Parental and Other Caretaker Roles

For the first few years of a child's life, the mother and other close female relatives are the primary caretakers. Fathers may be very loving with their small children and play with toddlers of both genders, but their time with them is limited. Abelam of both genders are generally very affectionate with their children and very indulgent of them. Disciplining small children with physical punishment is very unusual in Abelam society (Scaglion, 1999a). When discipline becomes necessary, scolding or withholding food are more common punishments, and, as the primary caregivers, females are usually the disciplinarians. After the first several years, men take a more active hand in parenting boys, while women continue their primary role in socializing girls. When young girls are of an age to be sexually active, men again take a strong interest in their socialization. Abelam believe that sexual activity may be harmful to yam growth (Scaglion, 1998), and fathers and brothers are accountable for controlling the sexuality of their daughters and unmarried sisters. Men also share with women concerns to assure good marital matches for younger female relatives.

Pregnancy And Childbirth

Pregnancy And Childbirth

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