We visited our colleague and friend, Rose, and her brand new baby girl, Lakisa, this week. This adorable healthy newborn was an answer to prayer as mama and baby are both healthy and thriving. This is not a given in this area. Child and maternal mortality rates are high - very high.
But what struck me was a comment that she made as we sat in her tiny sitting room with her husband (unusual!), her two sons, a maid (usually a young lady from one of the families who needs domestic experience as she waits to get married), and the two grandmothers. Yes, both grandmothers came to help. This is a little unusual, especially since Rose and her husband are from different tribes. But the happy grandmothers were both sitting there, together, loving on their grandbaby.
"The baby is doing so well because the mothers are here to help. When you are young like us, you can't have a healthy baby. You need help from the mothers."
Rose is probably around 30 years old and has had two children already. She's educated, her husband is educated, they both work for NGOs. Yet, she readily acknowledges her need for someone older and wiser than herself to help her take the best care of her children.
We have a lot to learn from that attitude in the West. In North America, we believe that only we, the parents, can possibly know what is good for our children. Grandparents are token people in our lives, there to babysit and spoil the child. Other people have no say. We don't want to hear anything about parenting - it offends us for someone to bring up parenting - it's a sacred topic that you can't talk about. We are all-sufficient when it comes to parenting. We've read the books, gone to the seminars, quietly observed what we don't like other parents doing, and come to our own conclusions, i.e. the Right Way to parent.
Conversely, everything here is communal. Any stranger on the street can tell you how to raise your child, clothe your child, or feed your child. Your child is not your own. In fact, your child is "owned" by the father's side of the family.
There are good and bad aspects of both cultures. But I think we could take a cue from our Ugandan friends as they seek advice and wisdom from those older and wiser. Can we humble ourselves and take unsolicited advice? Can we humble ourselves and solicit advice? Can we let others speak into our lives?