years because he realized he couldn’t do anything tangible with his life due to their demands

They were angry for a while and started saying all sorts about him but they eventually moved on

He said seven years later, after he had built his house, he opened an account and put some money in it, with a proviso that only the interest from the money in the account could be spent

Then he called another family meeting and said he was open to helping those in need out once more

Suddenly he became a good man again

Jesus said, we will always have the poor among us and he was right

I have met beggars on subways in London and Dubai

The cycle of poverty will never end if parents continue to use their children this way all in the name of economic conditions or other excuses

Children in this situation who are reading this should wake up and make concrete decisions regarding their future

Brother Lazarus was a former colleague of mine whose family members would send a list of issues every month by the 22nd because they knew we got paid between the 23rd and 26th

He would send all his money home and then begin to beg me for financial support (He was earning way more than I was)

At first, I would support him with whatever I could until I realized I was enabling bad behavior

I called him and told him the truth, “You are a victim of barracudas, and they won’t stop until they strip you to your bones You are a bachelor who has a fiancée that you cannot get married to because you don’t have the funds to pay her bride price and rent a house.

Your relatives don’t love you, sir, they are only making a fool of you at this point. If you want to know if this is true or false, call one or two of them and tell them you have lost your job, see what happens after…” He did it

The calls stopped immediately, the monthly long list of needs also stopped and so did all the phone calls of “Keep us in mind” greetings

Within a year after this, he was able to rent a proper flat and he got married to the love of his life

Many will do well to take a cue from this

Make up your mind not to end up poor by investing in your future while you are young

 

Run away from barracudas!

 

-GSW-

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