By Nneka Iheme
That term, African parents. It’s become very popular recently on social media. And more often than not, it’s used to refer to the slightly comedic distinction from Western parents that African parents seem to have in common no matter where they are in the world. Seriously. You’ll most probably easily identify some certain parenting strategies as peculiar to African parents, regardless of which country they reside in.
Maybe it’s more to the point to say this is to our dear Nigerian parents. And while many people are lucky and might not relate, the average kid/teen would like some things to be different.
One thing is; there are things that parents have in common but the extent to which they do these things vary widely, in such a way that not every child/teen will relate to them as much as the next child.
Number one on the list is the parenting strategy that confuses respect with fear. Hello? Fear is not synonymous with respect. Your kids shouldn’t be panic-stricken when you walk into a room. And with age, they lose the fear. Threats of flogging or withholding pocket money in a bid to scare kids into obedience works for a while, and then the kids get over it. But true respect? It sticks forever. Put your foot down if need be, be strict. But there are nicer tactics to use instead of fear.
This brings us to the actual existence of a relationship between parents & their kids. Think about it. How many people have sound bonds with their parents? Recently, I was talking with a friend (let’s call him Chocolate Brother) and he was telling me how he wished he was closer to his parents while growing up. How he’d have liked to have a friendship with them where he could talk about anything. So parents, chances are, your kids want you to know and understand them better. To know when they’re having a hard time or what hurts them. And to know what truly makes them happy.
Then the classic. This one is actually funny. The average Nigerian parent’s approach to sex & puberty education. Who invented the idea of not properly explaining menstrual periods to young girls? And in the process making them feel like it was something to be ashamed of? Who deemed the concept of sex education a taboo in the average home? Or a no-go area? Why does it mainly consist of stories told with the intent to scare teens? Or worse, it’s non-existent.
It’s not hard to see that leaving pubescent children to understand on their own from their classmates, or telling them strange and untrue stories will be counterproductive in the long run.
So, get more comfortable with topics, regardless of how sensitive they may seem. And talk about them as they are, without making your adolescents feel that it’s a shameful conversation to be having.
Naturally they’ll understand more, make better choices and find it easier to confide in you. Everybody wins!
It’s a fact that African/ Nigerian parents raise their kids in the best way they know how, especially based on how they themselves were brought up. And we love them all the same, because without them, who would tell us funny stories of how we have everything so easy nowadays and ask us to change the channel to CNN everyday?
Stay happy, guys! And enjoy your weekend!