OPENSPACE Global dared to venture into the uncharted realms of African parenting. Hosted at Cafe One in Lekki, Nigeria, on October 27, 2023, the 'My African Parents’ event offered a profound exploration of the realities and consequences of growing up with African parents. The event, skillfully moderated by Alero Boyo, a partnership consultant, and Ayo Wright, a media professional, brought forth heartfelt stories and personal insights from the audience. The attendees courageously shared their experiences of how their upbringing has shaped them into adults.
One key theme was the role of discipline in the upbringing of many attendees. They recounted their experiences of discipline, often in the form of physical punishment colloquially referred to as ‘beating’, which has left lasting imprints on the relationships they share with their parents as adults. While discipline is undoubtedly crucial in the process of child-bearing, excessive or harsh physical punishment was found to strain the parent-child relationship, often leading to emotional scars that persist into adulthood. Another attendee raised a point about how her parents, with the best intentions, provided her with everything she desired, often without teaching her the art of asking. This approach has led to difficulties in her adult life, particularly regarding assertiveness and effective communication on personal boundaries.
Did your parents influence your career choice? Did you either have to be a doctor, lawyer, engineer, or a failure? Well, this was quite relatable to most of the attendees. Several attendees revealed that their parents had a significant influence on their career decisions. While some were fortunate to have received guidance that aligned with their true passions and aspirations, others recounted the challenges of pursuing careers shaped by their parents’ preferences. These were just a few elements of African parenting that were discussed.
Open and Honest Conversations: Encouraging candid and transparent dialogues with parents emerged as a crucial step in bridging generational divides and fostering mutual understanding.
Balancing discipline: Participants acknowledged the need to find a harmonious equilibrium between discipline and nurturing so as to build and maintain a healthy and enduring parent-child bond.
Therapy and Healing: The suggestion of seeking therapy to heal past traumas and repair strained relationships with parents was seen as a crucial step towards personal growth.
Rebuilding a sense of family: Attendees recognized the significance of rebuilding connections with our parents, despite past differences, to pave the way for a more cohesive and harmonious future.
The ‘My African Parents’ event provided a safe and inclusive space for attendees to share their experiences and gain profound insights into the intricate dynamics of parent-child relationships. It was a poignant reminder that understanding, empathy and open dialogue are essential in healing generational rifts and fortifying family bonds.
Credit: Margaret Mathenge