Mother’s Parenting Roles in Nigeria

Keywords: Mother’s roles, parenting, career woman, parentification, mental illness, Nigeria.


Mother’s Parenting Roles in Nigeria. What is the role of a mother in raising children? How about the career woman and parenting? Do Nigerian mothers have specific roles to play in parenting? What are the consequences of poor motherly roles?

The family is usually the first social environment every human being steps into at infancy. It is in families that every child learns behaviour and personalities are created.

As the child enters the family without any skill, the family provides the learning experiences for best development. This learning process encompasses all the spheres of life, physical, social, educational, etc.

So in the upbringing or raising of children, both the father and the mother have specific and significant roles they play. Even with the specific roles parents have in raising children, the mother’s roles are the most important and most dominant. This is because she is the key stone to her family and she completely connected with the child. A mother should be a protector to the child, a disciplinarian as well as a friend. This topic will write about mother’s parenting roles in Nigeria and globally.

What is the role of a mother in raising children?

The major roles of a mother are to bear children and nurture the children. And of course this mother’s nurturing roles usually continue even when the child is way into adulthood.

To nurture a child means that the child will be assisted to grow, develop and succeed. And the mother has different ways or role plays to ensure that her child grows, develops and succeeds in life.

Thus from the age of a newborn up to the toddler age, the mother has a primary roles. And this is to satisfy the child’s need and protect the child from the world outside.  The mother is a role model for her girl child at the primary school level. At puberty, she is her daughter’s confidant as she prepares her son to be a good husband in future. And during the adolescence, the mother requires patience and good knowledge to perform her roles.  

The different roles played by the mother:

Bonding and emotional security –

The mother is the first human connection with the child. She is the caregiver.  And her presence and care she provides in the early years of a child’s life is difficult to replace. She supplies her child’s needs for love and safety by cuddling, tenderness and care. She provides food, clothing and shelter, etc.

The mother is constantly there for her child in times of frustration and fear. She spends quality time with the child. And she offers the right environment for the child to develop through constant communication, play and creativity. She should also have good listening skills.

These go a long way in enabling the child develop trust and feel secure which instills self confidence in child. This self esteem will be important in stable mental health in the future. The child will also grow up being a sensitive person and displaying trust in others.

Social interactions –

The mother transforms a house into a home, where children are happy. And she helps the child to learn and understand the importance of family. She is the cord that binds everyone in the family together.

Mother can help the child interact, by interacting with other family members herself. She can also encourage having family meals together and family prayers. Also taking the children to visit family members is of importance.

When the mother is soft and calm in handling matters that arise, it teaches the child. The child will learn to handle matters in a calm and positive manner.

These will go a long way to improve social interactions in future. The mother is actually known to be a bridge to social life. She is also the child’s first and main social support in times of trouble.

When a child grows up to develop good social relationship with others, it can protect from mental health issues.

Education –

One of the human needs for the development of human potentials is education. Education helps a person to improve competence, skills and it is used to shape a child’s character.

Mothers are the first contact between the child and education. And mothers play a very important role in educating the children at the home front. The mother’s role in educating the child at home helps the child develop physically, psychologically and intellectually.

She must be a good role model to her child, because children learn fast through modeling behaviours. If a mother is hard working, the child will grow up being hard working.

The mother’s role also includes inculcating into the child family values and cultural norms, as well as respect for others. These can be done through storytelling and reading story books to the child. It is also important for the mother to be honest, in order to teach the importance of telling the truth.

During the academic school years, research has it that those children whose mothers get involved, perform well. So a mother should get involved with the child’s academic work and engage with school teachers.

Discipline –

Apart from being loving and caring as well as a social bridge, mothers are expected to play disciplinary roles. The ways mothers discipline their children differ from the ways fathers discipline children.

Mothers tend to discipline children more often than fathers because they spend more time with the children. But fathers use more harsh disciplinary methods.

Mothers usually reason more with children due to their emotional connection. Fathers on the other hand are confrontational.

In correcting a child, it is important to understand the child’s perspective. It is important to point out to the child what he/she did wrong and what should have been done better.

A friend –

As the mother must engage in performing certain disciplinary measures to her child, she must also be a friend. During the adolescence period, children tend to lean more to their peers.

A lot of their information comes from members of their peers group. And many are misinformation.

