Life expectancy in Nigeria as a parent
Did you know that the average life expectancy in Nigeria is 54.5 years? According to the National Bureau of Statistics (2019), Life Expectancy in Nigeria is fifty-one for females and forty-seven for males. Isn’t it scary?
This is because being a Nigerian is a full-time Job!
The typical Lagosian wake up at 4:00 a.m., baths in a hurry and leaves for work without having breakfast. He works until four p.m. then rushes off to go home. He gets stuck in traffic and ends up getting home by ten p.m. He either eats that late or completely forgets about food.
His body isn’t getting the right amount of rest needed to withstand the stress. This stress is magnified if they have kids. That’s why a lot of parents die before they are old enough to become grandparents.
Wondering what pressures put Nigerian parents at risk of dying early? Well, this is why!
The pressure to get married
Before a girl child is able to master language and communication, her mother would have begun to talk to her about how to behave when she gets to her husband’s house. Momma would say things like: The goal is to marry before thirty. Usually, the family and community join in the pressure, most of which is so subtle that you could miss it if you blink. Aunties would stop you at a wedding and remark on your other-worldly beauty. “You’ll even be more beautiful when you marry and start having kids,” they’ll say with innocent smiles.
The pressure to have children
Once you are married, the pressure changes gears. For the women, the standard greeting from everyone becomes “Ah ah, you are not pregnant yet?” If you are a man, expect to hear “Your wife don born?” irrespective of whether she is pregnant or not.
Your family members (from both sides) will mention babies whether you want them or not. Back in the day, relatives could appear in front of a couple’s door with a second wife for the husband if there was any delay in conception with the first wife. Thankfully, this is no longer the case. But this kind of stress is still present, unfortunately, which is why the life expectancy in Nigeria very low.
The struggles and pains of parenting in Nigeria
The society will not stop at telling you when to have to a baby but how many babies to have. The average Nigerian parent has 3 children—3 mouths to feed in an unstable economy. Of course, the people prodding young parents to have more kids are rarely on hand to help the family! Thankfully, a few family members and friends will stick to help in times of need.
These are the causes of the low life expectancy in Nigeria:
1. Caring for a large family
Parents in Nigeria face a lot of challenges. As a Nigerian parent, you are responsible for the wellbeing of your immediate family and that of the extended family. This means that you may have to pay the school fees of your siblings, your wife’s siblings, your children, etc. You may also have to feed, cloth, and take care of their medical bills. Taking care of your aged parents is non-negotiable.
Most people prefer to postpone getting married and making children if their siblings are still in school. This is so that their resources will not get diverted.
2. The high cost of living in Nigeria
The cost of living in any Nigerian city is very high. Parents have to spend lots of money on house rent, taxes, power supply, water, sanitation bills, school fees, hospital bills, etc. Everything is expensive!
Parents have the burden of protecting themselves and their children. A section of the country has been going through a crisis for a while, and parents in that area are understandably stressed. Insecurity is one of the reasons life expectancy in Nigeria is low.
4. Lack of peace of mind
Lack of peace of mind also reduces the life expectancy in Nigeria. With the inconsistent power supply in Nigeria, the high cost of living, etc., an average Nigerian has so many things to worry about. This disturbs his peace and can lead to medical issues down the line.
5. Lack of suitable employment opportunities
There are millions of unemployed or underemployed graduates in Nigeria, and most of these graduates are parents. The stress of not making enough to provide for the family can reduce the life expectancy in Nigeria.
6. Expensive healthcare
Healthcare in Nigeria isn’t the most affordable. Since a large section of the population cannot afford comprehensive healthcare, most people won’t even step foot in a hospital when they are sick.
The situation gets worse when diseases that are treatable lead to deaths just because the sick person couldn’t afford to go to the hospital. Preventable deaths are a leading cause of the low life expectancy in Nigeria.
7. Superstitious beliefs
Superstitious beliefs contribute to preventable deaths. Some people have died because they believed in praying away diseases instead of seeking medical help. The expectation that a miracle cure trumps any medical treatment has seen many sick people camping in religious centers in search of healing rather than visit hospitals. Unfortunately, not everyone gets a miracle outside the hospital ward, and many of these diseases eventually lead to death.
The joys of parenting in Nigeria
These economic hardships notwithstanding, being a parent in Nigeria has its joys. There is nothing more soothing than the smile and laughter of one’s children. There is nothing more satisfying than seeing your children thriving in Nigeria despite the harsh conditions.
It takes a village to raise a child, so when things are so hard, you can count on the help of your family and friends. In tight-knit families, parents are not abandoned to bear all the burdens of parenting. If you need some time to rest, your family members are there to happily mind your babies.
Resources: World Health Organisation