The Stringent Discipline of African Parenthood and its Effects

There is no doubt that African parents stand among the best parents the world has ever seen. But the tale of parenthood in Africa is complicated than what meets the eye. The cultural values of Africans have played significant roles in child upbringing and as such has shaped and misshapen lives.

While training a child could go both ways in Africa, good upbringing depends on the child as much as it does to the parents. In Nigeria, there is a saying that a child that turns out to be a good person must have contributed immensely to that effect. In the absence of peer pressure and all the wrong things children deem as right, there would be no worries about what they might grow up to become.

Parenthood is the best thing that will ever happen to many people. The joy of being a father or a mother cannot easily be contained. But good parenthood is not easily achieved either. Firstly, it takes a huge decision to finally arrive at the conclusion of owning up to father or mother a child. However, that is just the first step, watching the child grow is another journey every parent will have to travel.

Does illiteracy influence African Parenthood?

Illiteracy is dangerously hindering the development of Africa as a whole, and like other factors, it massively contributes to African parenthood. According to Maps of the World, the African continent is home to many illiterates than other continents. This is not surprising at all, it is not a new development, it didn’t just start a few days ago. But it is very disheartening that illiteracy influences how Africans deal with the little ones.

Illiteracy is the inability to read or write, how does it coincide or impact the ability to train a child? It is very true that being unable to read or write does not determine whether parents will love their children or teach them properly. But parents will instill what they know in their children as they grow. When children grow up, they look up to their parents as standard mentors. They live their lives, obey their rules, practice their religion, and mimic their way of life. Illiteracy does not disqualify a person from being a parent. Everyone is tasked with the responsibility of contributing to the population of the world.

The hitch is Parenthood Illiteracy

In general, illiteracy is not a crime. But parenthood illiteracy is a big problem considering its effects and what the child or children may become as the case may be. Parenthood illiteracy is characterized by ignorant parents. Parents who are not aware of the 21st century cannot raise children successfully in the 21st century. A child’s orientation to life is influenced by how exposed his parents are to the current order of the world. Parenthood illiteracy is entirely different from the generally perceived illiteracy, it only describes ignorance related to parenting.

Parents who grew up in the 1970s and 1980s are oblivious to the needs of the children growing up in the 21st century. This impacts the growing process of a child. If the child is rational, he or she will realize that the 1970 training been given to them by their parents are not in conformity with the reality of the 21st century. This realization may come too late, the obligation to obey their parents might drive them apart from their peers who relate very well to the current time. This situation has adverse effects. It may put the child in a depressed state, resulting in the child withdrawing from their environs.

A typical instance is the advent of new hairstyles. Most people hold the belief that appearance defines personality. In most cases, this is a very true fact. But not in all cases, because a child decide to carry a dreadlock or an afro haircut does not make the child a gangster. Most parents in Africa tend to force their children to remove all the hair on their head. The hairstyle is popularly called ‘skin’ in Nigeria. This hairstyle in Africa is only fashionable on adults. When children, especially teenagers carry this haircut, their peers scorn them and make them look as misfits. They become dejected and socially unfit.

Parenthood illiteracy is a profound problem. It is a weighty contributor to domestic violence. Learned parents are also guilty of this type of ignorance. This is a confirmation that parenthood illiteracy is not particular to those who cannot read or write. It is a major problem or illness most African parents are suffering from. The manner and force with which some parents hit their children are very shocking. We have to teach children manners and not force it on them. To teach also include laying examples. How can crime be reduced by violence? How can good behavior be fostered by hitting children?

Spanking or Corporal Punishment; the worst

Spanking children, also known as corporal punishment is the most widely accepted form of chastisement in African countries, the long run effect of this offensive action cannot be overemphasized. The plight of an African child is unimaginable when he or she sees a terrible long cane used by their so called loved ones to inflict pains on them. As if that’s not enough terrific experience, it goes on even in schools and places where they are supposed to find happiness. Many children grow up full of hatred for their parents, especially the parent involved in the beating exercise. Parenthood illiteracy has boxed us up in an unpleasant position.

Children who were treated poorly by their parents do not grow up often to be better people. They grow up with the notion that hitting smaller or weak people is the only way to set them straight. They grow up violent, thinking they can make people bow or obey them by hitting them. Spanking children affect their mental health. It takes away their sense of belonging. Most children run away from homes in Africa because of the fear instilled in them. They feel they are not loved at home. They look for love elsewhere.

A post by Dr. Denise Cummins on Psychology Today explains how spanking destroys the relationship between parents and children. Parents who vent their frustration on their children do a lot of harm to themselves and their kids. What use would nurturing a child who will grow up hating you be? Only if parents know the consequences of their disciplinary actions.

This parenthood illiteracy has eaten deeply into the African parenting society. With a significant number of folks hell-bent on hitting their kids when things go wrong. The inability to read or write does not explain parenthood illiteracy.

The Contributors

Religion and culture tend to play leading roles in the belief that corporal punishment could set a child right. The Christian religious backing lies in the book of Proverbs.

He that spareth the rod, hateth his son; but he that loveth him, chasteneth him betimes.

(proverbs 13:24)

Chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying.

(Proverbs, XIX, 18)

Withhold not correction from the child; for if thou beatest him with a rod, thou shalt deliver his soul from hell. (Proverbs, XXIII, 13-14)

Pope Francis has declared his approval of the use of corporal punishment by parents, as long as punishments do not “demean” children. The Vatican commission appointed to advise the Pope on sexual abuse within the church criticized the Pope for his statement, contending that physical punishments and the infliction of pain were inappropriate methods for disciplining children.

The Bottom Line

It all boils down to what parents see their kids as, properties or gifts. It cannot be stressed further that not everybody gets the luxury to nurture a child. Children develop and grow, they are not instruction-obeying robots. It takes time for children to adhere to rules and regulations. Some kids are different from others, while others may follow instructions fast, others need time to adapt. What’s more important is that African parents need to understand their children and train them without violence.

Mostly, children heal from these physical punishments meted out to them by their parents or elsewhere for correction sake, as the case may be. Others go down the hatred and violent path the effect of the corporal punishment present to them. Studies show that adults who were spanked during their childhood are more violent than those who were not spanked.

There is no way to determine which child will overcome their parents’ treatment and which will be stuck. Whether a child will move on and forget the pains inflicted by canes or other physical implement depends on a lot of things. Most children move on as a result of the consequent spanking retirement of their parents. Parents who don’t stop corporal punishments eventually push their kids to the wall until they make a violent turnaround. Moving on comes from a high emotional stability on the child’s part. To reduce domestic violence, parenthood illiteracy must be drastically reduced among African parents who believe corporal punishment corrects children. What do you think? Let me know in the comment box if you agree or disagree.

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