Living with parents as a young Black Motswana woman in your 20s can be either a blessing in disguise or a nightmare, for a variety of factors. With the current unemployment rate, Action For Jobs, a story of hope in 2021 and housing levies being raised in Botswana, it can be a continuous strain on the tug of war between independence and dependence. What does being dependent on your parents look like for young women in Gaborone?
A big part of identity is shaped from our experience. University is an eye opener for young Black women as it can be a large contribution for them to unpack patriarchal ideas and familiarize themselves with feminist theory. University may also be the first time that you live away from your parents and navigate independence.Although exploring different types of political views may happen on campus, for those living at home it becomes a challenge to now live by the new rules.
A young black Motswana woman in her 20s who went to University of Botswana, said that her 7th Day Adventist family was not willing to adjust to her new normal:
“ My family is relatively traditional and there are certain expectations… It causes a lot of tension. I live in a single parent household.. Expectations versus the reality of things.. These plans that my mum and her sisters had for me.. You can imagine trying to figure things out with this internal conflict on how you were raised and actual.. like real life barriers that tell you everything you are doing in your life is wrong”.
As a young Black woman living at home, it is a pattern that I have noticed from my own parents regarding growing into your own person. Parents seem to believe that you remain the same when you have finished university. They may even go as far as describing you as ‘unrecognizable’ as a means to keep you in an identity you do not relate to anymore. It becomes difficult to appease while also existing for your family.
Where the Money Resides
Living at home with your parents can be a great way to save money and plan your next moves regarding your life’s path. With the new levies being implemented on government housing, with rentals being more than double, there has never been a better time to remain living under a house already paid for. But at what cost?
Micromanagement becomes a factor if you rely on your parents for financial security while being unemployed. As their child who is a woman, chances are they will provide you with just enough to buy toiletries such as sanitary pads and one night of entertainment.
Asking for more becomes difficult as you get older as they expect you to be working and providing for yourself like they were at your age. You are expected to account for all your finances and in Botswana culture, constantly reminded that the money is not actually yours. The line between micromanagement and being manipulated financially can easily become blurred.
Let’s Talk About sex…
Sex and sexuality in your 20s can be categorized into discovering yourself. The university experience allowed me to explore without worrying about the opinions of my parents, given that they were 1500km away from me. But the biggest shock came when I moved back home. When living under your parent’s roof, there is no distinction between child and young adult. As long as you live under your parents roof, they have rules that you cannot outgrow.
Gaborone being the capital of Botswana is automatically declared as the most liberal region in the country. However, being liberal does not translate to liberal thinking parents. The freedom to navigate sexuality in many households is still defined by gender. Although I am allowed to go out and drink, sleepovers are frowned upon in my household. COVID-19 has also played a massive role in the definition of sleepovers with curfews in place.
Black parents are also not keen on the idea of having a partner sleepover in their own house. The idea is centered around maintaining respect and keeping up the family name. Sleepovers for children are often without adult supervision. As a young adult, it is often deemed as where you as a woman will possibly get pregnant. The secrecy involved in being sexually active means that you have to get creative with how you engage in sexual activity, as described by the Refiner29 article, having sex while living back home with your parents means coming to terms that your sexuality will be compromised unless you have a partner who lives alone or you move out and set your own house rules.
Conclusively, parents and young Black Batswana women will always clash regarding what it means to be a woman in their household, and how they are perceived by the outside world. What is important for both parties is to understand that there are differences to be sorted, while meeting each other halfway to allow peaceful existence.