Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Parental Neglect

I was sitting beside a young woman while waiting to be interviewed a few days ago. After staring at the few passersby bumbling by us, we turned to each other and started to chat. The bubbly woman was telling me about how she was bored sitting at home and how she cannot wait to begin working again. I nodded and smiled but after she told me that she had just gotten out of her 40-day maternal leave from her old job, I was in shock. “She has a 40-day old baby and she’s already out looking for a job?” I wondered to myself.

Now, some might say that there are many married couples that cannot afford to support a child under one salary, primarily the husband’s. I am purposefully excluding these types of cases because sometimes, one cannot help it. For instance, the wife might have an unexpected pregnancy or some scenario similar to this. And the new parents do have options on who to leave their child with i.e. grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc.

What intrigues me is the amount of educated, bright, and most importantly, extremely well-off women who place their career in front of other factors in their life. I know of a woman who has two children under the age of five. She is famed for her cunningness and intelligence, especially in the field she is in. Apart from having a high paying job, both she and her husband have inherited large sums of money that guarantee even their children’s children’s future financial comfort. However, what is so sophisticated about leaving your own flesh and blood in the hands of nannies, drivers and cooks? I cannot see any sort of civility these people claim to possess when they dismiss their should-be first priority: their children.

Personally, I view a parent’s physical proximity as a very important thing to have. Even if one is sitting in the living room with his/her parents in complete silence, that in itself is a luxury and it does make a difference.

When I was in school in Kuwait, I remember some of my friends scurrying off to their awaiting drivers to be taken home. I used to be greeted by either my parents or siblings. I cannot even imagine coming home to an empty house while knowing that both of my parents will be arriving at six or eight in the evening.

I wonder about how the next generation will turn out to be like, considering this cold-blooded, parental detachment and all.


MP3's...
RJD2 - Get it
Portishead - Roads
The Police - Don't Stand So Close to Me
The Police - Every Little Thing She Does is Magic
Snowden - Anti-Anti
Snowden - Black Eyes (Acoustic)
Bobby Darin - Splish Splash
Sublime - Santeria
Snow Patrol - Chasing Cars (Acoustic)

at 11:12 AM

18 Comments

  1. Blogger Swair. posted at 12:11 PM  
    very true post...
    a few years ago, when my little brother was in kindergarten, my mom'd pick me up from high school and we'd go to pick up my brother together.. once i went into the school to get him from his classroom, and this cute little girl was bawling her eyes out at her family's Indian driver..
    and i thought "awww, maybe her mom couldn't come over today".. and then she stopped, rooted herself to the ground and refused to go home, and screamed "abi JAAAANIII!!!!!".. who (sadly) ended up being their indian maid...
    did i mention that the kid's kuwaiti?
  2. Blogger Stinni posted at 2:55 PM  
    (I've been having problems with commenting lately so if this comes out twice, I apologize.)

    Couldn't have said it better myself. It scares me to think about what this generation will be like ten, twenty years down the road.

    Some people may think that the only guilty people of neglect in Kuwait are Kuwaitis. But I know quite a few foreign women who toss their children over to hired help 24/7.

    No matter what the nationality, it's sad.
  3. Blogger Delicately Realistic posted at 3:45 PM  
    Yeah...we have the no driver rule at our house too....the drive to and from school is one of our special bonding times....god i miss those times! The only time we had a driver was for uni when my parents found it hard to keep up with me.

    What hurts the most is when i c drivers picking up kids at kindergarten or infants...i mean....i dont mean anything....that just ticks me off!
  4. Blogger Erzulie posted at 5:32 PM  
    swair: That's normal, even expected. Nowadays, what's abnormal is having a parent/relative pick the kid/s up from school, and that's the sad part. But my point is that there are people who can afford to have one parent stay at home - at least until the child reaches an age where he/she can be enrolled into nursery school - while the other brings the bread. I'm specifically talking about smart and cultured individuals who put sacrifice their relationship with their young children and go onto fulfill their own, individualistic dream. Why then would one have children if you're not going to give them your all?

    stinni: Yup, again it is sad. These kids will have a decreased sense of value as well as culture when they grow up to be adults, since their relationship with their parents isn't quite a healthy one. As they say, el ahal ra7 yakloonha bil kobor...

