Parental and Other Caretaker Roles

Parenting is an important and fulfilling task for both men and women. A characteristic of most Neapolitan families was the pleasure openly taken in children, who were always treated with great affection. This attention was not restricted to the child's parents. Other kin, such as grandparents, aunts, and uncles, were likely to be involved in some way in the care and entertainment of children.

Motherhood has had a privileged position within Italian cultural representations. Neapolitans often stated that a person's mother is his or her most trustworthy ally and support. This claim was sustained even by those who had experienced serious conflicts with their mother and their families. Despite the possible shortcomings of specific individuals, mothers were to be respected and loved: "la mamma รจ sempre la mamma" ("the mother is always the mother") was often the concluding remark, even in a tale of family woe.

However, research indicates that some significant changes are afoot in parenting practices, particularly where men are concerned. Bimbi's research in three different regions of the country indicates that ideas about fatherhood have changed (Bimbi, 1993). The figure of the authoritarian father associated with prewar society has given way to a more caring and engaged paternal involvement. Her research also shows that the domestic space is no longer identified as closely with women as in the past and that, just as both parents now play an active role in the care of children, women as well as men are involved in work outside the home.

Changes in parental practice reflect changes in the content of parent-child relations and the aspirations of parents where their children are concerned. Younger couples in Naples frequently expressed the intention to limit family size so as to be able to invest more effectively in their children's education. Parents wanted their children to surpass them in terms of socioeconomic status and achievements.

Pregnancy And Childbirth

Pregnancy And Childbirth

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