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The Concept of Parenthood and Parental Care Dynamics among the Dagara in Ghana

DOI: 10.4236/oalib.1110033, PP. 1-23

Subject Areas: Anthropology, Culture

Keywords: Parenthood, Kin, Care, DAGARA, Father, Grandmother, Grandfather

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This study is about the changing patterns of childcare in contemporary Dagaaba society in the Upper West Region of Ghana. The general objective of the study is to examine the socio-economic and cultural influences on care practices and how different patterns of care affect the welfare of children under-five among the Dagaaba in Wa. The research is a long-term observational study using ethnographic research approaches. The study consequently gives an account of infant care practices among the Dagaaba. Practices are described covering the early infancy period, i.e., one to four years, with special attention being given to the “cultural context” in which these practices take place. A sample of 40 mothers with children aged less than five years were selected. The key informant and in-depth interviews were undertaken with community elders, opinion and religious leaders, traditional birth attendants (TBAs), and grandmothers/mothers-in-law, in the two-study area. Focus group discussions and observations were also undertaken. The data show very little difference in infant feeding between urban and rural children. However, in the urban area, children received a greater variety of foods and liquids than those in rural areas. Differences were also observed in terms of the care children received, in the type of surrogate caregivers and in the social support available to their mother. One of the positive features of being in an urban area is that there is a higher probability of father-child attachment due to the fact that there is less help available from other members of the kin and community. The study also found that grandmothers play a critical role in child care when present in households, particularly for young and first-time mothers. Men recognize that their responsibilities are to feed and clothe their household members, but they have great difficulty in doing so. Women admitted that despite advice from health workers to diversify complementary foods, they were unable to do so for some economic reasons. The study recommends quantitative data in the area of the number of children playing the role of mother/father, the number of responsible and irresponsible fathers as reported by respondence.

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Baataar, C. K. M. (2023). The Concept of Parenthood and Parental Care Dynamics among the Dagara in Ghana. Open Access Library Journal, 10, e033. doi:


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