The 21stCentury has witnessed remarkable changes in family structures and dynamics in Africa and urban-Zambia in particular: smaller household sizes, a further shift from extended to nuclear families, an increase in separation or divorce, and the appearance of new forms of unions such as unmarried cohabitation and living-apart-together, changing gender and intergenerational relation.

But more to this is the emerging trend of maids taking up the role of parenting in most urban homes owing to the rising flood of career parents. This trend has put most of the children at the mercy of maids who in most cases have little or no training in child care etiquettes. 

It should be appreciated that the first few years of a child’s life are important in the development and formation of a sound personality, good education, morality, self-discipline, and social integration. It is therefore imperative that both the father and mother play their respective roles in child care and upbringing of their children if most of them are to realize their full potential. Nevertheless, most career parents of this age hardly spend quality time with their children.

Todays’ parents are too busy with their offsprings.  Occupational duties swallow up most couples’ time during weekdays such that they hardly spend quality time with their children. Besides, functions such as kitchen parties have taken a toll on the womenfolk to an extent where they are hardly home even during weekends. As for the fathers, weekends are either spent in pubs or unproductive ventures. Our careers have taken precedence over our children and we have delegated the roles of parenthood to house-maids who are ill-equipped with the etiquettes of child care and protection. 
The ripple effect of absent parenting is the unparalleled rise of a generation of children who cannot wash their own clothes; a cohort that cannot make their bed; an age-band that cannot prepare their meals and a troop that can hardly do any child-related work. In a way, this trend is a fertile ground for future leaders without resilience, endurance, focus, values, and creativity. The era of maids has indeed deprived most of the children of requisite life skills for their survival and development.

As Nelson Mandela once observed, “Nurture rather than nature is the primary molder of personality”. Parenthood is therefore critical in building solid societies and a future to reckon with. Indeed “absent parenting” is a phenomenon we all have to deal with if our hopes of reaping a harvest of responsible citizens are to become a reality. The planting starts now and the seeds are quality time, attention, and affection for our children, with parents as sowers and not maids. This does not in any way imply that maids are bad. The point is it is the responsibility of every parent to invest their quality time for their children.


By BwalyaMisheck-Child Protection consultant-bwalyamisheck@gmail.com