One of the differences I've noticed between my home culture and my host culture is the way they view, value, and interact with children. Children are extremely important to a Nigerian marriage. When a couple gets married, it is fully expected that they will have a baby by the first anniversary. If they don't there are concerns about why that is. When a couple weds, many prayers are offered up for the rapid and extensive growth of their family. In that way, children are highly valued.
This is very different from my American culture, where couples typically try to prevent pregnancy for a time and are often displeased when their family grows larger or faster than the couple would desire. Our "large" family of 5 is not considered large by the standards of our host culture.
It seems like the rhythm of raising children is also very different here. In the States, parents go to ridiculous lengths to insure that their children have the very best they can give them. Many parents plan their lives around little league, tutoring, scouts, or whatever the interests of their children are. We have children's boutiques, entertainment facilities for children, children's movie and TV industries, and the like. It is a very child-centered environment.
On the other hand, we face a different extreme here. I commonly see 4 and 5 year old children caring for babies. I see groups of 6 and 7 year olds walking down busy streets or herding animals with no adult supervision. I mean, I don't want to be a "helicopter parent", but my western mind isn't ready to go there. I definitely lean toward the American style of parenting.
Which is probably why I really, really wanted to find Abe a pair of boots. You see, Abe loves our
gardener, John. When John comes to work, he puts on his work boots and gets out in the dirt and water. Abe had been begging for a pair of boots like John. But, you don't find child-sized work boots in our city market. Trust me, we looked. Abe got to where he could spot a pair of boots well before I'd see them and beg me to buy them. We would look and I would explain that they only had adult sizes. The Nigerian shopkeepers would look at me like I was crazy when I asked for a pair of work boots for a 5 year old. Why in the world would a person waste money on a pair of work boots for a child? Abe rarely asks for anything, so I hated that I couldn't fulfill his request.