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The Child between his mother and the servant

An interview with H.E.Sayyed M.H.Fadlullah about The Child , his mother and the servant:

Q: The Phenomenon of having servants and babysitters at homes has become wide spread nowadays. This phenomenon is problematic; some people criticize and object of the existence of servants and baby sitters although it is not new. What is your opinion concerning this issue?

A: First of all, there is big difference between entrusting a child to a servant or to a foster mother. Previously, there was a belief in the great impact of breast-feeding on the formation of the body and the mind of the child. Accordingly, beautiful and good-tempered foster mothers were used to be chosen so that the child could inherit good qualities.

As to the servant, the fashion of their employment carries within different meanings. Servants are means to solving the problems of the working mother whose husband is incapable of providing all of his family needs. Nevertheless, the choice of servants represents the problem itself since some parents resort to hiring servants without knowing anything about the servant’s background, morals, and customs. Most importantly of all, hiring servants is counterproductive from the educational point of view since upbringing of children is not an easy job.

The Child doesn’t need much instruction; what he needs is the tenderness and the kindness of his mother. Such feelings are so essential that they provide the child with the power to accept everything.

However, the employment of babysitters is justifiable in many cases: First, it is when the mother is incapable of providing her child with the care he needs especially if she is physically unable due to certain health problems; Second, if the servant or the babysitter becomes a replacement to a dead mother, or if she is capable of assisting the child with his school work.

Q: It is believed that the employment of servants is helpful for both the child and his mother since the latter can find more time to be with her child. What do you say?

A: This is undeniable; however the problem is taking another aspect since the servant takes the main role at home and the mother turns out to be just an assistant to the servant. It is this reversal of roles, which should be rejected.

Needless to say that Islam focuses on the greatest role a mother should play in building up her child’s personality; it is due to this holy role that the mother is honored in Quran {And we enjoined man (to show kindness) to his parents, for weakness after weakness his mother bears him and he is not weaned before he is two years of age. We said: “Give thanks to Me and to your parents.

To Me shall all things return.} (Luqman, Aya14). This Ayah underlines the intimate relationship between the mother and her child. Therefore, hiring servants is acceptable, provided that the servant remains just an assistant nothing more. We observe in some civilized societies that some mothers that do not even pay visits to their children’s rooms, and there are some other women who hate being mothers due to the heavy load of the responsibility that they will be facing.

They just prefer enjoying their freedom independently. Consequently, I believe that the dependence on servants in building up both families and children’s personalities is destructive to all: the society, the family and the childhood as well. A mother should perform her role as a mother and nothing should prevent her from being the closest person to her children regardless of the circumstances that are around her.

Q: What is your advice to the mothers whose harsh circumstances force them to hire servants?

A: The mother’s role as a mother shouldn’t be compromised. The mother should never depend on servants in raising up her children. The child should be cared for and looked after by his mother nevertheless, the working mother is responsible of either compensating her child with what he lacks during her absence or choosing a suitable servant who can perform her duty perfectly well.

Q: You are calling for the mothers’ continuous presence near her child. Don’t you think that her moral presence is much more important than her physical one?

A: In fact, both the moral and the physical presence complete one another. The mother’s moral presence cannot be fulfilled without her physical one, for the child breathes the mother’s tenderness, kindness and feelings during her presence. Don’t we ask ourselves why people hug, kiss and shake hands with each other? Isn’t it an expression of love? Just as adults need such gestures to express their feelings so does the Child, who is in need for such things more than the adults. Words are not enough; we need the Physical touches such as hugs, kisses, and shaking hands to sense the level of sentiments expressed to us. In fact, such care is what the child needs; it is so essential that it doesn’t only provide him with the sense of peace and safety, but it also reassures him that he is not alone; he is an important member within his family and within his community as well.
The child realizes that he belongs; he is surrounded and protected by people who love and care for him.

Q: in your opinion, what is the difference between the traditional mother and the modern one?

A: The word “traditional mother” is a sign of both humiliation and disrespect to the holy role of the mother. This “traditional mother”, as you call her, represents the whole meaning of sacrifice and giving to her child. From the first moment of her pregnancy, she senses her child as a part of her. She tenderly conceives and feeds him. Not only this, but also she smashes her life to resurrect in her child’s life. It is this traditional mother who represents the whole meaning of motherhood that heaven is granted for who are committed to. On the other hand, the “modern mother” carries the surface meanings of motherhood. She considers her child as a heavy load that can hinder her social and personal relations. She considers infants as a heavy responsibility, which she can’t manage. It is a responsibility that blocks her life. Most importantly and contrary to the traditional mother, the child is viewed by her as member who doesn’t belong to her, it belongs to the society.

Q: Can we say that the state of ignorance on the behalf of some mothers is less dangerous on children than the lack of passion and tenderness?

A: We need for the child to live and to be raised up on strong foundation. This is provided once there is a real mother who behaves according to her instinct. On the other hand; if we observe the new life style of some modern woman, we notice the psychic complexes some children are suffering from, especially those who are left in the nursery-care. Such children think and believe that they don’t belong anymore; they are up-rooted.

Q: in your opinion, is the woman distinctly born to be a mother?

A: We do really believe that the woman’s role as a mother is born with her; it isn’t acquired. The infant is a part of the mother who conceives him, feeds him and most importantly, she suffers the pain of pregnancy and delivery. That is why the infant is taken from inside the soul of the mother. Thus, the period of breast feeding and nursing provides the child with not only the power to face and accept everything but also with the sense of identity and belonging.