THIRD PARTY FRIENDS
Three young men in their early twenties formed a musical and seemed to record a lot of progress in their first year. They released a few singles and one was a hit. There was a lot of hype about these boys but all of a sudden, they fizzled out. Later each of them tried to restart their careers separately but they did not quite catch the interest of the public. A media person got them together in an interview years later and they all agreed that they allowed tyhird parties to influence them. Third parties!
A lot has been said about third parties. The downfall of many men is laid at the feet of third parties. Something in that phrase alone seems to connote a not so desirable position or package. You hear of third party insurance packages, where you get some services but not as much as the comprehensive package. There are third parties in legal suits and partnerships; the third party is not the most important segment, it is like an extra, an addendum.
In any relationship, a third party is almost a dirty word, it is like playing the role of a villain in a children’s movie; people hate you even beyond that drama. The third party is the one that can be sacrificed and no one feels any remorse. I’m sure you’ve heard someone advise couples not to allow a third party into their relationship. Of course, the unsaid thing is that third parties are spoilers; they ruin relationships. You would commonly hear older couples advise young couples to cut off their friends that are not also married. They believe that the unmarried friends would distract the couples from their marital responsibilities. The third parties are projected as predators waiting to pounce on the peace of couples.
Who really is a third party in a relationship? People will say that it is anyone outside the main people involved. In a parent/child relationship, the third party is anyone that the child’s parent is not comfortable with – that person that seems to constantly get the child into trouble or teaches him/her habits that the parents abhor. The third party could also be that aunt or uncle who though a relative or friend of the parents somehow sees only the bad in the children. Every time they come around, it is with one negative report or another. The third party is also that person that does not live in your house but always seems to be an active participant and contributor to every conversation going on in your family. In a marriage, everyone outside the couple falls under the third party label, even the parents-in-law. In a business partnership, the third party is the one who associates a great deal with your organization but has no stake in the business.
The main attention here is the role of friends as third parties in a home. Should friendship be jettisoned as soon as one party gets married? When we advocate that people should keep out of the marital issues of their friends, is it a total ban? Are there occasions that warrant a slight adjustment to the rule? To set the pace, I will just lend my voice to a popular question about whether you will tell your friend if you find out that her husband or his wife is cheating.
Many people operate the ‘let me just mind my business’ routine. If you see something going wrong and you look away, do you still qualify to be called a friend? Is there a way to create a balance?
Let us look at some other typical examples of problems that might require intervention or a gentle nudge, starting from a woman’s perspective.
You work in the same office and have been friends for a while. You used to buy things together, go out and have fun. Then she gets married and you are happy for her but somehow, your friend never seems to have money to buy things. It is as if she hands over her salary to another person. She constantly asks you to lend money to her and so far, she has borrowed several times without any ability to refund. You had to pick up her mum’s medical bill when she cried helplessly to you. She has confided in you that she and her husband are using a joint account and she puts in all her money into it while he doles out what she needs daily for transport and feeding. Would you ask your friend why she would become a beggar while her husband is living large on her money or would you mind your business and just allow your friend to sort out her financial and marital issues?
You have finally married this man of your dreams. You talk about him all the time and tell your friends beautiful anecdotes about how much he loves and cherishes you. Your only concern is that he travels a lot. His job takes him around the nation and he spends only a couple of days a week at home. You tell your friends with a soppy smile that he is trying to ‘tone down’ on his travels and because of that, you have both agreed to wait a while before having a family because he wants to be around 24/7 during the pregnancy and in rearing the child.
However, your good friend and colleague lives a couple of houses away from your husband’s baby mama and she sees him there often. The baby mama is heavily pregnant with her second baby. Your friend sees your husband’s car parked there overnight, several days in a week. Would you expect her to give you a hint or mind her business?
You have been married for a few years but for the past one year all that you have been getting from your husband are abuses and complaints. He complained so much about your work hours as a banker that you felt compelled to resign but now, he does not give you money to take care of your children and constantly complains that you are lazy and that you are draining him financially.
Your former colleague/friend discovers that your husband is dating her colleague, another banker and constantly credits her account. If you find out about this later on and realize that your friend knew all along, what would you do? Would you appreciate your friend’s caution?
Your friend has a son who traveled to the United States for further studies. Two years ago, you all celebrated when she brought news that her son had graduated from one of the top technology institutes in flying colours. She said that his result was so good that several blue chip companies were competing to have him work for them. Later, you all celebrated again when he finally settled for one of those companies. However, your daughter, a medical doctor, sees your friend’s son in her clinic. He is rushed to her clinic following a drug overdose. Your daughter is shocked to see him and it is obvious that he is a habitual abuser. She also found out that the young man had been in the country for over three years and there was no way he could have been in any employment with any multinational company. You know that someone has been spinning a lie – the young man to his family or your friend to you. Now you have this information, will you confront your friend with the details of what you know?
In everything, there is always need for moderation and wisdom. Assess your situation very well before you take a step. Know when to pull back and when to give a nudge.
