Parental and Other Caretaker Roles

Motherhood and fatherhood are key social roles. "A Balinese [sic] feels that his most important duty is to marry as soon as he comes of age and to raise a family to perpetuate his line" (Covarrubias, 1937/1972, p. 122). Men have duties both "upwards" to their parents and ancestors and "downwards" to their children. Men who inherit the family land and house-yard in turn bear responsibility for supporting their parents in old age and for cremating their parents. They are also responsible for the upkeep of family temples and the "remembering" and honoring of the ancestral spirits. Fathers are regarded as the principal breadwinners, and are the moral authority in the family and the moral guardians of their children, particularly of their daughters. Fathers have the final word on all discipline and decision-making in the family, though in practice it is more usually mothers who allocate tasks, dispense resources, adjudicate on squabbles, discipline children on the rare occasions it is necessary, and otherwise deal with them on a day-to-day basis. Fathers are often very affectionate toward their children, and are often to be seen holding and playing with young children. They are usually regarded as a "soft touch" for extra pocket-money, lollies, and other favors, but as the children get older, during primary school, fathers become more distant and are gradually transformed into figures of authority who command a mix of fear and respect, especially from their sons.

Women value and are valued for their reproductive capacity, which is seen as a source of unique power. The ideal woman was primarily a mother, and secondarily a faithful wife and hard worker at home, in the fields, and in the performance of ritual offerings. Mothers are perceived to be the emotional heart of the family, and are held informally responsible for the health and happiness of the relationships therein. Their principal duties are domestic tasks associated with cooking, washing, and housework, childcare, including extended breast-feeding (up to 4 years), the provision of clothing and food, and moral teaching. Mothers usually find ways to combine income-producing work with mothering and domestic work, and bear a heavy burden of multiple roles (peran ganda—domestic, ritual, and productive work).

Women forfeit their children upon divorce, and perceive this as an extremely strong deterrent to divorce. Many women stay in unhappy marriages in order not to lose their children.

New Mothers Guide to Breast Feeding

New Mothers Guide to Breast Feeding

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