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“WHO ARE WE” PARENTING LIFE HOOD WITHOUT TEARS.

If you are reading this book you belong to a peculiar
class of persons and we need to go down some historical memory lanes to explain
myself clearly here.
Most of us are well educated, university or other higher
institution graduates of middle class upbringing. We are currently trying to
raise a second, third, or perhaps even fourth generation, of literate children.
However, we are distinctly different from the
generation of our parents. For most of our parents, the African culture was in
full control in their upbringing (as you would say, the African moon was in ascendancy
when they were being raised)! Because of their country’s newly obtained
independence from colonial masters at the time, our parents were particularly
averse to anything foreign, and were proudly trying to stamp their culture down
in their lives and their children’s lives. If they went abroad for tertiary
education, they came back promptly and proudly rejected the citizenship of the
country where they had studied. And if they were trained here they remained
proudly African.  
There was therefore no confusion, no identity crisis, and
no cultural disputes going on in our parent’s hearts. We were also brought up
fairly traditionally as our parents, (dutifully brought up children) also
passed down the traditional African baton.
The sharp difference however began with us as we
became parents and began to raise our children. At the time we were being raised
television was available but restricted. By the time our children were born,
satellite and the internet (which is available twenty four hours a day, three
hundred and sixty-six days a year) had come into full force. There is no longer
a disapproval of all that is foreign! How could there be? Foreign products are
available everywhere. Boundaries are no longer clear and distinct. The UK is only an extension of our country,
separated by a visa, and, America
is even closer to home as our African American brothers have found their place
in our children’s hearts, with their music (you will of course be aware that
music and dance run deep in all black men veins. It is therefore no surprise that
our youths would identify and bond quickly with fellow black youths wherever
they are – America, South Africa, Brazil- wherever!)
In addition to this, the Christian Pentecostal revival
in Nigeria and Africa made borders even more seamless with missionaries
going to and from all continents. For our men, the sky was the limit, apartheid
had been conquered and our women had also begun to climb the corporate ladder
and break the glass ceiling. Often times, both parents were in nine a.m –nine p.m.
jobs, with women Managing Directors or Executive Directors emerging regularly. This
is no attempt to deride or resent working mothers, we are only setting the
stage upon which we have now had to raise our children.
The times were indeed exciting, the world a global village,
corporate culture more evident than town or village culture.
We were free! We were culturally mobile, upwardly and
socially mobile- all ceilings and barriers were being broken. We could get
anywhere we wanted, live anywhere we wanted. We seemed to be winning the race
but we didn’t know where the finishing line was. We were going everywhere but
getting nowhere. Our children were world citizens: could live in London, New York, Atlanta or France,
They had international culture and could adjust to anything anywhere – or could
they?
In the midst of all this, somehow the African cultural
baton got lost!
A few of us have begun to wonder where we want our
children to belong and how we want to raise them. Much as we are fully in
support of a western education and an ability to be an international citizen; some
of us were also sure there were some good things in the African culture that we
wanted our children to imbibe. In addition to being generally socially upwardly
mobile Africans, some of us have additional personality traits that affect the
way we raise our children. We must know who we are and explain this clearly to
the children we are trying to raise. Some, for instance, are particularly
unconventional, some are very conservative, and some are extremely modern and
fashionable, and all these colour our attempts to raise our children. When raising
children, we need to explain to our child what type of persons we are and what
“average” is. If you and your husband are free thinkers and wear Rasta braids
and tattoos you may need to explain to your child that this is not the norm and
that it will get some resistance in a still conservative average society.
A whole chapter is devoted to Values and the need for
us to explain our values to our children. It is important to emphasize that
values have to be re-examined to ensure they are not distorted. It is important
that in these circumstances we are extremely honest and that we explain both
the global view of the circumstance and the reason why our views differ. It is
not fair to subject a child to only your views and leave them to battle with
people’s perception of them.
If you study the more traditional cultures such as the
Chinese, Japanese, and Indian cultures, you will find that they have a more
stable family life and generally produce more stable adults.
In raising our children, many of us had thrown out
certain things. ‘FEAR’ of parents was no longer an ‘in thing’ and with it went
‘DISCIPLINE’. We have become our children’s best friends and it certainly is no
longer fashionable to prostrate or kneel to parents as our African culture sometime
demanded. As discipline went, control went and a lot of our children became
unruly and unmanageable.
The identity crisis we are experiencing in raising the
children, (African or International citizen), crystallized with the children
choosing to be African Dr Jekyll or ‘Oyinbo’ Mr. Hyde  
Finally, some of us have realized we need to get back
to the basics. We need to clarify what values we wish to uphold as we raise the
next generation of children. We should re-examine our African values and
determine which ones contribute to healthy family life and raise stable
successful men and women.
Yes, we can decide to remain upwardly internationally socially
mobile, and raise children that will have the capacity to be world citizens,
but they can first be upright African children, who will ultimately raise
healthy African families.
Quotable quotes
Parenting
is the most important job we will ever have.
Mother-Daughter-Babies

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