Parenting as an African millennial, in today’s world is extremely sophisticated. I honestly believe we have more choices to make now because of all the information we have access to. Yes, we are more empowered, but damn, can it be confusing. You could visit two paediatricians with opposing views on colic. I had a paediatrician for my first daughter who said there was no such thing as colic or teething and she did not believe in children taking vitamins, she felt the diet should provide that. In contrast, my second daughter’s paed put my baby and 3 year old on a multivitamin for the first few weeks of winter. And on the colic note, THERE IS SUCH A THING AS COLIC. Trust me, I know. The confusing thing is that I loved both paeds for different reasons, I just had to make the final decisions on what felt right to me as a mom.
The Millennial Dynamic
As a millennial, I am a researcher. Dr Google and I have many consultations that incur zero medical bills. I literally need an internet connection and Bob’s my uncle. The problem with the internet though is that any Tom, Dick and Harry, or rather, any Tshepo, Thato or Sizwe can create a blog, like we did, and then load it up with tonnes of ‘expert advice’. In many cases this information sounds believable. Sadly, it is not always accurate. When I am desperate, I even turn to forums to see the different experiences people have had and their opinions. Also, a very dicey source of info but can be super useful on things that can be done in more ways than one.
The African Dynamic
Enter the African dynamic, wow. Now this dynamic is a trickster I tell you. The African culture, no matter where you are from in Africa is very strong. In many ways it is valuable to be raised with the African culture because you learn values that can positively build your character. Values such as respect, patience, appreciation and gratitude. However, there are some negatives too, like patriarchy, overpriced lobola fees, in some cases tolerance for abuse and infidelity in the marriage setting. Well this post is really about the impact of the African culture on us millennial parenting, with a particular focus on, Old Wives Tales. Hahahaha, grab some popcorn because this is really entertaining.
African Old Wives Tales
As parents we get told what to do very often. This unsolicited advice usually comes when something isn’t okay with baby or a decision needs to be made about how to parent your child. At this point you may have turned to Dr Google for advice, you might be reluctant to go to the paed because the issue isn’t yet THAT deep and you happen to mention it to someone in passing. Someone old school, African, possibly your gran, baby’s nanny or an Aunt. This is when it gets interesting, confusing for some, useful in some cases but absolutely shocking in most. Below are some African Old Wives Tales that I have collected.
- Don’t drink fizzy drinks when you are pregnant, the baby will be gassy when she it is born.
- Don’t drink hot beverages when pregnant, the baby will burn.
- “My daughter got pneumonia at 4 weeks because I chewed a lot of ice when I was pregnant.”
- “My baby was gassy and the nanny said it was because the skies were grey.”
- Cover your newborn baby’s eyes when they go squint, otherwise the baby will be squint forever.
- Don’t cut babies hair before they start walking or they might take too long to walk
- Apply Stuipdtuppels and Haarlemensis (anti-colic syrups) when going outside or when baby is in the presence of strangers
- “I was also told my born child would love the foods I craved during pregnancy and so far this is true!!!!”
- Put a small piece of wet newspaper on the baby’s forehead when she has hiccups. The hiccups will go away.
- “That the baby cries because he is hungry and breastmilk is not enough. That I should put mielie porridge in his bottle – at 3 months!”
- The sibling must not eat the baby’s leftovers otherwise she won’t grow.
- “Put dust on your baby’s forehead before entering a “new” house. And after my baby cried a few times at a new place, I started doing this.”
- “Don’t let your baby put her toes in her mouth because she won’t walk”
- Put splint from fabric on baby’s head to cure hiccups
- “Put a piece of cotton on the forehead for hiccups. It actually works.”
- Twins have to throw a coin into the ocean or they’ll drown
- If the baby is coughing put a wet piece of paper on their forehead
- Throw baby’s bath water outside don’t let it mix with other water.
- Don’t tickle under the baby’s feet or they will develop a stutter.
- Every time a child chokes while breastfeeding blow on the soft part of the head so they stop choking.
- Don’t lay your baby to sleep on his back, he’ll choke on his vomit.
- If you don’t breast feed your baby it won’t know that you are the mother.
- add porridge to his formula, it will make him sleep longer.
- “Don’t drink Fanta or because your baby will be born orange. I drank it anyway because I was addicted to it. And my baby was definitely not orange!”
What have you been told and did you try it out? Please share in the comments section.