Parental and Other Caretaker Roles

Mothering and fathering are important expectations for women and for men. Women are close to their children because they exclusively care for nursing infants and they nurture their children with food. Women spend more time physically caring for all young children and they carry infants in their shawls, while men rarely carry their infants outside of the domicile. The concept of nahueh is one indication of the woman's central place in the family. A woman's relationship with her daughter can be very close and affectionate, and mothers express anger during the betrothal ceremony (cihuataliz) because the groom and his family will take her daughter away. However, most women marry within their village, and so many mothers can pay regular visits to their married daughters.

Men lavish a great deal of affection on their infant children, kissing them and calling them tahueh or nahueh. They express a strong desire for children whom they see as an unambiguous benefit. Nahuat in the sierra norte de Puebla are expected to provide care and particularly comfort to their recently weaned child who, at about 18 months, passes from the sleeping mat of the mother to that of the father. Many Nahuat men speak with pride about the closeness they develop with their young children from weaning until puberty. The man's role in parenting his son may rival that of the woman's role in parenting her daughter. Some boys, particularly in isolated villages in the sierra norte de Puebla, skip school and go with their fathers to the milpa where they spend the entire day working together. Some men get drunk, lose control, act with Wlihuiz, and occasionally punish their wives and children harshly. However, some women also punish their children harshly, and they too are criticized for acting with Wlihuiz.

Pregnancy And Childbirth

Pregnancy And Childbirth

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