The inseparable bond between Somali parents and children, in general, is one of love and affection; yet we come across people who hate their parents and also people who feel that their parents have let them down. Why is this the case? Are these people unnatural or are they justified? Perhaps in some cases, they are justified. Most men and women get married and have children but not all of them are worthy of being parents.
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Parenthood, like other responsibilities, needs devotion, dedication, and a lot of preparation. Prospective parents must recognize their responsibilities and realize what parenthood involves. We will examine or focus some unique important approaches of Somali parenting process towards their children
1. An accurate understanding of parenting practices:
Most Somali families focus only on the basic needs of their children. These basic necessities include nutrition, education, and shelter. They also put an effort into their children’s safety, health, and overall well-being. Religious traditions are considered essential to strong families. A two-parent family structure is described as an ideal family for Somali families. Somali families often utilize an authoritarian parenting style; parents make decisions for their children, who are expected to obey.
Somali parents often express concern with methods of discipline and seek more effective ways to manage children’s behavior. There is a desire to ensure that disciplinary interventions are contextually congruent with family and community culture.
The Somali culture is chiefly an oral tradition that values hands-on learning and oral exchanges; handouts to be read will have a limited response.
2. Parent and child nurturing and attachment styles:
Traditionally, Somali families are large, with many households including 5-10 children. Somali parents provide for their children and raise them with care, safety, and protection until the child becomes independent. There is a strong and secure attachment between the mother and the children, especially when the child is at the infant stage and until the child reaches the age of five.
3. Attitudes toward emotional behavior and mental health:
“Mental illness” is not acknowledged as an acceptable concept. Various phrases are often used in the Somali community to describe feelings of emotional distress. These can include “noise in the brain”; “burning emotionally”; “thinking too much”; and/or “ongoing headache.” Depression is not acknowledged, but cultural healing, such as reading parts of the Koran, is often suggested by friends and family.
Role of kin and tribal networks
Somali families have a strong sense of kinship. Before the civil war, Somali helped each other and got support from extended families. Grandparents, aunts, uncles provide financial support to their relatives. Especially grandparents mostly take a big role and responsibility of raising their grandchildren.
Tribal networks can be important for Somali elders and middle-aged adults. However, the tribe plays a minimized role for younger generations, who may associate more strongly with an African or Muslim identity.
4. Expectations of child development:
Somali parents promote their children’s development and make sure their children are developing well according to the stages of development such as the child’s age and their mental status. Most Somali parents understand the normal pattern of child development. They are concerned about their children’s emotional and social behavior, as well as their cognitive development.
There is a reluctance to pursue responses to an assessment of a child’s disability: concern that this may identify a child in a negative way and that the assessment may in fact be incorrect.
What are the essentials of a good parenthood role?
The first essential of good parenthood is the acceptance of the role. A man who marries when he is young may resent his first child for it would be a rival for the affection of the lady of the house. Similarly. a woman may resent her first child because it suddenly puts her in a different class of women. Couples who become parents can no longer call their time their own. Often the newcomer may necessitate changes in the household routine, giving up of a job on the part of the mother and various other sacrifices. The world of affection which should surround a child should precede its birth. It is here that good parenthood begins.
Fondness, however, is at no stage a synonym of pampering and spoiling children. Parents have the responsibility of cultivating those qualities in their children which may help them to face life, make them brave and likable human beings, impart a sense of integrity and strength and these lessons cannot be learned haphazardly. Parenthood is a full-time task and the only way of cultivating the right habits in children is through example and by providing an atmosphere which is conducive to the growth of these qualities. A child learns these virtues at home and the influence of his parents can counteract all other influences whether good or bad.
This is the theoretical aspect; in practice, the recipe for good parenthood is love and understanding. These two envelop a whole world in themselves. Love means love in the right degree, the love which does not ignore discipline, love which does not yield for the wrong reasons and for the wrong ends, love which can provide security and confidence for the growing child, love which leads to sacrifices and makes one devote some time and join in enjoying the simple pleasures of childhood. Understanding means trying to find what the child wants and why, giving him the freedom to try new ideas, to experiment with hobbies and learn from the world of nature. Understanding in love becomes hiding one’s fears and allowing the child to develop a sense of adventure and fearlessness; it means loving without clinging. It is not only confined to this, it extends further. It includes patience and forbearance. There may be occasions when a child may be afraid of things: of participation in social and public functions, swimming of heights, and endless other things. Understanding means trying to find out the reasons for the fear and perhaps giving in for the time being and helping the child to overcome it gradually.
Whatever is of value in the human character is born out of love and understanding. There can be no strict rules that one should say “No”‘ or put one’s foot down or allow a child to complete freedom. Each situation has to be judged and examined individually and each parent has to make the decision himself or herself. But there can be one rule: don’t corrupt the child. Don’t teach it to accept the second best, don’t bribe it into obedience, don’t be tyrannized by its tantrums, don’t blackmail it, or allow it to blackmail you. If the child remains incorruptible, it has every chance of growing up to be a person of generosity and compassion.
Finally being a good parent is in itself a process of growing up. One should have the capacity to love and to love wisely: it is this kind of person who makes a good parent. Share yourself with your children and they will love you and learn from you
Author Abdisalan Ahmed is a lecturer and freelance writer based in Hargeisa Somaliland.
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