April 19, 2024

Unilagsun

Serving the university community

Student-Parenting: A Tale of Tenacity

By Abubakare Oluwaseun, Zaynab Oyedeji, Aisha AbdulRahman and Dennis Erezi

In a society that views women as pieces of home furniture affixed to the responsibility of serving at home, quite a number of women have dismantled these stereotypes by excelling at their duties at home and dreams in society.

In a critical look through the lens of two of these amazing mothers in UNILAG who are doing excellently well in school and at home, Esther Nnenna, a 400-level student in the Department of Mathematics Education, shared the unique challenge she faced. She married in her second year in UNILAG while anticipating a swift graduation, causing her to be a student-parent. She planned to delay childbirth because of school, but the unexpected lengthy ASUU strike and the disruptive wave of the COVID-19 pandemic altered her plans.

“I had my first child right before the strike so it was easy for me but I had the second one early last year, May 2023 to be precise which was a week before exams started. It was really challenging for me because I had to start reading right from the hospital bed and even had to bring my newborn baby to school while writing exams with the help of my sister. I even thought of deferring the semester at one point in time but the extra determination kept me going”, she expressed.

Esther highlights the importance of two significant things to solve other challenges she faced. 

“Balancing is one of my major strategies. I try as much as possible to keep to time. Another thing is getting a good support system. My greatest support is my mum and siblings.” 

Emmanuela Loveday, a 400-level student-parent in the Department of Mass Communication, drew attention to the importance of planning, prioritization, and friends to balance the demands of academics and parenting.

“I do anything that has to do with school at night or during the day when my child is in school. If I have exams, I stay up till 5 am studying”, she said. “It is not very frequent but sometimes your child can call unexpectedly sick and you have to miss class or events in school when a parent meeting or Open Day can come up and you can’t miss them. I manage this by having reliable friends that don’t miss class so I can catch up on what I missed in class.” 

Misconceptions

Quite a few people see marriage and parenting as a stumbling block to their goals and aspirations. Esther challenged the notion that marriage and academics are mutually exclusive; her experience is a testament to the possibility of combining both and still excelling at them.

According to Emmanuela, most student parents use their children as an excuse for mediocrity. “I beg to differ; there are some student-parents like myself that have great academic performance despite it all.”

The Cream on the Cake

Being a student-parent has crystallized Esther’s goals. “It has really changed my aspirations and I am not distracted anymore. I have a husband and children now, no boyfriend’s distraction. I am focused on my goals.” 

For Emmanuela, being a student-parent motivates her to graduate with good grades, which will ease her and her child’s lives.

Policies and advice

Emmanuela commends the 60% attendance policy of the University of Lagos, which would cover the days student-parents have to be unavoidably absent.

“I would like to advocate for a private room where student-parents can easily breastfeed their children when they have to bring them to school,” she said.

Esther’s parting words were, “My advice for other student-parents is not to fall into depression, learn to ask for help when things get stuck. Try to have positive people around you that will encourage you and bring you joy.” 

About Author