By Abigail Chiviya
(Irene Christian College)
The rift between parents and children has existed for so long that it has becomre normalized. The main cause for this communication division is the difference in environments in which both parents and children have grown up. This generation of parents grew up in an era of dictatorship, where what their parents said was the law and there was no room for discussion or opposition. On the contrary, this generation of children has grown up being told their voices and opinions matter and are to be heard. These different viewpoints have shaped the mindsets of both sides and hence have led to the strife and divison between parents and children.
Africans pride themselves on tradition. Our traditions have served as an anchor to our roots and our morals. Tradition is the only thing that was present during the better part of the lives of most parents and so is what they often subconsciously use as a basis for how they raise their children. As important as tradition is, it emphasizes clinging to the ways that have been passed on to us, without consideration for any other ways. Although effective, traditional ways are suppressive. This is also how parents often come off to their children. Suppressive. Suppose a child brings home a bad report on the last day of the term.The child possibly underperformed because of emotional stress that they have been dealing with alone on a daily. Instead of seeking understanding, a parent will often enforce a ‘just’ punishment. This may be because a parent assumes the only cause for failure is laziness.
On the other side of the story, the world is evolving and children are being exposed to a lot more than ‘tradition’. Parents and teachers are no longer the only source of knowledge. Television programs, social media platforms, websites and so on are now communicating the new developments and trends in the world. The local community has been expanded to the global community. With this expansion, new ideas and explanations that challenge traditions have come through. Children now have more questions and suggestions as they have now a wider selection of opinions to navigate through. Some of these suggestions and opinions that children have adopted are beneficial for them and others are damaging to them. However when a child expresses an opinion foreign to a parent, good or bad, it is labelled as rebellion. This further widens the communication gap.
The emotional side of the parent-child relationship is one that is underrated, but very essential. The way to bridge this gap is simple, but not easy. The first step to take is breaking the stigma around interactive, discursive conversations between children and parents. This can be done by parents researching and also initiating discussions about trends and how they affect their children’s mental health and allowing a child to give feedback. Moreover children should express any issues they have in a gentle and submissive manner remembering that their parents are still above them.