Domestic workers have become a vital part of the society in the United Arab Emirates. This is due to the significance of the roles and responsibilities that have been laid upon them in a family setting. The countrys economy, specifically in Abu Dhabi, has seen better days since the discovery of oil. This fact alone has remodeled its social structure by modifying the roles played by various members of the family. Women have become more active members of the economy as the majority of them are educated and have since taken up careers in various fields (Ojeda, 2005). This has alienated them from their traditional responsibilities that mostly included housework. Given the rise in social standards as well as lifestyles brought about by this, domestics workers have been in high demand in Abu Dhabi as responsibilities within the family have increased.
Families in Abu Dhabi have also become huge, and the improved lifestyles have necessitated their relocation to much bigger houses. Through this, the responsibilities such as house chores and taking care of the family have become too much for a single housewife to bear (Lee & Ashcraft, 2005). Given that some of these housewives have taken up careers at the same time, these responsibilities have been laid upon the house maids. This essay is a literature review on how parents have become dependent on their housemaids in the Abu Dhabi society, giving the reasons behind this trend. This essay also portrays the different types of dependencies, the impact of this behavior on parents, kids, and housemaids, and a benchmark report of other cities where the research has been carried out.
Reasons Behind Parents Dependency on Housemaids
Availability of Cheap Foreign Housemaids.
The city has seen a high influx of house maids from foreign countries seeking the job. This way, the UAE families can acquire their services and a relatively low price. This is also because many of them are desperate job seekers who merely moved to the country to make ends meet. Countries like the Philippines as well as Ethiopia have ensured this constant supply of such individuals. These individuals are more than willing to do the household work for very little pay. The legislations on employment policies are also flexible. Employers are, therefore, able to pay their house maids as they wish as long as they finance the agency fees that are necessary to bring the cheap labor into the country.
Between work and household responsibilities, many employers find a housemaid useful. They become dependent on them as having an extra pair of hands within the household allows them some quality time. This proves crucial for them as they can remain an active part of the workforce (Hawks, 2008). In addition, house maids are employed so that their employers can have peace of mind after a hard days work. This is true especially for women who have taken up jobs in the United Arab society. Most of the working population in Abu Dhabi believes that with the housemaids assuming the caregiving and housekeeping responsibilities they can concentrate more on their jobs.
With the rise of social class, having a domestic worker in the household has become a lifestyle. It has become more of a service that one purchases rather than a necessity. In the United Arab society, having more than one domestic worker is perceived as a luxury that portrays the employers social class. Their high social class also makes them avoid hard labor tasks and chores within the house. Such tasks are left to the house maids. Therefore, the house maids are depended on to ensure these chores are performed on a daily basis. This offers them a great deal of satisfaction as they can worry about other important matters.
Different Types of Dependency
Offering motherly care to the employers children is one of their key responsibilities delegated to housemaids. Reports indicate that over sixty-two percent of the children whose mothers have taken up a career are looked after by the housemaids. This is attributed to the shift in roles as women concentrate more on their job compared to bringing up their children. It is, therefore, upon the housemaids to ensure that the household needs of the children are well catered. These include bathing them, dressing them for school and preparing their meals. Further to this, they are expected to engage in activities that are aimed at nurturing the young ones such as accompanying them to recreational parks and playing with them.
House chores that are carried out on a regular basis also prove difficult for working parents to perform. This involves all the chores that have to be carried out in and around the house. Employers rely on their house maids to perform these chores as part of their job. These include cleaning the house, watering the plants, weeding the garden as well as preparing meals for the family. It would prove very difficult for the working wives to perform these tasks and think about work at the same time. Therefore, housemaids are relied upon by their employers to create a proper and peaceful environment free from their daily chores. This is by maintaining a clean house as well as its surrounding.
Housemaids are also relied upon by their employers to create a pleasant atmosphere in their homes. This dependency has practically become part of their lives and considered as a luxury. This frees them from doing practically anything within the household such as preparing meals for the family, ironing and folding their clothes. Such tasks are left to the house maids as a means of making their lives easier. It is also their responsibility to attend to guests who visit the household. This provides the parents with ample time for entertaining their guests rather than going around performing tasks meant to make their visitors more comfortable.
