Interpersonal Relationships Between Nigerian Mother In-Law And Their Daughters In-Law; Pre-Marital And Family Counselling Implications

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Interpersonal Relationships Between Nigerian Mother In-Law And Their Daughters In-Law; Pre-Marital And Family Counselling Implications


Abstract


Policies that discourage violence against women and girls abound in Nigeria but have not been effectively implemented. Recorded history, recent events and happenings have shown that Nigerians still experience the occurrence of the most prevalent yet relatively hidden and ignored form of violence against women and girls. In Nigeria in recent times, findings from social research have shown that violence against women and girls is present in every ethnic group, cutting across boundaries of culture, class, education, income and age. However, significant percentage of all the social research findings, write ups and activities of the feminists in Nigeria identify male-induced violence as central to the perpetuation of women’s oppression, thereby downplaying the incessant strained relationships existing between wives and mother-in-laws in Nigeria and therefore are yet to offer concrete and enduring explanations to the ever present violence between wives and their mothers-in-law. Building on cultural feminism, with a focus on women agencies the study examines causes, intensity and frequency of family violence which is rife among daughters-in-law and mothers-in-law of Yoruba extraction of south-western, Nigeria.

Both primary and secondary data were gathered for the study. Primary data were obtained through questionnaire administered among 180 women (90 wives and 90 mothers-in-law) who were selected purposively from three communities in south-western Nigeria. In addition, three Focus Group Discussion sessions were conducted among wives, mothers-in-law and unmarried girls in 2010 for the study. The findings show common factors causing friction in relationship between daughters-in-law and their mothers-in-law especially among Yorubas of southwest, Nigeria. Multi-level analysis revealed that violence is common among educated daughters-in-law than their semi-literate and illiterate counterparts, though physical abuse is not very common. The results also showed that most unmarried girls wish to marry men whose mothers are dead.

The study also reveals that mothers-in-law with excessive psychological and emotional attachment to their sons are over-protective of their sons. To reduce or contain this problem, it is suggested that both parties needed to be educated on how to play their different roles with the son or the husband as the case may be without resulting to violence. In addition, it is recommended that mothers-in-laws should develop the good sense of letting go in order to give the new couple enough space to establish themselves at the same time remain supportive to the couple and that daughters-in-law should be loving, tolerant, and respectful because they are going to become a mother-in-law one day.


Table Of Contents


Preliminary Page(s)

  • Title page i
  • Certification page ii
  • Dedication iii
  • Acknowledgement iv
  • Abstract v
  • Table of content

Chapter One

Introduction

  • 1.1 Background of the study
  • 1.2 Statement of the problem
  • 1.3 Research questions
  • 1.4 Objectives of the study
  • 1.5 Significance of the study
  • 1.6 Scope of the study
  • 1.7 Limitation of the study
  • 1.8 Organization of Study

Chapter Two

Literature Review

  • 2.1 Marital Satisfaction
  • 2.2 In-Law Relationships (Mother in-law and Daughter in-law)
  • 2.3 Adult-Child Parental Relationships
  • 2.4 Theoretical review

Chapter Three

Research Methodology

  • 3.1 Research design
  • 3.2 Sources of Data
  • 3.3 Population and Sampling of the study
  • 3.4 Exclusion and Inclusion criteria
  • 3.5 Instrumentation
  • 3.6 Reliability
  • 3.7 Validity
  • 3.8 Method of Data Collection
  • 3.9 Method of Data Analysis
  • 3.10 Ethical consideration

Chapter Four

Results And Discussion

  • 4.1 Results
  • 4.2 Discussion

Chapter Five

Conclusion And Recommendations

  • 5.1 Conclusions
  • 5.2 Recommendations
  • References

Chapter One


Introduction

1.1 Background of the study

Violence is unfortunately part of human social life (Fein, 1999). The inevitability of violence in whatever form it occurs in the day-to-day activities and interactions of man is well documented in social research. Anthropological evidences since pre-state era till contemporary times have shown that human violence and cruelty either to other humans or/and animals have been on for long and appear to be rule rather than aberration. Apparently to many, violence is an issue that no rational human being should desire; an issue many abhor and try frantically to prevent, yet its rate of occurrence since the pre-historic period till now and how oft it occurs suggest that human beings, by nature, are not totally peaceable and that human’ social relationship cannot be totally rid of violence.

In literature, several factors ranging from biological, psychological to sociological and many others have been attributed as causes of violence. But of all forms of violence globally, domestic violence occurs the most, in spite of the fact that actors involved are relatives (either by affinity, consanguinity), known to one another and more often than not live together or had lived together one time or another (WHO, 2008). Findings from social research have shown domestic violence to be a global phenomenon which only varies in patterns and trend in different societies of the world (UNFPA, 1999, UNICEF, 2000; 2005).

