This month we interview Dahlia D Welsh, author of the book ” How To Raise Your Child Like A Jamaican”. We ask her questions about the book and tips for raising your child like a Jamaican.
Q: Why did you write this book?
I wrote this book for two reasons one as an homage to my parents because parenting is not easy but they really were dedicated to the well being of me and my sisters. And secondly, because I am noticing more and more that people around me whether in the work place or just those I encounter on the street seem to have forgotten how to act in the outside world. What you do in your home is one thing but when you’re in public that’s where home training should kick in.
Q: Why do you think it is important to raise you child like a Jamaican?
Because of the value system since Jamaica is an island Jamaicans for the most part have been able to hold onto their beliefs and value systems. My upbringing was very old school, work hard, study hard and reap the benefits and of course always take responsibility for your actions.
Q: What value you think that Jamaica has that children today lack?
Honestly, there seems to be a lack of shame and accountability. To this day as I walk through this world I wonder if I’m making my parents proud. Even writing this book I didn’t want it to be something they wouldn’t be proud to say that their daughter wrote. How do you have a sex tape or appear in a video with your batty a hang outta door and not say to yourself, hmm I wonder what my mom and dad will think when they see this?
Q: Were you raised in Jamaica?
Close enough, Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn! I often say that the world outside our Brooklyn apartment was America but inside the apartment was Black River and Portland where my parents are from respectively.
Q: Do you have children?
No and that’s what makes this book unique every other parenting book is written by a parent, caregiver or specialist but I have yet to see anyone ask the child. So as I wrote “How To Raise Your Child Like A Jamaican” I made sure to emphasize that these are life lessons because honestly how do parents know if the way they raised their children was effective? Is it if they make a lot of money? I think if your children walk the path that you set forth and found value in the lessons that you taught them then you know you’ve done well.
Q: What are some of the things you do with them to preserve the Jamaican culture?
Everything, starting with the accents I love patois and speaking in patois it is so lovely and lyrical. Of course the food and my parents always made sure to keep us connected by having us spend summers in Jamaica, which really helped us preserve our culture and our roots. There’s nothing like running through the house that your father grew up in or sleeping under the same roof that your mother slept under as a young girl to connect you to your roots. When we go back to Jamaica and visit my maternal grandfather my mom all of sudden is someone’s daughter and the things that she and my grandfather talk about just transports you back in time those times are as my maternal grandmother Ms. Ella liked to say ‘precious and dear.’
Q: Not to disclose too much of the book tell us the 3 things you will tell parents to raise their child like a Jamaican?
- Be a parent and not a friend me nah no where all dis friend business a come from but as a child let me tell you I have plenty of friends. I need a mother and a father – or whatever the make up of your family may be – to listen and guide and reassure. Your friend, spouse or sibling can tell you that everything will be alright when you encounter a tough situation but when your parent tells you everything will be okay that seals the deal at least for me it does.
- Be tough and consistent my parents let me and my sisters know what the consequences were for our actions and they were consistent in handling disobedience. Parents lose respect when they become push overs. Does anyone respect someone they can walk all over?
- Don’t forget who you are and where you come from. Be proud of your heritage it will make your child a stronger person if they realize their legacy. I am a descendant of the Maroons and wow, now, those were people to be reckoned with.
Q: Many would argue that the children today in Jamaica are not raised with the values their parents grew up with. Do you agree?
Well if that’s true then that’s because their parents have forgotten the lessons their parents taught them. A lot of people have lost their way and hopefully this book will help them find their way home. Jamaica is not like America she’s small so it’s easier for her to retain her values.
Q: Do you think this book would help Parents in Jamaica?
The feedback I’ve been getting from Jamaicans is that “How To Raise Your Child Like A Jamaican” is a walk down memory lane. This book is the essence of Jamaica and a refresher course never hurt anyone. The bottom line is that parenting is not easy and should be your first priority. My parents were relatively young when they had me and my sisters but they weren’t hanging out in the streets, going to clubs, doing drugs and not working. They got up and went to work every day and made sure we had clothes on our backs, a roof over our heads, food in our stomachs and loved us enough to take their roles in our lives seriously.
Q: Do you have plans for any workshop on “parenting Jamaican” style?
Most definitely down the line at least a book/speaking tour but since I am everything from the head cook to the bottle washer it’ll be later rather than sooner. I have several plans for the book right now I’m reaching out to prominent Jamaicans, Jamericans and others of Jamaican descent for the second edition. I am hoping they will contribute essays regarding how being raised Jamaican played a part in their success. And I will also be reaching out to colleges and universities with Caribbean studies programs to see if the book can be integrated into their curriculum.
Q: Any final words for the visitors to the Jamaicans.com website?
Walk good, nuh mon!