Parental and Other Caretaker Roles

Gender differences in parental roles are large and profound. In Igbo society almost all primary child-rearing responsibilities are undertaken by the mother, or by another women who acts as a social mother. The maternal role is especially pronounced during the first 4 or 5 years of a child's life, when her/his principal bond is with the mother (Ottenberg, 1989). Fathers are generally more distant figures in children's lives and are often viewed as enforcing discipline. They typically spend much less time than mothers do with children. Recently, with the rise of more conjugal marriages and somewhat more nuclear household structures (especially in cities), many younger fathers are taking a more active and overtly affectionate role in the rearing of children, but the idea that child-rearing is principally a woman's responsibility remains pervasive and influences behavior in even the most modern households. Generally boys and girls are treated quite similarly during the first few years of life, with no obvious preference by gender. Despite the widespread idea that having a male child is essential for the reproduction of the patrilineage, and for the rights and recognition that come with it, in practice girls seem to be equally welcome and valued as boys. However, beginning around the age that children go to school, there are marked differences in the way parents treat boys and girls, with girls increasingly required to carry out more domestic tasks and boys encouraged to undertake more public activities.

Pregnancy And Childbirth

Pregnancy And Childbirth

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