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It Matters how we Collectively Bring up our Children

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As a young parent, I am entitled to give my opinion on parenting based on the fact that I know very little. I am wallowing in the comfort of blissful ignorance, or what the people who study human minds and behavior call unconscious incompetence. I have not parented long enough to know that the little I know is too little, so I will go ahead and write my mind before I become conscious of my incompetence.

Parenting is a hard task and the stakes are high. Unfortunately, I cannot just visit Coursera and get a diploma in parenting. I have been forced to navigate this task as a untrained parent, and it will be several years before I get a meaningful feedback on my performance. Worse, the end product has a life and a will of its own, so my great efforts might have very little correlation with the output. Nevertheless, I soldier on, knowing that I have been given one shot at it, and I want to always look back and say that I did my best.

It takes a village

Today, 55% of the world population lives in an urban setting, and it is expected to rise to 68% by 2030. This urbanization might make my agemates forget that it takes a village to raise a child. Parenting is not an easy task for one person, and two people can barely go through it without doubting if they made the right decision to have those kids in the first place. However, there is more to parenting than just parents. The society that a child grows up in matters a lot.

Environment Matters

Every person is influenced by the society where they grow, and the society is nothing more than a collection of people. If you grow up in Vietnam, you are likely to find a great delicacy in rats, while if you are Kenyan, you will gracefully starve to death while rats roam around freely. This is a factor of the environment, and it applies to so many areas of life, not just cuisine. That is why Kikuyus remain Kikuyus, the Dutch people remain Dutch people even after several generations, The Japanese remain Japanese and Somalis will always be Somalis.

The biggest environmental factors have a lot to do with culture and conditioning. Bring up a child in a place where they swear and use curse words in every sentence and they will pick up the language. If it is in an environment where every kid rides a bike, they will follow suit. If it is in Iten in Kenya, perhaps they might win a marathon in future.

Is your child growing up in the right environment? Before you ask that, step back and ask what is the right environment.

Remember that even if you teach your children all the right things, you have the society that will teach them the wrong things. This is why you cannot parent in isolation and have to take a stand against the ills and the evils in the society. Politics will influence your children. So will corruption and the constitution

The Environment also Changes…

A society is not static. People who rejected gay practices 50 years ago gladly adopt them today. Poor families become rich, and some stable countries become wrecked. Give your children a true compass in life so that when change come, they will know when to change, and when to stand firm.

Case of Millennials and Gen Z

Parenting methods also change.

That is possibly why we have some character traits that cut across a whole age group. If we have millennials who are very entitled, it means that there is a group of parents who brought up their children teaching them to be entitled. (Which reminds me, this millennial thing is just a regional construct. Where I come from there is neither millennial nor boomer, OK?). If generation Z does not grow up with a terrifying sense of entitlement, it is because the millennial parents are taking action to correct what was wrong with how they were brought up.


The conclusion of this is that I do not know much about parenting. Proverbs advise that even a fool who remains silent might be deemed wise. Let me not write about parenting.

1 Response
  • Mama Olive
    January 28, 2020

    A great read. Am choosing the environment now.

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