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Jill Brown Ph.D. Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology Creighton University 41 st Annual Meeting of the Society for Cross Cultural Research.

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Presentation on theme: "Jill Brown Ph.D. Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology Creighton University 41 st Annual Meeting of the Society for Cross Cultural Research."— Presentation transcript:

1 Jill Brown Ph.D. Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology Creighton University 41 st Annual Meeting of the Society for Cross Cultural Research


3 Child caretaking often occurs as a part of indirect chains of support in which one child assists another, who assists another. Support is not always immediate and not necessarily organized around exclusive relationships between parent and child Aggression, teasing, and dominance coincide with nurturance and support and come from the same people. Dominance increases with age Food and other material goods are used to threaten, control, soothe, and comfort Children are socialized within the system through apprenticeship learning of their family roles and responsibilities. Children look to other children for support as much or more than they look to adults Care often occurs in the context of other domestic work Elaborate verbal exchanges and question-framed discourse rarely accompany support and nurturance for children. Verbal bargaining and negotiations over rights, choices and privileges between the caretaker and child are infrequent Social and intellectual competence is judged by a child’s ability to manage domestic tasks, demonstrate appropriate social behavior, do child care, and nurture and support others. School achievement emerges as a competency Mothers provide support and nurturance to children as much by securing that others will support their children as by supporting their children directly. Fostering and other forms of child sharing are common Weisner, T.S., Bradley, C., Kilbride, P.L. (1997). (Eds.) African families and the crisis of social change. Westport, CT: Bergin and Garvey.

4 Goody (1982) defined it as, “institutional delegation of the nurturance and/or educational elements of the parental role. Fosterage does not affect the status identity of the child, nor the jural rights and obligations this entails” (p.23). Fosterage is the rearing of a child by someone other than the biological parent. Additive not substitutive

5 Table 1. Patterns of fostered children as a percentage of all children under age 15 in selected countries Living with CountrySurvey Year# Surveyed Both Mother only Father onlyFoster/neither Southern (median)50.718.42.711.3 Namibia DHS200013,64126.429.23.626.3 Zimbabwe DHS199911,31345.620.53.612.5 Botswana MICS20009,95026. Eastern (median)70.710.71.85.2 KenyaMICS200016,39457.920.52.37.0 UgandaDHS200019,53860.412.44.09.9 TanzaniaDHS19998,29362.513.84.39.4 Western (median) GhanaDHS19989,37949.126.34.513.2 Sierra LeoMICS200010,13160. NigeriaDHS199917,02772. Central (median)65.612.13.27.9 C.A.R.MICS200047,51668. GabonDHS200012,48141.428.16.614.6 CameroonMICS200010,97965.611.53.87.9 Adapted from Monasch, R. & Boerma, J.T. (2004). Orphanhood and childcare patterns in sub-Saharan Africa: an analysis of national surveys from 40 countries. AIDS, 18(2), S55-S65

6 The process of raising a child (nonbiological) Oluteku

7 Distribution of Owambo children’s kinship relationship to head of household (N=5942)

8 (F(4, 3,766)=4.44, MSE=21.97, p=.03) (F(1, 3,766)=7.38, MSE=.811, p=.007)

9 Height and Weight percentile were calculated using the CDC Standard Deviation-derived Growth Reference Curves derived from the NCHS/CDC Reference Populations N=1303 (F (4, 1299)=5.00, MSE=3835.4, p=.025)

10 Education of children with different relationships with the head of household F(12, 3790)=6.05, MSE=29.46, p=.001 F (5,3758)=5.95, MSE=.64, p=.001

11 Motivations : Teaching Discipline (Bledsoe, 1990) Education (Isiugo-Abanihe, 2003) Gifting/sharing (Madhavan, 2004) Establishing Social Bonds (Brown, 2011) Enhanced Fertility (Pennington, 1991; Isiugo-Abanihe, 1984) Entering New Relationship (Vandermeersch & Chimere- Dan, 2002 ) Times of Crisis (Brown, 2009; McDaniel & Zulu, (2008) Apprenticeship/Domestic work (Bledsoe, 1998) Outcomes: Health and iIlness (Brown, 2009) Education (Brown, 2009; Anderson, 2006) Work (Bledsoe, 1990)

