Thu, 17 May 2018 Feature Article

Today’s Corporate Women And The Curse of ‘Maidservanthood’

The AuthorThe Author

A lot has changed over the period regarding the role of women in our part of the world. Many years ago, women were resigned to taking the responsibility of the home. In effect, they had the charge of making sure that food was ready for the dining table, the house was clean, the children were bathed, taken to school and brought back home safely. When the children were indisposed, it was their responsibility to take them to hospital and also stay at the hospital when the children are on admission. Even when the mothers wanted to work, they only engaged in petty trading which did not conflict with their roles as mothers.

When I was young, one of the momentous periods in my life was when I came home to see my mother in the house. Again, as a child, I always closed from school and got home with food prepared for me. I also came home and got people supporting me do my homework. Those were the times that homes were homey. It was a mother’s home.

However, in recent times, things have changed drastically. The present economic situation of today does not allow one man to be the breadwinner of a family of three or four and above and reduce the woman of the house to a housekeeper. Today’s women have had to work to contribute to the funding of the needs at home. In some cases their contribution to the resources in the house far superseded that of the men, and again in many homes some women became the bread winners. That is the nature of the economy we find ourselves in. Times have really changed and it has become necessary for families to adapt to changing times to make ends meet.

I got alarmed, recently, when my son who was not enthused about the time that the mother comes to school to pick him and the sister wanted affirmation from me regarding who would be picking them when another term began. He asked: “Daddy, who would be picking us this term?” Then I answered, “Your mummy”. Then he protested vehemently: “No, no, no I don’t want mummy to come and pick us. Mummy always comes to pick us late.” Obviously they wanted me to pick them as my former job gave me the flexibility to pick them early from school. I do not blame my wife; neither do I blame my children. My conclusion was that my time, as a son, and that of my son were diametrically different. Time has changed!

In the quest by corporate women to find a solution to this problem, that is, making sure that they satisfy the need to work to eke out a living and also to make sure that they satisfy the needs of their kids and family, they resort to the services of maids or house helps to fill that vacuum. This has generated varied degrees of problems for many homes. The ensuing paragraphs will discuss some of the issues that the quest to seek assistance from some quarters have generated.

Recently, I eavesdropped on a conversation that ensued between a corporate woman and a friend regarding her experience with a child they went for to assist them in their house-keeping duties. The long and short of the story was that they later found out that the child was possessed spiritually and that was creating some difficulties for her family. I hope a lot of people are not surprised with these ascriptions. This is very common in our part of the world. I have heard these stories over and over again. I wouldn’t want to discuss the merit of these interpretations or happenings. However, I am curious about why a lot of these children whose services are employed are always later branded as possessed.

I also have friends and Christian brethren who have had to change their house helps several times because those they go in for to support them in the management of their homes have either not shown enough commitment or have engaged in a practice that is untoward. Some of the narratives are very disturbing and discouraging, especially for anyone who wants to go for the services of a maid or a house help.

Apart from the aforementioned experiences, there are instances where maid servants have brought some marriages to their knees. As I indicated earlier, the demand of our present jobs makes it extremely difficult for some corporate women to satisfy the needs of their husbands. Some women virtually spend their whole day at the work place and leave their husbands in the care of their maids. It is the maid that prepares food for the man and sometimes keeps the man and the children company until the woman comes home. This is the beginning of the woman losing the husband to a maidservant. Unjustifiable as it is, it does happen.

Also, there are some corporate women who in the course of time forget their responsibilities toward their husbands and thus create a vacuum to be filled by another person. Inasmuch as mothers seek to support the home and exercise their God- given talent in the world of work to support the cause of society and national development, it is important that they always consider their homes first.

Another sad part of this saga is where mothers leave their kids with maid servants who have little or no training to take care of their kids. Why some mothers leave their kids with people who they do not know much about their backgrounds leaves much to be desired. What values are these house helps going to impart to these children? Would a parent be happy to leave her kid with an unqualified person in the school? If no, why would one go for an unskilled person and sometimes people we do not know next to nothing about how to take care of our kids?

