Sometimes, the kind of things you come across on the internet are alarming, because it’s a dumping ground of sorts; all sorts of ideas are unleashed, all sorts of theories promulgated.
More often than not, I hardly pay close attention to so many things that I see, but when I saw some research that blamed having girl children for failed marriages, my blood boiled. Even though I grew up and still live in a society where a premium is placed on having children in marriages, and even more premium on having male children, the rationale behind this research just did not sit well with me AT ALL.
The worst thing for me was the medium in which it was put out. An established medium like The Economist, read by millions of educated people, and I could just visualise several men and even some women nodding and blaming the fact that they had girls for their failed or failing marriages. To put it plainly, they blame their daughters for the state of their marriage. That is the worst burden you can put on a child.
I also see girls blaming themselves for the sad state of their parent’s marriage, for the way daddy treats them, for the way mommy relates to her. Self-blame, when someone else is at fault is an even worse burden to carry.
I’m sure, by now, you are wondering what this research is all about that is almost raising my blood pressure level, here’s a snippet of it, published by The Economist;
“To confirm this relationship between sons and marital harmony, Laura Giuliano, an economist at the University of Miami, analysed a survey of parents of children born in America between 1998 and 2000. She found that couples with a son were indeed more likely to be married three years after the birth of their child than those with a daughter.
This effect can be seen in data on households across a number of rich countries, which show that adolescent boys are more likely than girls to live with both biological parents. The difference is small – in America, for example, 39% of 12- to 16-year-old girls live without their biological father in the house, compared with 36% of 12- to 16-year-old boys – but consistent. “I have never found a single statistic on a father’s presence in the household that didn’t have a significant gender difference,” says Shelly Lundberg, an economist who specialises in family behaviour at the University of California, Santa Barbara.”
There are a lot more damaging details in the article, which I will not bring here, but rather, I will use my own experience and those of the people close to me to debunk this research.
It was sometime in July this year when it was all over the internet (and you might have read the story), the news of the Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Christian Pilgrims Commission (NCPC), Dr. Uja Tor Uja, and his wife of over 35 years, Berry, who have only daughters, who are all lawyers.
I hope you read the part about the fact that their marriage has been going strong for over 35 years, because that is the crust of these piece. The fact that they had girls only, and five of them at that, did not mean the end of their relationship.
Much closer to me are old family friends. The couple should be in their mid-60s now, if not more. They have three children, all of whom are girls. That was one thing that was common to both my mom and the woman in this couple. Their girls are older than myself and my sisters, but I never for once got a glimpse of unhappiness in the man about the fact that he had only daughters.
Even when so many people around our immediate environment then rejoiced at the fact that they were having boys and called him a foolish man for staying with a woman who had only girls instead of seeking for greener pastures, this man stayed with his wife, protected his children and till date, the couple are still yummy, even as they have their home solely to themselves.
His decision back then pays off now. His girls are making him proud and he is happy in his retirement, while the men that I know personally, who left their wives because they had girls, or kept having babies until the boy came, I know exactly what their story is today. I see how the “longed for boys” have turned out whenever I go to say hi to my parents in my old neighbourhood.
I see some of the men who left have returned home with their tails between their legs, drained of life and their vitality by the women they went after. Some returned with more girls in tow, some came back the way they left, that’s what Yorubas call, “Bo se lo, lo se bo.” I know the stories my mom tells me and I can only imagine the emptiness in the hearts of these men, which is for those that have feelings o.
I also know another couple, who were blessed with only boys. One of the boys was a classmate of one of my sisters, and from the second hand stories I got about this boy from my sister, their dad was so besotted with his wife, that he was quite possessive about her. He would warn his boys off disturbing “My wife.” The boys took to calling their mother, “My wife” too, just like their dad did…but that was the happy part.
There were times he would come to school dejected and after a while, his classmates always knew without being told that the only reason this boy was always dejected was when his father beats “My wife.”
One day, he was extra dejected, he was crying at some stage and after the intervention of their class teacher, they discovered that his father had left “My wife.” He went out for work and did not return for days, only to come in close to a week later to pick up his stuff and tell “My wife” he had found someone who understood him, and that she was free to get married to anyone of her choice.
I don’t know how they are now, but I can only imagine how much struggle that woman would have gone through, raising her boys single-handedly, after the man who called her “My wife” left.
These are some of my own experiences and I’m sure you have so many of your own that put to lie this theory. True, the relationship between dads and their boys, vs dads and their girls is different, but it shouldn’t be tied to the stability of marriage.
If a marriage would fail, it would not be as a result of the gender of the children that result from that union, rather it would be as a result of some fundamental faults in the marriage.
Girls shouldn’t be blamed for failed marriages; we blame ourselves for way too many things already.
Food for thought!
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