Zimbabweans abroad face challenges raising children


DECIDING how one’s children will grow up is a challenging task.
Back home, the duty of raising a child lies with the community.
No matter how times are changing, in one way or another, the community is involved in the raising of an African child; the parents bring out the child and the community brings him or her up.
The situation here in the UK is totally different from that in which we were raised.
It is a strange community in which individuals mind their own business, never interfering in the affairs of another. For Zimbabweans, it feels like raising children in a desert.
Raising a child in a foreign country comes with its unique set of challenges, but many Zimbabweans have to make the decision to bring up their children in a foreign land.
Various reasons have led people to come here but in most cases, children are unwilling parties to this migration train.
This migration can be brutal on children who are plucked from the familiar environment, leaving behind their friends and extended family.
Children either adjust or just get lost.
While some children have latched on to some opportunities, others are hooked and absorbed by the drug culture and controlling them is a difficult task.
There are laws that protect children to such ridiculous levels one really has to first seriously think about how to punish a wayward child, for disciplining a child can land one in jail.
In the Diaspora, children can become a curse, an experience of hell on earth.
How children adapt to a new lifestyle is dependent on their age. Younger children find it easier to make the change than older children.
Some children join their parents after a long separation.
Most of them become strangers to their parents and this triggers problems.
When relocating, children face serious language barriers.
Yes, they speak English but the accent distinguishes them and makes them targets for ridicule.
This treatment ‘hardens’ them and without proper counselling from home, they become wild.
While most children will have a good command of English, they always face difficulties in pronunciation; this seemingly mundane task makes it hard for them to integrate and make friends.
This challenge may result in some children engaging in acts of mischief so that they can belong and be quickly accepted by their new acquaintances.
For school-age children, leaving behind an education system that they understood, as well as friends made over the years can be traumatic.
Starting again in a new environment is overwhelming and some children may act out or exhibit a change in behaviour upon settling here.
It’s important to try and keep some consistency in lifestyle despite being abroad.
Sticking to the same routines in day-to-day life, similar to those experienced back home, can help children feel more secure.
Children become confused or are disappointed by what they see.
The big mansions in the UK they saw on television are not what they experience, their version of streets paved with gold is totally debunked on arrival.
Their expectations might not be met at all and this might result in them rebelling.
Thus, relocating can be very difficult for children emotionally.
It’s important to be there for them and empathise with what they are going through.
They are leaving a lot behind – friends, family, familiar places and their home.
It’s a lot to take in and their sense of loss might be huge.
It’s important to let them talk about how they are feeling and to help them through it.
The big problem is that the parents are ‘married’ to their jobs and have little time for the new arrivals. It seems that they expect children to be happy and grateful now that they have finally joined the parents abroad.
Sadly, the situation has been made worse by some parents who always want to make Zimbabwe a bad place.
If a child does anything wrong, they threaten him with flying him or her back to Zimbabwe; ultimately these children end up unable to talk with pride about their country of origin.
Even when things get bad for them, they feel they have to endure as going back home would no longer be an option because of the parents that vilify their motherland.
Without doubt, raising children abroad is a challenge but our children must be made to know that home is best and must be raised with the full pride and awareness that they are Zimbabweans.
Zimbabwe is the only country the children and us can call ours in this world, they must know that they can go back home at any moment they want.


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