Would you loan out your child?
Some parents seek to improve their kid’s opportunities by sending them away.
By Sipho Yanano
I come from a background where it’s common to 'lend out' your child to wealthier friends or relatives. Why? For the child to benefit from living in a good environment and attending a good school. The financial burden of raising the child normally falls on the foster parents.
Article originally in Parent24
Growing up, this custom seemed so common, that I saw it as a normal way of life. However as an adult I started looking at the custom through critical eyes. Why, I wondered, would a loving parent voluntarily part with a child for months or even years to be with other people?
Looking back I realise that those parents who sent their children to friends and relatives were relatively poor. The child was sent to stay with wealthier friends or relatives for material advantage. By living in a good neighbourhood the child would have access to good schools and a good education. These parents had high ambitions for their children and were willing to pay the sacrifice of staying apart from their kids.
There are problems with loaning your child to other people. There are no guarantees that your child will be accepted into the family unit of the family unit. Hence some children feel alienated after being uprooted from their homes.
Some foster parents, feeling burdened by an extra mouth to feed, discriminate against the foster child and show favouritism to their own children. At times the foster child is expected to do a lot of house work as payback for being looked after.
Because of lack of discipline and lack of parental guidance some of the loaned children end up not benefitting from opportunities open to them. Staying away from their parents can sometimes expose a child to the risk of exploitation. Before loaning a child, parents therefore need to take all these factors into consideration.
Another popular form of loaning that parents practice is sending their children, even pre-teens, to boarding school. In effect parents will be delegating the raising of their child to a school system. A handful of teachers and other staff are expected to look after many students in a boarding school set-up. Having gone to a boarding school I can attest to the lack of monitoring that is prevalent in some of these institutions. Boarding schools can never substitute parents.
When a parent loans a child to a friend, a relative or a boarding school for months or years they can no longer fully influence or guide the child. They can no longer impart the values that they want their child to carry through out their life. They may never regain the time they spend apart from their child. What a price to pay, even for all of the 'benefits' obtained.
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