A while ago, Beyonce celebrated her birthday. As with any famous star, there were worldwide tributes and birthday messages. Even other famous women like Michelle Obama dressed up in Beyonce’s iconic black outfit from the video for ‘Formation’ to pay tribute to the star. The most touching however came from her estranged father Matthew Knowles.
“God I can remember the day you were born,” he said emotionally. “My first time seeing a baby born. I was actually in the room.”
It was a touching message that brought back to memory the rift between the two. Matthew Knowles had been Beyonce’s manager since the beginning of her career and was instrumental in her early success and was her manager up until 2011, when it was revealed that Matthew Knowles had cheated on Beyonce’s mother and had gotten two of his mistresses pregnant. It was also alleged that he had embezzled money from his famous daughter. Years later it is reported that the two barely speak and Matthew revealed that he only found out about his daughter’s most recent pregnancy from social media like the rest of the world.
The video was a very polarizing one, with some defending the singer’s actions as justifiable and other’s condemning her. Nigerian OAP DaddyFreeze even made an Instagram post saying he had ‘lost all respect’ for Beyonce.
Parent-child relationship, like all relationships, are complicated. They often have disagreement, fights and full-blown acts of betrayal that many would consider unforgivable. The dilemma of whether or not to break off the relationship ensues. There is however, the question of whether there is any offense or disagreement significant enough to warrant breaking off a relationship with a parent (or if a person even has the right to).
As Africans, the family unit is sacred and treasured and the parent-child relationship is treated with the utmost importance. ‘Respect your elders’ and ‘Honor your father and mother’ are staple statements growing up and regardless of circumstance, we are expected to forever hold on to the parental relationship. In most cases, this holds true, but in certain extreme cases, this philosophy finds itself on shaky ground. What if the parent abandoned the child in infancy? What if the parent was physically, emotionally or sexually abusive? What if the parent is unaccepting of the child’s lifestyle/partner/religion? What if, like Matthew Knowles, the parent publicly humiliated and betrayed the family in the most intimate way possible? At this points it is worth examining whether the relationship can be repaired.
I think everyone knows of someone who obviously hates or dislikes their parent(s) and only put up with them due to societal expectations. Those interactions are painful to watch not only because of the emotional disconnect but the inability of the child in question to speak of the disconnect. Too often they fall into the rabbit hole of never speaking of their grievances and resentment because we have been taught that we aren’t allowed to be resentful or angry at our parents.
The question of whether a parent could or should be cut off is a complex one that can only be decided on a case-by-case basis with respect and openness with both parties.