 So a good mother must be not just a mother, but a friend to her adolescent child. This will make it possible for the child to confide in his/her mother.

Self sacrifice –

Mothers sacrifice their time, their treasure and their talents to ensure that their children survive. Such mothers are ready to give up their food and even their lives for their children. The mother takes it upon herself to ensure that her child gets treatment when he/she is ill.

In the area of religion –

The mother is a bridge that connects the child to God. She introduces the child to the religious practice that she is well acquainted with.

She never seizes to intercede for her child even if she lives to be in her 90s and above in age.

The career woman and parenting.

In modern times, women have found themselves into different careers and professions. This has brought them out from the traditional housewives to make them into working women.

Being a career woman should not stop the woman from performing her roles as a mother. It may become challenging, but it should not stop the motherly roles.

As a working mother, she should learn to balance the professional life and family life. It requires organization. What is actually important here is not the quantity of time spent with the children, but the quality of time. This quality time is made use for quality mother-child interactions.

There is need for the entire family to socially support the mother, the husband inclusive. In Nigeria, there still remains the remnant of the extended family system. And the grand parents can volunteer to help in care giving.  Also paid domestic servant can be engaged to reduce the care giving time for the mother.

Do Nigerian mothers have specific roles to play in parenting?


In Nigeria, the impact of a mother in the lives of her children is incomparable, no matter her level of education. Every Nigerian woman wants the best for her child. Thus there is need to highlight the mother’s parenting roles in Nigeria.

She is ready to make healthy meals and she makes sure that the child eats the meal. She will go the extra miles to use unconventional methods to get the food into the child.

The mother ensures that the home environment shows love and acceptance. And she monitors her child at every level.

She makes sure that her child gets a good education. And she ensures that her child is brought up well in family values and customs.

She directs her child to God and even at old age, the Nigerian mother still cares for her adult children.

Motherhood to the Yoruba people:

In Africa and in Nigeria inclusive, there are many proverbs about the mother. The Yoruba people see mothers as rare gems that can never be bought with money.

They also have a saying that the world revolves because of the power of the woman. This has both physical and spiritual meaning.

With a spiritual meaning, it is believed that motherhood has the divine strength to create life. And possessing the power to know beforehand the activities of her child, she is omnipotent.

To the Yoruba people, there is no deity like a mother, because the roles of motherhood never end. And that the mother provides unconditional love with limitless sacrifice and selfless care. They believe that a mother would give her life in place of that of her child.

Motherhood to the Ibo people:

To the woman in Igbo culture, the most important role is to bear children. The birth of a child is seen as the Ibo woman’s crown of glory.

The main purpose of womanhood to the Ibos is motherhood. So women are valued and respected for their role of giving birth.

Ibo women love and care very much for their children. And they are seen as the educators of children.

The Ibo mother teaches her children skills and the cultures of her people from childhood to adulthood. The skills include home chores to her girl child. She is actually a socializing instrument to her children.

These mothers start talking to their children when they are still in their wombs. And she is the closest caregiver and she enhances the child’s character.

She gets involved in molding her child’s character through telling folk stories. These enable her to pass down cultural values through oral traditions and teach hard work.

With the story telling, she inculcates listening skills into her children and teaches them conflict resolution, etc.

What are the consequences of poor motherly roles?

Nurturing issues:

There are certain conditions that can make it not possible for a child to be properly nurtured by the mother.

Coming from a dysfunctional home –

If a mother was raised in a dysfunctional home, she most probably will not be able to parent adequately. A woman can definitely not be able to give what she does not have.

A mentally ill mother –

When a mother is suffering from any form of mental illness, it is usually not possible to parent well. The children, especially the older ones become parentified and that is a risk factor to the child having mental illness later in life. Parentification is the parent-child role reversal.

A mother with a personality disorder may also not be able to parent well. Even a mother with intellectual disability may have difficulties parenting.

Absent mother –

A mother can be absent in a child’s life, either via, divorce, separation or death. When any of these happen, the child cannot be properly socialized.  

Consequences of poor motherly parenting:

Many research papers have documented the effects of parental loss on children. The results show that children, who lose their mothers either via divorce/death, are at risks of having mental illness. And if a child has a mother who is mentally ill, she could inherit the mental illness.

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