Parental and Other Caretaker Roles

Children are commonly brought up by their "biological" parents. However, they refer to other person of their parents' generation as "fathers" (papa) and "mothers" (yieyio), for instance, father's brothers and stepmothers (wives of father) and mothers's sisters, respectively. If parents die, these close relatives take over parental roles. It is also common for relatives to periodically foster each other's children, or for childless women to adopt children from relatives or in-laws. Furthermore, as men of the same age group have access to each other's wives, the father of the child (pater) may not be its biological father (genitor).

Children are nursed until approximately 2 years of age and during this period they stay in close proximity to their mothers. Mothers and nursing children sleep together, and husband and wife are not supposed to resume sexual intercourse until children are weaned. When women adopt children, they often do so as soon as the child is born, and as part of their maternal role, they immediately begin to nurse the child (Talle, 1988).

Fathers usually have a gentle, but distant, attitude toward young children. As elders, men are seldom in the homestead during daytime, except for early mornings and evenings before they leave or arrive in the homestead, and it is only during these hours that they see their children (Saitoti & Beckwith, 1980).

Pregnancy And Childbirth

Pregnancy And Childbirth

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