by Farouk Martins Aresa,
What has always distinguished the children of the rich from those of the poor is the special affection most children of the poor have for their parents. They grow up pledging to buy their parents a house and a car. Most children of the rich take their parents for granted with a false sense of entitlement. So when you ask children of the rich what they want to do for their parents when they grow up. Well, they say their parents already have a house and a car nah!
Once upon a time, our parents that were the first born in their families told us how they had to quit school doing whatever they could in order to support their parents and send their younger siblings to school. Some joined the Arm Forces, learned a trade, became house-helps and a few even engaged in prostitution to give an opportunity they never had. Some of the siblings later turned their back on the older brothers and their parents. According to them, they could hardly meet up with their own responsibilities in the face of hardship in the country.
Moreover, when asked the reasons for abandoning their parents, they assumed their older brother that had less means than them because of his limited education still cared for their parents or they thought their other brothers or sisters already took on the responsibilities. In other words, it is the fault of the other guys, not theirs. They have already forgotten that it was the sweat of their oldest brother or sister that helped their parents in taking care of them.
Going by the grandmother whose story went viral on the internet recently, some of these children of anger justified their callousness by claiming their mother could not get along with their wives or their husbands as if that is new. One even said he did not want his mother to know where his family lived. This indifferent attitude usually happens in the big cities where community norms and customs have been displaced by casual relationships.
There used to be a time, when your paychecks are delivered to the parents, especially if you lived at home. Those that did not live at home gave generously to their parents. Some fathers usually in control of money spent like Father Christmas, depending on how much he received and how often. A friend complained bitterly how his father bought new mobile phones for his siblings when he could not even afford one; that was when mobile phones first came out.
Another lady was sending money from Europe to the dad to build her a house and also to take care of himself and her mother since the siblings were already out of school working. The father played Father Christmas for the siblings and grandchildren. When she was deported, she found herself living at the same old house with her father and a new wife.
The ordeal in the hands of her siblings that remained at home, her father and mother drove her out to one of those Churches where they teach you that members of your family are your enemies and Church members are the only family you have. Luckily, she travelled out again and cut off completely from her parents and siblings. It was a difficult decision for her or anybody to cut off from a natural family. She turned her close friends into family.
How children could watch any of their parents end up on the street is beyond most of us. No doubt some parents have their faults. Some spent the money of a successful daughter or son lavishly to attract the love of other children. As long as their mum and dad have some goodies at home, children visit home often to raid groceries and even ask for money. Some may even refuse to leave home. A few bring in their husbands to live with their parents, “temporarily”.
As soon as one of their parents dies, the eldest son is ready to take over the house regardless of whose money built that house. If it was the eldest daughter’s money, she can kiss that house goodbye! Daughters are fighting back these days though. There are cases in courts between siblings asking for their parents’ property to be shared equally between daughters and sons. The crap about male sons inheriting everything is for bygone days!
A friend of ours went bankrupt. But just in case he might, he had deposited some money into his children’s accounts to hide it from creditors. The first born that had most of his money completely cut off from his dad when he kept asking for his money back. He told the father not to disturb him and his family. Each time the father called, he gave him a headache, the son said. This child of anger watched his father as he lost his house and cars.
Some of the parents were so disillusioned they might have gone to their grave early. Those that withstood their children indifference told sorry stories. Parent must learn to expect the least from their children because time has changed. We are witnessing the last generation that cared for their parents as well as their children. These children only care about themselves. If any of them decides to look back and be generous to their parents, may God bless those children.
As a first born, help your future by being well equipped to help others. Even two low levels jobs paying a little to take care of others while you cannot afford transport fare back home and forth because you are on drugs or you have given everything away, would come back and haunt you.
Usually children of poor families remember their parents’ struggles and become generous to them as poverty early in life drove them to success. It is the children of the rich that feel a sense of entitlement that mostly becomes ungrateful to their parents. The same children that inflated their school fees and shared it equally with the bursar, regardless of their fathers’ sweat on the farm. On the other hand, very few have sympathy for the children of looters or their parents.
African culture is changing and it is being influenced by the global culture. The social network in the western countries provides welfare for the poor and the aged. In Africa, we were our brothers’ keeper but that is fading fast especially in the cities. Social and family network are still strong in the small town and villages. What we do not know is if the culture in cities’ children of anger would infect the villages.
Financial planners are advising the wealthy or parents of modest wealth to plan for retirement carefully so that they do not end up on the street. Help your children if you can afford it but always ask yourself – if you “lend” them your retirement gratuity to help them through school or provide whatever they want, would they pay you back in your old age?