Parental and Other Caretaker Roles

Adoption is a possibility under special circumstances, but most children are reared by their biological mother. A child's pater is its mother's husband. There are institutionalized circumstances in which the genitor may be someone else, but the Nandi are clear that the pater fills the father role, for example, in the case of a female husband (see below).

Relations between mothers and infants are warm and nurturing. Relations between fathers and infants in the past were distant. The Nandi belief in feminine-child pollution (kerek), a mystical substance emanating from babies and breast-milk that destroys masculine character traits, prevented fathers from having close contact with infants. By the 1970s, most young men had given up belief in kerek, and fathers could be seen holding and playing with infants and toddlers. Still, men's involvement in child care is minimal. Most of the work of caring for young children is done by older preadolescent girls. The time-allocation study showed that they spent more time even than mothers (15-20%) in direct interaction with young children. Mothers spend about 10% of their time in childcare, and fathers much less (1-2%).

Fathers spend more time with older boys teaching them the male side of the division of labor, for example, how to drive oxen while plowing. Parental conversations with children are not usually intimate. Children are obedient and treat parents with respect. More intimate relationships often exist with grandparents. Grandmothers are the tellers of children's tales.

Pregnancy And Childbirth

Pregnancy And Childbirth

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