Critiquing American Parenting
In her collection of short stories, Chimamanda Adichie does something that is quite ironic. Typically in American books, short stories and movies, when an African character is presented, they are presented with all of the stereotypes of Africans. In movies, African men are seen as very angry men who always carry around large guns; women are shown in small villages weaving baskets; and of course the children are always portrayed with “pot-bellies”. Through Adichie’s short stories, she reveals the stereotypes of Americans, especially women.
One passage that really stood out to me is in regards with the typical characteristics of an American mother and how they treat their children. In the story, “On Monday of Last Week,” Adichie critique’s how parents, especially mothers, care for their children through Kamara. After getting of the phone with Neil, she thinks about how American parenting in a nutshell is constantly worrying about the health and safety of the child. Though not directly, Adichie presents the attitude towards Americans that just because their child has a full stomach they have time to obsessively worry about little sicknesses that in reality are nothing to worry about. The “sated belly” she talks about is a symbol for security. If a child is full, then this means the family must be living a comfortable life. This is also a comment on the stereotype that when an African child is shown as very thin in a movie or in a commercial asking for donations, he or she must live a very hard life, when in reality this assumption in many cases is not true. Adichie also comments on the fact that in America it is now seen as a major accomplishment if parents are able to raise their children well. Where in Africa, and as it should be all around the world, parents are expected to instill good values in their children, thus it is the norm for children to be raised well by their parents. Kamara says that it bothers her how women go on television and brag about how much they love their babies. Understandably, this is because Kamara believes it is not an achievement to love your children, but the expectation that you would do so.
In general Adichie’s main point in all of her stories, but more specifically in “On Monday of Last Week,” is that while Americans are judging and stereotyping the lifestyles of Africans for so much violence and not enough development in countries, Americans have begun to lose simple values. One of these values is to love your child unconditionally without seeing it as a major achievement.