Research findings have described domestic violence as a form of violence that transcends colour, race, creed, age, education, social class and family lines. It occurs when a family member, partner or ex-partner attempts to physically or psychologically dominate or harm the other. The problem is exhibited in many forms, including physical violence, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, intimidation, economic deprivation or threats of violence. Domestic violence is recognized as most prevalent but relatively hidden and ignored form of violence mostly against women and girls. Most incidence of violence in home goes unreported and this makes it difficult to measure the true extent of the problem.

Of all forms of domestic violence, violence of men against women and girls dominates the academic circle more than any other and has been well researched into than other forms. It is the commonest and the most pervasive of all human rights violations. It is also a global epidemic that kills; tortures and maims physically, psychologically, sexually and economically (UNICEF, 2000).

As discussed above, a lot has been documented on domestic violence in general and the problem is widely reported by social researchers, civil liberties and international organizations, however, it is very rare to come across findings from social investigation about the ubiquitous issue that is known as wives/mother-in-laws form of domestic violence, especially in Nigeria. Feminists’ activists that identify male violence against women as central to the perpetuation of women’s oppression are yet to offer concrete and enduring explanations to the ever present violence between wives and their mothers-in-law. Consequence upon this (dearth of research work in this area in Nigeria), this study investigates the mother-in-law and daughter-in-law relationships and violence among Yoruba women of southwestern, Nigeria.

Customarily, among Yoruba people of southwest of Nigeria, a wife according to tradition is married to all extended family members (not only to her husband according to western culture, although her sexual obligation is restricted to her husband alone). This belief also forms part of the advice mothers give to their daughters as they prepare to join their husbands (Bascom, 1969; Fadipe, 1970). Hence, marriage is regarded as union between families of the bride and the groom, rather than just an activity between a man and a woman (The intending couple). However, despite this clear cultural position of the Yoruba people, most relationships between mother-in-laws and daughter-in-laws are fraught with conflicts and problems.


1.2 Statement of the problem

Research has indicated that even couples who possess protective factors, such as a high levels of problem-solving skills, can be negatively affected by external stressors (Neff &Karney, 2009), and in turn be at risk for marital conflict and/or divorce. Among those stressors that married couples report to be exceptionally problematic, difficulties with in-laws consistently rank highly. Both husbands and wives have reported in-laws among their top five problematic areas of their marriage, just behind financial stress and balancing jobs and marriage (Schramm, Marshall, Harris, & Lee, 2005). Despite the difficulty between couples and their in-laws, the research that examines couples’ relationships with in-laws is relatively sparse and has not been examined as frequently compared to the amount of work on marriage and financial stress, work life balance, and of course the abundant work on marital satisfaction in general.

Duvall’s (1954) seminal study on in-laws revealed that the mother-in-law is by far the most troublesome in-law for both husbands and wives. Furthermore, since that time, the problems between daughters-in-law and mothers-in-law have been highlighted in the literature (Marotz-Baden & Cowan, 1987; Merrill, 2007; Turner, Young, & Black, 2006) and results of several studies (Chung, Crawford, & Fischer, 1996; Cong & Silverstein, 2008; Datta, Poortinga, &Marcoen, 2003; Gangoli&Rew, 2011; Sandel, 2004) suggested that these issues are not isolated to the Western world.


1.3 Research questions

This study in a bid to explore all possibilities as far as issues relating to violence and relationships among wives and mother-in-laws among Yoruba people of southwest of Nigeria are concerned attempted to answer the following questions.

  1. What are the common Causes of Disagreement between Mothers-In-Law and Daughters-In-Law?
  2. What are the determinants of Degree of Relationship and Violence among Mothers-In-Law and Daughters-In-Law?
  3. What are the effective means of curbing this violence among Yoruba women of southwestern Nigeria?

1.4 Objectives of the study

The main objective of the study is to examine the interpersonal relationships between Nigerian mother in-laws and their daughter in-laws; pre-marital and family counselling implications.

Specifically, the study sought to:

  1. Examine the common Causes of Disagreement between Mothers-In-Law and Daughters-In-Law.
  2. Examine the determinants of Degree of Relationship and Violence among Mothers-In-Law and Daughters-In-Law.
  3. Examine the effective means of curbing this violence among Yoruba women of southwestern Nigeria.

1.5 Significance of the study

This study will visit the causes of strained relationships and violence between mother in-laws and daughter in-laws.

This study will also help strengthen the relationships between mother in-laws and daughter in-laws in the Nigerian context by improving the understanding between both parties.

Finally, this study will be of benefit to the educational sector, as it will add to the existing literature on the interpersonal relationship between mother in-law and daughter in-laws.


1.6 Scope of the study

This study is carried out on the interpersonal relationships between Nigerian mother in-law and their daughter in-law; pre-marital and family counselling implications. This study will focus on Yoruba Women of Southwestern Nigeria (Ogun, Osun and Oyo State).


