Home / Featured / THE DADDY DIARIES (Entry 10)


There is so much unknown when it comes to being a parent, you just have to jump in and hope you get it right. – Brie Larson, Best Actress winner, 2016 Oscars.

As parents, we like to think we’ve got this whole parenting thing down. As Nigerian parents, we don’t even want to hear that we make mistakes. If our kids don’t turn out right, then it’s their fault. Quite frankly, I think we are all clueless. You might know the basics on how to look after a child, but training up a child is not really a one-way street. Heck, it’s not even a two-way street. Training up a child is so multifaceted that one step out of turn could be the difference between raising a murderer, rapist, pastor, murdering pastor, devious deacon, or a virgin prostitute. We already know all kids are not the same. One kid might rebel when spanked while the other conforms. How you train your child is totally up to you; borrow ideas from different people, but in the end, it’s totally up to you. Why am I starting with what sounds like a rant? Okay, let me explain.

I believe Nigerian parents were made to formally give unsolicited parenting advice and criticize you at the same time. It is a wah for us. We take the adage of a child being trained by the entire village and blow it up to mean ‘trained by the entire country’. They’ll tell you things like:

“If you don’t do exclusive breastfeeding, your child won’t be smart…”

“Use only Cerelac, no buy nutrend or your pikin go dey poopoo too much…”

“Ah madam, give that crying child breast nah, that’s what they need. These mothers of nowadays sef…”

“Use only coconut oil on your baby’s hair and it will grow like Indian hair…”

“Take your child to that school…”

“Take am to that church…”

“Allow ya pikin to dey enter Okada…”

“Allow am to dey drive Okada…”

“Spank you child…”

“Don’t spank your child…”

“Spank your child and leave him hungry then he go learn him lesson.”

I can go on and on about the absurd advice we’ve gotten in the past and the many more we keep getting. Every child do not respond the same way; even between twins, their personalities are different. I’m a twin, I should know.

When you’ve been blessed with your first child, you’re more or less clueless. It’s a daily lesson and in this part of the world, we are lucky to have elderly women on ground to help. Our mothers visit, help with the bathing, feeding, swaddling, burping, and general cleanup. We learn from them and we try to adopt those techniques. Some babies respond while some others don’t. My son is in the latter category as most of what we learnt didn’t work on him. My neighbour once asked me what he should do at night to get his crying daughter to stop. I told him he’d have to keep trying it all until he finds the one that works. While I learnt how to carry my son and stand for hours to get him to sleep, his daughter might respond when he lies her tummy down and places her on his back. It’s one thing to tell a new parent what worked for you and another thing entirely to insist your way is the only way.

Sadly, some parents will swear by the Holy Bible that their way is the narrow and sure way to raising a winner. Oh that’s right, a winner. To them, their kids are always winners, always coming first, never second or third. They ask you questions on your child’s development just so they can shove their “my child has already done that” rhetoric in your face.

“Awww, your son has started walking? How old is he? Really? A year old? Ah, he started late ooo! My child started walking when she was three months old. She didn’t even crawl; she just stood up and flew.”

Oh, what a load of RUBBISH!

That’s not usually how they say it, but the gloating becomes so obvious in their voice that you’d want to pick up their flying babies and smack these parents over the head with them. They’ll then go ahead to tell you how you should have fed your son only natural calcium induced diet, made by Massai herdsmen at the high peaks of the Kenyan snow-covered mountains.

You think fathers are exempt from these shameful competitions? Oh no, they are definitely in on it. When my child was four or five months old, a friend of mine compared his son’s hair to that of my son. He asked why my son’s hair was not as textured as his son’s. I can’t remember exactly what my reply was, but it was pretty sarcastic. I didn’t create his hair, how was I to make it more textured – whatever that means.

My wife has gotten really good at ignoring these comments and I envy her for it. If I was the one on the receiving end of these unfair, unhealthy baby comparisons, my sarcastic comebacks would have made the other parents stop inviting us to their tea parties.

We actually do have good friends, first-time parents that fumble along with us, and experienced parents that give advice without them sounding smug about it. One of the best parenting advices I ever got was from a very good friend of ours, Mama Cutiful as we like to call her. She said all children are not the same, they’ll grow up differently, develop differently, and so, why should she have to worry if her child is one week late in joining the ABC club.