    DR: We're basically importing parents now. I know young mothers who don't even know how to change their kids' diapers. Imagine. You know what, don't, because when I saw it happening in front of me, I teared up. Some parents nowadays have only one bond between their kids, a measly biological one sans emotions. And I cannot understand how some parents hire help from an impoverished country to raise their child after the first week of birth.
    You always hear about those stories where "nannies" abuse - sometimes fatally - children. Personally, I blame the parents for trusting a stranger with their child.
  5. Blogger Temetwir posted at 12:08 AM  
    "I view a parent’s physical proximity as a very important thing to have"

    very well said

    and good luck with the job hunt :)
  6. Blogger 1001 Nights posted at 10:48 AM  
    I’m seeing two extremes in Kuwait. Either the girls who are smart and educated choose to stay at home and be housewives OR they work really hard and only spend time with their kids AFTER working hours. Being a good parent is one of the greatest accomplishment a person can have. But in the private sector the soonest you can leave work is at 3pm in most places so you would have missed breakfast and lunch with your child. If the child goes to sleep at 8 then you only have about 5 hours a day with him/her. Plus you don’t get six months off for maternity. You only get about 40 (nfaass) days plus whatever vacation days you have left. And if enjoy your career (and it’s not just an issue of making money) it's a big sacrifice to leave it. Bear in mind that in a few years the child is going to be going to nursery school then primary school and so on and you'd have nothing to do in your mornings. I think that the onus is on the private sector to try to make it a little easier to be a working mother. For example if there were daycare centers AT work then the mother will have no excuse not to show up to work and she can still take two or three 10-minute breaks a day to stay with her child. We can't all either work for the government sector OR stay at home but our options are limited if we want to be good, nurturing parents.
  7. Blogger Erzulie posted at 11:42 AM  
    temi: Thanks :)

    1001: That's surprising, I was talking about this with my good friend just yesterday! I was thinking about some sort of alternative for women to keep their job as well as have their children by their side. I heard the nursery idea was done, but that's only because the mother owns the company i.e. she has control over the issue and she doesn't have to run the idea by higher heads. I was also thinking of having some sort of half-day i.e. the woman goes to work in the morning and during the afternoon, she goes back home and continues working online. That may include phone and video conferences. I mean, why not take advantage of technology in this particular issue?
    And I agree about the noticing the two extremes bit, but frankly, I'd rather stay at home instead of rely on help to raise my own kids. If money trouble arises, I think I can find a way to make some dough while still in my own home; I think it's doable and not impossible at all.
    I also think that would-be parents should REALLY think about how their life would change after having a child i.e. willingness to stay home (or not), finances, etc. Some couples pop kids out like crazy. I just find that extremely...well, ironically, childish and irresponsible!
  8. Blogger error posted at 6:15 PM  
    boarding schools

    pathetic new generation

    sub-culture
  9. Blogger Misguided posted at 4:47 AM  
    Your post reminded me of something I read.. so, instead of paraphrasing it poorly.. I thought I would share:

    “It might sound a paradoxical thing to say –for surely never has a generation of children occupied more sheer hours of parental time –but the truth is that we neglected you. We allowed you a charade of trivial freedoms in order to avoid making those impositions on you that are in the end both the training ground and proving ground for true independence. We pronounced you strong when you were still weak in order to avoid the struggles with you that would have fed your true strength. We proclaimed you sound when you were foolish in order to avoid taking part in the long, slow, slogging effort that is the only route to genuine maturity of mind and feeling. Thus, it was no small anomaly of your growing up that while you were the most indulged generation, you were also in many ways the most abandoned to your own meager devices by those into whose safe-keeping you had been given.”

