Parental duties is by far a major determinate on a person’s background. When a person gets to the age of 18, he or she is said to have reached the age of Maturity. At this age, a large percentage of a person’s make up is decided by his or her parentage.
As believers, what indeed is the right way to raise a child? The Traditional African way, or through guidelines set out by the bible? The way you raise a child (parental duties) would largely affect the child’s character. Which in turn will affect the way they raise their children, thus a cycle is built.
Addressing this topic, a reasonable question can be posed. Is the African parenting style so different from that of the bible? There really is no simple answer to this, as some African parenting styles have been influenced by biblical principles.
Yet there are many variables in the African parenting style that either takes biblical principles too far or are completely alien to the bible.
It is very important to note that the African parenting style is not as much a blanket statement as it is a generalization. This generalization can be excused based on the fact that there are many similarities in the varying African parenting styles.
Importance of Parents
Parents are really important in the growth and development of a child. A child who grows up with bad parents or parental figure would grow up to be deficient of societal values. Each parent helps to instil values of which they possess into the children. If there are no parents, children would pick up values without guidance from responsible adults.
It is important to note that having a parent is quite different from having good parents, and having good parents is also quite different from having God-fearing parents. The last category if parents are those needed for children who would fear and love God.
The African Parenting style
When considering African parents vs Biblical Parents, one thing that has to be kept in mind is that Parenting in Africa is a communal activity.
There are various systems of a family unit, and the African family system was predominantly an extended family system. In more traditional times, there was a system of hierarchy, and this hierarchy ensured deference and respect through it. Over time, this system gave way for the much more popular nuclear family setting, but the hierarchy remained.
To further understand the African parental duties (Nigeria as a case study), Lagos’s mums have further helped to divide the spectrum of styles into two.
- The old school Nigerian parenting style.
- The Modern Nigerian parenting style.
The Old School Nigerian Parenting Style
Africans in general and Nigerians, in particular, are quite big on discipline when raising a child. Parents are very practical with the Bible verse “spare the rod, spoil the child.” Many African families are also quite big on caring for their wards, but are not open with a public display of affection (PDA).
The old school style places a huge emphasis on respect, which trickles down to the extended family members. The neighbours are allowed to have a hand in the growth and development of the child. Due to the form of strictness on the part of the parents, it is often called the Authoritarian parenting style.
The Modern Nigerian Parenting Style.
The modern parenting style is a blend of western parenting styles and that of the Old school. Nigerian parenting style. This style allows for more leniency and easy interaction between the parents and their wards.
This style is more guarded against outside influence than the former, and its lenient nature reduces the use of force as a means of disciplining a child. It isn’t lax on discipline, rather it provides alternatives to corporal punishment.
There are two sides of the spectrum in this system. The first allows for a level of freedom but also places a level of restriction on this said freedom, thus produces good results. This means children who are quite vocal yet respectful. The other side of the spectrum allows too much permissiveness and as a result, children raised are often disrespectful and wayward.
A more extensive division of the system of African parenting styles has been given by Patricia Mawusi Amos in her work parenting and culture. She further subdivides each group into two additional groups.
These styles are authoritarian parenting, authoritative parenting, permissive parenting and uninvolved parenting. Upon careful examination of both groups, it is easy to determine that they are the extremes of the earlier division by Lagos’s mums.
Many have considered the African style of parenting generally restrictive and constraining. This is far from the case in all cases. As seen above the authoritarian parenting style if used properly would produce reasonable results, and most of the members of the young adults of this generation are a product of this parenting style.
Parental duties in an African home
It is important to recognize that in many homes, the fathers were usually the breadwinners, and disciplinarians, being the authoritative figure and symbol of authority in the family. Mothers were usually caregivers and home builders. They usually carried the symbol of love and were usually closer to the children than to their male counterparts.
Things have evolved over time with the rise of feminism and other concepts, parental roles in the family are no longer stoic. There is now a sort of fluidity in the duties of both parents, as many women have expressed displeasure at being relegated to the position of home builder and encourage equal participation of the fathers in the process of building the home.
Biblical Parenting is parenting based on the principles of the bible.
The bible says a lot of things with regards to parenting, but I dare say not everything said is practicable now. Many might want to disagree with me on this, but wisdom is profitable to direct. In Deuteronomy 21:18-21 the bible advises for a disobedient child to be stoned. This would constitute a crime today.
The word of God’s aim is to build a complete and a whole believer. As a result, the wisdom of Parenting according to the bible is centred towards that.
There are a lot of books of the bible, that help to clarify the parental duties and the duties of children in turn in the family. The book of Proverbs for one has a lot of wisdom to offer in guiding young adults, as it was written by the wisest king to ever live. Thus, the bible establishes itself as a manual for raising Godly families.
In the New Testament, there are a lot of scriptures, which give advice to family living, and the duties of each member of the family. This scriptures, help to form the bases of godly living, peace, and harmony in the family.
The plan of God is to ensure that children raised under the right tutelage, have such strong conviction in God that they can pass it on to the next generation. (Psalm 78: 5-7)
Parenting facts, supported by the bible.
Parental duties are for parents whose aim is to fulfil the dictates of the bible, here are some facts to keep in mind.
1. The authority of parents is endorsed
The bible endorses the Authority of parents in the book of (Ephesians 6:1-3)
“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise—”that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.”
The parents are to place themselves in a position of respect. The bible also places the father as the Head of the house. (1st Timothy 3:4-5)
“He [the father] must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect. (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?)”
2. Discipline is in the best interest of children
The famous verse, spare the rod, spoil the child, has become a cliché in emphasizing discipline in the family, and the bible is in support of it. But it is important to keep in mind that there is a limit to what kind level of discipline is applied.
(Colossians 3:20-21) Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.
3. Discipline must not be harsh and destructive to the child’s spirit
(Ephesians 6:4) “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”
Parents should understand that their children have feelings. They should work towards encouraging growth rather than pulling them down. Many times Children who turn rogues are tempted into this lifestyle by parents who overemphasize punishment over love.
Biblical Parental Duties
- Parents are to love their children unconditionally. – This love should be irrespective of the way the child looks or acts.
- Parents are to develop a spirit of forgiveness. – As a part of love, parents should be willing to forgive their children. The story of the prodigal son exemplifies this.
- Parents are to instil the love for God into their children. – to ensure continuity and proper growth, complete trust and love for God should be taught to children, this would help them to be grounded in the word and in God too.
- Parents are to teach their children gratitude. – A grateful heart would easily receive from God, and it would help a child gain favour in society.
Each family unit collectively determines the state of society. The aim of Christian Parents is not just to raise children that would add value to society. The aim of Christian Parents is to raise children who have complete trust in God and can pass on that trust to the next generation.