Parental and Other Caretaker Roles

Sakha, historically and today, maintain a broader understanding of family obligations than in the West to include near and distant kin networks. Children are considered central to a meaningful and productive life, and most marriages are initiated with the objective of producing offspring. This social value remains true today, although the number of children a couple has is much less in the present economic climate. As in the West, children are expensive in the post-Soviet context now that the social subsidies and institutions that supported large families in Soviet times are no larger available. Additionally, a new emphasis on educating and urbanizing children makes it difficult to raise more than two or three.

Despite the decline in numbers, the roles of caretak-ing and being taken care of carry on. Parents provide for their children, all the while training them to assume household tasks so that the children can provide for their parents in their old age. Historically, the eldest child maintains the central responsibility for parental care and also plays a role similar to a parent to his or her gender of siblings, by helping them with their education, employment and even marrying them off to form their own household. Eldest males watch, tend, and teach their younger male siblings, and likewise for eldest females.

The upbringing of children is sometimes shared between kin, most commonly to balance household numbers when a couple cannot conceive themselves and their kin have too many children. By sharing children, the childless couple gain immediate household help from children and long-term care when those children reach adulthood, and the kin household is relieved of several mouths to feed.

Pregnancy And Childbirth

Pregnancy And Childbirth

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