Parenting Styles in South Africa

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I chose to evaluate and discuss parenting styles in South Africa, more specifically Cape Town. Cape Town, South Africa is a city on Africa’s coastline. Africa itself is known for its rigid parenting styles. South Africa is vastly diverse in its culture and has come from an era of separatism and segregation. I want to evaluate the parenting practices of this culture due to their strong connection of poverty and young parents and its effect on parenting in this region.

South Africa Family Laws and Parenting Practices

The parent-child dynamic in South Africa has restructured from when the paterfamilias, the male head of a family or household, held the right to life or death over other family members. To now, where children have rights and parents have responsibilities. (Boniface, 2007) In Africa’s past law terminology terms such as “parental power” were used. The use of this term shows us that Africa used a more authoritarian approach to parenting. So parents had high demands of their children while giving very little to none emotional response. The new South African Children’s Act recently replaced that term with the concept of parental responsibilities and rights. Did these changes in terminology indicate a change of the parent-child relationship? Infact, the new Children’s Act emphasizes the state’s role in the facilities of social services to strengthen the magnitude of families and communities to care and protect children. When discussing parental practices, Africa practices a multitude of activities that their society has deemed normal. One thing that stood out to me was the fact that they massage their newborns so that they can “straighten their bones”. They also don't use pampers, they simply use clean water to rinse their child's behinds.

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Comparison of Laws and Practices

Authoritative parenting, vigilant decision making and frequent engagement in healthy lifestyle behaviours were the most prevalent family structure characteristics among adolescents in rural South Africa. In comparison to the U.S., I would say we are similar when it comes to parenting structures. The U.S. has a variety of parental styles but we as parents try to always put our childs need first and help them try to make the best lifestyle decisions. Though, our country has a few vast differences also. In South Africa the legal age of a person to still be considered a child is any persons 21 years of age and younger. In the U.S., it would be considered any persons 18 years of age or younger. The US where cancer is one of the top diseases, it tends to take its toll on family life. In Africa, HIV/AIDS turns into a family-level experience that impacts family functioning. (Boyes & Casale, 2014) Practices that we can find some similarities in would be the practice that the US had of not letting moms go back to work or out a few weeks after baby is born. Africans have a practice that after a baby is born, the mother moves back in with her mother for 3 months and doesn't see her husband. Practices like these are not similar 100% but we can see where some practices could have traveled globally. Discipline is handled by the father only. Sometimes, even the village may handle an unruly child. Where as in the U.S., discipline is contained inside the household.

A Day in the Life of the Typical Family

A day in the life of a typical family in Africa would be the mom and daughter waking up early to get breakfast ready for their dad and husband. In Africa girls tend to need the parental approval of their parents so they spend more time a day vouching for it. The boys wake up later and get ready for work and school. If the school is close enough the children walk. The mom spends the day doing housework and chores while the dad works. The children at school are treated to lunch 3 times a week and either pay or starve the other two days. Clean water supply in Africa is rare and not an everyday privilege. Then the children go home and do their chores before they eat dinner and go to bed for the next day. How does that compare to a typical day in the U.S.? In the U.S., a child wakes up with breakfast in a warm house. They either make a short walk less than 5 minutes compared to the 30 minute “short” walk of a African child. They have lunch everyday because even if it they can't afford it, the government has lunch programs in place so no child goes hungry. Then, after school the child may go home to complete homework and play video games rather than dive into chores, dinner, and then bed.


When analyzing different parenting styles I think it is safe to say that no two parents are alike. We all have different beliefs that don't just vary culturally, but vary morally. By studying the different approaches we can not only learn why people make the decisions they make, but also learn certain things like self-regulation and risk-taking. In the end, Africa does have different parenting practices from the U.S. Those are apparent due to poverty, such as the lack of use of pampers. Also, the fact of younger parent which mean less economically stable families. The environment is one of the biggest influencers when it comes to raising children and a person’s parenting strategy. This assignment is in place just to let us realize that not everyone has the privileges we do and that in itself is something to be grateful for.

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