Parental and Other Caretaker Roles

Although childcare falls most heavily on the mother, fathers may hold their small children although feeding and cleaning up are left to the mother. Adults are uniformly expansive and enthusiastic with children regardless of their sex. Once they are weaned, small children of both sexes may accompany their father to the men's house. The caretaker role extends to older siblings as well and encompasses a spiritual dimension because parents and siblings share the vital substance thought to make up part of a person and thus must act as custodians through behavioral restraints and alimentary practices. Children also have the benefit of co-resident mothers and fathers (MZ and MZH), and ngeti (MF and MB) and kwatyj (MM, MMZ, FZ) both lavish special attention on their tabdjwy (reciprocal terms) with whom they come to be identified ceremonially. Wet nursing is common and grandmothers as well as mothers may nurse. Children have numerous ngeti and kwatyj and, especially boys, are encouraged to cultivate these relationships, actively because through them they will acquire specialized knowledge and ceremonial valuables. Boys are also initiated into the men's house with the expectation that they will be mentored by older boys. The role of substitute father is prominent in men's house induction, and he may be an important teacher and mentor in a boy's life. Additionally, in arrangements of institutionalized spouse exchange, parents regard offspring of exchange partners as classificatory "children" and, while they may not observe taboos on their behalf, may show them familiar attention.

Pregnancy And Childbirth

Pregnancy And Childbirth

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