If you grew up in a middle-class household in South Africa you would be familiar with the idea of Mothers sending their children to rural areas to be raised by Aunts/Grannies/Extended Families.
This doesn’t happen because they are bad Mothers (or Fathers), it is an unfortunate fact of life in South Africa that many women are single parents, work very long hours, travel very far to and from work every day and simply cannot afford childcare. They also have virtually no support structure or often even have the luxury of living in a brick house.
As South Africans we have become very desensitised to this reality, myself included. I simply accepted it as the norm instead of the exception in families that barely live on the breadline until I had a Mother crying in my office today.
A Mother that had to leave her job in a fastfood restaurant because her baby had pneumonia and she had no-one to help her take care of him when he was in hospital for 2 weeks. Similar stories play themselves out in my office every single day of the week. (Yes, I do know when someone is trying to manipulate me)
I keep toying with the idea that we have become a very intolerant society and that we forget that we deal with human beings. Yes, there are many lazy buggers out there, but if we take the time to know people that work for us, wouldn’t we be more tolerant and understanding? Or am I just a bleeding heart liberal?
I’m not exactly covering myself in ash and beating my head against a wall lamenting that there is something wrong with society because there are so many single parents and too many people are having babies for the wrong reasons at the wrong age.
I really just cannot accept our country for what it is, as much as this is our reality.
Is the concept of the traditional family changing?
Would I be incredibly naive in wanting for children to grow up secure with the love of both their parents?
When did parenting become transient and part-time?