Home » US-based Ghanaian minister and wife release a ground-breaking book on parent-child relationships in immigrant homes

US-based Ghanaian minister and wife release a ground-breaking book on parent-child relationships in immigrant homes

TWO WORLDS AT WAR: Finding Common Cultural Grounds for African Immigrant Parents and Their Children, is a compendious novel book addressing cultural and generational conflicts that African immigrant families experience. The goal of the book is to help the reader to identify the nature of these conflicts to enhance the understanding of the tensions these cultural differences create and to offer a balanced cultural approach in parenting based on patience, tolerance, effective cross-cultural communication and authentic love within the confines of biblical standards (p. xxiii).

The general theme of the book is that, for African immigrant parents and their children to achieve meaningful multicultural and multigenerational competency, there is a need for both parties to explore the different facets of their respective worlds, understand the negative effects of unresolved tensions and recognize that though gaps exist it should not lead to war. The 196-page book has a forward by the Chairman of Church of Pentecost, Apostle Eric Nyamekye, eight chapters of well-crafted and impactful content, and a very useful 41-endnotes and bibliography for further reading.

Notable key aspects of Two Words at War are the cultural and generational setting, phenomenological construct of real lived experiences immigrant parents and their wards through narrative-story telling style akin to the African oral expression, and the soft clinical and biblical foundations employed as a solution-focused approach rather than a lamentation. The book has a wide-angle usability across parenting, pastoral care, academia and even a strata of ministry leadership functions in churches, as illustrated by this poignant observation that “Most churches in our world today cater to the spiritual and emotional needs of the older generation, …. [but] are not able to meet the unique spiritual and emotional needs of the younger generation” (p. 119)

One pivotal theme regards parental passion and the typical corresponding top-down style of communication which turn to be counterproductive. The authors astutely observe that, it is natural that parents desire the best for their children but the way to convey this passion of love could benefit from refinement in tone and style. They posit that “it might be helpful [for parents to] … express love and care in ways that are culturally relevant and understandable, not necessarily according to their understanding of love.’ (p. 48)

Despite its breath of coverage on culture and generation, Two Worlds at War is not meant to be used as a standalone how-to guide on dealing with potential parent-child challenges. Also, it does not serve as a directive “you must do it this way” frame of thought since the authors recognize that context and environmental factors in different homes may dictate different approaches. Rather, throughout the book, the authors are very gentle and thoughtful in a more suggestive construct where they aptly offer very useful empirical and adaptive ways to deal with parent-child conflicts.

For example, for both parents and children to find comfortable common grounds when dealing with their respective complex cultural worlds, the authors adapt The 5 Love Languages framework and suggest that “immigrant parents can improve communication with their children if they situate such interaction within the cultural setting where they raise their children. That way they can pass on their cultural values in a way these children understand” (p. 151).

I highly recommend Two Worlds at War because it is an easy read, well structured, very practical and passes for an interactive experiential force with numerous relatable stories to aid the reader imbibe the suggestions stated in the book. The narrative approach of the book allows the reader to have constant interactions with the writers and interviewees, which makes it more fun and interesting to read, albeit dealing with serious matters.

Furthermore, the authors in a balanced presentation style share useful built-in list or warning signs that both parents and children can use to detect prevalence of underlying problems. Examples include a list of twelve signs of depression (p. 97) and an indicative list of nine signs that a child may be dealing with serious emotional problems (p. 116) Lastly, the use of conversational and ethnographic style makes the book authentic and engaging.

It is an effective book with useful techniques that can also be used by parents, pastors, youth and youth leaders, researchers, and teachers “to help promote healthy, loving relations in African [for that matter, all] immigrant homes – homes that are not waring but winning.” (p. xxiii). Besides, its applicability goes beyond families in the diaspora, and extends to the African setting, where Western influences has exacerbated the cultural differences between the younger and older generations.

Source: Ghana Web


April 2024