The conflict between modern and traditional parenting behaviours as perceived by students in some selected secondary schools in Nairobi province: counseling implications
Wang'eri, Tabitha Waime
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This study was undertaken to examine and analyze the impact of westernizing influences on the parenting behaviours of modern Kenyan parents. This analysis was conducted, not by approaching these parents directly, but by means of the Internalized-OtherInterviewing technique intended to determine the perceptions of students in some selected secondary schools in Nairobi province, on the parenting behaviours of their own parents. In this regard, the critical issue was that of ascertaining the extent to which traditional parenting practices have been eroded by the multi-faceted influences impinging on the modern Kenyan family. The major purpose of the study was to isolate the traditional parenting behaviours and values that have resisted change despite these influences and those that have succumbed to the change. The sample for the study consisted of form two students drawn from a sample of secondary schools in Nairobi province. A self-developed questionnaire, containing a variety of possible parental behaviours of modern Kenyan parents was used as instrument for data collection. The researcher herself with the assistance of two research assistants administered the questionnaires directly to the students and collected the instruments immediately afterwards. The data collected were analyzed by means of descriptive statistics that helped to generate trends and conclusions that assisted in the resolution of the key questions investigated. The results showed, among other things, that parenting behaviours of modern Kenyan parents have been severely affected by a number of westernizing influences. This is evidenced by the majority of the families that have adopted monogamous marriages and who have fewer children than the traditional African family. Modernization is also evident as the number of relatives resident among the families continues to drop. The modern Kenyan family is one that avails children with modern facilities like the radio, television, video and newspapers which the adolescents studied use avidly as opposed to the traditional past where the children were socialized through communally organized activities. The mother has appeared as the dominant parent as she is in close proximity with children of both sexes while the father seems to be distanced from both sons and daughters which itself is a modern trend. Maternal domination of the domestic scene was noted to cover many areas of the child's life as the mother is reported to be more engaged than the father in parent-child shared activities, in meeting the psychological needs of children, child discipline, decision making in the home, house-keeping and child-rearing. This can be interpreted to mean that compared to those of the older generation of Kenyan parents, as highlighted in studies by Kenyatta (1938), Ngugi (1965), Omari (1972), and Nukunya (1992), children of modern Kenyan families are parented differently from those of their own parents and grandparents. A discussion of the findings was undertaken to draw out some implications of the study and to make recommendations as well for counseling purposes to enable modern Kenyan parents to contend with the new trends indicated, emanating from the study. Hence the following recommendations were proffered: egalitarian parenting and the need for mothers to tone down their maternal gate-keeping and fathers to become more participative in attending to their modern family roles. It was also recommended that parents should endeavor to understand the benefits as well as the damaging effects of the electronic devices in the home and as such, to properly guide and monitor the children's use of these facilities. Professional implications of the study were also drawn, suggesting that counselors need to be conversant with adolescents' experiences in the homes and in that way to facilitate forums aimed at helping parents to be more effective in an ever changing world. Policy makers were urged to indicate the direction along which we must go in the future if the noted devastating effects of westernizing influences on the modern Kenyan family are not to be allowed to deal an irreversible blow on the mental health and psychological characteristics of the modern Kenyan child. Recommendations for further research along the lines were also made.