Unlearning some of the African parenting habits I inherited

Everybody Hates Bachelor Pad
I noticed my daughter hurrying through the house.

Me: Why are you rushing? Slow down.

Daughter: I’m going to do what you told me to. I forgot to do it earlier.

Me: Yeah, so? It’s okay, you don’t have to rush.

Daughter: Well mum, I didn’t want you to shout at me for not doing it on time.

Me (in mock disbelief): Shout? Me? I don’t shout!

And the three of them – husband, daughter and son – burst out into uncontrollable fits of laughter. At what? My innocent suggestion that I don’t shout. Yeah yeah. Whatever. 🙄

Okay, so I shout at my kids sometimes. My mother shouted at me!!! That’s my excuse. Lol. Growing up, if my mother said something to me or my siblings calmly twice without response, then we could expect the third time to be in a raised voice or even with a clip behind the ear. Eti n dun e ni? She would bellow in the Yoruba language (Meaning “Is something wrong with your ears?”)

I remember one particular occasion when my 20-year-old (4th-year university!) brother came home after his 9pm curfew. (Mine was like 6pm! I was 14 at the time) My mother immediately called a family meeting. My dad, my three older siblings and I all sat down watching my mum and her theatrics: hands on hips, tapping her foot noisily, occasionally clapping her hands and shaking her head in disbelief.

My dad spoke first. In his usual calm manner, he gently explained to us that the curfew was for our own safety and we should try our best to be home before then.

His speech took all of two minutes. When he finished, my mum took one look at him and asked in utter dismay, “Is that it?”

My dad shrugged. “Well, yes. They’re old enough to understand what I’ve just said.”

“Ehn? No no no. I don’t think they’ve understood at all!! I don’t think they’ve quite understood the gravity of this.” Then she turned to us and launched a long tirade against disobeying her rules. 😂 😂 I love my mother!

My dad (and funnily enough my husband too!) believed in using calm, civil negotiations when dealing with children. While my mum raised us with a very firm hand. Who was right? They both were. I look back now and I’m convinced that if both my parents had been as laid back as my dad, I wouldn’t have turned out as successfully as I have. On the other hand, if my dad had also been a strict disciplinarian I’d probably still be in therapy today. 😂

So, the next time my children insinuate I’m too strict. I’ll tell them I’m the perfect complement to their father’s easygoing parenting style. 😀

Seriously though, my responsibility as a parent is to rely on God to find my own way as I go along, and not to automatically replicate my mother’s methods. With his help, I’ll keep the good and unlearn the bad. 😎

Image credit: Everybody hates Chris


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