Monday, September 28, 2009

It's Monday

I know it is technically fall, but man is it hot around here! Sunshine please go away. Blake and I are headed up to Sacramento to visit my parents. That means that the highs for the day are going to be in the 90's instead of our Bay Area 80's. How will I cope? I guess fall is all about waiting for the colors to change.

Since I won't be blogging too much in the next couple of days I am going to introduce my second family in my Mothering the World series.

Please meet Malia...

Question #1: What is your family heritage (cultural background)?
I'm Pacific Islander aka Polynesian...Tongan to be exact.

Question #2: Do the majority of mothers breastfeed or use formula (and why)?
99% of Tongan women breastfeed all the way up to almost 24 months. Reason why it has always been that way and formula is hard to come by considering it's a poor country and mothers prefer to breastfeed, it's more convenient for them.

Question #3: Where do family members sleep within the home?
They have their own bedrooms, mostly shared by siblings, but boys tend to move out of the rooms and sleep in the living rooms when they're around age 10 or older. Younger children though sleep in the parents room most times.

Question #4: What are the common roles of the mother vs. father?
Father's are the providers and protectors while the mother's main role is raising the children at home. They share in the discipline and enforcing of values but mothers tends to stay home to raise the children most of the time.

Question #5: What does a typical day look like for a mother?
From dusk till dawn her main focus is keeping the home in order, tending to the children, extended relatives, and maintaining the home.

Question #6: Who takes care of the children if the mother works outside of the home and how much does childcare cost
There is no cost for childcare if the mother works outside the home mainly because they have lots of relatives around who will help watch the children.

Question #7: What are the common discipline tactics used with children?
Spanking is actually not illegal in Tonga and consistent with teaching of daily values. Children do not see this as abuse and they grow up and respect their parents. Extended relatives and neighbors too will scold the child if they're misbehaving and it's acceptable with parents. They all participate in making sure the children are respectful. It's amazing how respectful children are in Tonga to their parents. They do not talk back when being scolded or told something to do. I wish children in America were more respectful of their parents like the children in Tonga.

Question #8: How does your culture perceive children?
Children are a gift and it's the parents responsibility to teach them values for their future. If a child grows up and ends up in a bad way parents see this as a failure of their parenting skills and are very embarrassed by it. People also do gossip about the family if a child misbehaves and parents don't like that so they enforce values early on in life.

Question #9: How does your culture show affection towards children?
They're very loving toward their children. There is daily praise if you have a good child and never ending scolding if a child misbehaves. Parents raise their children to be responsible grown ups when they get older.

Question #10: What are some typical games played with children or played amongst children?

Children mostly play outside with everyone else' children whether it be relatives or neighbors or children from the whole village. There is hop scotch, juggling contest, hide and seek, etc. From dawn children are outside interacting with other children. Parents do not always supervise them because they're very street smart and everyone watches out for everyone else's children. They practically know every family there so kidnapping, rape, murder, is almost unheard of. I was just there visiting this past summer after 20 years and was amazed by how relaxed life is there. There is an innocence there that I can never find here and I'm glad I took my 9 year old son there to experience that simple kind of life. There is no 24 hour TV, internet, or video games. Children are outside being children and entertain each other with whatever nature can offer. They are a poor country but they don't seem to notice that....they are just happy with whatever little life offers them that I envy. Growing up there I wouldn't trade my humble beginnings for the craziness of life here. My children are spoiled because they grew up different from me and I hope to take them to Tonga more often so they can appreciate things, people, and life a little more.

Thanks Malia for your great insight. I too agree that America has dropped the ball on teaching respect to children. I still don't understand why we, as a culture, find we are better off not teaching these skills. Societal norms are a hard force to reckon with.

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