Over a sumptuous dinner with my girlfriends last weekend, we naturally got talking about our children. One of us had just enrolled for an eight-week programme specifically for ‘Mothers with Sons’.
For a cost of about $150 USD, with learning taking place once a week (Saturdays) for two hours, the course teaches how to raise our sons into fine young gentlemen. This is a good idea, if you ask me, because there is something about the crop of young men that we are increasingly seeing in Kenyan society today –men who are not as ambitious or focused as their fathers were, and men who would rather take the back seat as women take up the role of being the heads of the home.
In Africa, and I believe the much of the rest of the world, it is traditionally men who take up the leadership of the home. However, we are nowadays seeing more and more female-headed households.
This is due to a myriad of reasons, one of them being the fact that some men are just not willing to take up that kind of responsibility. This leads to the question: how were these men raised as boys? Weren’t our core values of hard work, discipline, consistency and responsibility instilled in them by their parents? This, I suppose, forms the rationale of such a programme that my friends and I were discussing last weekend.
The majority of moms who attend the programme are urban moms – career women who have enviable corporate or NGO jobs or run their own businesses. They are in their thirties to mid-forties, with their children mostly below the age of 12 years. These are women who receive updates from Baby Center and other informative parenting sites on how best to raise children. They attend First Aid courses and other related programmes about parenting. Some of these programmes are church-based, while others are sponsored by brands that seek out these types of moms and their children. Keen on learning different things about raising their children, you’ll find many urban moms today engrossed in courses and informative material about how to best raise their children.
But as my friends and I asked ourselves over dinner – do we pass on all we learn to the people who are helping us raise our children, specifically our housekeepers and nannies? In Kenya, most middle and upper-income families employ housekeepers and nannies to help with the domestic chores and take care of the children. They are the ones who actually spend a significant amount of time with the children during the day.
With all the demands of today’s modern woman – challenging jobs that require them to leave their homes at the crack of dawn and return at about 9pm – after spending hours in the traffic jam, or checking on their small business after work, or attending their Masters’ degree programme in the evening, attending a business meeting, or even having cocktails with the girls. By the time these modern women get home, the children are already asleep. On Saturdays, these women are busy running errands or attending weddings or baby showers/bridal showers, parenting classes and other such engagements and once again, return home late in the evening. Sunday is the only day where they get to spend time with their children.
So six days per week, it is essentially the nannies who are ‘raising’ their children. Nannies actually spend more time with their children than the moms do. So my girlfriends and I wondered, do these moms then pass on the information that they learn in their expensive courses, parenting newsletters and websites to the nannies? If the nannies are the ones spending the most time with the children, should we not focus on giving them the wealth of information we seek out about raising children? We didn’t get an answer, but I hope we will sometime.
This is an original post to World Moms Blog by World Mom, Maryanne Waweru-Wanyama of Kenya of Mummy Tales.