Somaliland: ʽgoodʼ Parenting to Local Perceptions and Experiences of Parenthood -study

An Ethnographic Study of Positive Parenting in Somaliland in the Context of Parenting without Violence, Positive Parenting Sessions

Somalilandsun: The  Somali cultural model of parenting is embedded in extended family and community relationships.
The socialization goals of children come to serve the morals, social orders and hierarchies of Somali society.

Even  mothers’ emotional responses adhere to these collective norms. In the dominant Somali parenting model, the concept of the self is much more socially related than the Western individual concept of the self, upon which the ideological and theoretical foundations of the positive-parenting sessions are built on.

This creates the need to avoid having too narrow
ideas of attachment, the emotional security of children and the ways of showing affection and love. The emotional
security of children in the target communities depends on the availability and quality of the caregiving environment; the
mother’ s resources and time, income and educational level; violence and risks in the community; the father’s
participation; and the care of siblings, aunties, uncles, grandmothers and grandfathers (to name but a few of the factors it depends upon).

Thus, emotional security and attachment are not only a matter of the individual caregiver – child relationship but relate to the whole socioeconomic context in which the child is embedded. Cooking sweet food, calling a child hooyo, breast-feeding, buying gifts, providing the necessities, cleaning the bodies of children, cleaning the house, and providing a clean and safe environment are all culturally informed means of showing love to children.
There is a need to pay attention to the psychological consequences and to the support mechanisms of
children in multiple caregiving arrangements
Multiple caregiving arrangements and moving children are common in a Somali community.

There seems to be a need to better understand the psychological consequences for children of being in multiple caregiving arrangements, as well as a need to offer support to the relationship between these children and their caregivers.
Interpreting cultural wisdom in cultural products is important
In many cultures with a rich oral tradition, poems often convey and mediate emotions and important cultural wisdom.
As PwV positive-parenting sessions utilize poems and other cultural products, more detailed analysis of cultural messages and how they change over time could benefit and add value to the sessions. The parents themselves are important experts at interpreting the messages of poems, songs and stories, or any cultural products used in implementation.

The cultural products communicate collective norms, yet do not address the individual differences in interpretation and
specific meanings in different historic periods. For instance, many Somali poems originate from nomadic culture and a
rural lifestyle, yet interesting questions are ʽHow do the meanings of Somali poems change along with urban

These are recommendations made to Save the Children following a study by Laura Moilanen, Save the Children Finland advisor,

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