Friendship is important but so is self-respect.
Fatherhood with Ibe
WHEN YOUR TEENAGER IS A MULTI-MILLIONAIRE
There is a mindset we have about children who have access to large sums of money. If a parent exposes his child to a large amount of money, chances are that people would blame him. The common belief is that a child who has a lot of money has stolen it or is a spoilt child of negligent rich parents.
I remember, many years ago, a colleague of mine was summoned to his son’s school because the class teacher saw what she described as ‘a huge sum of money’ with the boy. The school principal called my colleague and told him that he needed to be in their school urgently. When he pressured the principal to know what the problem was, the woman said she had cause to believe that my colleague’s son stole a large amount of money and brought it to school. Panicked, he raced off to the school only to hear that the teacher saw two thousand naira with the boy and didn’t believe that it was the boy’s parents that had given it to him. The whole drama was because at age 13, the school did not think the boy should hold a sum as huge as two thousand naira (which at that time was about 60% of the minimum monthly wage).
My colleague was livid with rage; he felt the school authority should have asked him for confirmation about the origin of the money rather than have him drive out in panic to the school. On the other hand, the principal greatly lectured him about the ills of exposing a child to too much money. She told him that he would raise a discontented child who would struggle with values and who could become indolent.
The tides are changing now as more teenagers find access to large sums of money, with some even becoming breadwinners in their families. The popular belief, of course, is that most of the young people are involved in internet fraud and other nefarious activities but it is also true that daily, opportunities open up electronically and the young people who are usually fearless and have room for risk-taking, readily jump on these opportunities and often do quite well.
The truth about this situation hit home recently when a certain man ran to my house out of concern about the sudden wealth his son seemed to have come into. Ado is a man that I have known for a long time. He was a driver to an older relative of mine and had in fact become a part of his family. Everyone liked Ado for his loyalty and readiness to help around the house. When his boss died, he wanted to keep on serving the household as driver or general housekeeper but the madam said she would not be able to pay him. Ado came to me and asked me for a job. I wanted to help him because of the diligent service that he had given my uncle but my hands were full at the time; I did not have space for a handyman or a driver. As a compromise, I offered to subsidize his salary while he still worked for my uncle’s family. This went on for a few years until 2021 when my uncle’s daughter got a good job and moved to Abuja. She relocated with her mother and kid brother. Ado was not stranded because someone immediately gave him a car to drive as a taxi. He told me not to bother paying him anymore.
I was happy for Ado so seeing him so flustered that early Saturday morning got me quite concerned. He looked as if the bottom had dropped out of his world.
“I am finished, Odogwu.” He said dramatically when he saw me. “Benjamin has killed me.” Benjamin is his third son who should be 18 or 19 years old. I had seen the boy a few times and he always appeared to be involved in one hustle or the other. He had told his father that there was no need sending him to the university and taking on additional financial burden. He opted to work and help relieve his parents of some of their financial load.
“What is the problem?” I cut in, anxious to hear the real problem.
“I think Benjamin has joined money ritualists or these yahoo yahoo people.” He said referring to internet fraudsters. “I don’t know what to do. Please advise me. I know that I don’t have money but I have integrity. Benjamin is determined to finish me.” He was almost wailing and that really got me anxious.
“Did he kill anybody?” I asked, trying to get to the crux of the problem.
Ado hit his hands, palms up, one on top of the other and told me that he wasn’t sure what his son had done or was yet to do.
“What do you know?” I asked sternly and that seemed to cut through his theatrics.
He told me that the taxi business was going well but it was still a struggle to meet all his financial needs. He said that just at the time he was worried about his next rent, his son said his boss had given him the use of a certain 3-bedroom flat and all they had to pay was the same amount they paid for the room and palour they had been living in.
“It sounded unbelievable but truly, we paid the money and the flat was available to us. It was like a prayer answered. So on a whim, yesterday, I decided to drive through the office Benjamin worked in to thank his boss for his kindness. First, it was the car and now the accommodation, I just wanted to thank him for his generosity.”
He paused for a moment and took a sip from the glass of water someone had served him.
“The meeting was one of the worst humiliations of my life. It was shock upon shock. The boss told me that my son had not worked with him for about two years. He said he neither gave me a car on lease nor did he discuss anything about accommodation with Benjamin.”
I was shocked too.
“Have you asked Benjamin for the explanation; why he lied to you and where he got the car from?” I asked.
“Is there any need? Odogwu, he obviously has put his hands into something terrible. I need to return the car. I need to pack out of that apartment. I cannot be a partaker of blood money. I just want to know what I should do. Should I report to the police?”
“Call your son and tell him to meet you here now.” I instructed. You have to give him an opportunity to explain himself before you take a decision about what to do.”
He looked at me questioningly; I could see that it wasn’t the reaction he had expected from me.
“Call him now.” I insisted, teasingly asking him if he still had the boy’s number or if he had deleted it.
He shook his head and put a call across to his son.
(To be continued).