When your child goes to school, does he ask his maid to flush the toilet for him?
Does your child even have a maid? Not in America, or at least not in my circle of friends, but that doesn’t seem to be the case in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
For a family like mine, who left the U.S., in order to instill a new set of values upon our kids and get them away from peer pressures and entitlement attitudes, this seems like a different form of entitlement: almost like going back in time.
In a recent article sent to me by an American blogger friend, Susie, who lives in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, I was shocked by what I read in this article.
Parents send their maids to chaperon their kids to school, and in some cases, these maids wait outside the school to carry the children’s bags and carry there drinks.
According to Samah Bukhary, a teacher at an international school in Jeddah, “Maids are abused and disrespected when they are made to do everyday chores children can do themselves.” Besides, how can kids learn to do anything on their own, and function in society, if their maid does everything for them?
While some mothers claim that they send their maids for “safety” reasons to chaperon their kids to school, other claim the kids are spoiled, as there are other kids in school, who do not have maids.
I asked Susie, “Where do these maids come from?” and she replied, “they are mainly from places like Indonesia, Philippines, Pakistan, and Bangladesh.” She continued to say that this has been going on for decades,(since the oil boom, probably starting in the 1960’s) and apparently is only getting worse.
So with many kids being raised by maids rather than parents, what is going to happen to these kids who are not taught to be responsible for themselves? Thankfully, we do not have this problem in the U.S., or do we?
Robert the Skeptic says
The article was tame compared to others I have read about how maids, food handlers, construction workers and other low status employees are treated in the Saudi kingdom. Stories of physical and sexual abuse, withheld wages, even imprisonment. Being required to go to school with a kid and hold his lunch seems banal in comparison.
Can it happen here? Well, there is probably a large segment of our growing unemployed population who would give anything to be hired as a maid.
@Robert the Skeptic
In this post, I was more interested in how society will change in 20-30 years from now, if there are more and more kids who are incapable of taking responsibility for themselves. As my friend who lived there said, "Things are getting worse with the kids, not better."
I read this article too. I'm with Robert – there are many people from in the Middle East who are treated like slaves in order to build all those shiny buildings…
But that is not the point of the article of course… it points out how we seem to be entering the Age of Entitlement, where kids expect all obstacles to be swept out of their way.
Reminds me of how only sons are treated like 'little emperors' in China.
I suspect that these kids will NOT make the same mistakes their parents are making once they have their own kids though.
Bob Lowry says
It is impossible to not be reminded of how excessive entitlement has contributed to the deficit problem we are facing now.
While not even in the same universe as the abuse happening in other countries, we have become used to certain "benefits." Woe to those who suggests a change is needed because we can't afford the current largess.
That is the problem with entitlement, no matter what form it takes. Once someone experiences a certain level of it, cutting back or doing without is unthinkable.
I suggest it isn't just the children who will suffer from excessive feelings of entitlement, but all of us.
I am surprised that you think the entitled kids won't make the same mistakes with their own kids. I hope you're right, but how can they learn to be more responsible for themselves if they've never had to?
I agree that's it's almost impossible to take something away from a group who is used to receiving it,(look at the demonstrations in Paris over raising the age of retirement) however, kids getting "spoiled" and not knowing how to take responsibility for their own lives is another form of entitlement.
Penelope J. says
While it goes against our grain to hear about this kind of society, this custom is common in many other countries apart from Saudi Arabia. Incredible though it seems, these are desirable jobs for the very poor as they don't involve much physical labor, and may be better paid and treated. I know about this first hand because this was the case in Mexico – though it may have changed in recent years. Also, these maids themselves often contribute to this sense of entitlement by overindulging these kids and doing things for them that they could do for themselves. It can even be a matter of pride who looks after "their" kids best. Also, chaperoning is a common task meant more to protect kids from harassment, kidnappers, molesters, thieves, or other kids who might bully them.
Importantly, it is also employment for the very poor. And, as Robert the Skeptic mentioned, there is probably a large segment here who would give anything to be hired for this kind of work.
However, I have to agree that this kind of treatment only increases kids' sense of entitlement as well as maintaining the separation between the very rich and the very poor.
To a certain degree I think the 'helicopter parents' are contributing to kids having a sense of entitlement. In that scenario mom is the 'maid'.
My mother-in-law used to say, "You raise your kids for someone else."
Her meaning being, teach them to be responsible and kind. Too many young adults today are neither.
Thanks for the post.
Thanks for your very long and informative comment. I know you've lived in Mexico for many years and probably saw this among the rich expats. Also in Brazil, especially Sau Paulo, I know the expats have drivers, etc. due to safety and traffic issues.
Good point your mother-in-law made.
I grew up in the Philippines but I raised my three daughters in California. Growing up, we had live-in household help, but no nannies waiting around for us at school. The contrast between my lifestyle and my mother's became evident when she scolded me for not offering to fix a cup of coffee for my husband. I heard myself retort, "Mom, you had three maids to help you. I have none. He can get his own coffee."
My nieces and nephews, who grew up with nannies, now have nannies for their children. But neither generation behaves like they're entitled, because they were brought up with the right values—respect for education and hard work, and compassion for their household help, who are addressed with formal titles and considered members of the family. My nephew helped financially with his maid's family member's funeral expenses. My niece is about to publish her first novel. They are certainly not warped from being coddled.
Let's not be quick to apply pronouncements about the dire result of certain cultural practices with which we may not be completely familiar.
Having said that, I also want to add that I was disgusted at the reaction of many Filipinos to an article written by a Filipina who was about to immigrate to the States. The writer said they had dismissed their help in anticipation of the U.S. lifestyle. The flood of comments praised them for being heroes, for daring something the commenters could not imagine being able to accomplish: live without maids. OMG, gag me.
See, cultural ignorance on either side!