- This gave them enough time to look after their children. Although parenting has never been easy, at least the difference, comparing with today’s parenting, is clear. With more career women today, coupled with globalisation, which exposes us mostly to western culture, parenting has become more complicated.
Today’s changing lifestyle has an effect on many things in our life, among them, parenting. About two or more decades ago, the majority of mothers were housewives who spent most of their time at home and on the farm. Very few were involved in income generating activities that took place around the home area.
This gave them enough time to look after their children. Although parenting has never been easy, at least the difference, comparing with today’s parenting, is clear. With more career women today, coupled with globalisation, which exposes us mostly to western culture, parenting has become more complicated.
Today parents are spending less time with their children therefore contributing less to their upbringing. We know what this means in the end.
In a Sound Living survey to compare traditional amd modern parenting, those who raised their children traditionally raised concern over the way parents are raising children today. They think children are pampered way too much that some parents seem to be losing control over their children.
The old school parents say there is a very big difference in the upbringing of children today as compared to how it was in the past.
Rachel Maguluko, 66, is a retired teacher who lives in Singida. Two weeks ago she visited her daughter Joyce Justus, 29, who is a banker in Dar es Salaam. After only a week’s stay at her daughter’s house, Rachel was concerned by the way her daughter and her husband raise their two children.
“In the past children were never allowed to stay in the sitting room when visitors were around. They usually would leave after greeting the visitors to give space to their parents to entertain the guests. Their interruption in adults’ conversations was never tolerated. Surprisingly, my grandchildren jump up and down the sitting room even when guests are around without being stopped,” says a concerned Rachel.
Although Rachel has noticed the same behaviour in the homes of her other relatives, she is disappointed that this is the case with her daughter’s children. She did not expect her to raise her children that way given the way she (Rachel) raised her children (including Joyce).
She says traditional parenting focused more on teaching children good manners such as self-respect as well as respecting others. This led to families with obedient children who could easily live just anywhere unlike modern-raised children, a majority who listen to only their parents… and only when the parents raise a stick.
In response to her mother’s concerns, Joyce says she thinks her mother has a point. However, she does not support the idea of sending away children when guests are around. She thinks this makes them feel unwanted.
“I agree that it is not proper for children to misbehave when visitors are around but I don’t think it is okay to make them leave the sitting room simply because there are visitors. I think the best way is to teach them to behave and let them enjoy the presence of visitors together with their parents. This builds self confidence among children,” says Joyce.
She says it is important to teach children how to behave around people from a young age. And since most of their relatives and friends have children too, Joyce says they understand how difficult it is to manage young children...and therefore don’t mind.
She believes with time children learn what is right and what isn’t and how to behave around people. At her house she only requires children to give them space when there are private matters to discuss with visitors.
Juma Kigoto, a physiotherapist at the Comprehensive Community Based Rehabilitation in Tanzania, says traditional parenting creates a more positive image in society compared to modern parenting.
Juma grew up in a family where his mother would only communicate messages using her eyes. By just looking at her, one would quickly understand the kind of message she would be trying to convey.
“My mother had those eyes that would carry different messages depending on what she wanted to communicate. If for example you were being offered something by a stranger, we would always look at her first before accepting whatever it was we were being offered. We grew up that way. She never used to say much and if you pretended to not have read the message in her eyes, you would be in trouble the moment you got home,” says Juma.
The father of two is sad that this kind of parenting is slowly disappearing. Parents don’t pay attention to how their children behave anymore. They just think it is normal for children to misbehave simply because they are children. They think they would outgrow the behaviour forgetting that the older the children get the difficult it becomes to handle them.
Could it be the story of sparing the rod and spoiling the child?
Just a week ago Juma came across a family with a child aged between four and six whose behaviour was irritating. This child wanted to borrow Juma’s phone to play games but since he thought it was not okay for children to play with adults’ phones he refused to give him his phone.
Juma says all hell broke loose when the child’s request was not granted. He got hysterical and started hitting Juma while his parents watched. They kept telling him to stop in a soft voice. Juma tried to scare the little boy by telling him he would take him to hospital for an injection if he continued to hit him but to no avail. The boy grabbed a plastic bottle of water and wanted to pour the water on Juma. To Juma’s surprise, the boy’s parents just kept laughing as if what the boy was doing was funny.
“With such an attitude we can not expect to raise respectful and obedient children. It is very important to teach good manners to children in a balanced way and how they should treat others,” says Juma.
A Dar es Salaam-based psychologist, Bonaventura Balige says that modern parents go through a lot of challenges having to balance between family, work and maintaining their relationships.
Balancing these is not easy and as a result, career life overpowers everything since parents have to work to provide for their children. The biggest fear for modern parents is to ensure their children get basic needs.
“In the old days most families did not give priority to education. Most families brought food on the table through farming and animal keeping. This culture kept families together such that parents would quickly notice everything negative in their children and correct accordingly,” says Balige.
He says today’s busy world has completely changed the way parents look at things, even those that are likely to affect children’s upbringing. He says it is important for parents to teach children how to behave and live with other people.
He says for parents to be able to strike a balance between career life and family, it is very important that they try to manage their time well. Parents should ensure they get home at least at around 7pm every day to spend enough time with the children.
It is also important to spend weekends at home and find time to talk to the children. They should also engage in different activities together with the children to create a strong bond between them. The psychologist also encourages families to have meals together.