I was talking to my colleague the other day at work. Both of us first generation daughters, yet somehow complete opposites in regards to thought process, how we were raised and obviously ethnic backgrounds. My colleague is Afro Dominican. As for myself, I have Nigerian blood running through me. My coworker speaks fluent Spanish. My parents never taught me Yoruba, thinking it would confuse me learning two languages at once. She has a boyfriend of 7 years. I haven’t been a relationship since freshman year of college and can’t seem to land one if I tried.
When comparing, I’ve realized each household is different. Whether the household contains immigrants, American born citizens or illegals, the way parents teach their child varies across the board and obviously effects the child growing into adulthood. In my household, I’ve realized things were different compared to many other households. As the oldest (on my mother’s side) with no sisters, I never had a relationship where I could talk to an older or younger sister about boy problems. My older (half) brother was always talking about sex freely when I did see him. He didn’t seem to care the conversations would later effect me down the road.. My younger brother on the other hand, not so much, as we barely have conversations concerning boys, girls or sex.. My mother or father never gave me the sex talk. It was something I learned on my own. I was never told close your legs or make boys wait for it.. Sex became something I heard about in school from the other students.
My father and I never had the daughter-father relationship most would imagine. Looking back, it was actually pretty toxic! He was harsh growing up and at times still is. His words, cut like a sword making me doubt the person I now know I’m destined to become. My colleague and her dad have a great relationship. Though she never told me personally, there are things you pick up on working 40 hours plus with another person. Things became so bad between my father and I, my uncle, his cousin, stepped in to mediate our differences. Some of our issues stemmed from how he treated my mother growing up. Obviously I defended my mother who unfortunately was too weak to stand up for herself back then. I knew the things my father would say and do were wrong. So I stepped in, though it would destroy any father-daughter relationship we would ever had.
Many times I examine other people and see how they grew up. My cousins for example never seemed to have this problem. They’re first born generation as well who’s parents are from Nigeria. Their dad is my dads second cousin. They always seemed to have this perfect family and life. When I’d tried to vent my frustrations no one seemed to understand. This became something I’ve dealt with for awhile and til this day, battle with internally. Though I’ve let go of the pain, the trauma is now ingrained in me as I was unknowingly taught horrible traits at a very young age.
Because I still live with both parents, knowing they are toxic at times, I get the brute of it all. However, one thing I realized as a first generation child is my parents didn’t know any better. I was the first example in America, land of the free… No one taught them to raise me, especially in a different country! They were learning as they went and did the best they could … Though I’ve forgiven them, I’ve realized it’s time for me to leave the house I once grew up in. Living with my parents at the age of 23 might not be the best for my mental health at this stage of my life. Many times I get thrown into arguments and asked to pick a side which isn’t fair. Of course I’ll always love them, they gave me life on this beautiful earth. But continuing to live with them might need to end soon.