My son is a year and eight months now. His development has been going on well; there is nothing out of the ordinary to make me worry. He has not started forming his words yet but he is way, way ahead in his babynese language, and that’s just fine by us. He’ll start forming the words pretty soon, I won’t rush him, his mother won’t either. No other parent should have the right to try and make us look like failures because our son hasn’t started reading the thesaurus.

Let’s leave our babies to grow up. Don’t force them to.

Written by Anyibaba

About shakespeareanwalter

Walt Shakes(@Walt_Shakes) is an award-winning Nigerian writer, poet and veteran blogger. He is a lover of the written word. the faint whiff of nature, the flashing vista of movies, the warmth of companionship and the happy sound of laughter.

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  1. Lol…let’s not forget the “nawa oo, you no dey give this pikin food? See as he skinny”.
    Or “use almond oil only on his hair. Nothing else works”. Or “give this baby formula na…why are u suffering him” sigh… I could go on. I have perfected the art of “yimu-ing” my way out of those conversations….

  2. One comment by a passerby one night made me want to jump out of the car and strangle this man.
    Was sitting in the car with the half naked son at night with all the car Windows open just for air to atleast come in while I wait for hubby to finish his business the next thing I heard was
    Mam: madam heat dey do that boy now abeg fan am
    Me: Oga wetin concern you concern pikin wey heat dey do ?
    Man: madam no vex you know say pikin na everybody own no vex .
    Me: I don’t know you from anywhere so mind your business and go your way .
    Advice from people can be annoying atimes

  3. Hahaha! Nigerians! Our busibodiness no be small.

  4. My neighbours son was enrolled in a creche very early in his life cos both parents had to go back to work. Now he’s 17 months and can hum some basic rhymes. Whenever he starts humming, the other neighbours get very agitated and begin telling their babies (13 and 16 months) to ‘better hurry up and be like Kosi…’. I always caution them against that!! First of all, them never enter creche for their life! also, I’m sure even among his creche mates, no be all of them sabi hum! Every child is different! Please stop putting pressure on anyone!

  5. This series gets me thinking about how to go impregnate a girl. I love babies, but I am not so keen on having a family right now. Shades of confusion.

  6. The one that piss me off is this ah mama Aka this your son is too skinny,try and give him beans. Hope you know how to cook it,wash, cook it very well blah blah blah. Me: OK ma I will do just that. Shikena. Ah u are still using Nigerian Pampers? Nawa o. Use this particular foreign diaper, as if it will give him or her direct visa to America. Abeg all these over sabi pple should free me biko. My child is special and different from yours. When he’s fat we fear obesity in the future. OGINI N’EME?

  7. Ibem fa parents. I will get there someday. Then maybe i’ll understand the feeling.

  8. ‘…but the gloating becomes so obvious in their voice that you’d want to pick up their flying babies and smack these parents over the head with them. They’ll then go ahead to tell you how you should have fed your son only natural calcium induced diet, made by Massai herdsmen at the high peaks of the Kenyan snow-covered mountains.’

    ??? ??? Your sarcasm is pure!

  9. So on point!my boy has refused to chubby up!even with midnight feeding,the dude no gree!then,I go to the hospital for routine check ups, and I am told” madam,feed ur baby,madam breastfeed,madam,you no dey feed am,madam this madam that”arrrrghhhh!!i have had my mean moments too,one friend of mine actually asked me if I feed my baby at all,I told her mbanu!why must he eat?another nurse weighed my son and he clocked a less than expected,she asked why didn’t he clock something higher?i asked her if they were giving scholarships based on it!we laughed but I have sent my message across!then my hubby’s people,aiya aiya….one talkative Aunty said if money was the problem,that we should let her know so we should feed my baby!chai……if my dad had heard this,he would open a mall for him….I swallowed it cos I was just new in the whole motherhood thingy but oh how I have matured!she made some silly remarks again during the xmas hols,I just gave her a slightly rude stare,she maintained,after all we were in her house,so I had to be subtle.it’s not easy I swear,you can’t please everybody!oh he’s too fat,oh he’s too slim……make them park well…if your baby can wake up everyday,slap,bite,scratch you,you are doing quite well!

    • My son na the same thing, he no gree chubby up. Na all these witchy witchy people wey go make you feel say if your pikin no dey chubby, he no dey healthy.

