Parental and Other Caretaker Roles

Until changes in the late 20th century, once a Yapese woman became pregnant, both mother and father were required to adhere to a number of taboos that included restrictions on eating certain foods and coitus. Following the birth of a child, the mother and baby would spend approximately 100 days in the menstrual house, which provided young girls with an opportunity to learn more about birthing and caring for a newborn. After childbirth, a number of restrictions, lasting for about a year, fell upon the new mother. These restrictions were lifted once a malekagtir, "visit to father's sister's home," took place. It was the father's sister who publicly announced a child's name for the first time and who also oversaw the first haircut. Once named, the child was considered a full member of the estate. Infants have always been treasured in Yap, seldom suffering from lack of attention. Restrictions on children's behavior in Yap is minimal, but when it is necessary, the role of primary disciplinarian falls to the mother. When Yapese discipline their children, they may accuse them of behaving like faak ea mitigruuw or "offspring of the same father but different mother." As a general rule, parents do not praise their children openly or speak of their accomplishments to others.

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