On 9th October 2021, our Executive Director Christian Elongué gave a public talk on the topic “Who is the true alpha of the family?“, during the festival “Saint-Petersburg Book Lighthouse” moderated by Nadezhda Filimonova and Evgeniia Trofimova from the Kronshtadt children’s library in Russia.
The other guest of the festival was Anna Krasilshchik, a Russian writer, translator and author of children’s books “Three fourth”, “Let’s go to Unalashka”.
Christian Elongué met Filimonova and Evgeniia during the 37th IBBY Congress in Russia where they got interested in knowing more about African children literature and this event was an opportunity to explore parenting styles in the 21st century, both from a russian and African children literature perspective.
Even though we all want to be the best parents, there is often conflicting advice on how to raise a kid who is confident, kind and successful. And every aspect of being a parent has been more complicated and more fraught during the pandemic, with parents managing complex new assignments and anxious new decisions, all while handling the regular questions that come up in daily life with the children we love.
Elongué thus explained that parenting styles must be adapted and personnalised to the kids and teens personality. There is no one right way to raise a child. It’s important to focus on balancing priorities, juggling responsibilities and quickly flipping between the needs of children, other family members and yourself.
Research confirms biblical advices on how to raise self-reliant children with high self-esteem. It is than authoritarian. You want your child to listen, respect and trust you rather than fear you. You want to be supportive, but not a hovering, helicopter parent.
All of these things are easy to set as goals, but . As your child develops, the challenges will change, and your thinking may evolve, but your approach should be consistent, firm and loving. We should help kids to learn through experience since making an effort builds confidence and helps them learn to tackle challenges. We should calibrate our expectations about what our kids are capable of doing independently.
How can children books help in raising confident kids?
The second part of the public talk explored the influence of reading in the education of self-confident kids. The Russian author Anna explained how proving quality children’s books can help kids acquired the values and principles that would help them be obedient, respectful and self-reliant.
Christian Elongué shared some Russian fairy tales which are known in some part of Africa such as:
Vasilisa the Beautiful: The story of a beautiful daughter of a merchant, who married a second time after his first wife had died. The stepmother hated Vasilisa and gave her lots of hard work. The jealous stepmother decided to move the family closer into the forest where a Russian evil witch, Baba Yaga, lived. She hoped that Baba Yaga would eat the girl and when it didn’t succeed, the stepmother and the other daughters decided to send Valissa directly there. You can purchase it here
Father Frost: This is another story of a cruel stepmother wanted to marry her favourite daughter, who was less attractive than Nastya, her second daughter. Despite several attempts, the potential husbands instantly preferred Nastya. The old woman then decides to send Nastya away. She tells her husband to take her to the forest in the middle of winter and leave her there to die. The inhabitants of the forest, including Father Frost, a human depiction of the cold, decide to help Nastya because of her kindness.
Elongué also some African and Afro-American books which addressed the issue of parenting in the 21st Century, using African books. Some of them are below:
In his last remarks, Elongué indicated that parenting was all about making the right combination of love, freedom and discipline. Parenting will always require sacrifices, especially in times of crisis or changes, when things aren’t going how we expected. So always do your best, trust Christ’s wisdom and enjoy the learning journey. You can access the powerpoint from Christian Elongué presentation below: