Challenges of Parenting in Caribbean Culture

If there is one thing that is ubiquitous among Caribbean countries, it is the role of the man and the role of the woman, and derivative to those, the role of parents. Let’s look at some of the challenges of parenting in the Caribbean community.

1We often stifle children’s free and independent thinking

“Children should be seen and not heard. Do as I say and not as I do.” These are things folks in my generation and those before heard often. I imagine in many communities, those memes linger on. But keeping children silent, instead of engaging them in thoughtful, critical conversation, keeps them from developing thoughtful, critical thinking. Often the first thing we do when a child asks “why” is hush them up with “because I say so”. 

2We fall back to archaic, harmful behaviors just because it is what we know

Here’s another common meme that we just won’t leave alone: Don’t spare the rod and spoil the child. We in the Caribbean, at least, the less forward thinking of us, can take that one to legendary extremes. I understand spanking in the years when the child can’t fully understand words and there is no democracy in the household because in truth – parents are the dictators up to certain age. But after you can communicate effectively with your children, after they are thoughtful enough to appreciate right from wrong, why would you physically do things to them that you would not do to another thinking person. 

3In Caribbean culture we tend use religion as a weapon and the status quo as a crutch

Other challenges of traditional Caribbean parenting include the overzealous enforcement of religious beliefs. Practices that have no relation to trying to build a child’s relationship with God, only to scaring that child into doing what we would like.

4We don’t understand the gamut of responsibilities that SHOULD come along with being a parent.

In our broad culture, there’s this belief that parenting means simply bringing a child into the world. Sadly, many of our men especially do not appreciate the importance of quality time with their families.

I recently read a positive review on a book by Drs Barry Davidson and Faith Linton, written to address parenting issues unique to the Caribbean paradigm. I haven’t read it myself and I’m not advocating that its contents are correct, but if parenting from a Caribbean perspective is a subject that sparks your curiosity, it might be a good reference for you. The book is called Answers to Questions Parents Ask. I’d also encourage you to visit the 18 Degrees North website and have a look at their investigation into how the absence of parental guidance facilitated the corruption of Caribbean-born DC sniper Lee Boyd Malvo. Read more from  Calibe

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