Providing care for others and children have traditionally been the roles performed by family members within the Akan sociocultural setting.
The art of providing care has been with us since time immemorial and is still with us till today.
The typical family roles regarding the provision of care, either for the elderly, children or the sick has developed tremendously as societies have evolved and urbanised.
Urbanization and modernization and its attendant economic demands on families and the dwindling or the collapse of the traditional family support systems have characterised caregiving as a hired job within our culture.
Family support systems that were experienced within our culture had changed drastically in recent years and caregiving was not a paid job but was seen as a responsibility families delegated someone to do.
Who is a caregiver or nanny?
Where as caregivers are family members or paid helpers who regularly look after a child or a sick, elderly, or disabled person, nanny on the other hand, are often women who are employed to take care of children.
Why need a caregiver?
In this context, the author is focusing on the abuse of children by caregivers or nannies? It would be apt to justify their importance in a society.
As stated earlier, family support systems that were very helpful and served as a safety net for struggling family members are disappearing gradually.
The gradual disappearance of the family support has been aggravated by the collapse of the extended family system and the lose of our communal spirit. Now, we are becoming very individualised in our thinking and behaviour.
As a result of this, when modern day couples begin to have children , who to take care of such children when they are busy at work, becomes a herculean task.
Caregivers or nannies come in handy.
Caregivers are supposed to help parents to do among the following:
1. Creating a safe and stimulating environment for the children, 2. Bathing and dressing, 3. Changing diapers and potty-training, if age-appropriate, 4. Washing children’s clothes, 5. Planning meals, preparing food, and/or feeding the children, 6. Arranging play (indoor and outdoor) times for the children and outings if necessary, 7. Educational activities and crafts, 8. Reading to the children, 9. Helping with homework, 10. Organizing bedrooms/toys, 11. Administering medicine with parents’ consent, if necessary, 12. Maintaining logs for the parents, and 13. Light housekeeping. (The Nanny Authority, 2020).
The above notwithstanding, a good nanny or caregiver should be trustworthy and reliable and able to discipline children according to the disciplinary code or standards of the family.
Additionally, they should also be nurturing, kind, active, creative, and interactive with children of all ages in order to give parents some respite while at work.
Is that what is happening today? Let’s examine some negative events about some nannies’ behaviour in recent times.
Maltreatment of children by some caregivers
CCTV footages have captured some treatment being meted out to some children by caregivers and I must confess, those I have watched are very disgusting and disturbing.
These viral videos have recently revealed the ill-treatment some nannies or caregivers exert on unsuspecting children and this has brought the issue of caring for children to the fore.
If care is not taken and proper background checks are not done, the nanny you employ can be paedophile or may have some behaviour which shall end up destroying the future of your children.
Where as some bad caregivers can inset their fingers into the private parts of your children, some can even have sexual intercourse with them as well .
I have had the opportunity of watching a viral video of a young man having sexual intercourse with a toddler, and I think most parents who saw same were taken aback.
Apart from the few viral videos I have had the opportunity of watching, some other parents might have seen nor heard what others have done to some other children. This is the reason why parents must be extremely careful. If care is not taken, one can employ a caregiver who has a gay or lesbian tendencies and may transfer same to your children.
Another maltreatment is the fact that, some caregivers don’t feed children well. The feeding of children is one difficult task that requires skill and finesse. In a situation where your caregiver cannot be trusted or doesn’t have empathy, your child might either not be fed or under fed.
Not feeding children well accounts for the reasons why some children who suffer such ill-treatment are not able to grow and develop well due to feeding inadequacies. This has dire health implications for your children including children who are mentally retarded.
Again, some caregivers deliberately assault children physically. This would normally lead to physical injury or permanent injury at the blind side of the parents.
In one of the videos I have watched, the caregiver was seen slapping the child repeatedly. In another, the angry caregiver was banging the toddler unto the sofa repeatedly while in another, the child hands had been pulled backwards by the caregiver while food was being forced down the throat of the child.
What fathers can do to curb this phenomenon
Apart from the known and unknown ill treatment caregivers mete out to children, one critical area that fathers must not be oblivious off is the spirituality of caregivers.
A person’s spiritual makeup goes a long way to determine the kind of character the individual would exhibits. As such, in seeking the help of caregivers must not be left to the mothers alone, since they are the ones who need assistance in their domestic activities.
