“You think you know more than your parents”

So every time I talk to my mom about something that we disagree on and I start to get a little bit frustrated, the phrase “you think you know more than your parents” comes up, and it irks me no end.  Nigerian parent struggles my life.

The problem at the moment is the fact that I want to study philosophy and she does not think that it is at all a worthwhile degree. But philosophy in England is very different from philosophy in the US.

Anyway, that is not the point of this, I am not here to argue about the merits of a degree in Philosophy. My problem is that annoying phrase, let me remind you: “you think you know more than your parents”.

Look, I love my mom and dad and I really do value what they say because I know that they are older and therefore wiser than me in a lot of regards- if you want to take the Aristotelian stance that experience is what breeds wisdom- but let’s just unpick this real quick:

What do they mean when they say “know” as in, “you think you know”? Because if we are talking pure, factual knowledge, as in an understanding of philosophy, what it means to study it at university and its merits, then yes I do “know” more than them. They are undoubtedly wiser than me in the sense that their reasoning and judgement is definitely better than mine, but what good is that wisdom in assessing a situation if you don’t also have accurate facts? Your judgement is inevitably going to be wrong because it is based on preconceived, often inaccurate, notions and prejudices. That is precisely the problem in this case.

It would be great if my parents, with open minds, would just put aside whatever preconceived notions they have and listen to the facts. I’m not even talking about just from me- because it is fair to say that my testimony will be full of biased passion- I’m talking about from experts and other people who are well versed in understanding this matter. I don’t feel that it is right to dismiss the testimonies of my teachers and counsellors because they have an in-depth understanding how the education and job system in England work.

And although my parents may argue that they know me and they know what’s best for me they would do well to accept that when it comes to academics my teachers know me best, even more so because I live in the school. and if they have entrusted me to this institution then they should also trust that a lot of them have my best interest at heart, so they should be working with them. Not seeing them as working against out family vision because if I am constantly told that the careers advisors and my teachers don’t know what’s up and are just pushing me in a direction- which they aren’t- then I become isolated and am therefore in a weaker position. And frankly, let’s face the facts, I can’t afford to be isolated from them when my parents aren’t even around all the time. That’s not a criticism it’s the truth and it’s okay because there are systems in place to make sure that they don’t have to constantly be on my heels and worrying. Things just don’t work if they don’t trust that system.  But what is the point in paying for a system you don’t trust? (I realise this leads to some bigger questions mostly about governments and taxes etc.)

Back to my original point. I feel that once they know and understand all that then I will be content because I’ll at least know that even if they tell me I still can’t study philosophy- which I’m convinced they wouldn’t if they knew all the facts- at least i can trust that they are using their best judgement. 


But on another note, to all the people who keep telling me that it is my life and that I should just go and do what I want to do and study what I want to study. YOU GUYS WILL KUKU KILL ME O!! Are you actually trying to see me die?? Which kind “it is my life”? For where? When my parents have told me I belong to them and freedom is not a right, in fact, they have even said when I am 30 I will still have to listen to them . When I am 40, I will have to listen to them. Talkless of school fees, tell me to get a job and pay for it myself. MAD PEOPLE. That would make no difference in my household. You clearly don’t have African parents.

The more serious side of this is that, as my Ethics teacher was saying today, different cultures have different virtues, so even though individuality and choice is the most prevalent virtue in the West we need to remember that isn’t the same for every other culture. I come from a developing country (Nigeria) and so it’s understandable that degrees that are seen to be more beneficial to the development of the country are the ones which are held in high esteem. Obedience and respect for your parents are also major virtues. My parents are really supportive of me and we have a shared vision of where my life is going, service to society is a big part of our family’s ethos and as mine as an individual. I get that philosophy is kinda seen as this aristocratic study that’s all theory and no action, so it would seem pointless to study it but that’s not the case.


but mommy it’s not useless
“You think you know more than your parents”

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