The Impact of Dependency
The high dependency on the housemaids has adverse consequences on the parent to child bond. This parental bond is usually developed as the child grows up (Espejo, 2013). By adopting this dependency trend, the parents are rarely around, and the children may, therefore, consider their housemaids as the closest thing they have to a parent. They become distant, and it would take a very long time to re-establish the lost bond with their children. This is attributed to the fact that parents tend to pay very little attention to their children as compared to their careers. In so doing, they acquire minimal information on just how their children are maturing until it is too late.
Dependence of the housemaids also breeds more negligence among parents, regarding the household and societal responsibilities (Kilkey, 2013). Because the housemaids are there to help, parents lay more disregard to the family as a basic social unit of the society. In the Abu Dhabi society, even after these working members of the family have completed their office work, they see no need to go back to their homes and to be with their families. Instead, they find it much pleasurable to attend social functions away from their families as a way of relieving their daily pressure from work. Their households become only a place of rest rather than a platform within which the family can spend valuable time together (Mahon & Robinson, 2011).
This behavior also has adverse effects on the employers children. The parental bond is very vital in bringing up the child (Kennedy-Moore & Lowenthal, 2011). When the child is nurtured by the parent, the emotional attachment that is employed is key in determining how the child will end up later in life. For example, if a child is reluctant to take his/her meals, a mother would try to identify possible reasons for this behavior. Housemaids, on the other hand, only feed these kids as a task. They are ready to employ any means necessary to ensure that the children take their meals or risk punishment by the employer. Also, children get more attached to the house maids than to their parents. This is wrong as it is the motherly instinct and attention that is primary in nurturing a child. A parents instinct is capable of detecting as well as understanding what a child might be going through, as manifested by his/her behavior.
Since the house maids are practically the only people whom the children are in close contact with their behavior, when faced with different situations, is shaped by those of the housemaid. As such, it is the maid who influences the language and social behaviors that the children develop as they grow up. This is detrimental as in most cases; such behaviors might be negative. This is because most maids are unskilled and possess no experience in raising a child. Given that the child is not also their own, housemaids may display unhealthy behaviors, which the children could pick up. For instance, if the maid tends to get violent when dealing with children, it is highly likely for these kids to use violence in the future when faced with difficult situations.
Also, children within these households are deprived of the appropriate care and attention they require. At a young age, children require utter attention in attending to their needs and nurturing mentally and health wise (Lepeltier, 2008). The shift in roles that women play in UAE families leaves these kids under the care of the housemaid at a very early age. Most of them are even fed by the bottle as their mothers are unavailable to breastfeed them. Even worse, the children do not receive the crucial attention as the maids are also involved in many other activities within the household. Children may, therefore, end up being confused on whether to seek emotional and nurturing support from the parents or the maid.
On the House-Maids
With employers relying on their domestic workers to do all the work for them, the house maids are at times faced with a huge burden of work. This in effect denies them a social life within the society. In most of the Emirati household, the only form of social life that the housemaid might have is the relationship they develop with the employers children. The relationship that is maintained between the housemaids and their employers is strictly professional. In fact, most of these relationships are based on fear. As such, there exist no social connection but rather tasks and rewards.
Overdependence also turns housemaids into machine-like human beings who are supposed perform specific tasks on a daily basis. Working overtime is also common among housemaids, which in turn denies them basic human requirements such as sleep (Begum et al., n.d.). Cases of house maid maltreatment are also very common within the Emirati households. This is attributed to the fact that their employers require them to perform their tasks regardless of the time, condition and level of difficulty. This situation is worsened by the housemaids willingness to accept any treatment such as a meager pay due to their desperation to maintain their jobs.
Relation Between the Increasing Number of Housemaids in Abu Dhabi and the Dependency Behavior
There exists a positive relationship between the high influx of housemaids in Abu Dhabi and the dependency behavior in most households. As the economy continues to develop, more and more parents get pre-occupied with their work. The society has also shifted in terms of the family setting given the lifestyle improvements. Due to these, families become more dependent on their housemaids to a point that a single household requires, at least, four housemaids so as to be able to manage all the household responsibilities. Women from poor backgrounds in neighboring countries like the Philippines, Nepal, and India,...
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