Nigerian Parenting: Balancing Tradition and Modernity in Child-Rearing

by Olubunmi Jesulanke
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Nigerian parenting

There have been some controversies regarding which style of Nigerian parenting is the best, traditional or modern. If we ask our older folks, we will surely get the “old school way is the best” response. 

With the emergence of advanced technology, there has been a rapid change in the perception and actions of individuals towards reality. This has affected everything related to the conceptualization of the human race.

Africa as a whole and Nigeria in particular are usually seen as nations that are more traditional in their lifestyle. So, in this era of globalization, how can you strike a balance? Take this ride with me and let’s explore all you should know about Nigerian parenting.

What Does Parenthood Mean?

Parenthood centres around caring and supporting. That is, providing for the physical, social, emotional and cognitive (intellectual) needs and development of a child which can also include protection from harm. Some concepts classified styles of parenting as imposing, dictatorial, lenient, and irresponsible

These styles vary from one family to another. For instance, an irresponsible parent regards his or her kids’ social clicks but still provides for their physical needs. 

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Traditional System of Nigerian Parenting

This style of parenting is more common in Nigeria. It is authoritarian in its approach and is linked to culture, values and belief systems that are associated with setting rules that are expected to be obeyed by children. For example, in the Western part of Nigeria, respect for elders is accompanied by certain body composure. 

Boys are expected to prostrate to greet elders while girls are made to kneel. When children default on instructions, they are sometimes disciplined with the use of a cane or physical punishment like raising their hands while kneeling, or riding a bicycle (without a physical bicycle), which serves as a corrective measure. 

The advantage of this system is that it emphasizes and instils diligence, order and regard for authority, rules and regulations in children. It also creates boundaries that are glaring. It can propel good character traits. On the negative angle, this style impedes creativity, making the children more stereotyped in thinking.

Read also: At What Point Does Child Discipline Become Child Abuse? A Nigerian’s Perspective

The Modern-Day Style of Child-Rearing

This system is quite the opposite. The method is of a new age that witnesses parents being more sympathetic in their approach of caring and promoting the emotional, physical, and intellectuality of their children. It believes that children should be given a free hand to explore what will contribute toward achieving their all-round development. 

Focus on listening more and being friends with them is paramount. There is more engagement in the use of books, blogs, internet searches and forums to get informed on parenting. 

Its advantage is that it gives room for creative thinking, building positive relationships, and self-confidence. Additionally, it encourages self-resilience and exploration in children.

Read also: Parenting Tips for Nigerians: 7 Comprehensive Guide to Build a Happy Home

Traditional Vs Modernity in Child-Rearing

To further buttress this claim, let’s take a look at the inherent differences of both styles. 

  • Modern Nigerian parenting builds its tenets on teaching-discipline style when a child offends and it is mainly through discussion, chats and dialogues, while Traditional parenting focuses on using physical punishment, rewards and sometimes abuse as a means of correction. 
  • Modern setting creates avenues for children to think for themselves, while in traditional settings beliefs are done on behalf of the children with laid down rules. 
  • One parenting style is democratic in the modern age while the other is coercive in approach.

Read also: Pros and Cons of Being a Last Born in a Nigerian Family

Balancing Traditional and Modern Child Parenting in Nigeria

Traditional and modern styles have their good and bad sides. It is important to have a vivid understanding of both styles. You will agree with me that in Nigeria today, being a parent is not an easy task, coupled with its norms and traditions. This could make balancing between styles of Nigerian parenting challenging. 

Culture forms the opinion of individuals and this shapes its reality. However, the modern age is experiencing a continuous surge in technology and this cannot be overlooked. It is therefore necessary to adjust some traditional ways of viewing and doing things to accommodate new principles. New principles might include the following:

  • Children should be allowed to express themselves and contribute to the family decision-making process. This will aid in their mental, social and emotional development. The resultant effect will give them the self-confidence to mix and compete with their contemporaries around the world. 
  • Learn to listen to them, because most times they are trying to tell you what their challenges are. This also fosters bonding.
  • Encourage the children to uphold cultural values and discard cultures that are irrelevant in this age and time.

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Empathy, reliability, effects and decisions are knitted and cannot be separated in the phenomenon called “parenting.” Nigeria, being a nation that holds close to the tenets of its tradition, could make it challenging to navigate among the child-rearing styles. 

Your children must develop the creative thinking skills and confidence needed to match up with the wave of technological advancement. Also, note that both systems of Nigerian parenting are good and advantageous. You can merge both to deliver the right training and trigger the desired development in your children. 

Finally, modernization does not imply doing away with one’s cultural values and heritage but being flexible in the approach of applying traditional tenets.

Edited by Priscilla Ajayi.

About Author

Olubunmi Jesulanke
Olubunmi Jesulanke
I am a digital creator, content writer/creator, social media management and advertising specialist, social media evaluator and voice over artist.

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