    • Tell me about baby shaming, my baby is so skinny and then every time when she went for immunization they kept asking, are you not breastfeeding? But for God so loves me, she is very active and they can see that nothing is physically wrong with her. She stopped breastfeeding at 7 weeks, so I always felt guilty when asked and cried a lot. But I learnt that why cry over what you have no control over, and both my mum and mum in law said their first child did same, so I was encouraged a bit.

    • Mine is a chubby lil angel and it’s a same complaint…watch her weight o, ur baby is too fat o,bla bla and more blas. Meanwhile we practically force d babe to eat 2 meals a day. It’s just her breast she wants. Her dad,2 of my sister in-laws,my mum&sister are in d health/nutrition field, yet they know better than all of us. No1 in d hospital has ever complained of her weight. My mum inlaw even says dats how my hubby was till about 2/3, and then he outgrew it…but no, these advisers know it better than we do oh!

  10. Oh…lest I forget,the Aunty asked why didn’t we celebrate my son’s bday,I smiled “Aunty we celebrated it in Abj!his grand dad’s idea!??

  11. So this thing dey pain you too? Ha!!! Don’t meet them when the child has a symptom or is ill. “Bia, nye nwaa ogwu worm. Ooo worm na asa ya afo..” “Deworm that child. Her case is worm infestation.” And this is coming from someone who has not performed any test on said kid o. Me? I have perfected the ‘Yimu” act to a T. When my baby was just under a year, a relative came to visit and kept badgering me on her bowed legs. “Give that girl Vit D. Give her cod liver oil. Giver her this, Give her that”. Ah!!!! The way I ignored her eh!!! When a paediatrician had already told me that I should not bother since she will outgrow the bow. A very slight bow o.

    As for the other super baby feats other mothers tout, leave matter. Who no get super baby? That is how one was criticising me for saying my baby will only enroll in reception when she is 2/ “Ah, you don’t want her to start school on time?” Is it ya starting? Abeg, make we hear word!!!

    Well done, Anyi. We surely learn on this job called parenting.

  12. It’s heartwarming to read about your experiences, for a while I was thinking we were alone on this. At first, it almost made me feel like we were doing something wrong, we weren’t parenting him the right way. That was then, I got wiser, I realised we are all clueless in this parenting thing, I learnt to take the good advice and throw away the thrash. Parenting is hard at it is, it’s not all roses and peaches, I don’t need another parent trying to make me feel like shit in the process.
    Parenting should be fun and it will be.

  13. I never born yet o, but I’ve seen enough competition among my married friends to last me eternity.
    And the comments on this trend got me cracking up so hard with laughter! ? ? ?

    And Oga anyibaba, your level of sarcasm is Hilariously high! ? ? ?

  14. I can’t even begin to talk about the numerous unsolicited and highly aggravating advice i hv received on top my1yr old daughter’s head…everybody knows how to cater to ur child(whom u carried alone, sucks from ur breasts alone, keeps just u&hubby awake, etc) better than u oh. Lol!

    I just smile&say thanks when it’s harmless, but once ur advice begins to cross a line, i retrieve my bad mouth from where i usually hide it and innocently ask how many time of formula u bought for us or how many diapers or if u lay awake with me every night suckling her when the heat wakes her up or if ur setting aside her school fees for when she begins school at 2…No be only for advice wey u go follow train na! Lol.

  15. As for those parents who out of stupid competition enrol their children in school even before the child is three months old,contunu ooo..You hear things like,’Ah,my Zuby is already in daycare n he’s just 6 months’..just to spite the mother whose child is two years old and hasn’t seen the walls of a school before..Like my embittered dad would say,it has not made these ‘modern’ kids sharper and more intelligent than they who started school from 6 years and above(when their right hands were able to cross over their heads to touch their left ears).
    Many parents do not know their children need plenty sleep and rest at their early stages for brain formation.They just enrol them in school too early and yet they are still dullards..pardon my annoyance..Like one child of barely a year once cried out when they woke her up by 5am to get her ready for school,’Mummyyyy,my sleep iyaff nuh finis’…Parents bikozienu,their sleep haf nuh finish,leav dem to sleep!!!

  16. Walter oo,’Eze returns to school’ follow for the dollar increment wahala?It’s been months now oo#wailing#

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