Socialization of Boys and Girls

Btsisi' value all children and feel great joy when a child, boy or girl, is born. There is no feeling of failure if a family has only boys or only girls. However, there is a cultural preference for a girl to be the firstborn. Girls are born "cool," and hence stronger and more likely to survive. Boys at birth are deficient in strength; humorally, they are "hot" and thus weaker and less likely to survive. A "hot" person is in supernatural danger. A girl's coolness will help her survive being born, whereas a boy's natural heat makes his entry into the world precarious and dangerous. A firstborn male child is "lucky" to survive because he was probably a "sickly" child.

Early in a child's life there is little difference in parental care, but once a child begins walking and gains some independence, slight differences in parental responses to boys and girls begin. Parents ask girls to do little tasks around the house, while boys are given more freedom to do what they want. This difference becomes more obvious as children become older. Girls begin to take responsibility in the house—cooking and cleaning. Boys may also be required to take responsibility for younger brothers and sisters, especially if no girls are available to help. It is not unusual to see boys carrying a younger brother or sister on their backs when their parents are busy.

As children reach 10 or 11 years of age they begin to play more consistently in same-sex groups. Boys go wandering around and beyond the village. They build little boats to float in the village drainage ditches and catch small fish in the larger ditches outside the village bounds. Boys begin playing with the older teenaged boys, learning soccer and baseball. Girls, when they can get away from household duties, sit and talk in or around the village community house or at one of their homes. Girls frequently look at magazines and talk about all the images they see.

Pregnancy And Childbirth

Pregnancy And Childbirth

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