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Title: Child, Childhood and Child Rearing: Beliefs and Practices in Agri Community in Alibaug taluka of Maharashtra
Authors: Thakur, Sayali
Keywords: Centre for Human Ecology
Rajani Konantambigi
School of Social Sciences
Issue Date: 2013
Publisher: TISS
Abstract: An in depth understanding about current and traditional practices and rituals regarding child rearing, child birthing, maternal care and child development would give us the context of today‟s child and childhood. It would aid us in applying this knowledge to child care and child development. Anthropologists have traditionally explored all aspects of daily living, including beliefs and practices surrounding various themes. The field of c hild development, utilizing an interdisciplinary approach has always attempted a holistic understanding of children so as to apply the knowledge for the betterment of children. Works of the renowned Indian psychoanalyst, Sudhir Kakar, and other psychologis ts like, Pranajpe, Saraswathi, Ganpathy, Misri, etc. has helped explore certain commonalities underlying the beliefs and practices surrounding children. Specific explorations by the HDFS/Child Development field in India have added to this knowledge by brin ging in ecological and Sociological perspectives. The present research focuses on exploring and understanding the child and childhood through child care, child rearing, child bearing and birthing practices in rural, Agri community, of Alibaug Taluka in Rai gad District of Maharashtra. Two sets of respondents contributed to the study; older women and young mothers; all older women were grandmothers. This research was carried out by conducting in - depth interviews following an interview guide. The data, after t ranscribing and translating was analyzed thematically within each group and then compared and contrasted between the groups. The analyses revealed that the young mothers have adapted to the new ways of child upbringing considering the child‟s best interest along with the traditional rituals and practices. The young mothers have somehow managed to juggle the two sets of practices but the elder mothers seem to be a bit unhappy yet glad and surprised with the rapid change in practices and commodities used for child rearing. The child according to elder mothers was important for women‟s psychological and emotional wellbeing in terms of her social and family life and „to shut people‟s mouth‟. According to young mothers, a child was important for women‟s psycholog ical and emotional wellbeing in terms of her personal/private life. Even after a strong influence of enculturation, the young mothers had started adapting to the practices surrounding them; probably in the hope of better life for the child. The young moth er therefore used strategies and practice related to stimulation, discipline, communication and relationship managements, etc to blend and help her child adapt into the society.
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