Children in Ethiopia

Family Life
How Does Family Effect Ethiopian Children?

Family Structure and Child Rearing
Chapter 3 of the Ethiopian Constitution describes the family as the basis of society and deserving of special attention from the state and society. A typical family consists of the father, mother, children, servants, and extended family members. The families are strong and tend to be large, ranging from 6-12 family members per family. The father is the authority figure, and the mother enforces the rules for the children. The family is responsible for teaching the children cultural and religious values and the skills necessary to become self-supporting adults. Rural families, more often than urban families, tend to have a division of labor. The mothers usually work at home, while the fathers work in the field or other outside jobs. If both parents work outside the home, the parents depend on servants and extended family members to look after the children. Although, parents discourage their children from using violence, the parents often use physical punishment and believe in its effectiveness. The mother is the one who chooses her children's name. This chosen name indicates what traits she wants her children to exemplify. It is a custom for children to take their father's name as their second name. Parents consider children to be dependent of them, and the children can protect the family pride by behaving well.

Different Roles of Boys and Girls
Boys and girls in Ethiopia tend to have separate roles.


Games Ethiopian Children Play
Even though Ethiopian children lead hard lives, they also have fun. They play games with the children of their neighborhood. These games relieve some of their stress, and it is also a way in which children express their fears. Some examples of the games Ethiopian children enjoy are hockey, breaking grounds, hide and seek, football, and soccer.

Rules Children Must Follow
At a young age, parents teach their children certain rules, and the parents expect children to follow them. If the children break these rules, their parents and society will look down on them and they will be appropriately disciplined. Some of these rules are:

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This website was created in the fall of 1998 by Cecile Nguyen, Marissa Moses, and Victoria Gabroy, students at Tulane University. It is a part of a group project for Professor April Brayfield's Children Around the World class. The purpose of this project is to educate people about the lives of children in Ethiopia.


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Leslau, Wolf. (1965). Ethiopians Speak: Studies in Cultural Background.Los Angeles: University of California Press.

Messing, S. (1974). "Individualistic Patterns in Amhara Onomastics: significant expressions and their relationships to family and population problems," Ethos, 2(1): 77-91.

Wubneh, Mulatu, & Abate, Yohannis. (1988). Ethiopia: Transition and Development in the Horn of Africa. Colorado: Westview Press, Inc.