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Friday, January 18, 2008

Allomothering


I love the concept of allomothering, especially for daughters.

Allomothering is non-maternal infant care.

It usually refers to fathers, aunts, grandmothers or siblings of an animal caring for and nurturing it while mommy takes a break or goes out foraging.

While you'll never hear me say anyone can take the place of Mommy, there are benefits of providing as much exposure to other family members, friends, and caretakers and babysitters as possible. There are obvious benefits of allowing a child to be surround by many people who love them.

There are also benefits for girls to see how other women live and think. Women have been in dramatic transition in the last 30 years and different women have reacted in various ways.

Exposure to the different choices women make can only benefit daughters. There is no right or single way to be a woman - more choices for daughters is what I'm after.

If girls only see the one way their own mother's live out their chosen roles we rob them of exposure to all the other choices.

I believe there are also generational hangups that will take more than a single generation of women to iron out or correct. I'm hoping that Ainsley won't have such terrible guilt about working outside the home if that's where her dreams take her. I don't necessarily want her to work fulltime at an office, but any terrible guilt is is an undue burden I don't want to put on her.

Ainsley is quite lucky in that she has many women who are more than willing to allomother her. She has two sets of grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins, family friends, even three sets of great-grandparents.

My parents are coming to stay with the kids while I jaunt off with my man on a business trip to Atlanta for 5 whole days. I love that my parents are willing to do this and I love that Ainsley will have the attention, love, affection and interaction of others.

Exposure to a different way of doing things is healthy for girls to experience.

3 comments:

blue milk said...

I completely agree, great post.

Cast iron Balcony said...

Actually, it's our nuclear family which is the bizarre exception, not the extended family, which is the norm both in "traditional" societies and not-so-traditional asian and other non-anglo societies.

It's very much a part of the indigenous way of life in Australia. I realise that many people would say "aha, huge rates of child abuse and neglect", but where Aboriginal society is rendered dysfunctional by poverty and despair, it's the aunts and grandmothers who prevent family situations being even worse than they are.

Tracee said...

Yes Cast Iron, I see many grandmothers here being the fulltime childcare providers for working mothers. There are benefits to that.

I also see grandmothers stepping in as parental figures when mothers either can't or won't.

I, personally, have benefitted from the fact that the family matriarchy is willing to step in and help me, nurturing my young to give me some mental health or outside interests.

My matriarchy isn't exactly feminist - but they bring generations of feminine knowledge about other areas that are invaluable to both my daughter and my son.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Allomothering


I love the concept of allomothering, especially for daughters.

Allomothering is non-maternal infant care.

It usually refers to fathers, aunts, grandmothers or siblings of an animal caring for and nurturing it while mommy takes a break or goes out foraging.

While you'll never hear me say anyone can take the place of Mommy, there are benefits of providing as much exposure to other family members, friends, and caretakers and babysitters as possible. There are obvious benefits of allowing a child to be surround by many people who love them.

There are also benefits for girls to see how other women live and think. Women have been in dramatic transition in the last 30 years and different women have reacted in various ways.

Exposure to the different choices women make can only benefit daughters. There is no right or single way to be a woman - more choices for daughters is what I'm after.

If girls only see the one way their own mother's live out their chosen roles we rob them of exposure to all the other choices.

I believe there are also generational hangups that will take more than a single generation of women to iron out or correct. I'm hoping that Ainsley won't have such terrible guilt about working outside the home if that's where her dreams take her. I don't necessarily want her to work fulltime at an office, but any terrible guilt is is an undue burden I don't want to put on her.

Ainsley is quite lucky in that she has many women who are more than willing to allomother her. She has two sets of grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins, family friends, even three sets of great-grandparents.

My parents are coming to stay with the kids while I jaunt off with my man on a business trip to Atlanta for 5 whole days. I love that my parents are willing to do this and I love that Ainsley will have the attention, love, affection and interaction of others.

Exposure to a different way of doing things is healthy for girls to experience.

3 comments:

blue milk said...

I completely agree, great post.

Cast iron Balcony said...

Actually, it's our nuclear family which is the bizarre exception, not the extended family, which is the norm both in "traditional" societies and not-so-traditional asian and other non-anglo societies.

It's very much a part of the indigenous way of life in Australia. I realise that many people would say "aha, huge rates of child abuse and neglect", but where Aboriginal society is rendered dysfunctional by poverty and despair, it's the aunts and grandmothers who prevent family situations being even worse than they are.

Tracee said...

Yes Cast Iron, I see many grandmothers here being the fulltime childcare providers for working mothers. There are benefits to that.

I also see grandmothers stepping in as parental figures when mothers either can't or won't.

I, personally, have benefitted from the fact that the family matriarchy is willing to step in and help me, nurturing my young to give me some mental health or outside interests.

My matriarchy isn't exactly feminist - but they bring generations of feminine knowledge about other areas that are invaluable to both my daughter and my son.