“I Don’t Want Them to Lead This Life”: Raising Children in Nairobi's Slums

Cassandra Cotton, McGill University
Caroline Kabiru, African Population and Health Research Center (APHRC)

Parenting young children and adolescents offers challenges in any context. Raising children in slum settings, where their children may face heightened risks to health and security compared to non-slum areas, may increase the difficulties mothers experience in keeping their children safe as they grow up. Few studies, however, have examined the specific obstacles encountered by mothers residing in slum settlements with their young children and adolescents. We rely on the results of 70 in-depth interviews with mothers aged 19 to 49 living in Korogocho and Viwandani, two slums in Nairobi, Kenya. In this paper, we use mothers’ own experiences and words to draw out themes related to childrearing in high-risk urban slum neighborhoods, highlighting both positive and negative aspects identified by mothers. In particular, we focus on mothers’ fears about negative peer influences, financial difficulties in providing every-day care for children, poor health, and concerns over safety and security.

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 Presented in Session P4. Children and Youth/Population and Aging