At the doctor’s office this morning as I sat waiting my turn a strange occurrence grabbed my attention: A young girl, about 8 or nine years old steps up to the counter and asks the secretary for her exam results, she is accompanied by a foreign domestic worker who knows a little Arabic and a little English. The receptionist asks “where is her mother?” and the domestic worker answers: “Madam is at work, she want to know the results”. The receptionist a little confused calls the doctor and sends the little girl with the domestic worker in to see him… A few minutes later, the two emerge with a pile of paperwork that the domestic worker is trying to sift through and leave the office.
I had heard about this phenomenon in Lebanese culture, about the absentee parents and the domestic workers taking care of the children’s needs, but seeing it first hand-well it was disturbing to say the least.
I tried to think up an excuse for the mother who is at work, and who had to send her little girl to the doctor’s office alone only supervised by the person who is employed in the role of housekeeper. All the excuses I came up with just didn’t gel!
It just ain’t right… If the mommy is too busy, where is the daddy? If the daddy is absent where is grandma, grandpa, auntie, mommy’s friend????
This is only one of the manifestations of changing social norms and values in Lebanese culture. It is a sign of how our priorities are shifting, and it makes you wonder: What will this generation, raised by (although sometimes caring and attentive) foreign domestic workers will grow up to be like? What will their values be, where will family fit into their view of the universe, will they be strong and independent, or will they be lacking something? Will this ultimately make them more tolerant and less racist, or more so?
I believe this is definitely something that needs to be looked at from a sociological and psychological point of view.
I try my best not to be judgmental, and to stay objective in my examinations of such behaviors, but on this particular issue, I will have to take a stand: It just ain’t right!