Last week we looked at Parenting in Ghana, located in West Africa. Today we’re traveling to the other side of Africa and taking a look at parenting in Egypt, which is in the Northeast corner of the African continent.
Parenting in Egypt is a tough subject to research. All of the sources want to talk about Ancient Egypt as opposed to Modern Egypt, but since this post is part of Parenting Around the World and not Parenting Throughout History, I tried to stick with only the modern information.
Here’s a little background about Modern Egypt.
It’s the most populated Arab nation (Source: CNN). Unfortunately their rapid population growth led to internal poverty, which is another reason I had trouble researching Egyptian parenting. Every time I tried to look up anything related to Egypt and children, I got pages and pages of resources dedicated to helping street children. 🙁
Egypt’s population is primarily Sunni Muslim, with about 10% identifying as Coptic Christian.
It was under British rule for about 100 years, receiving independence in the 1950s. Despite recent political instability, Egypt remains a popular tourist destination for it’s rich history and relatively good Western relations. I’ve been there, and it’s fascinating. 🙂
Here is what I discovered about parenting in Egypt:
Children often work outside the home
(Sources: Global Fund for Children)
Many Egyptian children, particularly boys, find work at an early age in order to help support the family. If their family owns a business, they may join the family business doing age-appropriate tasks. Otherwise, they may get a job as a tuk-tuk driver, a crop picker, or work in a factory.
This is a source of dispute among international organizations. Many Westerners are against child labor, even if it is voluntary.
A lot of learning takes place at home
(Source: University of Texas)
Although most Egyptian children do attend school at least for a while, much of their learning still takes place at home. It is the family’s job to educate their children about Islam and other cultural and religious values.
Mothers pass on domestic knowledge to their daughters, while father or other male relatives train boys in skilled labor.
Some children may be sent for extra classes in religious instruction after school or on the weekends.
Parents are titled after their firstborn son
Giving birth to a son is such a prestigious event in the life of a married Egyptian couple that they gain a new title from it. The father is called Abu [insert name of son] and the mother is called Umm [insert name of son].
Children are cherished in Egyptian culture, as they represent the continuation of the family line.
Physical discipline is normal
(Source: United Nations)
According to a survey conducted by the Egyptian Ministry of Health, 93% of children have experienced physical punishment by a parent or caregiver. Though there are several organizations, including the UN, who are pushing for more positive parenting practices, physical punishment continues to be the norm for now.
Breastfeeding is common, but not exclusive
A survey from the Egypt’s Ministry of Health showed that most women do breastfeed their children until at least six months of age, as per the recommended guidelines. However, this feeding is rarely exclusive and other foods tend to be introduced early on as well.
With so many Egyptian women now in the workforce, breastfeeding is becoming difficult to maintain. Some are opting for formula due to the ease it provides.
(Source: Mada Masr)
Maternity leave in Egypt is 90 days, or at least 45 days post child-birth (leave may begin before the baby is born), with full pay.
Nursing mothers are also given at least two half hour periods (or one full hour) throughout their work day to use for pumping or nursing their infant in the 24 months post child-birth. And this doesn’t count as a break, so they get paid for that time.