What did their mothers do?

What did they do to maintain health/HEALTH? What did their mothers do?

2. What did they do to protect health/HEALTH? What did their mothers do? 3. Do they wear, carry, or hang in their home objects that protect their

HEALTH and home? 4. Do they follow a particular dietary regimen or refrain from eating

restricted foods?

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Physical, mental, and spiritual aspects are implicit in each of the next 3 questions:

1. What home remedies do they use to restore health/HEALTH? What did their mothers use?

2. What are their traditional beliefs regarding pregnancy and childbirth? 3. What are their traditional beliefs regarding dying and death?

There are 2 reasons for exploring your familial heritage. First, it draws your attention to your ethnocultural and religious heritage and HEALTH-related belief system. Many of your daily habits relate to early socialization practices that are passed on by parents or additional significant others. Many behaviors are both subconscious and habitual, and much of what you believe and prac- tice is passed on in this manner. By digging into the past, remote and recent, you can recall some of the rituals you observed either your parents or your grandparents perform. You are then better able to realize their origin and sig- nificance. There are many beliefs and practices that are ethnically similar, and socialization patterns may tend to be similar among ethnic groups as well. Re- ligion also plays a role in the perception of, interpretation of, and behavior in health/HEALTH and illness/ILLNESS.

The maternal side is ideal for your interview because, in today’s society of interethnic, interracial, and interreligious marriages and complex family struc- tures, it is assumed that the ethnic beliefs and practices related to health/HEALTH and illness/ILLNESS of the family may be more in tune with the mother’s fam- ily than with the father’s. By and large, family nurturance and health/HEALTH maintenance, protection, and/or restoration have been the domain of women in most cultures and societies. The mother tends to be the gate-keeper—the per- son within a family who cares for family members when illness/ILLNESS occurs. She also tends to be the prime mover in protecting health/HEALTH and seeking health/HEALTH care. It is the mother who tells the child what and how much to eat and drink, when to go to bed, and how to dress in inclement weather. She shares her knowledge and experience with her offspring, but usually the daugh- ter is singled out for such experiential sharing. However, this is not a “universal” circumstance, and in many family heritages it is the father who is the family care- giver. If that is true for your family, it is your paternal family whom you must in- terview. Given the complex familial changes and social changes related to family life, it behooves you to question both your maternal and your paternal relatives.

The second reason for this examination of familial health/HEALTH prac- tices is to sensitize you to the role your ethnocultural and religious heritage has played. You must reanalyze the concepts of health/HEALTH and illness/ILLNESS and view your own definitions from another perspective. If your familial back- ground is presented in a class or another group setting, the peer group is able to see the people in a different light. A group observes similarities and differences among its members. You discover peer beliefs and practices that you originally had no idea existed. You may then be able to identify the “why” behind many daily health/HEALTH habits, practices, and beliefs in your family.

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