Thursday, July 25, 2024
Speak Your MindIntrospection and parenting in a changing world

Introspection and parenting in a changing world

I know numerous individuals who once harbored dreams of raising their children abroad, whether in the United States, Europe, or other developed nations. The primary argument often revolves around the benefits it offers to the children, particularly in terms of accessing quality education. There is no doubt about the validity of this point.

We can reasonably assume that most schools in developed nations boast sufficient staffing with teachers and qualified personnel who are passionate about their work. These schools are well-equipped with necessary resources like laboratories, offer ample access to books and educational materials, and adequately address the extracurricular needs of their students. It’s only natural for parents to desire such exceptional educational opportunities for their children, isn’t it?

However, times have certainly changed. I’ve encountered numerous individuals who no longer harbor the desire to raise their children abroad due to the cultural shocks that do not align with the fabric of Ethiopian society in any way.

Increasingly, I hear stories of people residing in countries like the US who are now relocating back to Ethiopia solely for the purpose of raising their children here. This represents a significant departure from the past.

It was once unimaginable for Ethiopian diaspora to return to Ethiopia solely for the sake of educating their children here. So, what has brought about this change? It seems a lot, with the most significant factor being the culture shock that Ethiopians living abroad find utterly intolerable.

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Regrettably, significant changes are also occurring here in Ethiopia. Thanks to the internet and globalization, some of our children are becoming increasingly unrecognizable. Social media, in particular, is molding our children into versions that are unrecognizable within the Ethiopian social and cultural context that we are accustomed to. Our children are striving to emulate the characters they see in American movies, imitating their physical appearance, mannerisms, and behavior. It becomes difficult to ascertain whether these children are truly Ethiopian or “Ferenji’s“. The most distressing aspect is the impact on their behavior.

Our children are increasingly seeking modernity in the form of abusive substances such as alcohol, drugs, and frequenting clubs. What’s even more alarming is that these substances have become commonplace within our children’s schools.

To illustrate, in the school my daughter attended, a student was caught hiding a bottle of gin in their bag. Shockingly, this student was likely only in the 8th or 9th grade.

Recently, I came across an interview with a parent whose child attends one of the international schools in our city, and it prompted deep reflection on the role we have as parents and as a school community.

During the interview, the mother recounted the distressing incident of her 10th-grade son being found intoxicated at school early in the morning. The school contacted her to collect her child, and she discovered him in a pitiful physical state, vomiting from substance abuse. Later, she learned that not only had he consumed alcohol at school in the early morning, but he had also taken drugs. Shockingly, these drugs were not in the form of cigarettes or other conventional means, but were mixed with flour and made into cakes and biscuits. How can the school possibly monitor such unconventional methods of drug consumption?

However, what caught my attention the most was that the mother placed the blame solely on the school, arguing that she had raised her son with the highest Ethiopian standards.

Now, let me pose a question: Can we truly absolve the parents of any responsibility in such circumstances? Shouldn’t parents bear at least some of the responsibility?

Raising our children has become an arduous task, both in Ethiopia and abroad. The internet and globalization may have contributed to these challenges, but it is undeniable that parents share a significant portion of the responsibility. Therefore, taking a moment to pause and reflect on where we may have gone wrong should be an essential item on our to-do list.

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