Dilemma of a Zimbabwean parent

25 Jun, 2022 - 00:06 0 Views
Dilemma of a Zimbabwean parent

The Herald

Dr Masimba Mavaza

Family togetherness is important regardless of where you’re from, and especially during times of distress.

Families that share everyday activities together form strong, emotional ties. Studies have found that families that enjoy group activities together share a stronger emotional bond as well as an ability to adapt well to situations as a family.

Family time offers many benefits, including building confidence, creating a stronger emotional bond between family members, improving communication skills, better performance in school and reduced behavioral issues, as well as providing an opportunity to make memories built on fun, laughter and togetherness.

A good family makes a good community. A good community makes a good nation.

Despite the advantages of staying together as families, many Zimbabwean parents in England are currently considering sending their children back to Zimbabwe.

They are afraid their children will grow up and join the gangs in their neighbourhoods. The children coming out of societies in diaspora are a permanent heart ache.

However, there are some lucky families whose children become good citizens regardless of being in the diaspora.

Many parents have been battling with this thought since their children were born and some since their children arrived in the U.K.

Apart from the fear of their children joining gangs, parents also highlight financial constraints as another reason for wanting to send their children back home, while many fear that England breeds social misfits and many black children are destined for prisons.

Financial difficulties pose significant problems to child rearing and these are more pronounced in the diaspora.

Parents are forced to work long hours to make ends meet. Many are working 10-hour shifts and at the same time have to monitor their children.

There is no communication and interaction with people of the same cultural background.

There is a huge and permanent burden on every parent.

The responsibilities of immigrant parents are numerous; they are expected to pay bills, fend for their children as well as themselves and be responsible for the upkeep of their siblings back home in Zimbabwe.

Challenges vary from trying to reconnect with their African roots while integrating within the society in which they are newly immersed.

This stresses out many who believe they were brought up the best way and they feel they need to bring up their children in the same way they were reared back home.

Also there is pressure of status. People stretch their capabilities in order to meet the standards which they have projected.

The lack of communal support makes the raising of children a lone task which is daunting and totally unbearable.

During pregnancy, the situation is worsened by lack of supporting aunties and gogos.

Lately, most Zimbabweans want to immediately send their babies back home to be raised by their mothers-in-law or mothers.

They argue that if they grew up alright back home, their children will also do well.

But clearly the breaking of the parental bond is a nightmare.

Children in the Diaspora have become victims in a war they did not choose.

Most parents in the Diaspora are students and this is not easy in the UK. Trying to raise a child while studying is a nightmare.

If you do not send the child back home, you will not be able to cope with the stress.

Their stress involves the fact that they have to sign-in each time they go to school, scan their fingerprints four times on each of the three days they attend school as if they are criminals.

The requirements of a student are so tough to an extent it is not practical to practise best parenting skills.

The dilemma is seen when a parent has to choose between his/her future and the future of the children.

Women are expected to play other roles in the house such as cooking, washing and ironing. This piles more pressure on them.

Some female students, who by the age of 32-40 have not had any children, are psychologically pressured to have one before menopause knocks on their doors.

We are in a society where cultural differences are playing a very destructive role in raising children.

Most parents prefer the education they were given in Africa to that of the Western world.

The irony is that some of these parents travelled to the West to further their education mainly because they thought Western education was more advanced compared to that in the developing countries.

Obviously children sent home will have an opportunity to reconnect with their roots, making them better persons considering what some of them are turning out to be in the diaspora.

An anonymous father writes: “Mine are not back in Zimbabwe only because their mother threatens to imprison me if I try (sic). I have pointed out quite frankly that I came from one of the poorest countries in the world but I know now that I had the best education money can buy and my children living in one of the richest countries in the world are not going to get half of what I had. It is a terrible thing to realise as a parent.”

Another parent had a contrary view: “The difficult level parents may encounter in the West is a challenge each individual has to figure out how to tackle. If a parent must take this difficult road, it is obviously very important to factor several things into the picture. These are personal questions that differ from one person’s situation to another’s. There is no one size which fits all in this decision. United Kingdom is not the answer to raising children properly. Zimbabwe is not an oven which turns out a perfect loaf of bread every time.”

This is such a complex, emotional and deeply personal issue for so many families that it won’t be fair to give an abbreviated view on it.

It is, however, true that parenting in the Diaspora is a hard task.

From 2021 to June 2022 thirty Zimbabwean children died. Some were found dead in their houses some died from drug overdose while some died in prison. Being a black youth and in prison is a death sentence.

Another Zimbabwean was denied medication and was abused in prison until he died.

He was only 21.

Another young man was stabbed in a prison cell.

He was 20.

Some Zimbabweans are to be deported because they served over twelve months in prison.

The major reason which causes this is the way the children are being raised. Practically they raise themselves.


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