JM | Sep 16, 2022

10 things you will experience growing up with Jamaican parents

Tamoy Ashman

Tamoy Ashman / Our Today

(Photo: National Libary of Jamaica)

Growing up with Jamaican parents, there is never a dull moment in the house.

For many of us, our childhoods were filled with the various weird traditions, sayings and habits of our parents that will stay with us forever.

Though we may have found them annoying in our childhood, we are sure to adapt these interesting practices, passing them on for generations to come.

Here are five things that you are sure to experience growing up with a Jamaican parent.

1. Tea cures everything

Do you have a headache, belly ache or a broken leg?

Well, drink some bush tea.

For some reason, Jamaican parents tend to believe that a cup of tea can solve any illness, no matter how severe.

Most popular among those suggested are ginger, mint or cerasee tea.

But, this does not just apply to sickness.

No matter what, you have to have ‘something warm’ in your system before you go to school or work and tea is often the drink of choice.

If you are lucky, you may get some chocolate tea, but that is a big if.

2. Plastic bags are gold

Among the top 10 things that Jamaican parents value the most, plastic bags have always been one of them.

In every Jamaican kitchen you could find a never-ending pile of plastic bags and throwing them away was a crime.

Thankfully the government saw things were getting out of hand and announced the banning of single-use plastic, inclusive of plastic bags.

But, there is sure to be a parent or grandparent out there who still has a stash for ’emergencies’ and you better not touch them.

3. Chores are a must

With the weekend approaching, Jamaican children across the globe will be awakened to the sweet sound of gospel or R&B music that signals one thing.

It is time to clean.

No matter what is happening in the world on a Saturday morning, you will not escape your cleaning obligations, especially if you want to go out.

So, grab a broom and sweep the living room as you sway to some Kenny Rodgers.

4. Jamaican parents ‘holding on’ to your money

Did you ever get back that US$20 that your grandmother gave you for Christmas?

Well, chances are you never will.

Any form of money you get as a child, no matter the amount, belongs to your mother, and chances are she already spent it on something for you or the house.

Don’t even think about asking for your money back because she is sure to sing ‘for the nine months I carried you..”

5. Random requests

While sitting in your room, you are sure to be startled by your mother making a request for you to do something that she could easily do herself.

The most common is a request to pass a remote that is five inches away from her or, to get a glass of water for her as she exits the kitchen.

There will always be something for you to do in the house, relaxing is either never an option or kept to a minimum.

6. The forbidden china

Walking into any Jamaican household you are sure to see a collection of plates, cups and saucers that will never get used.

As a child, the fear of breaking one of these items was great and the breakfront was always approached with caution.

For some reason, though they never got used, washing them at random points in the year, especially Christmas and Easter, was also a thing.

7. Nothing is private

Jamaican parents are terrible at keeping information relating to their children a secret.

Whether it is something good or bad, nothing you do will remain in the house.

If you get an A in maths at 12 pm, you are sure to receive a call from your grandmother, aunt or uncle congratulating you at 12:15.

So, be on your best behaviour, because anything you do will be breaking news in the family group chat.

8. No outside clothes on the bed

Tired from a long day of school? Well, you better head straight into the bathroom and bathe or change your clothes.

Outside clothes are not allowed on the bed, no matter how tired you may be.

Why? Because you will be bringing in all the germs you encountered on the road and dirtying up the place.

9. I had a dream

These famous words of Martin Luther King Jr are a Jamaican parents favourite thing to say just before you leave the house.

Have a party you want to attend? A birthday dinner with friends?

Once your parent or grandparent has a dream, you won’t be leaving the house.

For some reason, Jamaican parents always have a dream that bad things are going to happen to you the night before you should go out and there is nothing you can do to convince them otherwise.

10. Privacy not a thing

How dare you lock your door in a Jamaican household? Are you paying rent?

Jamaican parents want access to every inch of their house, because they are the ones paying for it.

The only doors that should be locked are the front door, their room door and the back door, nothing else.

Once a door is close, they will open it and ask if you hiding anything, so make sure you have nothing to hide.


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