African Parenting Style: Discipline or High-handedness?

African Parenting Style: Discipline or High-handedness?

Parents are the foundation stone of every child. The average African child has been trained and programmed to do only what pleases the parents, as opposed to what pleases him or her. As if that is not enough, they are also configured to pretend to be okay with every decision made for them, and not have a say about their own lives.

It is quite appalling that the dread of some African parents due to their high-handedness, makes a child tensed, and fidgety. The satisfaction they derive in making the atmosphere of the air thickened with unnecessary strife is poignant.

For example, I remember a personal experience with a neighbour. He was seen coming back from work. You would think his kids would be elated and excited to see their father. But shockingly, one of the kids yelled to the other: “Daddy is coming! Don’t say I didn’t tell you.” And immediately the other child froze and stopped playing. You could see the tension, horror and anxiety seeping through their pores. Their father being home was a warning, as opposed to a felicific cheer. It was almost like he revelled in restricting the airflow of the precious humans he called children. If these kids who should experience nothing but love from their father are this terrified of him, what more their mother?

Similarly, it has always been the norm for most African parents to say jump, and yours is not to ask why, but how high. Demanding a shift from the norm could only mean you’ve become recalcitrant, and have been negatively influenced by western culture, therefore, losing your way. You would be lucky if that were to be just the case, but best believe, the disapproval that comes from your “recalcitrancy” which could only mean having a voice and stating your opinion, is usually accompanied by “curses” and lethal verbal attacks, coated in spiteful and demeaning words, that would not only mar the child but also harm their self-esteem.

Additionally, those sarcastic words, subtle jabs, insults, and venomous words, which they sometimes tag to be advice, meant to groom and shape a child, are the very ones that demoralize that child.

The emotional pain those words must have inflicted, would certainly wreak havoc within that child.
It would go on to peel layers and layers off that child until they were threadbare. Sadly, these are all hidden under the facade of discipline and parental authority. An excuse of their culture, or ethical backgrounds dictating it.

Parenting styles should tamper with a bit of compromise and dialogue. Parents should learn to meet their children halfway too. The Bible also bordered directly on parenting advice. And this can be seen in the book of Ephesians 6:4: “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord.”

Unfortunately, this so-called Discipline extends to a child’s academics as well. A child can be seen studying a course they have zero interest in or knowledge of. Simply for the sake of obeying and pleasing their parents. The child is now left to try his possible best, by letting his heart be firmly rooted in determination, to succeed. And you begin to wonder why a child would spend four to five gruelling years in the university, living someone else’s dream, and being ripped off his.

All things considered, the aim is not to push for equality between the parent and child, but for parents to realise the emotional damage caused by their high-handedness and authoritarianism, in training a child. They should have a balanced relationship, especially with their older children, and work on enhancing great parental skills and behaviours that would have a positive impact on their children’s self-esteem, as a child does not arrive with an instruction manual.

For there’s discipline, and then there’s high-handedness. Parents should be sure to tell one from the other.

Linda Emmanuel writes from Lagos State University.


Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *