Psychology, Department of


Date of this Version



Edwards, C.P. (1986). Another style of competence: The caregiving child. In A. Fogel & G. Melson (Eds.), The Origins of Nurturance (pp. 95-121). Hillsdale,N.J.: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.


This chapter discusses child and sibling caregiving as an opportunity for the learning of nurturance and responsibility. The argument is based on case examples from ethnographic material, that children in multiage dyads or groupings negotiate constantly with one another and thereby reveal their reasoning about rational and conventional moral rules. The observational material is drawn from the work of Carol R. Ember (1970, 1973) who studied children in a Luo community of about 250 people in the South Nyanza district of Kenya. This community, referred to as Oyugis (actually the name of the market town 2.5 miles away, is one in which task-assignment is a prominent feature of the daily lives of children. The women were responsible for most of the agricultural work (except plowing) and also for the housework, food preparation, and child care. The amount of work assigned to a particular child depended upon his or her age, sex, sibling position, and school attendance.