Ryculture’s Bonfire Chat on Parenting

Ryculture Health and Social Innovation hosted its second Bonfire Chat on the 31st of May 2019 at Juja Botanical Gardens with focus on the impact of parenting on mental health.

The discussion was aimed at;

  • establishing the current parenting styles especially that were adopted by our parents in raising us up,
  • building a correlation with mental health,
  • designing coping mechanisms to cope with the negative outcomes of our parenting & create enabling environments for our younger siblings and families in the future.

This session was part of the Ryculture Bonfire Conversation Series aimed at promoting open conversations on issues affecting the youth and societies.

If you’re old enough to critique what I put in your lunch, you’re old enough to make it yourself. – SarcasticMommy4


The discussions were conducted in the form of open contributions in a structured format starting from a review of the parenting styles the participants were subjected to growing up. Most young people have grown up in families where parents have had the autonomy in decision making with children having to comply with most of the demands on them. It has however worked to get us to where we currently are but may not continue to prove worthwhile. This was affirmed by the fact that some of young people are either bitter at their parents in some part, can blame some of the hardships they have faced to have been contributed to by their upbringing and to an extent wish things were different.

Parenting is not giving your child everything they want. Parenting is not being your child’s friend. Parenting is about preparing your child to be a useful and respectful person in society. – GloZell

Generally, the parenting for this generation adopted the model of provision of the needs that we had as children with little focus on the emotional component and engagement in conversations. This in part impeded the ability of our generation to express themselves or even stand up for themselves in situations where they were cushioned from the hardships in life. Participants acknowledged the fact that as individuals, we didn’t ever get to ask for how we wished to be handled in certain circumstances which didn’t give our parents an option on how better to treat us. We also acknowledged that our parents did their best at bringing us up giving us the care they thought we needed with the best intentions of making us be better people in future. This formed the basis for being sent to certain schools, being provided for financially etc.

It’s like no one in my family appreciates that I stayed up all night overthinking for them – Mom

However, having come to terms that our parents are not to blame but to be applauded for doing the best they could to make us who we are, it was also proposed that we have a task to change the narrative by playing an active role in shaping our relationship with them moving forward. It also is our responsibility to contribute to the upbringing of our younger siblings and children when we get to that phase cognizant of the impact of a non-ideal parenting.

Participants deliberating on various issues on parenting that have contributed to the mental health surge among youth and better ways to cope

The key take away points from the session were:

  1. We have to acknowledge the generational differences we are having and the fact that our parents did the best they could for us out of kindness and love. The best we can do is appreciate them and contribute to making positive change for the future generations.
  2. We have a responsibility to stand up for ourselves and break the cycle by supporting our younger siblings as well as being better parents ourselves. We shouldn’t only complain but also resolve to bring a difference in the system, not to act victims for we have the power to make changes.
  3. We have to acknowledge that our parents are human and had their own issues affecting them and may have influenced their care for us. We should understand that at times they were tough on us not because of us but because of what they were dealing with at such moments.
  4. We understand that there is no single parenting style that is ideal and commit to deal with every child in his/her unique way and support them in their development.
  5. Good parenting needs time. Set aside time for your child, have the scheduled time with your child and give it to them by encouraging them to actively participate in that care so as to support them to be better at being themselves.
  6. We have one life to live and we are not in a position to change our parents. All we can do is improve on our relationship with them, forgive where we felt hurt and forge ahead as responsible and informed people.

I’m not a parenting expert. In fact, I’m not sure that I even believe in the idea of ‘parenting experts’. I’m an engaged, imperfect parent and a passionate researcher. I’m an experienced mapmaker and a stumbling traveler. Like many of you, parenting is by far my boldest and most daring adventure. – Brene’ Brown

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