Saturday, March 29, 2008

How To Raise Your Child Like A Jamaican

I got a chance to catch up with Dahlia Welsh (, the author of How To Raise Your Child Like A Jamaican (Life Lessons My Parents Taught Me). Coming from a Jamaican household, I can definitely relate to the book. If your looking for some candid, personal tips on parenting, Dahlia's book is a must read.

Why did you decide to write How To Raise Your Child Like a Jamaican?

It's funny because the book came to me after a conversation I had with my father regarding the lack of etiquette that a young woman was displaying on a reality TV show. However, after getting feedback from many people, I'm seeing that unbeknowest even to myself there was another reason. How To Raise Your Child Like A Jamaican (Life Lessons My Parents Taught Me) is a homage to my parents. It has turned into my way of saying thank you to them for raising me the way they did.

What were some of the biggest challenges you faced while writing this book?

Just actually sitting down and doing it. I have a background in scriptwriting and I've even optioned a screenplay; so, that definitely helped. However, I never thought I'd write a book because those are two very different genres but hey, get yourself an editor to check the grammar and anything is possible!

What do you hope parents can gain from reading your book?

That parenting is mostly proactive, meaning teach the lesson and let the consequences be known before problems arise. They should also know that being your child's friend, as cool as that sounds, is doing them a disservice because technically we only have one set of parents and their job is to lay down the law and guide us; so, that when it's time to stand on our own two feet we can. If our parents are not stepping up to the plate, who will?

During the colonial period of Jamaica, Jamaicans tended to imitate the British society. Now, Jamaica is considered a miniature America. In fact there's a common phrase that says, "If America sneezes, Jamaica catches a cold." What impact does American culture have on Jamaican communities and the dynamics of parenting?

Slackness, I travel to Jamaica quite often and from the perspective of a Jamerican on the outside looking in my biggest fear is that Jamaicans are beginning to forget how to raise their children like Jamaicans.

Discipline is a common thread in an old-fashioned Jamaican home, how do you think it has affected you in your adult life?

Discipline structures my daily life that is for sure and unfortunately, especially in the workplace, you see people both young and old who are not disciplined. For example, people who don't seem to know the difference between speaking one way when you're hanging with your friends and another when you're at work. It's so embarrassing, sometimes it makes me cringe.

You start each chapter with a popular Jamaican saying, such as "We rule tings, tings nuh rule we!" (Translation: We rule things, things don't rule us.)Without giving away the book, how can this saying be manifested in a parenting philosophy?

Well, like I mentioned earlier don't be your child's friend. Parents should rule the household plain and simple. Parents have the knowledge, parents have the experience and hopefully, parents have the desire to rear children who they can be proud of. It's not an easy task that's why you see so many instances where everyone from children up to adults are running around acting as if they have no home training.

Now that you've written How To Raise Your Child Like A Jamaican, what's next?

The second edition, I've lined up some really great Jamericans, General Colin Powell and Michelle Bernard who is the president and CEO of the Independent Women's Forum ( to write about how growing up in a Jamaican household contributed to their success and who knows maybe the movie or TV series!... (smile)


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