12 Case Study: 4 families 3 connected through fostering (one not) September –November 2006 Life History Interviews 11 women fostered as children Ethnography of nonkin boys 8 non related boys and families June-July 2009 Interviews, observations and field notes audio taped and transcribed in English


14 “The small ones are difficult sometimes. They get sick and you are not the mother. You are not the one who she wants when she is sick, and when she was two or three days old, if you were not the one to care for her, it is difficult to know if the child is not doing well.” MN “Me, I hate Popi showing people that this is my biological mother and I am not the biological mother of her. I hate those things. She said that it creates something between me and her. It works the opposite. There are children who are having those bad behaviors and do this to other children. One of those children is my own.” NK

15 “You can do no other than take the child” NK “We thought she was just coming to visit but after one, two, three days we then asked, “Sisco when are you leaving?” Sisco said, “No, Meme, I am not leaving.” I said, “For what good reason?” I couldn’t say go back so I said, “Wait until Tate comes home and we will sit and talk because you can’t just come and stay with someone without informing them.” I know she is a true orphan and that is why we allow it.” MN

16 Table 1. Characteristics of Auambo women Age when FosteredParticipant Reason (primary arrangement when multiple) Number of arrange- ments Years in Fosterage (out of 18) Emily3 monthsPaternal relativeNamesake, childless woman 112 Karen6 monthsMaternal great aunt Mother working couldn’t afford childcare 217 Emelia1Maternal grandmother Young mother117 Liberty1 ½Non-kinMother went into exhile due to war 713 Cecelia3Maternal grandmother Help mat. Grandmother pound mahangu 115 Loide5Maternal auntOrphan, education218 Francina7Maternal auntMother died, went to childless woman 18 Erica7Paternal auntNamesake111 Nangula7Maternal grandmother Education16 Ndapewa13Maternal cousinWedding gift, education (namesake) 15 Berta3Paternal relativenamesake12

17 “So when we go for holiday at Christmas I am together with my parents and they treat us nicely and every time we want to talk to our mother and father about our problems, like I have this problem and that problem, I had to keep it inside myself. Even the bad treatment I get from my grandmother I have to keep it strictly to myself. “ “You must trust the family, but you don’t have power over it. Even if the child is telling me about the treatment, we are the adults and we do not listen. To adults it is just talk.”

18  “We played together. The time we are fetching water we can yell for each other. ‘Come on Olivia ‘let’s go’. The time we go to pick up omauni [fruit] or evanda [spinach] in the bush we are together. We go to church together. And we go to Sunday school together. It was very good.” “At first it was very difficult. I am oshivele (firstborn) and it is difficult because the one that came after me, that I use to wash and carry, I saw her when she was grown up. I wasn’t even thinking she is my sister. They said, yeah this is your sister, but it didn’t feel like it. I was happy to meet her but it didn’t feel like she was my sister. That was the tragedy in this, you see.”

19  “My mother died earlier so I got that love but not too much let me say that if you are staying longer with your mother then you have to learn more, how to suffer, how to survive. That is what I used to tell my kids ‘don’t think you will always stay with your parents’.”  “I feel I am lucky being raised by my grandparents because my attitude compared to my brothers and sisters who were raised by their own parents is quite, quite different. I can’t say that I am better than them but I have different ideas. I think I am stronger in the mind and I have developed into a person who can endure and does good for others.”

20 Independent self construal autonomy, independence Interdependent self construal relatedness (Kagitcibasi, 1996; Greenfield & Suzuki, 1998, Keller, 2008)

21 Market Economy vs. Economy of Affection (Hyden, 1992)

22 What are the implication of the ‘ foot in two worlds position’ implied in the economy of affection to parenting among the Aaumbo in Namibia?

23 Tradition and conformity Power and Achievement Benevolence and prosocial Relatedness Agency Agency/Self direction Benevolence and prosocial Tradition and conformity Relatedness Power and achievement

24 Mean scores on Values and Goals (Suizzo, 2007) for Aaumbo and US mothers

25 Brown, J. (2009) Child Fosterage and the Developmental Outcomes of Ovambo Children in Namibia: Implications for Gender and Kinship Childhood in Africa 1(1): 4-10.


27 Merger of these two worlds into parenting beliefs and practices Not two separate worlds? Fosterage carries and reflects the realities of these two potentially conflicting maintenance systems.

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