Parental and Other Caretaker Roles

The Mundugumor were not a noticeably nurturing people, and the caretaking of young children was an annoying task assigned to the mother. Although the baby's father's classificatory sister assisted in the birth and helped the mother (she was repaid by a feast from the father/brother if he wanted to increase his renown), she was not designated as a supplementary caretaker.

Mothers were the major caretakers of infants and very young children; rarely did a father ever hold such a child. Sometimes youngsters were carried under the mother's arm, but as they grew they were placed with a leg on each side of mother's head and expected to hold on for themselves. As children grew older, their independence took them away from parental control; this was especially true for boys because girls remained under the jealous, infuriating surveillance of their fathers.

As noted above, men preferred daughters (whom they could use in exchange for more wives for themselves), and women preferred sons (who would support them and cause trouble for their husbands). Despite the lack of overall nurturing behavior, it is certain that parents and children did develop deep emotional attachments to their cross-sex relative.

Pregnancy And Childbirth

Pregnancy And Childbirth

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