Parents play a pivotal role in the choice of marriage partners for their children as a custom in many developing countries, with some influences taking the extreme form such as arranged marriage. This research investigated the perception of parental influence in marital choice by undergraduates at the point of graduating. Four research questions were answered and seven hypotheses were tested in the study. The research utilized the descriptive survey design. Simple random sampling technique was used to select 200 final year undergraduates from 10 Colleges in the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (FUNAAB) for the study. Data were collected with the aid of a questionnaire and analysed using descriptive and inferential statistics. Results revealed that, among the factors that influence the marital choice of respondents, the intelligence of the partner (mean = 4.62) ranked highest, followed by religious background (mean = 4.31), while the parental influence (mean = 3.83) ranked fifth (5th). Results showed that, among the perceptions of parental influence in marital choice by the respondents, “parents should advise their children on marriage” ranked first with mean of 4.77, followed by “parent should share their experiences on marriage with their children so that children can learn from it” (mean = 4.74) while “children should be allowed to marry anybody of his/her liking” ranked 3rd with mean of 4.43. Result also revealed that, among the perceived negative consequences of parental influence in marital choice by the respondents, children dating in secret ranked highest (mean = 3.98), followed by the consequence that children may end up in marriage with a partner they never loved (mean =3.87). Test of hypothesis revealed significant relationship (r = 0.32) between the respondents’ relationship with their parents and their perception of parental influence in the choice of marriage partner. The study concluded that the factors that influence the marital choice of the respondents were intelligence and religious background of the partner while perceived parental influence was to advise their children on marriage and not to arrange or choose their partner. The researchers, therefore, recommended that parents should guide and lead their children properly in recognizing their choices, preferences and should not negatively interfere in their marital choice which may lead to regrets and pains later in the life of their children.
Keywords: Perception, Parental influence, Marital choice, Undergraduates, Partner.