1.7 Limitation of the study

The following limitations were anticipated in this study:

  1. Since the study was only carried out in only one province, the results may not be generalisable to the whole country. The researcher collected data on his own without research assistants.
  2. Financial constraints were also anticipated in the current study. Although the researcher received assistance from the bursary, it was not possible to carry out the study at national level.
  3. The researcher is a full time employee so time to carry out the study was limited.

1.8 Organization of Study

The study is organized into five chapters.

  • Chapter one deals with the study’s introduction and gives a background to the study.
  • Chapter two reviews related and relevant literature.
  • The chapter three gives the research methodology while
  • The chapter four gives the study’s analysis and interpretation of data.
  • The study concludes with chapter five which deals on the summary, conclusion and recommendation.

Chapter Five


Conclusion And Recommendations

5.1 Conclusions

The issue of violence and strained relationship between mothers-in-law and daughters-in-law is not novel and also not limited to African society alone. Globally, the manifestation and reality of strained relationship between a mother-in-law and her daughter-in-law is as old as the planet earth and it cuts across social, economic, religious and ethnic divides. Violence, bickering and multi-faceted ill-feelings among mothers-in-law and daughters-in-law are still rife in Nigerian society even in the contemporary times.

From the foregoing, violence between mothers-in-law and daughters-in-law is deep-rooted in the southwestern region of Nigeria and this is recognized as a major domestic issue among family members. This form of violence has transcended the realm where it was viewed as strictly uncommon occurrence to a worrisome problem. It no longer comes as surprise the way relationships between mothers-in-law and daughters-in-law are frequently depicted in popular entertainment. More often than not, relationships between mothers-in-law and daughters-in-law in Yoruba speaking part of Nigeria have shown both groups portraying one another badly.

Also, this study reveals that the quality of mothers-in-law and daughters-in-law relationships in southwestern, Nigeria ranges between extreme conflict and resentment to extreme devotion. According to the finding of the study, there exists some daughters-in-law who still hold their mothers-in-law in high esteem but majority according to the study express less emotional involvement in their relationship with their mothers-in-law than with their mothers. The same is discovered among mothers-in-law.

According to the study, the main cause of friction and strain in relationship of the mothers-in-law and daughters-in-law is the women’s understanding of their placement and position before the man (husband or son) who always wants to steer the middle course whenever issues relating to them are begging for his attention. To the mother, the son is the outgrowth of her emotional involvement who she expects to become security for her during her old age; hence she desires his 100% attention while the woman is still alive. This is a woman who never wished newcomer to have control on what she amassed for long time. On the other hand, the new woman (wife, who sees her mother-in-law as another woman) does not want to tolerate another woman with her husband because her of own sense of security expects 100% involvement from her husband in the areas of safety of children, security, comfort and sensual attachment, whereas to her the diversion of the husband’s attention to another woman would jeopardize her own interest.

As pointed above, thought process and expectations of these two groups of women are not in sync with one another due to the fact that they are products of different generations with varied values. While the generation of the daughters- in-law is more open, free, and demanding, the Mother-in-law more often than not, supports the societal expectation among Yorubas, that daughter-in-law should play subservient role when her interest and that of the mother-in-law are before the son or the husband as the case may be. The conflict emanates as a result of ideological differences between the new and old generations. Two different identities of different ideologies fight each other to gain control of one man.


5.2 Recommendations

The enormity and oft occurrence of strained relationship between mothers-in-law and daughters-in-law among Yoruba people of southwestern Nigeria, and the fact that the problem cuts across broad spectrum of all the segments of the society may want to lure one into the conclusion that the vice, especially in the modern era, has defiled all available and known solution.

However, the schism between a mother-in-law and a daughter-in-law is understandable because of the fact that the mother always sees him as a child and always wants to use her dominant behavior and egoistic approach to protect and secure him. Whereas the wife who enters his life has her own feelings and individuality and wants to live independently in a place she refers to as her ‘own house’. She thereby wants to declare her territory the way she was doing in her parents’ house before her marriage.

Since it the study has established that opinion and ideological differences lead to misunderstanding between the two female groups the study recommends that the man who is at the middle of the whole issue should endeavour to help both parties reach consensus as far as their ideologies and opinions are concerned. The two groups should try to understand each other’s stand and responsibilities so as to eliminate feeling of insecurity from both sides.

The fact that this study has attributed that the cause of disconnection between the both parties is not a personal factor but psychological (personality issues) shows that the daughter-in-law should show more affection to the aged mother-in-law who must have developed her behavior pattern over time and cannot be easily changed.

On the other hand, the mother that has handed over her son to a new woman must realize that her influence on the son to a reasonable extent has being disconnected and she must embrace the reality by accepting the wife as her daughter and work with her to the good of her son. Finally, the son or husband should try to prove to both beloved women that none of them is lesser to him and they have separate roles to play for the success of the man.


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