It happens that some parents opt for less costly services and thus go in for people who do not merit the standard required to take care of kids. What most mothers are not aware of is that their wards are likely to form their habits after these house helps as they spend the majority of time with them.

It’s sad to say that in our present time, some children know the maid of the house more than their parents. Consequently, these children form their habits and behaviours based on what they see the house helps do in the house. Naturally, children learn by observing and copying others. And woe betide mothers whose maids do not have the right values. That explains why mothers should go for professionals and not resort to the services of house helps who rather need support to survive.

Most of the people that parents go for are people who need to be educated and nurtured to meet the standards of home keeping. A home is supposed to be a place where the right values are inculcated in children. The question is, whose responsibility is it to ensure that this is achieved? Sadly, mothers are not available and so mistakenly or ignorantly leave the kids with people who do not have the requisite skill to ensure that the kids get the best at home.

There are also instances where these maids abuse the kids. Some children are able to report to parents and others are not able to do so. The sad aspect is that before most parents get to know the extent of damage caused, an irreparable one must have taken place. So we have a case where one woman gives birth to a child through difficult conditions and because of the circumstances of the work demands, the child is destroyed beyond repair.

Also, the maid support system has generated a situation where children know next to nothing when it comes to household chores. Most parents for several reasons leave everything in the house in the care of the maids and fail to teach their children minor issues such as brushing their teeth, bathing, washing plates, etc. This also explains why we have a lot ladies who do not know how to prepare simple dishes and always resort to buying foods that are sold by the road side.

With all the above said, I am not sure at the point where the hiring of young girls for this services constitutes child labour. There are situations where children who should be in school at their age are hired for this service. The sad part is that some parents do not see anything wrong with it. They are happy to see their children in the best schools and other children at their service.

With enough said about the plight and the negative effect of this practice in the home of corporate women, it is important that we proffer solutions to help our corporate women solve or ameliorate this problem so as to enjoy their work and family life. I am not sure things are going to change for better for the women working class. Things are going to be more complex than they used to be. We live in a world where weekends when children spend a lot of time with parents have been captured for weekend duties by many companies. What this means is that parents are going to have less time with their parents and so are children.

First, government must encourage the establishment of institutions which have professional qualification in taking care of wards of this nature. Institutions which have such skills and are regulated by law will do a more responsible work than maids who do not have proper training. Government must not be oblivious of the fact that its people can offer their best to support the rapid growth of the economy when workers have sound mind to go about their duties. There are parents who go to work with divided attention and as a result of their ineffectiveness create a collateral damage – to both the company or institution and the individual.

Second, parents who wish to go in for maids must go for those who are skilled and can properly train their wards. Again, the choice of such maids must be preceded by exhaustive background checks. They must be sure that the maids they hire are people they would not get worried if their children take after their lifestyle.

Third, parents must do their best not to delegate certain responsibilities to their house helps no matter the challenges posed by their work. Responsibilities such as preparing food, washing of husband’s clothes and other responsibilities peculiar to the family should not be delegated to maids. Again, corporate women must make sure that they bring their children into the keeping of the house so that their kids will learn how to do certain household chores. This will also undo certain perceptions created in the minds of some house helps that they are being used as slaves.

Finally, kindergarten and nursery schools should be strengthened to make the after school service that some of them offer more efficient to make parents comfortable and confident leaving their kids there. Most of the kids are more comfortable to stay with their colleagues and teachers than being left in the hands of people who are likely to maltreat them.

In conclusion, it is a high time we all did something about this issue so that corporate women will have the peace of mind to contribute their part to the growth of the economy. This will also help safeguard the future of our countries and our world. We must all be aware that the future of our world is dependent on what happens to today’s children. Could you imagine the future of children who have not had parental control? Could you also imagine the future of a nation whose children do not have the best of love and care from parents? Let’s all remember that whatever we grow today will be reaped tomorrow.

Witten by Daniel Ofosu-Asamoah
The writer is a communicator, researcher, speaker, and a teacher.

You can reach him via [email protected]