Wednesday,18 October, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1317, (27 October - 2 November 2016)
Wednesday,18 October, 2017
Issue 1317, (27 October - 2 November 2016)

Ahram Weekly

Raising children in Cairo

Tired of all the pointing fingers? There are answers even for busy parents raising children in Egypt’s capital city, says Amira El-Noshokaty

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Al-Ahram Weekly

In Cairo, bringing up a child can mean you bring up the entire neighbourhood. Between the Internet groups, the literature, and the experiences of family, friends and anybody who feels like teaching you about your child, being a parent can be stressful.

From here comes the idea of highlighting a few guidelines for young parents to hold onto in this crazy city that never sleeps. We start with the Internet.

Even when you are expecting your child, the Baby Centre site can help you, registering your due date and automatically sending you a monthly newsletter. This website is popular because of its accuracy and balanced information. With a handful of doctors and paediatricians among other experts, this site won the 2016 Webby People’s Voice Winner: Best Family/Parenting Site in the US.

So during those panic attacks when an emergency comes and you cannot reach your doctor, instead of surfing the Internet randomly try searching out these guys who can give you some good ideas.

Another trending website within the same line of thought is Parents.com. This focuses on relationships and parenting your kids rather than the medical side of the story, but it still provides lots of fun ideas.

On the local Web, there is the Super-mama site that is the first of its kind to address mothers in Egypt and the Middle East.

The site provides tips on childcare and food for children, and it even looks at relationships. It has become quite popular in the Arab world.

Now that health is taken care of, you can start to think of the fun part: going out. Unfortunately, Cairo is not a very child-friendly city, to say the least. And going out on a fun date with your kids could blow up in your face if the place you picked was not as child-friendly as you thought it was.

Hygiene is an issue that may be underrated in many public areas in Cairo, which puts more pressure on parents, especially mothers. Help is at hand in the shape of the Yalla Mammy site, the first of its kind in Egypt. This is dedicated to children’s outings and places that are child-friendly. The site provides you with a full review of places, ambience, hygiene, safety and prices. It’s a real treat for mothers who do not know where to go on extra-long weekends.

As for the literature, three are highly recommended. Dr Spock’s Baby and Childcare never goes out of date. There is also The Discipline Book by William Sears and Martha Sears and Boys Should Be Boys by Meg Meeker.

Dr Spock’s book is detailed and is a big book that walks you through the basics from the moment you walk home with your child for the very first time. Child safety is a big issue, and by safety is meant both at home and outside of the home. The book gives a check list of the dos and don’ts of topics such as how to address a child’s doctor and how to deal with medical needs.

It discusses issues like showing affection, the grandparents’ role, and how to address sensitive topics with your child. For a book that first came out in 1945, and is now fully revised and expanded for the 21st century, this book is an asset in its own right.

“You are fat… never tease a child about a body part she can’t change. Don’t allow kids to criticise other kids’ bodies” is one of the key notes in The Discipline Book by William and Martha Sears. This book notes the emotional baggage that people can carry for the rest of their lives as a result of an ignorant remark or a gesture by parents.

The book is a must read, as it is an eye-opener for all new parents, helping them to break away from inherited habits that could scar their children for life. Never compare your child to others, learn to listen and read between the lines, and show affection and empathy rather than judegment are some of the recommendations that help to guide parents into dealing properly with their children.

“Like any enthusiastic, loving mother, Caroline had scoured the Internet for information on nursing and had found volumes.

Most of what she had read was correct, but some was false. But more importantly, she had completely lost her balance. Her instincts told her that she needed more sleep, that drugs (medicines which could be present in her breast milk) weren’t good for babies, and the three of them (though she rarely thought of her husband’s opinion) would be healthier and happier if she stopped nursing. So why didn’t she?”

“Peer pressure. Most mothers feel extraordinary pressure from friends, doctors, and baby books to nurse as long as possible. Certainly I advocate this, but I also encourage more maternal intuition and common sense” reads an important part of the book Boys Should Be Boys by Meg Meeker.

The book highlights the importance of showing affection to your son and how this can help him become a man. Unlike the popular belief that being tough on boys makes them fine men, the book addresses social and peer pressure on parents and not the kids themselves. It cleverly highlights the link between social pressure on parents and how it is passed on to children. The book is a must read.

Raising children in this world raises a lot of questions that may take you back to your kindergarten days. It’s a unique opportunity to take a seat next to your child and to grow up together.

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