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Sunday, December 31, 2023

The Transition From Offspring To Breadwinner

By Jacinta Izuakam

31 December 2023   |  
3:30 pm

The African Parenting System In this part of the world, there is a belief that children are investments. Parents gladly sacrifice their dreams and aspirations for their children with the hope that there will be dividends in the future. The reason why this is more rampant in African countries than in the Western world is…

The African Parenting System
In this part of the world, there is a belief that children are investments. Parents gladly sacrifice their dreams and aspirations for their children with the hope that there will be dividends in the future.

The reason why this is more rampant in African countries than in the Western world is probably because people become parents earlier in life than the latter, which gives them less time to discover and chase their individual life’s purpose. As a result of this, most African parents live vicariously through their offspring, dictating what choices they should make and who they should become. It does not end there, due to the rush of energy between young couples, giving birth is a competition. The number of kids per family is rarely below four, any couple with three kids or less was most definitely dealing with fertility issues.

Gladly, the advent of education somewhat reduced that trend. As for parents seeking to impose their desires on their children over the child’s passion, that has significantly dropped over the years, thanks to the resistance of the ‘rebellious’ children who grew up to prove parents wrong. So far, there has been notable progress in the African Parenting system, but one aspect has been left unchecked for the longest time; An offspring being prematurely made the breadwinner of the entire family.

This is not to say that adult offspring should not be financially responsible for their family. It is noble to give back to our parents and family members because it is the least we can do to show appreciation for their love and support. However, some young adults are at risk of sinking even before sailing due to the unending financial demands of their families.

A breadwinner is a person who earns income the family solely relies on. Typically, breadwinning is a well-thought-out decision and is usually a gradual process for the breadwinner. For instance, a young man decides to get married and then begins to bear children, one after another. The financial demands of the family increase gradually, giving him time to grow his income. On the other hand, a breadwinner by chance is a young adult who upon gaining even a semblance of financial independence is tasked with the responsibility of catering for the entire family. You are most likely a breadwinner by chance due to one or more of the following reasons:

1. You Are The First Child
It is common knowledge that Firstborns are co-parents in an average Nigerian home. From a young age, firstborns are expected to look after their younger siblings, run errands and even manage the home as much as their age permits. The moment a firstborn begins to earn income, no matter the amount, the financial obligations of a co-parent is included to their job description. The more siblings there are in the family, the more the responsibility for the first child. This dynamic exists when the younger siblings are in their teens and fizzles in most cases when they all reach adulthood.

2. You’re The Only One In The Family Who Earns a Steady Income
Contrary to the general idea that all firstborns are breadwinners, the reality is that only those who are financially capable can assume that position.
In some families, when all siblings are adults, the breadwinner is usually the sibling whose income is the most consistent. The other siblings might be entrepreneurs or artisans whose source of income is not as regular as a salary earner. For this reason, the parents and siblings somewhat depend on the one with the most steady income to cater for their needs.

3. You Are The Most Responsible Amongst Your Siblings
While African parents have a strict parenting style, not all children grow up to be responsible adults. In some families, the firstborn as an adult is an added financial responsibility to the younger siblings who are striving to cater for the family.

Some siblings who are full-fledged adults cannot assist their other siblings in catering for their ageing parents because of their poor life choices such as addiction and their refusal to gain education, which leaves them financially handicapped more often than not.
Consequently, the weight of the family rests on the shoulders of the child who made better life choices.

There are a plethora of reasons why you might be the breadwinner in your family, only a few were highlighted above.

It is important to state that not all young African is faced with the financial responsibility of being a breadwinner by chance. Wealthy families do not experience this as much because the parents made other investments that yield dividends. Also, in families where most of the kids are financially independent, no sibling is solely the breadwinner; the burden is evenly shared.

Understanding the situation for you is the first step to managing it. In the next part of this article, we shall be sharing tips on how to create healthy boundaries between your income and your family demands.

James Mackreides
James Mackreides
'Mac' is a short tempered former helicopter pilot , now a writer based in Sofia, Bulgaria. Loves dogs, the outdoors and staying far away from the ocean.

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