Afro Family

Raising African children in Australia: A resource guide

Raising children can be challenging by any stretch, yet raising African children in Australia adds a whole other level of complexity to the mix.

“How we raise our children depends on many things, including our values, goals and beliefs about children. These are largely formed by our own experiences when growing up, and by what is values in our own cultures. All parents everywhere share the aspirations that their children will be happy, healthy and well educated. But cultures can vary in other ways; for example, in how strongly they value children being obedient and respectful, or conversely independent and self-reliant.”*

“One’s own culture, especially if it is the mainstream culture, is often ‘invisible’. It is hard to recognise or question our assumptions about ‘right’ or ‘best’ ways to raise children. Many practices that are ‘different’ still support children’s well-being. Respecting these differences might mean adapting programs and service to accommodate them – among many possible examples are culturally or religiously-based food requirements, and sleeping routines. At the same time, research has demonstrated that some practices are harmful, whatever context they occur in, for example, severe physical punishment, abuse and neglect. Providing support to parents in learning new parenting skills and understanding Australian legal requirements will always be an important role.”*

“Parents from African countries, as all parents, require access to a range of early childhood and family services in Australia. Yet they often face language, cultural and structural barriers. As a relatively recent group of immigrants, many people from African backgrounds are acutely aware of the differences in their appearance, culture and way of life. While African families are not a homogenous group and have diverse cultures and backgrounds, many do share common experiences”*

“Adjusting to a different way of life in Australia presents multiple challenges (for Africans), and include:

– The roles of men, women and children within the family and in society can be different
– Many African families are much larger than Australian families
– Parents can feel isolated as they struggle to raise their children without the support of an extended family such as grandparents, uncles and aunts
– There are large numbers of single parents, particularly women, raising families alone
– There are often tensions between couples and between parents and children as they each adjust to cultural change differently
– The lack of role models to support young parents makes raising children difficult particularly for those who have been separated from parents and family, or whose relationships with parents have broken down
– Most families have limited economic resources to access available services and resources
– There are language and literacy barriers to information and opportunities to know more about family and parenting services
– Many families lack familiarity with new concepts and expectations about parenting
– Many African parents report have experiences inappropriate or insensitive service delivery in Australia”*

    *Excerpts from the ‘Raising Children in Australia: A resource kit for early childhood services working with parents from African backgrounds” guide

Though the guide is geared towards assisting early childhood workers support African families in Australia, with a focus on refugee families, all African parents in Australia can still find very useful information about family/childhood services and additional resources that are available to support their re-settlement in Australia, as well as real-life examples of challenges experienced by other African families in Australia, which they may indeed resonate with, to realise they are not alone.

Below you will find a link to the guide:

Raising Children in Australia: A resource kit for early childhood services working with parents from African backgrounds

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