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Time for mothers to take care of their own children
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 06 - 02 - 2017

RECENTLY a statement by an Indonesian Consulate official, published in a local daily, clarified that his country had suspended sending domestic helps to Saudi Arabia because of the myriad problems they faced in the past decades. The same source talked about closing down 41 recruiting companies that send domestic help to Saudi Arabia for breaching contracts. These violations had driven these domestic help to escape, even to the extent of jumping from high points in apartment buildings in their bid to escape without a care for their lives or limbs. Some of these domestic helps were recruited to work in hospitals and hotels but they ended up working in homes.
While driving the point home on the reasons why his country was taking this direction, he said something interesting. He said in the same report that "it is about time that Saudi mothers spend the majority of their time with their children and groom them."
A thought-provoking point indeed. The issues between Saudi families and their domestic help or helps is a never-ending subject in terms of their importance in a home and the inhuman treatment they receive at the hands of some families. Some relations between families and their domestic help have proven successful as it was based on kindness, respect and understanding. Here, in such families, peace reigns. Other relations, however, did take ugly turns and end up with escape attempts of maids, some cases being successful while some not — triggering the phenomenon of the ‘runaway maids', or abuse by the family and sometimes, even murder.
Deciding not to send domestic help to Saudi Arabia or to any country is an internal matter of the Indonesian government and people. But such a move should be a wake up call to us. It should spark introspection not on why the country is taking such a decision, but why do we need domestic help at all!
I have been a vehement critic in the past on our total dependence on domestic help even to the smallest and simplest details. Some families believe that their house would not function without the existence of domestic help. Believe it or not, some even declare an emergency in the house when the domestic help goes on vacation and together they pray every day for her quick and safe return.
Our overt reliance on domestic helps has reached such levels that it has become a craving viewed by families as absolute necessity. This need, however, is viewed by other nations differently. This habit of asking helps to work is seen as a needless need by many. They have also developed an opinion about us because of the behavior of some families and the incidents between domestic help and their sponsors that reflect us in a poor light.
The over reliance on domestic help, displayed by actions of families outside the Kingdom or in their treatment of these helps at home has left many with the opinion that we are a nation full of lazy people and that we cannot serve ourselves. They think we are so lazy that we cannot get a cup of water for ourselves and are so dependent on domestic help to even to hold our handbags at malls and care for our infants outside of our homes.
Now, take as an example, a domestic help that left her country to come and work here. We know that this domestic help is not married and never had children before. She is told that she is to work in a house with a mother, who does not go out to work, and five children and will be paid an amount by the end of each month for cleaning the house, ironing of clothes and cooking — work eight hours a day with one day off every week.
But in reality what happens when this poor domestic help arrives is something starkly different. She discovers that in addition to the above mentioned chores, she is taking care of a young three-year-old child and a seven-month-old infant, and she can forget about the off day per week because it is in reality a seven days job. Totally inexperienced, she does not know what to do and she experiments and learns to care on this poor infant, all when the biological mother is asleep or shopping with friends. In some cases sadly, the domestic helps end up taking out their frustration on the poor infant or child just to take revenge on the mother for overworking them or not getting paid on time. Some children and infants did die as a result of being put under the hands of these inexperienced domestic help, who did have to pay the penalty for their actions. While others simply decide to escape because they cannot bear working in conditions that is not to their liking.
I agree with this official when he said that it is about time that Saudi mothers spend more time with their children and care for them, especially infants. Mothers should know that infants and babies are theirs and should not be left in the care of the domestic help. I cannot understand some mothers, who totally give up their motherhood to the domestic help to the level that the child ends up speaking the native language of the domestic help.
Such mothers are occasional mothers and only show love and care for their children when they have friends at home. It is a total disaster when a child is deprived of his mother›s care and love. The child could either end up growing directionless, or pick up all the bad habits that could put it on the wrong track. What do we expect this child, deprived of mother's love and governance in childhood, to grow up to be?
The writer can be reached at [email protected]
Twitter: @anajeddawi_eng

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