Parents hold their children very close. And Nigerian parents are not different. One of the duties and responsibilities of a parent is to educate their children on the things which their culture or society has labelled as "taboo."
Unfortunately, children do not always listen, and it is not unusual to see children do the very thing their parents have warned them against. Some parents forgive and move on, but others consider the act of their child to mean something else, and move beyond just anger, to disowning that child.
But, wait, I have jumped the gun. There is a difference between 'disowning' a child and 'disinheriting' a child.
To disown means to "to say or decide that you will no longer be connected with, associated with, or responsible for (someone or something)" while to disinherit means to "to prevent (someone, such as your daughter or son) from having the legal right to receive your money or property after you die." [Source]
I think we often use the two terms interchangeably, even though they mean different things. However, I wanted to focus on disowning today.
There are many circumstances that can lead to a parent disowning a child. Here are a few examples:
- Marrying from a family, tribe, community, village, religion, social class that one's family disapproves of
- Committing a crime e.g. murder, theft, robbery (robbery is different from theft), etc
- Unrepentant waywardness e.g. a child from a conservative family openly committing crimes, abusing drugs, etc. Think of "The Prodigal Son."
- Teenage Pregnancy
I think you get the general idea. I don't think that a parent's fears or concerns are unreasonable when it comes to how they want their children's lives to turn out. Generally. However, children regardless of their upbringing have their own philosophies, ideas and ways of doing things. A child is a separate human being from his or her parent. He or she has her own free will and is an independent human being, not a clone of his/her parent.
While parents might not agree with their children's choices and in fact might disagree wholeheartedly with their lifestyle choices, I believe that disowning your child is an extreme decision. Life is too short and brief, especially in light of eternity to be estranged from your child forever. So, to answer my own question, I don't believe it is ever right to disown a child.
What about you? When, if ever, is it right for a parent to disown a child? Kindly share your thoughts.