Annelore van der Eecken is als PhD student verbonden aan de vakgroep Sociale Agogiek van de Universiteit Gent.
Dr. Tineke Van de Walle is als postdoctoraal wetenschappelijk medewerker verbonden aan de vakgroep Sociale Agogiek van de Universiteit Gent.
Dr. Lieve Bradt is als doctor-assistent verbonden aan de vakgroep Sociale Agogiek van de Universiteit Gent.
The perception of Turkish and Moroccan mothers of their children’s leisure time activities
Today, the importance of social participation is reflected in an accessibility discourse that is based on the assumption that as many social groups as possible should have access to mainstream youth work. The non-participation, or restricted participation, of certain social groups and the role of parents in this, is often viewed as a problem. However, all this is done without sufficient regard to the perspective of parents themselves. This article reports on the findings of a study which examined the perception of Turkish and Moroccan mothers of their children’s structured and unstructured leisure activities. It will include an examination of the significance of ethnic-religious factors, gender attitudes and living conditions. This interpretative study is based on thirteen qualitative interviews with Turkish and Moroccan mothers living in Lokeren, Sint-Niklaas and Ghent.
The findings suggest that the mothers interviewed play an important role in their children’s leisure time activity and consciously reflect on how their children should spend their free time. The study found that the perceptions and actions of mothers are influenced by ethnic-religious factors. The importance of religion was illustrated by the fact that many of the mothers interviewed consider it important that children pray during their spare time. In addition, it was found that the mothers enrolled their children in Islamic and Arabic or Turkish lessons, and we observed that the children follow certain codes with regard to language, clothing, diet and alcohol consumption. Even though most of the mothers expressed a preference for their children to adhere to certain requirements and traditions, the study revealed the spontaneity with which children did so in their spare time, as well as the non-binding nature of these codes. The mothers’ preferences were rooted not only in their creeds, but also in the expectations of the community. Comments by both the Flemish and Turkish or Moroccan community seemed to influence the perceptions and choices of the mothers interviewed in relation to their children’s free time. However, the study also demonstrates that not all mothers seemed to interpret ethnic-religious rules in the same way. One important finding was that ethnicreligious factors also affect the attitude of others and this in turn can have an impact on mothers’ perception of their children’s leisure activities. The mothers referred to racism and discrimination which is, to a certain extent, evident in some youth associations and can cause children to drop out. This study also shows that gender-based attitudes have an impact on the preferences of the mothers interviewed in some respects. It reveals that mothers restrict their children’s interaction with the opposite sex to some extent and activities such as dating and sports can be a source of conflict. In general, however, the mothers allow their sons and daughters to undertake the same activities. Where a distinction is made, this is caused mainly by genuine concern about the well-being of the child. Not only religion, but also troubling current events related to sexual violence, were a reason for this. Finally, this study shows the need to take the broader social context into account in order to understand how parents view their children’s leisure activities. In this study, we describe how the actions and strategies of mothers are influenced by their living conditions. Both the family and socio-economic context shape the parenting practices of the mothers interviewed. Even though the approaches of the parents interviewed are diverse in some respects, the overall objective was to protect children against the negative influence of peers and unknown adults. In addition, these parents have also developed strategies to protect younger children from the dangers of busy streets with a lot of traffic. Fears of unsafe neighborhoods is another reason for mothers to limit the access of their children to some types of leisure activities. The fact that leisure opportunities in the neighborhood are considered costly, also affects how parents perceive their children’s free time.
The article ends with several recommendations for those who make youth and social policy. The findings challenge the role of Turkish and Moroccan parents which is widely cited as a cause of their children’s lower rates of participation. The results show that policymakers need to face several challenges when it comes to organizing leisure activities for Turkish and Moroccan children. On the one hand, there are parents who think that greater effort is required to recognize ethnic and religious traditions in the children’s leisure time activities and on the other hand, there are parents who would prefer religion to play a less prominent role in children’s free time. A second challenge is that policymakers need to focus on the gender-specific requirements of parents on the one hand, but they also need to open up a dialogue with parents, because the study shows that parents are willing to abandon gender-specific requirements if they believe this would benefit their children’s integration. Another area of tension was wanting to offer developmental opportunities for children in their free time on the one hand, and searching for a protective environment on the other hand. The importance of a differentiated approach is highlighted by these paradoxes. Better support for leisure time activities among (ethnic minority) young people requires an open dialogue that allows an exploration of the perspectives of parents and children and an examination of how (and which) interventions in free time are considered meaningful. Finally, the study shows that the goal of more suitable leisure activities for children and young people cannot be achieved without structural interventions. Because parental perceptions cannot be separated from the wider social context, policymakers cannot rely solely on individual approaches.
De visie van Turkse en Marokkaanse moeders op de vrijetijdsbesteding van hun kinderen
In dit artikel presenteren we de bevindingen uit een studie naar de visie van Turkse en Marokkaanse moeders met betrekking tot de vrijetijdsbesteding van hun kinderen en wat de betekenis is van etnisch-religieuze factoren, genderopvattingen en de leefomstandigheden hierbij. De studie is gebaseerd op dertien interviews met Turkse en Marokkaanse moeders afkomstig uit drie steden in Vlaanderen, namelijk Lokeren, Sint-Niklaas en Gent. De resultaten tonen aan dat de visie van ouders het resultaat is van een wisselwerking tussen verschillende factoren, waaronder etnisch-religieuze aspecten, genderopvattingen en de leefomstandigheden van ouders. Aan de hand van onze bevindingen reiken we enkele spanningsvelden aan waarover nagedacht kan worden bij het uitbouwen van een (jeugd-)beleid.
Van der Eecken, A., Van de Walle, T. & Bradt, L., (2015). De visie van Turkse en Marokkaanse moeders op de vrijetijdsbesteding van hun kinderen. Journal of Social Intervention: Theory and Practice. 24(1), pp.24–41. DOI: http://doi.org/10.18352/jsi.434
Van der Eecken A, Van de Walle T, Bradt L. De visie van Turkse en Marokkaanse moeders op de vrijetijdsbesteding van hun kinderen. Journal of Social Intervention: Theory and Practice. 2015;24(1):24–41. DOI: http://doi.org/10.18352/jsi.434
Van der Eecken, A., Van de Walle, T., & Bradt, L. (2015). De visie van Turkse en Marokkaanse moeders op de vrijetijdsbesteding van hun kinderen. Journal of Social Intervention: Theory and Practice, 24(1), 24–41. DOI: http://doi.org/10.18352/jsi.434
Van der Eecken, Annelore, Tineke Van de Walle, and Lieve Bradt. 2015. De visie van Turkse en Marokkaanse moeders op de vrijetijdsbesteding van hun kinderen 24, no. 1: 24–41. DOI: http://doi.org/10.18352/jsi.434