Every culture has some things about them that make them unique. They are things that make it easy for us to guess where a person might be from. For some kids, it is talking about how strict their parents are that give a clue that they may have African parents. African parents are strict. Generally. Other parents can be strict too. However, it is the specific and interesting things strict African parents do that make them different.
In this article, we will look at some of the typical parenting behaviours you find growing up with African parents. We also look at the main reasons why African parents are so strict. We will also discuss some of the ways that African parents can adjust their parenting techniques. Finally, we will consider the best ways for you to deal with having strict African parents as an adult.
Of course, these are all generalizations. Not every African household is the same. In fact, within my own African home, I cannot say that I went through all the things listed below. However, generalizations do exist for a reason – many African children or children of African parents will be able to relate!
19 Things that you experience when growing up with African parents
- Your parents speak to you like you are a child. Yes, both when you are 18 years old and also when you are 45 years old.
- Your parents never speak to you about sex.
- There is never any sense in eating out or getting takeout when you can find something to eat at home. Even when you think you cannot find anything to eat at home, eating out still makes no sense to your African parents.
- You cannot freely express your opinions about anything to your parents and adult relatives if those opinions go against the African societal grain.
- They think they can diagnose every physical ailment you have. They can also provide you with a treatment for it.
- You cannot freely express your disdain for anything your parents have presented to you. That is seen as disrespectful.
- Advice and suggestions given to you are expected to be treated as directives.
- They never say sorry but they apologize by spending money on you.
- You are not allowed to spend too much time with people of the opposite sex…until it is time to get married.
- When visiting people’s homes, it is best to accept any food and drink you are offered but most important to receive the unspoken approval of your parents before consuming any of it.
- You have to look and sound unwell otherwise you cannot claim to be sick.
- Public and private displays of affection from African parents to their children is not the norm.
- Your African parents show you how much they love you by showering you with advice, their time, and occasionally, money.
- Public displays of affection between African parents is not the norm.
- Corporal punishment is a perfectly normal response from your parents for any perceived act of disobedience.
- There is no valid excuse for not being at the top of your class each term.
- You are treated like a naughty and disobedient child when you do not take your parents’ advice. Regardless of how old you are.
- Your African parents do not think twice about comparing you to friends and cousins who they believe are somehow doing better in life than you are.
- They will sacrifice all their worldly possessions to provide you with the best education their money can buy.
Why are African parents so strict?
In a nutshell, we can put that down to these three reasons:
- They want their children to have better opportunities than they did.
- They want to toughen their children up.
- It is the cultural norm to be strict.
5 Things that should change about African parenting
Controlling African parents could amend some of their parenting techniques to suit the way that the world is changing. They can do so without losing the great cultural values that make African culture so special.
- Encouragement of free and independent thinking. It is not just alright but also beneficial for children to be able to think for themselves. Being able to rationalise through situations and problems for themselves without waiting to be told what to do is what you want for your children.
- Respect is a two-way street. Yes, you demand respect from your kids but you need to be able to give respect to them too. Model the behaviour that you want them to have. That includes respectfulness.
- Education on the wide variety of career paths available. Doctor and lawyer are not the only career paths your child can follow. Allow them to explore other paths. Even careers that you never imagined possible. Then go ahead and research other career options tools that you are also well-informed about what is available.
- Education on ways to deal with bad behaviour in different kinds of children. Corporal punishment might be causing more harm to your child than you know. Consider your child’s personality and see if there are other ways to discipline them that causes them to truly examine their negative actions and think about what they could have done better.
- Broaching the topic of sex in the family setting in a factual way. Discussing sex with your children at home and from an appropriate age does not mean that they will start to want to have sex. It instead means that you have opened the communication lines for them to be able to come to you with any questions they have. You can make yourself their primary source of information rather than letting their peers and social media be their educators.
How to deal with strict African parents as an adult
- Leave when it is time to. When you are at the stage in life where it is financially possible for you to leave your childhood home, do so. This puts some distance between yourself and your controlling African parents and allows you to start to live your life on your own terms.
- Agree (internally) to disagree. Tell yourself you do not have to oppose everything your African parents say to you if you do not agree with them. You can simply acknowledge to yourself that you do not believe they are right. To them, you can simply show them that you understand what they are saying.
- Listen and glean. Ignoring them is not beneficial for you. Instead, listen when your strict African parents speak. There is always wisdom in there. You just have to get past the fact that you are being spoken to like you are a child. Glean the important information from the words they speak to you.
- Make it short but very sweet. Careful of the amount of time you spend with them once you are out of your parents house. There is no need to spend an excessive amount of time there as that will only cause them to continue to see you as the little girl or boy you used to be. When you do spend time with them there, make it about quality rather than quantity of time. Make sure you are both enjoying the time.
- Stand your ground. You are an adult. You have your own principles and beliefs. Feel free to let your parents know this. Do not back down in debates with them. Let them know that you respect their position but you have a different one that will not change.