What is the Nigerian Parenting Style? and why it Matters

Have you ever wondered “what is the Nigerian parenting style?’ or why it matters? Every parent has a style and every culture also tends to have a common trait and style. You have heard about are the Asian parenting style (Tiger Mom) or the French parenting style (Bringing up Bebe)

When it comes to the African or the Nigerian Parenting Style; there are definitely some unique characteristics. What does the Nigerian parent want from their child and how does the Nigerian parent get what they want from their child? Based on research, opinions and observation it appears that there are two styles of the Nigerian Parenting; the old school or traditional and the new age style.

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The Old School Nigerian Parenting Style

The old school or traditional Nigerian parenting style includes tough love, discipline, instilling a sense of responsibility and diligence at home chores directed mostly at the female child. The Nigerian family puts a big premium on respect, traditions and culture. There is an expectation of deference to people in position of power, which includes parents and any older person. We have all heard stories of the aunty or neighbour who would smack a misbehaving child and when the parent was informed, the parent would also be sure to add their own “beating” for good measure.  The old school Nigerian parenting style is more likely to be referred to as the Authoritarian Parent. This style is characterised by a ‘my way, or the highway’ and heavy disciplinarian approach.

Nigerian Modern Parenting Style

The modern Nigerian parenting style has evolved to become more lenient; where there is more flexibility and everything seems to have changed. One offshoot of this change is an authoritative parenting style, which is warm and loving, but also high on limit-setting and establishing boundaries. This style produces great results! On the other end of the leniency, however, are permissive parents who think that modernity means letting your child get everything they want when they want it. This, of course, can lead to entitled children.

Change in Education Style

Parenting is not the only thing that has changed, the educational system too has changed. More schools teach children based on learning through play, Montessori and other styles, the rote style of learning is fading out. IChildren are no longer expected to speak only when spoken, rather are encouraged to be confident and speak their mind.

Back in our days being smacked flogged at school was expected, being taunted by teachers if you were too “slow” was normal and being disciplined in front of your class was normal. If you didn’t want these to happen to you, you simply ensured you behaved yourself. Today these methods of discipline are seen as humiliating, degrading and counterproductive, all leading to the disappearance of copal punishment.

I remember being advised by my child’s class teacher to say to my child “how very very sad and show displeasure on my face when I want to correct a wrong behaviour” because spanking was not advisable.

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Is this New Age Style Better?

The modern Nigerian parent is generally more “friendly” with more conversations happening between parents and children today. I dare say this is partly because the average child today also demands it. A typical child expects an explanation when told “No” or “You can’t do that”. They ask questions and want to understand why.

You have probably heard the comment that babies today open their eyes quicker than in the past? Or how quickly a toddler today knows his or her colours including the secondary colours such as indigo and turquoise.

Blend of Styles Matters

The Nigerian parenting style today is a mélange of styles; however, no matter how lenient the Nigerian parent today is there is still a thread of the typical “Nigerian parenting” streak. Nigerian parenting still includes being tough on your children and expecting a lot from them. Nigerian parents do not believe in too much praise (so the child’s head does not get big). However, praise in the right doses is helpful to motivate the child in the right direction.

It is generally not expected that a Nigerian child will question their elders; if they do the traditional Nigerian parent might wonder what he or she is doing wrong. However, in an ever-changing world, boldness, the ability to question things and be creative is a highly prized skill for success. Of course, the need to be courteous in all interactions cannot be overemphasized.

We do see parenting that has veered towards over-indulgence resulting in too much leniency. Not enough discipline and children end up entitled and badly behaved. Who is to blame? the culture or parents? Whose fault is it that a neighbour can no longer reprimand a child without fear of displeasure from the parents. READ – HOW TO RAISE AN ENTITLED CHILD 

[READ: Best and worst Parenting styles as revealed by experts]

The Best Style of Parenting

The Nigerian “modern” parenting style is unique and no one size fits all. Parents have high expectations for their children woven in with our unique culture. A modern parent is more “friendly” while administering expectations for the child because a premium has been placed on proper communication. To raise a well-rounded adult, parents need to be intentional and be clear on the type of adult they want to raise. There are portions of our culture that are wholesome and should be passed on, while there are certain parts that do not serve us. As we know better as Nigerian people; we must do better for future generations.

Overindulgence will be a disadvantage to your child, however not being emotionally available will also not yield the right result in the future. Modern parenting in the digital age demands that successful parents are aware of what is going on, know what their children have access to and spend time imparting the values that are important.

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