How They Do It: An Overview of Child Rearing around the World
The Workshop on Child Rearing Practices and Beliefs in Sub-Saharan Africa, held in Windhoek, Namibia in October 1993, points out the similarity of practices within traditional societies studied in Mali, Nigeria, Namibia, Zambia, and Malawi.
In those countries, not only are children highly valued, but being childless is considered the worst fate that can befall a man and a woman. The entire community considers it their responsibility to see that each child, a “gift of God,” is raised appropriately. Elders transmit their cultural values and teach the young, and discipline centers around the values that children are expected to learn.
In Malawi, the workshop report quotes the saying, “M’mera ndipoyamba,” meaning that the child is like a plant that must be nurtured while young so it will grow strong and productive. Most of the cultures studied set goals around the development of their children’s appropriate social skills and humanistic values.
“In Nigeria, there is a clear expectation that the child should be ‘good.’” In other words, one who follows cultural tradition and cares for the parents. Nigerian parents disown a child who does not conform to cultural norms.
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