Years back, an incident happened in Lagos which got many people asking why parents use emotional blackmail on their children. The Lagos incident went thus: A couple lost their only daughter (Bukky) who killed herself because she was not allowed to marry the man of her dreams. Trouble started when she insisted on going on with the wedding and was eventually told by her father, ‘If you marry him, do not even come to my grave!’
She was said to have written a letter saying that the best thing was to take her life since she could not live to be married off to someone else, neither could she live with the curse her father was about to place on her by saying she should not come to his graveside when he dies.
Such stories are not new in our society where parents are often opposed to the choice of partners by their children. Most times emotional blackmail is used. Children who insist on going on to solemnise their relationship without their parents’ blessings always carry a heavy burden in their hearts. Parents go all out to discourage their children from marrying certain suitors, often giving religion, tribal, and social statuses as criteria for choosing whoever they give their blessing to for their daughter’s or son’s marriage.
Hajiya Farida Ismail, a 45-year-old educationist, says emotional blackmail is mostly used by parents but that it is a dangerous trend if not cautiously applied. “Using emotional blackmail in an attempt to scare our children off a potential spouse because they come from a different tribe is not praiseworthy in anyway, The benchmark must always be a worthy character and the fear of God which necessitates all the positive character traits a good spouse for our children should exhibit,” she said.
Ismail noted that: “Parents should always take into consideration the needs and emotions of their children before they take decisions. Matters of the heart are very delicate and should be treated with caution, especially with female children. If oppositions to matters of the heart are not accepted by female children, they are quick to rebellion which is always a negative thing.”
Parents always forget that compatibility between a person and his/her potential spouse does not mean they absolutely have to be from the same ancestral roots. Compatibility is just one of the conditions for marriage and has broader implications. It is imperative that parents who have brought up their children in cosmopolitan environments fathom this point.
Ibrahim Ramalan, a 40-year-old accountant, believes that no matter what, parents always have the wisdom to know what is right and wrong for their children. “I always advise my brothers and sisters aiming at getting married to seek out their parents’ advice and vision for their potential spouse in order to attempt reconciling between the wishes of those important in our families,” he said.
“It is ludicrous to feel that the choice for a marriage partner has nothing to do with anybody in the family. Do not forget about those who brought you up before the potential spouse came into your life,” Ramalan stressed.
“The wisdom of parents and elders can never be overlooked. This is not denying the fact that sometimes their advice may be biased but then it is left to you as the child to prove to them and make them see the reason you have made the choice of partner,” he added.
Adeshola Ahmed, a 32-year-old undergraduate, thinks that marriage is a personal matter and interference from others is unacceptable and unethical.
“It’s uncalled for, especially if one comes from a radical tribe or family that loves to predetermine their offspring’s lives. I have seen it many times that people are unhappy in their lives because their spouses were chosen for them as they were not allowed to marry those their hearts went with,” she remarked.
“We are in a generation where freedom of speech and association is gaining grounds, but it will face stiff challenges since we are living in an African society. All the same, your choice and emotions need to be respected. It is enough respect that children seek advice from their parents regarding their life partners. Parents on the other hand should take the emotions of their children into consideration. Don’t forget that a forced marriage is never happy. The happiness of the child should be a priority in issues like this,” Ahmed added.
It is a mixed grill kind of situation. While the youth may have energies; never forget that elders have wisdom. Their advice could just be that advice that keeps you married for a lifetime. Our parents can know more regarding the marriage institution but they cannot force love on anyone.
Potential couples should also know that parental guidance in marriage is essential. While on the other hand parents should not forget that they are trying to get their child married, not themselves.
Parents should not live through their children. Investigation on the potential partner should be done first. A spouse who is best for your child and suits her personality is what should be the priority. Emotional blackmail could work but it could turn out for the worst.