Sunday, July 21, 2024
Speak Your MindA helping hand or a hidden threat?

A helping hand or a hidden threat?

Reliable childcare has become a top concern for many parents today. With both spouses often working, hiring domestic help is essential but brings new anxieties. In this era of non-stop media, hiring one inevitably sparks worry, as stories that once stayed hidden now spread widely online. As trusted family members, house maids or nannies shoulder immense responsibility for children – along with parents’ unshakeable fear that another act of betrayal may be unfolding unseen.

The issue of domestic help and its numerous challenges has become a highly debated topic in our country. It particularly resonates with young parents who have children under the age of 10, and those with children under five often find themselves discussing the topic at social gatherings.

Mothers, especially working mothers of young children, utilize these occasions to vent their frustrations about domestic help to friends, family, and even strangers. Nowadays, finding reliable assistance for household chores and childcare has become increasingly difficult.

Regrettably, the media bombards us with distressing news about domestic help harming or abducting children. As parents, such news fills us with fear and leads us to wonder, “Could this happen to my child too?”

We yearn to believe that we are immune to such tragedies, but the reality is that none of us are exempt. We can only hope and pray that our loved ones remain safe. What is left is only to strive to be the best employers possible for the people we entrust with the well-being of our most precious individuals, those who hold irreplaceable value in our lives, regardless of material wealth.

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What has become of our society today? What has happened to domestic help? In the past, maids were notably more loyal. Some would live with the families they worked for until they got married and started their own lives. Some would never leave the households they served. Paradoxically, during those times, the care and consideration given to domestic help were far from what they receive today.

Maids were not permitted to sit alongside the homeowners. If they needed to sit, they would need to bring a small stool from the kitchen. They were not allowed to serve themselves food, choosing portion sizes or varieties. Employers dictated these factors. Maids often went months without days off and could only take leave if the employer permitted it. Most egregiously, maids were subjected to abuse, both verbal and physical. Today, it is unthinkable for a domestic worker to tolerate physical abuse and continue working for their abuser.

Is it because domestic help now has more employment options? Have they become more callous? Or is it because social media was virtually non-existent in the past, therefore incidents of domestic help absconding with or, worse, harming children were not widely reported? I cannot say for certain. However, I do know that finding the right kind of help, especially those who will genuinely care for our children and remain employed for at least a year, has become an arduous task for employers today.

So, what can we do? Would installing cameras in our homes be a solution? Would increasing their salaries make a difference? I believe that the best course of action is to treat domestic help in the same way we would want others to treat us. Or if we were in their position. These individuals are entrusted with the care of our children, and we cannot replace them if the worst were to happen.

Shouldn’t we, then, treat them with the utmost respect and decency? Withholding food from them, excluding them from our celebrations, verbally abusing them, paying them meager wages, and denying them well-deserved time off will only lead to unfavorable outcomes. How would we want to be treated if we were in their shoes? That is a question we must ponder deeply in these times.

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