    -Midge Decter
  10. Blogger Erzulie posted at 11:38 PM  
    misquided: That's putting it nicely. And I'm not commenting on the typical Kuwaitis who leave their kids with nannies whether they have to work or not. I'm specifically aiming my words to those educated and well-off married couples who consciously sacrifice time with their kids. Shfaydat il ta3leem etha nihayat'ha chithee?
  11. Blogger da Angel wears Escada posted at 7:46 PM  
    Watching my best friend who used to be a latch key child himself, grow up into the fine,fiercely independent and assertive young man that he is today I can safely assume physical proximity to one's child is not the be all and end all of parenting. Sometimes it isn't about the quantity of time spent together with your child; it's the quality that matters. I still remember how his mum and dad used to take him out camping and on fishing trips whenever they had the time as if to make up for the times when they could not be with him.
    Having a newborn in the house can be tough, particularly, on the mother if it's her first born. No wonder post-natal depression and maternal suicide is making the news at ten all the time. After all we need to give parents some leeway in choosing what sits best with them - parenting 24/7 or juggling roles of mover & shaker and that of caregiver parent.
    Getting uncles and aunts to look after your baby for you while at work is no security blanket these days(never has been really) since the Monster that is pedophilia has begun to stick its ugly neck out in this part of the world too - sadly, that's globalization for you.
    A better strategy forward would be if more fathers were involved in active parenting that includes, changing of nappies, walking the baby in the park, employers' giving men time off work as paternity leave, attending PTA meets of their wards and promoting house-husbanding as an alternative career path for men.
  12. Blogger Erzulie posted at 11:00 PM  
    escada: I do agree, the quality of time spent with the child is more important than the quanity. Heck, I know of a few stay-at-home moms that sit around the house while their kid is watching television. That, of course, does not aid in nourishing the child in any way whatsoever.
    However, what I mean by physical proximity is the ability for the parents to be there, in times of need and others as well. Just by knowing that my mother or father are two steps away from me is a VERY comforting thing, and this is coming from a 21-year old.
    I don't know of pedophilia is common with family members babysitting their sister's/brother's/cousin's/etc. kids, mostly because it will be considered as THE taboo in the family. I am sure it has happened though, but I think it's safe to say that more children in Kuwait are abused by imported nannies than their own blood.
    I personally have seen a positive shift in men in Kuwait, specifically young parents. They are more in tune with their child's needs and they are more appreciative to the wife/mother; they do help out with changing diapers, sitting at home a couple of nights while the mother takes a break (goes out with friends, shops, etc.). However, Kuwait is a patriarchal society; having an official paternity leave for men is a bit of a stretch. Yet, if the wife is making more money than her husband, and if she has a greater probability to be promoted at work, such individual scenarios are worked out by the husband and wife i.e. if the husband chooses to quit, it's his decision to do so. I am not so sure about how the whole "paternity leave" would fall in this part of the world :I
  13. Blogger Pearls posted at 11:44 AM  
    you're going to make a great mom
  14. Blogger Erzulie posted at 8:20 PM  
    pearls: your comment made my day :) inshallah wallah, i love 'em already :))
  15. Blogger da Angel wears Escada posted at 5:30 PM  
    I totally understand, Erzulie.
    Imported nannies are a much bigger threat to children in Kuwait than their uncles or aunts can ever be to them. Especially worrying is the risk of spread of transmissible diseases from these domestics to the young ones. So are English governesses and au pairs a solution to this problem?
    I should think not : after all it ain't no fun having a Louise Woodward for a nanny either.
    As you say, things are gradually changing here and for the better, I might add, in that today you find at least, some young parents and NOT the maid pushing baby prams on the sidewalks or for fathers to proudly show off their baby in a wrap sling while shopping at the supermarket or when out at a street side cafe.
    We always knew men could be such good carers. No wonder gays too can make for some wonderful parents and there are those who would insist on their child being looked after by a gay baby sitter :)
  16. Blogger Erzulie posted at 11:35 PM  
    escada: I agree with the points you mentioned but I do not think that one's sexual orientation makes a person a better parent/caregiver i.e. you can have a good or bad straight or gay babysitter/parent/nanny/etc. Parenting and being a permanent/temporary guardian to a child (or more) depends on that person's individual character, temperament, will and patience to deal, and I don't think that a person's gay/lesbian status puts him/her at an advantage in regards to the above traits.
  17. Blogger da Angel wears Escada posted at 8:04 PM  
    You have me totally convinced there yet again - what does it matter if you are straight or gay in order to be a good parent?
    By the same token it hardly matters if you are single or married to be a good parent.
    By far, the worst form of parental neglect has to be when people, either by accident or by choice keep having children by the truck load . It is as much a case of wife abuse as it is of child abuse.
    It takes rougly 2 years after a confinement for a woman to restore her hemoglobin level to normal and men everywhere should realize this before they unzip to unleash their virility.
    It also is kinda sad to see little 3 and 4 year olds compete with the newest arrival to the family for their mum and dad's tender loving care.
  18. Blogger Erzulie posted at 3:21 PM  
    escada: I think some parents are not aware about the amount of responsibility, from emotional to financial, a child needs and wants. With that said, I think "having kids by the truck load" isn't the best idea regardless of the family's wallet and whether there is a stay-at-home parent involved. Nowadays, I think three is the fair maximum for both the parents as well as the child(ren).
    About children competing for parental attention, well, I do not think that that's sad. It's only natural. I see it with my nine year old brother and my two nephews, ages 4 and 8 months. And that sort of "want for attention" continues for quite some time; I know some people in their 50's who occasionally show their streaks of sibling rivalry! :P~

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