Will society value motherhood more, when offered by universities as a degree subject?
A new university program in Ajman in the United Arab Emirates is claiming to be the first in the world to offer a bachelor’s degree in the “mothering profession.” Claiming that how to mother is no longer passed down from mother to daughter, Dr Nizar al Ani, the university director, said that the program aspires to improve mothering skills, lower dependence on maids, and decrease the divorce rate.
The Ministry of Higher Education has accredited the program, which divided into three sections: “The first deals with women’s civic and legal rights, including her Islamic rights as a woman and mother. The second teaches her how to run a household with courses in cooking, home decoration, personal fitness and grooming. The third focuses on raising children.”
I find it sad that we have come to a point where motherhood is so neglected that a university thinks it must be formally taught. A pilot program in Canadian schools that involved bringing a baby and mother to school once a month resulted in a drastic decrease in the level of bullying and violence at the school. Teaching parents to recognize children’s cues and respond appropriately, is in important tool in raising a sensitive and compassionate children.
I admit to having mixed feelings about an academic degree in motherhood. On the one hand, I agree with the university director that motherhood has become neglected. Skills normally associated with women, like cooking or sewing, as well as caring for children, are devalued in our culture. Being “just a mother” is considered more or less useless, since it doesn’t earn money.
Raising motherhood to an academic level is a step toward recognizing that mothering skills are important and necessary for society. Mothers, along with fathers, are responsible for transmitting our values and culture to the next generation and that deserves recognition.
On the other hand, not every skill mentioned belongs at the academic level. Teaching students personal fitness and grooming sounds more like a finishing school than a college, and they have little to do with motherhood. And the article doesn’t describe the parenting skills that will actually be taught.
I also wonder why there is no parallel course for fathers. We cannot “fix” motherhood, if it is indeed broken, by focusing only on women. For mothers to value their “profession,” the rest of society must value it as well. Mothers and fathers, as well children and adults of all ages, need to be educated about the importance of their interaction with their children, the need to teach them life skills as well as employable skills.
As these children become adults, they along with their mothers and fathers will help form a society that is more productive and inter-connected, and with an interest in solving our world’s environmental, social and political problems.
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