Part-Time Mothering And Childhood

india child photo

The family is the basic social, cultural and economic unit of the society of India. ‘It was loaded with kin relations and the support system of the family protected from any sorts of problem in the family. Social bonding and social network are exemplary strong.’ But present global scenario breaks its structure and processes due to economy, unemployment and urban affinity of people of India. ‘Urbanization brings important changes in family structure. Its existence is as a smaller unit from larger.’  It makes weaker ties to the extended family i.e. from joint family system (Grandparents- parents & paternal and maternal kin-child) to nuclear family (parents – child). ‘With fewer aunts, grandparents, or other relatives living in the household or nearby, urban households have fewer alternative caregivers (hired domestic help and formal day care) for working mothers.’ Further, in urban society parents are dual earners and live in small shelter with people of the varied background in housing colony. Their child care mostly depends on paid care-givers.

It is evident that childcare arrangements are usually influenced by individual preferences, normative values and attitudes towards care. Grandparents as ‘informal child care providers’ covers twin aspects of child care, when formal child care is unavailable and normative values and attitudes towards childcare. Grandparents help in childcare had a significant influence on mothers’ decisions to enter the labour market. ‘Grandmothers are more likely than grandfathers to be engaged in childcare activities, particularly intensive childcare.’

We find that dramatically urbanization changes the pattern and the nature of women’s paid work, particularly with respect to the popularity of formal sector employment.  It is more secured in terms of remuneration and job security compared with working in rural setting. Eventually, urban jobs are generally less flexible with respect to hours and less compatible with child care than agriculture work in rural areas. It generates work-family conflict. The trend of women’s employment increases the need to substitute care while reducing the availability of traditional sources of such care. Generally more families of urban area seek assistance from outside the family because of their changing structure and functions of the family. The urban households are lack of family networks of the relationship.  And here is the essentiality of hired domestic help or institutional child care in urban area.

A comparative study was conducted to know the psycho-social, educational and cultural development of children in India under care of family kin and paid care givers respectively. From this study, it was revealed that children under kinship care had their family bondage either as nuclear family (36%) or joint family(14%). But children under care of paid workers, their family had little or no connection with their family members. The kinship care givers were educated, and majority of them (56%) was grandmothers. Consequently, quality of care was physically and emotionally strong. On the other hand, paid care givers were socially backward, economically poor and less educated women of 20-50 years of age. Among them,  28% paid care givers were deserted/divorce. They only performed a routine job for earning. Their performance was more mechanical and emotional aspect was neglected. The kinship care-givers were affectionate and they were more concerned about psycho-social development of children. They also monitored children’s regular educational attainment. Eighty six percent of these children under paid care givers were arrogant, demanding, and rigid and so forth. Their educational performance was not satisfactory.  It was also found that the parents of children under paid care givers were suffering from anxiety and depression, while parents of children under kinship care were happier in their work and family life.

We see that truncated family relation is a factor of adverse growing up of children because kinship care is more effective, sensitive and responsive than paid care givers. Paid care giving is a physical aspect of up-bringing of children. Emotional development of children under paid care givers does not promote properly. Here, part-time mothering is question of the future hood of a child. Truncated family relation and care giving under paid workers might be the cause of violent and aggressive behavior of the children and it also obviously affects children’s educational attainment. Every sensitive member of the family as well as society would be alerted for future of our children, their rights and dignity.

Harasankar Adhikari is a social worker



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