A lot of Nigerian youths when they get jobs start to financially provide for their parents.
A Twitter debate erupted on Saturday, November 18, 2017.
The argument started when @iamMrBoro tweeted "Dear Nigerian parents, your children shouldn't be your retirement plan. Yours sincerely."
He tweeted a personal story of his cousin who died while trying to provide for his parents and siblings.
This thread triggered a lively discussion the next day. A lot of people expressed their view on the matter. Some felt that kids have a responsibility to take care of their parents when they are old and retired.
Others were of the opinion that young Nigerians shouldn't be burdened by being financially responsible for their parents.
Whatever your side you choose, you cannot deny that this is a real thing happening in our society. As kids, our parents toiled and worked extra hours to put us in school and give us the best education. They broke their backs to give us the best childhood they could afford.
Life is a cruel mistress and not all our parents are going to retire with a huge fund at their disposal. Many of them made financial mistakes along the way which would follow them into their later years.
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After all the years of working hard, they are now living with a deficit. Where does the child come into all this? Does he bear the financial burden of his parents or walk away and take care of himself?
South African comedian Trevor Noah wrote about this in his book 'Born A Crime'.
"So many black families spend all of their time trying to fix the problems of the past. That is the curse of being black and poor, and it is a curse that follows you from generation to generation. My mother calls it “the black tax" wrote the famous comedian.
He further wrote, "Because the generations who came before you have been pillaged, rather than being free to use your skills and education to move forward, you lose everything just trying to bring everyone behind you back up to zero."
Trevor Noah who grew up in South Africa said his mother did not place this "black tax" on him. When he was of age, his mother told him not to worry about them back home and he should just focus on his career.
You could say this allowed Noah to focus fully on his career and become the success that he is today.
"Generational wealth, that's the key. My parents ain't have shit, so that shift started with me" - 'Legacy' by JAY-Z
Poverty is generational and it a huge shift to take a whole family away from it. If young, Nigerian kids are burdened by this tax, how can a family move from poor to being wealthy? If you are caught in the rat race, chances are you are never going to get out of the race yourself.
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This discussion has a lot of grey areas in it. There is no clear-cut answer. Children have a responsibility to take care of their parents in their old age. What is the scope of this responsibility though? Helping out financially when necessary or monthly allocations and paying your siblings' school fees?
In this argument, the lack of a social security system that serves as a safety net for old citizens to live comfortably has to be emphasized.
In civilized countries, there is economic security for citizens when they retire. This system ensures that in your old age, there is something for you to fall back on.
The absence of this type of system in Nigeria has probably made many parents slip into financial problems. Only their kids can help them deal with the debt management.
Giving your folks money it's not a bad thing. It is a way of showing appreciation for all of the sacrifices they made on you. Sadly, there are too many families who rely on the first born to be the financial provider. The financial burden on many young Nigerians is great. Many are stuck paying for the mistakes of the past.
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