Who Makes the Child: Parents or Society?

It is common practice in Africa for people to blame adults and fault their parenting skills as reasons for the misdemeanors of their children. Children are believed to mirror the skills, values, principles, and convictions instilled in them by their parents.

As a consequence, well behaved and successful kids owe their success to their parents. For example, someone allegedly claimed (on twitter) that a man was so overjoyed by his nouveau wife’s virginity that he bought his mother-in-law a Range Rover Jeep for raising an explemary lady.

This made me wonder why the mother of the lady has to be the one to take the credit for her daughter’s virginity?  Perhaps she played a part, but there aren’t other factors worth considering? Like the daughter herself and her immediate environment?

I believe the environment plays a major role in a child’s upbringing, even more than the parents and the individual. The environment makes up 40% of the effort that goes into a child’s upbringing while the parents’ and individual equally share the 60% left.

Think about it: throughout a child’s developmental period, she spends more time in school, church etc. (environment), mixing with friends, neighbours, teachers, peers, house helps and strangers. According to Elliott Bisnow, “You are a reflection of the twenty or thirty people who give you advice.”

Most kids are farmed out to boarding school between 8-12 years old, which means the only time they really spend with their parents and families is the long holidays. And in most cases, parents are carried away with happiness/joy when they return for the holidays that they forget to keep a close eye on them during these periods. Instead, they pay attention to their physicality and most importantly, their grades/results. It would surprise you how a good result can cloud parents’ judgment of their child’s character.

One may argue that parents can afford to influence the child’s immediate environment hence their contribution soars to an unassailable 50%. However, no matter how good an environment may seem, it is complemented by the bad and the ugly, and in the end, the child is left with the task of choosing his or her own path. This is because children learn a great deal by direct teaching; they learn much more by watching others. The peer pressure on kids is enormous; they are confronted by drugs, alcohol and sex wherever they turn.

Others may argue that the “little 30%” parents contribute is the fulcrum of the child’s developmental process, because it is the foundation. After all, a solid foundation is the key to a well-built home. It is adjudged that a child’s social, emotional and cognitive development depend on family dynamics. However, how often have we seen children with solid foundation from good homes turn out differently after much water has flowed under the bridge since those foundation days?

No matter where you stands in this argument, one thing is certain: parents, environment and the child play distinct roles in the development of an individual. Luck plays an integral part too. After all, luck and chance determine the family we are born into and thence our immediate environment.

What do you think contributes the most to a child’s development? The parents, the child herself, or the society she grows up in?

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Arturo Zinga


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    First I think both have influence on the child, the parents influence will definitely be there but at some point the child begins to adapt to the various changes in the environment. Which is why people say a child that will spoil will still spoil irrespective of the parents trying to curtail such,

    August 2, 2017
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