Parental and Other Caretaker Roles

Btsisi' recognize the nurturing role of mothers. Mothers carry a fetus for 9 months and 9 days, and then bring a child into the world with great effort. Mothers feed and carry the newborn almost single-handedly. Unlike single mothers, single fathers will foster their children out to relatives. However, if a widowed man wishes to keep his children, it is his right. But, unless they are sufficiently old and relatively independent, men find caring for children difficult. Upon remarriage following divorce, men only infrequently take their children with them because their new wives are guardedly jealous of their own children's position in the household. Women are pleased and proud if their stepchildren consider them to be "good" mothers.

While people should respect their fathers and grandfathers, Btsisi' do not believe that children must take care of them in old age or sickness, as they believe they must do for their mothers and grandmothers. Fathers do not nurture children as do mothers; consequently, no supernatural punishment occurs for "forgetting" them.

Yet, men are very loving and nurturing of their children. Fathers' child-tending supplements their wives' childcare activities. Time studies found men average approximately 15% of their day performing childcare activities compared with women's 62%. Men's participation in childcare varies according to the developmental cycle of the household. Where there are only young children, men's contribution is greatest. Toddlers whose mothers have younger siblings to care for will spend extensive periods under their fathers' care.

While a father plays an active role in finding his sons a spouse, he must demonstrate caution when organizing his daughters' marriages. It cannot be said that a father "sold" his daughter into marriage; thus a man must show care this does not happen. A man typically leaves his daughter's marital arrangements to her mother's cognatic descent group.

Pregnancy And Childbirth

Pregnancy And Childbirth

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