Posted by News Express | 20 August 2014 | 3,180 times
It was a few weeks ago I read in a foreign newspaper that the percentage of adult children in Europe and in the Americas is growing at a very alarming rate. The figures churned out of adults in the age range of 25 and 35 who have moved back from the comfort of their own rented apartments to live with their parents were mind boggling. It was not that I was ignorant of the growing trend the world over that a good number of those children who had moved out of their parents’ control since age 18 or thereabout were compelled to move back to live with their parents as a result of the global economic crunch but that the figure had assumed an alarming proportion.
It was while reading the said article on the plane en-route Canada that my mind raced back to my own home country where adults have remained children for at least two decades now. In the peculiar circumstance of Nigeria’s adult children the worrisome part was that those children who are now adults never had the opportunity to move out of their parents’ or guardians’ abodes! They were compelled by circumstances beyond their control to remain in the same house where they were born and raised up to and beyond the time they ought to have moved out and start their own independent lives.
But how could they?
Some of these adult children who had graduated from the university or the polytechnic and had done their mandatory National Youth Service since seven years ago are yet to secure any gainful employment. And they have had no access to any form of capital to start their own business with.
They have become relatively advanced in age but in terms of financial capacity and responsibility capability they have remained the children they were when they were adolescents in the high school!
They have reached marriageable age but neither the male nor the female in their age group could afford the rent of a one-bedroom apartment! They simply cannot marry or be married.
We now have a multitude of men and women well past age 35 who technically are just children living with their parents, guardians or, worse still, are mere squatters with friends who in most cases are also living off their parents’ patronage.
We are fast breeding a generation of extremely dissatisfied and frustrated citizenry whose tolerance level may snap some day. These are men and women, well educated, exposed, and had tasted a great measure of freedom and independence while at the college but are now forced against their wish and will to revert back to the lives they had lived one-and-a-half decades before. They are very ripe for marriage and they must of necessity perform all of nature’s functions. And yet they cannot afford to get pregnant because they cannot afford the financial implications of child-rearing. They live a life of perpetual dilemma which may be compounded by their religious persuasion.
We are compelled to raise alarm especially when we remember and consider the relative comfort and ease of our generation and the generations before ours. Most men and women in my generation were married before age 30. In fact, it was most fashionable for men to marry at age 26 or 27 while our female counterparts got married before they turned 25. I recall an article written by humour merchant and one of Nigeria’s most celebrated columnists Gbolabo Ogunsanwo where he declared emphatically that any lady who was not married at 27 would have her mother spending sleepless nights at Prayer Mountains! That was 1974.
But now a great number of ladies in their late 30s are still more worried about securing a regular means of livelihood for self survival than looking for husband, who also may be jobless. The men also are not ready because they are merely men biologically but children as far as responsibility is concerned.
The implication of this scenario for the future is that we are going to have men and women in their 60s who will still be carrying children to high schools! Or women in their 50s who will still be carrying children to nursery schools whereas a good number of my contemporaries had stopped child-bearing at age 35. I already had the last of my five children before age 36 and I was considered marrying late, four years after graduation, by the standards of our time.
What we have is a very dangerous trend. When you have adults, who are constrained from acting as adults because of economic problems, and live a life of near hopelessness, we should know that collectively we have a big problem. When you have adults whose self confidence has been eroded, whose understanding of their own self worth is in doubt, and who feel alienated by the society, then we should start for a barrage of health challenges that are bound to follow either sooner or later.
Emotional problems, psychological problems, mental problems are most likely to set in when one is not allowed to act one’s age. We can even begin to recognise some of these growing abnormalities where adult children in their late 30s are sagging their pants and women in the same age bracket of 35 plus dress like girls just out of senior secondary.
You cannot blame them. They see themselves as children in adult bodies!
Now I will not call on government. I’ll rather call on the larger society and draw our attention to this unfortunate and demoralising situation. In the article I read on the plane, Europe and the Americas were called upon to reverse the trend, pay serious attention to acquisition of skills and stop the mass unemployment which is currently plaguing the world.
We should create an enabling economic environment that will guarantee a future of hope and satisfaction to our growing population. A situation where generations of school leavers are allowed to continue to swell an army of the unemployed is not healthy and is not good for the psyche of our youths.
It does not make one feel happy that citizens who live in a more technically advanced age and who logically should be living a better life than the one we had when we were their age are forced by our planlessness and collective selfishness and greed to live a life less than enviable. If in my generation almost all my age group had moved into their own buildings before they turned 35, and all had become independent of their parents and guardians well before age 25 why should we allow children born 35 years thereafter to stagnate as children even at age 39-40?
Why should we sentence our 35-40-year-old adults to a life of children who still require one thousand-two thousand naira transport fare to travel from point A to point B?
And nobody should tell me: why can’t they go and farm?’ ‘Or why can’t they go into business?’ Do you farm or go into business with empty hands? Where is the seed money for initial take-off?
It is unfair. It is unacceptable.
•Chief Tola Adeniyi (shown in photo) is a former Managing Director of Daily Times of Nigeria. He can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org
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