by Farouk Martins Aresa
Do poor children generally love their parents more than the spoilt brats? It depends on the parents is not the answer. No matter how strict most parents are, rich kids have this notion of entitlement unavailable to poor kids. They develop some resentment if they feel their parents are “stingy” with imagined wealth. It’s like the university graduate that complained bitterly that his father gave him a Volkswagen after graduation while his friends got Peugeot or Mercedes.
We all love our children and expect them to love us forever. As we get older and they become adults, their responsibilities and focus shift to their own families. In order to attract them back, especially mothers, “bribe” them with gifts within their means. It could be with their favorite dish as a kid or a little money from her pension if paid. When you see old people playing lottery with a little they have, they want to share the winning with their children to gain affection back.
Unfortunately, the way parents make their money, in most cases determine how their children love them. Children, like adults, are usually proud of the parents that struggle hard to put food on the table and strive to meet their obligations. However, children cannot be proud of efulefu parents, are actually ashamed of those communities stigmatized as: onye-oshi, barawo or ole!
Children are usually adaptable to their environment. There are families living on environmental dumps on the lagoon and on the streets. Yet, in these desperate situation some families are better placed than the others. One may be able to get better shelter made of aluminum, wood or readymade cave. Yet the bond between children and parents remain in those dire situations. Some of the parents have given their children to others to look after because they are too poor.
Just as a reminder, African children are more than investment. When Yoruba say – a jeun omo o – it is more than expected returns on the care we rendered them. Unfortunately, this is not the generation we can claim that much from. Even rich countries and parents fail to see rosy future for their children unless the top 5% spreads economy gains around. Some will argue it is the reason politicians think they can loot their way into the future so their grandkids will not suffer.
Mind you, riches even the one obtained the old fashioned way, can become a game of numbers. When we have enough to take care of our needs and wants many push for more than the other guys. A bigger house, better car or many more. If an Edge Fund manager, you want to create more profit than the other managers. At some point, some of us realize that more money does not give us happier children or families. It may even deny us of quality time with them.
The relationship between a child and the mother is sacred and most fathers realize that. It takes an overbearing father to assume otherwise unless there is a contingent factor that renders the mother unfit. As in a true story of a toddler and his father struggling to survive. The father was homeless and one could not imagine a poorer mother. Children, no matter how poor, curious if mother or father in jailed. At some point, that child would find them. See Pursuit of Happyness.
What is evident is the love of those children for their mother or father. They always miss the poor homes they left and the affection of their parents. When it gets to the point that a poor homeless father has to shelter his son or daughter without the comfort of a mother, it becomes a sadder story. There is some deep lasting affection from poor children. Giving back to parents, a big motivating factor to succeed. Unfortunately, armed robbers and prostitutes use it as excuse.
We also have great humble kids. Comparing their deep affection to those of children that grow up in poor families where the children think parents owe them less is sobering. While it is true that children compare themselves to their neighbors in either rich or poor environment, taking rich life for granted begin at an early stage. The attachment and obligations poor children have for their poor families can hardly be compensated by those of rich parents that hire helps.
Most parents love their children so much, they are willing to go without food, water, sleep and other necessities so that their children may have. Fathers work in camps for months and return home. As these children get older, their reluctance to leave home change from affection to survival alone on their own. This behavior with children also exist within the animal kingdom.
There must be a continuum from affection stage to survival stage as children grow older. If the parents are rich, there is room to accommodate them. But if they are poor that option is very limited. Since parents always pray that their children do better than them, in the days of less opportunities, children may want to hang on longer at homes where parents are rich. They do not want to give up their comfortable rooms. The poor children do not enjoy that choice.
So poor children look for jobs more diligently. Psychologists have preached that rules have to change once the jobs situation is not favorable enough for children to take the plunge. They must look for some jobs even if it is not their ideal jobs and must contribute to the house. Parents must learn to set limits otherwise children will take over and kick out the parents. Most African parents are willing to accommodate their children longer, just as upper class Europeans.
Indeed some of these children bring their husband and wives home with the promise that they are saving for their own houses. Middleclass Africans and Europeans may accept it but it is less common among Americans until the recession hit. What we see during the recession in America are two generations of middleclass families living together in the same house. Generations of families living together is more common in Africa and Europe.
In short, children only realize fully what their parents went through as they become adults themselves. That is why children never forget the poor homes mothers struggle so hard to keep.