Leaving parenting to housekeepers is a danger that many parents ignore, according to a report published in the UAE that was presented at a forum organised by Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) and the Dubai School of Government (DSG). “Maids taking care of children, in between doing household chores and cooking, is a dangerous trend that could have a serious impact on the emotional, intellectual and cognitive development of children,” Hala Babili Roumani, an academic adviser at Gulf Montessori, and a member of the UK-based Montessori Centre International, said in Dubai recently. However, since most UAE households have both parents working, it leaves families with limited options for child care. This week, we debate the issue of parenting in absentia — the problems and the impact on children and families. Post your thoughts on our Facebook page, ‘Gulf News Al Nisr Publishing UAE’ or tell us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
14:39 Gulf News: Society prefers to criticise working parents rather than offer solutions.
14:42 Salim Mohammad: Yes, to an extent I believe that society criticises parents for leaving children alone, while they are at work. But this has become a necessity, as money plays a vital role in a child’s education, accommodation and providing a better lifestyle. One solution is to keep a nanny, or send them to a playschool.
14:51 Aisha Naseem: I agree. For my mum, it wasn’t a smooth ride. When she wanted to build her career, there were people who said our grades would drop, since she won’t be able to pay the same kind of attention to us. She silenced everyone when all our names were on the honour roll at school. She had to prove herself, every step of the way, to get ahead.
14:57 Shiuly Ray: Aisha, it depends on the field in which the mother is working. Sometimes it is just too difficult to manage. I left my job for motherhood and even though we sometimes face financial constrictions, I am satisfied I can give full care and support to my children. From my observation, children are to some extent neglected by working mothers.
15:00 Lodhi Azmat Allah: I too have had financial problems, but I have not sacrificed my child’s love. My wife used to work when she was new to Dubai, but as we had our first child she stopped working — our first priority was the care of our child and loving her. This, despite the fact that I don’t have a high salary.
15:00 Aisha Naseem: Ms Ray, I agree there are mothers who may need to travel or spend long hours at work but no one can say that their first priority is money. It’s true that there are cases where children are neglected, but it is wrong to say that a mother can’t work and give time to her children, too.
15:01 Saleh Al Beloushi: Every day a child may come back from school hoping to eat a plate of biryani from his or her mum’s hand, but he or she can’t because the mother is at work. How will the child feel?
15:03 Leah Thomas: The child also should be made to understand the importance of working and the necessity of earning money.
15:04 Salim Mohammad: Mr Beloushi, I think what is more important is the affection, care, communication and love we show our child so that he or she doesn’t feel that there is something missing.
15:07 Pavan Kumar: A child should understand that the parents love and care for him and also the hard work they are putting in for him.
15:11 Gulf News: Most parents use the presence of nannies as an excuse for negligent parenting.
15:17 Aisha Naseem: I agree. There have been cases where the nanny has done anything but take care of the child. But when parents realise the mistake, they take every step to eliminate the problem. Times are changing and so are the ways in which a parent chooses to communicate their love for the child – and a nanny shows they are aware of the needs of a child.
15:19 Salim Mohammad: Any parent would plan a lot before taking this decision but most of the nannies take it just as a job, whereas looking after children is not like doing business. I agree that no child would receive the same love from them as they would from their mothers. Parents should always try to maintain a balance between work and personal life. Also, it really does help some families if they employ a nanny. What I would say is that parents should play their part and nannies are only their to support.
15:22 Gulf News: Children of working parents grow up to be more independent.
15:29 Aisha Naseem: Children grow up to be the kind of people their parents are examples of. If a child has constant care from a mum who is a homemaker and a father who works full-time, and doesn’t pay a lot of attention, he’ll have a different perspective while growing up. I have learnt from my parents to cover both grounds. Be independent, but know what comes first.
15:29 Shiuly Ray: I don’t agree completely because they are independent in the sense that they can eat food on their own or use gadgets and devices. But when the problem solving skills are needed, they are comparatively more confused because they don’t learn how to be prompt and solve it.
15:32 Gulf News: Most workplaces are failing to provide the flexibility that working parents need.
15:38 Salim Mohammad: As far as paternity leaves are concerned, I would say there are two sides to the issue – one from the organisational perspective and the other from the family’s. From the parent’s side, paternity leaves will obviously give them an advantage, because after all we make money to live happily with our loved ones. But on the other side it would not be possible to implement in companies as it would affect their work and production. In some private companies, I have seen that if a worker goes on leave, another can take a leave only once the worker is back.
15:42 Lodhi Azmat Allah: To my understanding, earn enough to have a happy and good life with your family. Don’t run after money, which may make you lose your family, your love for your child and his or her care. Money can buy anything in the world but your parent’s love is genuine and precious, it can only be given by parents. So, in my opinion, all parents should spend more time with their child so that he can understand that you love him and care for him. He is the only one who can help you in your old age, so it is a give-and-take policy. Today you care for him, in old age he will care for you.
14:42 Pavan Kumar: Parents should always try as much as possible to spend time with their children and also teach them the importance of work.
15:43 Saleh Al Beloushi: The solution is simple – care for your children and mothers shouldn’t work full time when the child is young. Earn to meet your needs and be with children when they need you.
15:46 Shiuly Ray: I believe if you can manage with a single bread winner in the house, then one parent can spend quality time with kids. It does not matter how much we have to push the boundary - our children will be in safe hands.