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

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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.Interpersonal Relationships

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.Interpersonal Relationships

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.Interpersonal Relationships

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. Interpersonal Relationships 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.Interpersonal Relationships


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.Interpersonal Relationships

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).Interpersonal Relationships

Research findings have described domestic violence as a form of violence that transcends colour, race, creed, age, education, social class and family lines.Interpersonal Relationships

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.Interpersonal Relationships

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