Non-Maternal Care and Child Development


The fast-paced life of the twenty-first century has led many people to be extremely busy in their jobs and careers. As such, many parents have faced time constraints and the consequent difficulties in time management leading to the delegation of various vital duties to domestic workers. This is the situation being experienced by families in the United Arab Emirates where families have left child rearing to housemaids and nannies. This trend is being perceived as dangerous in many respects including emotional and cognitive development as children are being primarily reared by foreign domestic help (“Parents warned on child-rearing”, 2012).

Various parenting styles have been identified as facilitating positive child emotional and cognitive development. The study by Talib, Mohamad and Mamat (2011) supports the conclusion where various parenting styles such as authoritative are seen to significantly affect children’s behavior and educational achievement. This paper reviews the article written by Dr. Abu Al Ainen on the negative effects on children as a result of being reared or brought up by housemaids and seeks to show if child rearing by housemaids indeed leads to negative effects on children’s development. Dr. Abu Al Ainen generally avers that leaving children to the care of domestic help leads to varied adverse effects on the children’s development.

Article Summary

To reiterate, the writer generally asserts that leaving children to the care of domestic help leads to various long-term adverse effects on the children’s positive growth and development. He avers that the children are affected in terms of their religion, culturally and socially as well as impacting the children’s behavior. Essentially, he states that since children learn a lot from their parents in their early years, leaving them to domestic help would inculcate values that are contrary to those of society. He acknowledges that children are heavily influenced by their immediate caregivers. A certain social worker proclaims that various students are influenced by their maids leading them to acquire negative habits such as aggressive behavior. He states that even though house help is necessary, their presence has adverse effects especially where children end up adopting alien languages and cultures instead of learning their own.

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This issue of child rearing by housemaids represents a case that traverses many spheres of everyday life. For instance, it is well known that children learn very fast in their early years forming a basis for future behavior and attitudes and the primary caregivers usually have a very high influence on their development (Saracho, 2006). Generally, foreign domestic help come with their own cultural and social values which they transmit, knowingly or unknowingly, to the children. In this case, child-rearing leads to a dilution of social and cultural values in the family unit and diffuses to the national level. In a historical context, the issue brings about the issue of preservation of culture since the situation leads to dilution of the native culture. On a political, geographical and technological point of view, the issue may present a positive picture where gaining a multicultural perspective on life can lead to positive results. This can include political and cultural understanding and tolerance leading to more enhanced relationships that foster economic and technological development.

The author stresses that children learn a lot in their early years which provides ground for the child’s acquisition of values contrary to those of society. This is supported by Deater-Dekard, Pinkerton and Scarr (2006)’s study which shows that maternal rearing supported by a family and home environment is better than child rearing in a day-care center. This provides a strong basis to suggest that indeed the strong bond created by the caregiver and child interactions heavily influences the behavior and overall child development. As such, I agree with the author but only to the extent of establishing whether the housemaids are properly instructed in rearing children since the interactions between the child and the caregiver primarily dictate what the children might learn or acquire from the domestic help. As Wolfe and Vandell (2000) highlight, the quality of child care play a major role in child development as it leads to meaningful short-term and long-term effects o the children’s outcomes.

In addition, the author affirms that, due to the influences of the house help children become unable to adjust and adapt to school life where they even end up acquiring perceived negative behaviors such as introversion and aggression. By and large, behavior is usually learnt especially in the case of children who generally learn through observation and go ahead to imitate the behavior which may lead to long-term adoption of the behavior. The author presents a strong case by highlighting that housemaids influence children behaviors. This is convincing and I agree that children do indeed learn and adopt behaviors, whether positive or negative, from housemaids. However, the negative effects may not only reflect the housemaid’s contribution but also the lack of maternal attachment between the parents and children. As Prugh & Harlow (1963) avers, the child’s response to maternal deprivation can lead not only to negative emotional effects but distinctly physical ones. Therefore, I agree with the author but even though the behavior as well as the nature of interactions with the children by the housemaids should dictate the extent of their contribution in precipitating negative behaviors in children.

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Lastly, the author also the caregivers in addition to being a major cause in the children’s speech problems, they erodes the maternal relationship between the mother and child which is a major factor in the positive development of a child. Additionally, the children might also be potentially abused by the housemaids, where the children’s’ silent suffering is manifested in sudden behavioral problems. As Belsky and Rovine (1988) confirms, extensive non-maternal care leads to a relatively insecure infant-mother attachment. The negative consequences on child development due to maternal employment that leads parents to outsource rearing to alternative child care and the consequences of not providing quality child care serve to underscore the importance of high quality childcare in achieving positive child development outcomes (Silverstein, 1991). In light of this, I agree with the author that caregiving to children by housemaids weakens the mother-child relationship. However, the child’s speech problems can be complex to determine especially since it is subject to many variables such as physical and emotional growth factors.


Research has shown that a child’s early years are quite crucial in the overall development of children where they integrate a lot of what they learn in the short-term and relatively in the long-term. As such, the immediate caregivers heavily influence the development of the children and considering the caregivers are foreign, it only figures that the children will adopt alien cultures and languages and potentially develop negative effects such as aggression among others. The author’s stand is that leaving child rearing to the housemaids will lead to adverse effects on the children’s development and I agree with him even though it is with reservations. This is because I believe the relationships between the housemaids and the children can be controlled to curb any negative effects that are bound to occur. This paper serves as a basis for more comprehensive research about the relationship between the maternal and non-maternal care and the associated variables. This will serve to guide policy especially in the United Arab Emirates with regards to child rearing and the contribution of no-maternal care in child development.

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