Book Review of African Family Today

Title: African Family Today

Publisher: Paulines Publications Africa

Editors: Giuseppe Caramazza and Beatrice Churu

Price: KSHs. 400 (or $4)

Number of pages: 159

Year of publication: 2015

Publisher: Paulines Publications Africa



Paulines Publications Africa

P.O. Box 49026

00100 Nairobi GPO Kenya

Reviewer: Francis Njuguna

The researcher of the article — The Influence of the House-helps On Child Behaviour — in the just published book African Family Today has used both the Small Christian Communities (SCCs) and Facebook as avenues to pursue his research work on the child behavior issue among working couples in the family.

He says one of the reasons behind his decision of choosing the two avenues is because they are quite influential in the life in the Catholic Church and the social media world, respectively.

The SCCs are currently catching up as a new way of evangelization in the Catholic faith, while the Facebook is notably catching up fast in the social media world.

Researcher, Jeketule Jacob Soko, a Malawian Catholic layman, in his article — The Influence of House-helps on Child Behaviour says that he used both the Small Christian Communities (SCCs) and Facebook to collect his data (page 69).

The choice of Facebook was ideal because this is a forum used by most families to share on social and spiritual issues, explains Soko.

He further says that the SCCs were also good because they acted as a focus group where members shared their experiences as working couples.

“The number of respondents was 25 families in the SCCs and seven respondents from Facebook and one respondent chose to write his responses through email”, the researcher has explained (page 69).

According to Soko, the 25 families comprised of husband and wife except four who did not have their partners during the focus group discussion.

“Therefore the actual number represented by the SCCs was 46,” the researcher explained.

The research study involved couples, and house-helps in Kenya, Canada, South Africa, Sweden, and United Kingdom.

In the research the participants were asked the following questions, namely:

To what extent and in what ways does the situation in the hypothetical case (children being left without care as a result of “being busy” at work) happen in your society? Would you leave your job in order to raise a child? How do working couples raise their children in the community where you live? Who should impart   values to children? And what can be done about the situation? (page 71).

He has explained that the questions were based on the hypothetical story that appeared in Week Three of the 2015 Kenya Lenten Campaign (Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops, 2015).

  E has expliane d

“To those in SCCs, the full version was read while for those on Facebook, the story was summarized,” says the researcher (pages 70-71).

In a summary form, the research says there is an assumption that working couples leave home early and come home late. They spend very minimal time with their children; hence their children are left in the hands of caretakers according to the researcher (page 71).

In conclusion, the researcher has made several recommendations as a remedy to address the issue. Of these, he strongly feels that two — the need for parents to be available for their children and the need to create a conductive environment for holistic child development by strengthening the working relationships between couples and their house-helps — are crucial.

 “This is in view of the fact that employing house-helps is a common way of raising children by working parents,” the study has underlined.

Other recommendations on the issue include: The need to train house-helps in working families on various life skills relating to children; create awareness on child protection strategies; to discuss and create consciousness on values related to child upbringing and to be conscientized on work–family balance; to enhance house-help motivation and working relations; the need for those that interact with children in the house to be exemplary; and equally the need to put into practice the saying that “a family that prays together, stays together” (page 75).

On the Catholic Church’s contribution on solving the issue, the study urges the church to pay attention to the “raising of children” by working couples.

“The Catholic Church programs focus mostly on youth and couples through Marriage  Encounter while there is little or no attention on ‘raising  children’ by working couples,” the research underlines (page 76).

Therefore the recommendations focus on the working couples and the ‘house- helps’, the researcher has emphasized, adding that, “In particular on those that take care  of children  while the couples are away.”

In conclusion, the study strongly believes that the Catholic Church can influence, through its structures, policy makers on work policies by employers to enable couples to have ample time for their children.

The book — African Family Today — has been published to coincide with the Synod of Bishops on the family that opened in Rome on 4 October and ends on 25 October The over 300 bishops and delegates in attendance are deliberating on the theme: “The Vocation and Mission of the Family in the Church and Contemporary World.”