Child rearing among the Arsi Oromo: Values, Beliefs and Practices

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Addis Ababa University


The major purpose of the present study was to assess the indigenous parenting values and beliefs that Arsi Oromo parents tend to foster in their parenting practices. It specifically examines the relationships among parenting values, beliefs and practices. To that effect, a mixed methods research design was employed. A total of 481 participants were selected using stratified random sampling techniques coupled with purposive sampling. More specifically, while the two Arsi zones and informants of FGD were purposively selected, districts and Kebeles were selected through simple random sampling techniques. Moreover, while the participants of the household observations were randomly selected, the respondents of the questionnaire scales were selected through stratified random sampling . In addition, both quantitative and qualitative data were generated from primary sources using both quantitative (questionnaire scales) and qualitative (FGD and household observation) methods. In order to address the basic research questions and test the hypotheses formulated in the study, data were analyzed using Pearson correlation coefficients, multiple regression, t-test, and ANOVA statistical techniques. Accordingly, the current study generally revealed several important findings about parenting values, beliefs, and practices of Arsi people and about their relationships. First, in the process of child socialization the majority of Arsi households endorsed conforming parenting values more often than self- directing parenting values. Second, the majority of Arsi households endorsed traditional authoritarian beliefs more often than progressive democratic beliefs. Third, sex-role socialization; physical punishment; breast-feeding and provision of cow milk as well as infant- mother co-sleeping are customary practices of Arsi Oromo in child socialization. Fourth, gender-segregated division of labor, harmful traditional beliefs and values, patriarchical family structure, and traditional Oromo proverbs were perceived as major sources for the practices of sex-role socialization, physical punishment, and inadequate verbal interaction among Arsi Oromo. Fifth, parenting values and beliefs were found to be strongly associated with parenting behaviors and that parenting values and beliefs strongly predicted parenting behaviors. Sixth, paternal involvement in household chores and childrearing activity was found to be minimal compared to mothers. Last, compared to urban households, rural households of Arsi reported a significantly large number of offsprings. Moreover, based on the results of the current study, the following conclusions and implications were drawn. First, the parenting of Arsi people is more characterized by conformity value orientations and traditional authoritarian beliefs where these, in turn, encourage the use of impulsive and overly harsh disciplines and leave little room for fostering self-directing values. Second, gendered division of labor, some traditional beliefs and safuu values, patriarchal family structure, and some traditional proverbs were perceived as major sources of sex-segregated role socialization, for using impulsive discipline, and of inadequate verbal conversation among Arsi Oromo, where these call for appropriate and culture sensitive interventions. Third, compared to Arsi mothers, Arsi fathers play little roles in the early socialization of children, domestic tasks, and child care activities, where these continue to put Arsi mothers under pressure with childrearing responsibilities and household chores. Fourth, compared to urban households, rural households have large number of offsprings, where this high fertility will have detrimental influence on the quality of parenting and child development. Last, parenting strategy differed by the residence, educational level and occupational categories of parents



Beliefs and Practices