It must be seen as an important activity that fathers must be involved in the selection of the right person to help their children. Usually, when the time comes for such an assistance, mothers normally would want to employ caregivers who are family members or better still, any other person who is introduced to her by any of her friends or acquaintances.
They would normally consider people who would look good physically. But, how about the spiritual make up of the caregiver.
The is where fathers are needed most. They are the spiritual heads of families and must be heavily involved as to who is employed to take care of their children. That involvement must be geared towards finding out the real identity of the caregiver. If that isn’t done, demon possessed people, witches or wizards might be employed as caregivers and they can negatively manipulate your children to your detriment.
Indeed, some of them can obliterate or alter the destinies of your children at your blind side. This negative spiritual manipulation effects, can only be seen or felt when your child is old and exhibiting some character traits a father finds untoward.
Following the above, before anyone is employed as a caregiver, the father must necessarily seek to know the spiritual background of whoever is employed as a caregiver before bringing same to your home.
Again, fathers can help curb the menace caregivers portray by arranging with their wives as to who takes care of their children. In situations where fathers are better placed financially, they can discuss with their wives, for them to resign their work to stay home to take care of their children.
On the reverse, if it’s possible, fathers can resign from their jobs and stay behind to take care of their children when their wives are better placed financially.
In very difficult situations where neither the father nor the mother is financially sound to allow one partner to resign from work, the father can assist his wife to care for their children. This one would be in the best interest of their children.
This is possible if the work schedule of the father isn’t too demanding, the father can alternate with his wife in the baby care duties of their children.
Additionally, if a caregiver is employed to help in baby care, it would always be expedient for fathers to monitor the activities of the caregiver and not to leave it to the women alone. When this assistance is offered by men, if there is any hidden behaviour on the part of the caregiver, it can easily be unearthed.
Indeed, if fathers actively participate in baby care duties, it would become an impetus to safeguard their children from the unknown maltreatment of the employed caregiver. They are usually very careful about how they handle children who have such fathers.
The above notwithstanding, fathers can employ other techniques in dealing with their caregivers. This can be done through altering the routine departure and return to their homes.
Thus, the normal time where fathers return home after work can be varied. Once you have a caregiver, the father can decide to go home at least free time from work to monitor the happenings in his home for himself.
When fathers begin to exhibit this attitude and same is replicated by their wives, it shall put bad caregivers on the edge to act aright.
As society moves on with its attendant increase in working mothers, the dynamics of baby care duties shall also change.
Christnacht and Sullivan (2020) quoting from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2018 ,American Community Survey (ACS), stated that, there were around 23.5 million employed women with children under the age of 18 and nearly two-thirds worked full-time, all year-round.
“In 2018, over three-quarters of working women with children under 18 were between the ages of 30 and 49″. Thus seventy-six percent (76%) of working mothers”.
“Forty-four percent of working mothers 25 or older had a bachelor’s degree or higher compared with 38% of all workers 25 or older. This is in line with other trends showing that new mothers with higher educational attainments are more likely than all new mothers to have jobs” (Christnacht and Sullivan, 2020).
The above statistics from America could be a fair representation of what is happening around the world.
Fathers across the world, Africa and most especially Ghana must value that, with the upsurge in the numbers of working mothers, there must be the need for modern day fathers to treasure the urgency on their part to help mothers with baby care duties.
Fathers are the fulcrum around which the entire family revolves and as such, babycare and welfare matters must be of outmost importance to them.
The demand for caregivers are becoming a fashion and a norm with modern working mothers. This is because as more women pursue higher educational attainments and get jobs, the challenge of combining same with mother care duties becomes daunting.
As to whether a caregiver must be employed or not in a working class family, it is dependent on what the father decides should happen in his home.
If fathers are willing to assist their wives with baby care duties, the need for caregivers might not be necessary.
Should the situation be dire for both parents and they must necessarily demand the services of caregivers, father must be heavily involved in every step of the way.
If fathers are able to do as enumerated above, the maltreatments caregivers mete out to children may continue, but not at this alarming rate.
Fathers must heavily participate in babycare duties in order to help reduce the negative effects caregivers have on children, and the time to act is now.
DC Kwame Kwakye
The Fatherhood Advocate
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