These days our children no longer have that fear and respect we had for our parents because we are a generation raising them on ‘’I love you’, hugs, friendship and freedom. Is that necessarily a good thing? I personally don’t think so.
Turn on the news in the UK and when we hear of young black boys killing each other, it’s not uncommon to hear African names. The African children of today growing up outside Africa are very different to those of us who also grew up outside of our motherlands many years ago.
When we were growing up, we had a certain fear of our parents. And although I say to my children I’m not their friend, there is a certain friendliness and freedom in our relationship which I did not have with my parents. I see this in a lot of my contemporaries.
The way some of our children speak to us today, we would not have dared think of, let alone actually speak to our parents in the same manner.
For example, some African children today have no qualms about shouting at their parents and talking back. I even know young African children who can ask their parents to bring them a cup of water, or bring their food to them.
Growing up in the UK in the 1980s, I would not dare ask my dad or step-mum to make me a cup of tea. It was always the other way round. I could be upstairs and my dad would call me to come downstairs just to get the remote control for the television for him.
That’s just the way it was. As children, we did not question it. Today, ask a young African child in Europe for example, to do the same, and the attitude that comes with it is unbelievable.
Unlike the Asians who have held on strongly to their culture, Africans seem to be assimilating into the Western culture in which they find themselves living.
In the past, Africans who came to Europe and other parts of the world outside of Africa held on tight to their cultures and traditions. Our children were brought up as if they were still in Africa. Respect for elders was still maintained, with every adult being referred to as ‘aunty’ and ‘uncle’.
We were brought up to give up our seats for pregnant women and elderly people on public transport. Today, get on the bus or tube and you would be disgusted at the behaviour of the majority of young African children. They are unruly, loud, rude and would not consider giving up their seats to anyone. And I’m especially shocked at the behaviour of young African girls.
Now, I’m not saying all African children in the West are like this, but it is becoming the norm for them, whereas in our day, no African child would behave in the indecent way some of our children behave today. In our days, that kind of behaviour was reserved for white kids. If black children behaved that way, we knew they were not African!
Back in the day, even outside Africa, parents could still discipline their children in ways they saw fit. Today, try to discipline some African children and the ever imposing State will take over.
I remember asking my younger son to do his homework and him refusing. So I told him his food would be waiting until he had completed his homework.
Imagine how low my jaw dropped when he told me this was child abuse and he would call the police.What? This is a boy who had been living in the UK for barely two years. A boy who had been raised in Ghana for the majority of his life and when I first brought him to the UK, he still behaved like a nice African kid.
Today, this boy has no fear in telling me that he would call the police on me, his mother. So I told him to go ahead. But by the time the police actually arrived, I would have finished beating him. And because like me he’s very dark, there would be no bruises as evidence, no bruises to prove I had beaten him.
I told him this would only lead to one of two things: 1) the police would arrest him for lying and wasting their time, or 2) the police would arrest me. In which case he would be sent to a children’s home or into foster care where life would be a hundred times worse.
I told him that most likely he would be sent to an English family where he would most certainly not get any fufu to eat. At least not till he was 18 and was old enough to go and buy it himself. That soon whipped him into shape.
But seriously, parenting African children today outside Africa is exceptionally challenging. Based on the strong African values we were brought up with, we have certain views about how children are supposed to behave. Most of us also want to instil those same values in our children.
Yet our children want to go the way of their non-African peers. Growing up, my siblings and I were not allowed to be in the same room when my dad had visitors. We certainly would not contribute to their conversations.
Our job when visitors came was to serve them drinks, answer politely, “I’m fine thank you, Aunty/Uncle’ and gracefully bow out of the room.
Today, many young African children will not only contribute to their parents conversation, but have no shame in calling their parents liars if that is what they think. I remember once being on the phone with a friend, with her telling me about her daughter’s bad behaviour.
In the background, I could clearly hear her daughter shouting (and I mean really shouting) ‘’Why are you lying mummy? You always exaggerate everything. And you always wanna chat my business to people’. Lord have mercy, this child was only 10 years old. Even now, in my mid-forties, when my father complains about me to my aunts and uncles, as much as I don’t like it, I don’t answer back like this. Now that I’m an adult I will tell them my side of the story, but to shout and call him a liar? Umm….
In the past, African children were good. They were studious. And they most certainly stayed out of trouble. But as I said in the beginning, today, African boys are part and parcel of the trouble.
My elder son has an international mix of friends. And during his exam period, I noticed that his Chinese friend did not come to visit as much as his black friends. So I asked him if they had fallen out.
His reply again made my jaw drop to the ground: “He’s studying. You know those Asian kids. They study. They’re the clever ones who do well.’
So I asked him to listen very well to his own words. I asked him if he really believed the stereotype that Asian boys study and do well and black boys hang out, speaking street slang and failing in school. Again, like my younger son, this was a boy who had spent the majority of his life in Ghana.
In Ghana, this son of mine went to school and did well. But now here he was telling me as a black boy in the UK, it was perfectly acceptable to fail in school.
Would I have dared tell my father that? What is it that makes the modern breed of African boys in the West think it’s cool to fail? That to be accepted, they need to dumb down their intelligence and speak with a street accent and use street words? Why do young African girls think it’s okay to go out half-naked, with all sorts of body piercings? What has made our young girls think they have to show their butts to be liked? I look at some of my son’s female friends’ pictures and what I see sends shockwaves down my spine.
What is it that keeps the Asian culture strong? It’s rare to hear of an Asian man with several baby mamas. When there are TV programmes about people living on benefits, we do not see Asian families. In the past, if we saw black families, they tended to be from the Caribbean.
Today, African families are part of this welfare system. What has gone wrong? What has happened to the proud African who only came to Europe to acquire an education, or work and return home?
It would be easy to say this is happening to the generation of African children born outside Africa. But I don’t think that is it. Because lots of Asian children are also born outside China, India and the rest of the Asian Continent. Yet you don’t see them being baby mamas and baby daddies.
You do have a few who speak street and try to be cool, but generally they are still respectful of their culture and traditions.
I’m not saying those of us who grew up outside Africa in the ‘good old days’ were perfect children. Nobody is perfect and certainly our parents too faced challenges in raising us. But we did have a certain respect for our parents. But hey, these are just the reflections of an ordinary African woman.