Once a child has been started upon an alternate food source, primary care should shift as soon as possible. This is generally between the second and third month of life. The mother is by no means barred from contact (Regular contact is encouraged for healthy development), but her responsibility is mitigated with the official changeover.
The first time Ronon Dex walked into a briefing with a baby strapped to his back and his pistol strapped to his thigh, no one said anything.
But oh did they want to. Teyla didn't bother trying to hide her smile, carefully ignoring the looks this earned her.
After the briefing, he left before their collective curiosity overcame their common sense. That was good; he didn't want to have to hurt Sheppard.
Children are our legacy, they must be protected at all times. Excluding periods of active combat, a child should stay with its primary parent whenever possible.
The second time Ronon walked into a briefing with his daughter on his back, a week later, Major Lorne made the mistake of asking Sheppard a bit too loudly why there was a baby at the meeting.
Ronon simply glared across the table. "Is she a problem ?"
Lorne had quickly shaken his head and the topic had not been raised again.
The traditional method of carrying a young child is a sling, which supports the child upon the parent's back and leaves the wearer's hands free. The sling is used whenever a child is taken from the home; in the event of a Wraith attack, the freedom to use both hands and run comfortably is invaluable. This is one of many reasons why the design, unchanged in millennia, is still in use.
It became a regular occurrence to see Ronon with little Charin strapped to his back while he ran with the marines and attended briefings; even during unarmed combat practice she could be found settled in a corner of the gym watching the goings-on.
It was Dr. Weir who drew the short straw and was obliged to ask him what exactly was wrong with the childcare facilities that they'd managed to pull together for the slowly emerging new generation. She caught him one afternoon in the mess hall, Charin nowhere in sight. Given what she'd heard, he must have come from the firing range - that was the only place the little girl didn't go. When she enquired about his opinion on the nursery, his response surprised her.
"There is nothing wrong with the nursery. I just prefer to care for her myself when it doesn't interfere with my duties. Do not the men in your society care for the young children?"
She looked startled. "No more than the women. In fact, in many cultures on Earth the women are traditionally expected to stay home with children."
He grunted in response, and she assumed that was the end of it. She stood to leave, but he stopped her departure with a hand on her wrist. "Why would one stay home with a child?"
She opened and closed her mouth once before she was able to generate a coherent response that sounded respectable in her mind. "On Earth, keeping a child in the home is synonymous with keeping a child safe. In our history, particularly Western history, men would go off to battle and the women would remain behind, rear the children, and tend the land. That isn't the only ideology, but it is the most prevalent."
"I understand." He cocked his head to the side in thought. "I can't see Teyla staying 'home' with only children for company; I think she'd go mad at the confinement long before the children were grown."
She found herself smiling at the observation. "You might be right." She stepped away as a call came over her headset, and she nodded to Ronon as he disposed of his tray and left the mess.
Above all, there is little in Satedan society that is more important than the nuclear family. The tradition of paternal-primary-parenting for the first year of life stems from the acknowledgement of the time a mother must lose from active duty while carrying a child, and is designed to reinforce the equal responsibilities in parenting that fall upon both parents. Should one die, the other must be prepared to assume full care of the child.
Teyla entered the quarters she shared with her Mak'ren, and smiled to find him curled around their sleeping daughter. She had no way of knowing if he had been asleep before her arrival or not, but he appeared comfortable. She set her jacket down upon one of the chairs and removed her boots with a pleased sigh before joining them.
As she shifted, making herself comfortable without waking the sleeping baby, Ronon moved as well; he propped his head on his hand so as to have a better view of her. "Everyone all right?"
She closed her eyes and nodded. "There are a few petty squabbles, but nothing of note. Halling is handling things well."
He reached over with his free hand, smoothing her bangs back from her forehead. "They're still your people, you know. They won't forget you if you take a week off and stay here instead of playing peacemaker."
She shook her head, still not bothering to open her eyes. "No; if I cannot lead them, then the least I can do for them is act as liason with Atlantis. We have discussed this matter before, I do not wish to do so again."
He pulled his hand back at her words, placing it instead on their daughter's back. "What else is wrong?"
She opened her eyes, using the time it took her eyes to adjust to the dim lighting to gather her thoughts. "I was attempting to explain to Lieutenant Cadman why you were acting as primary parent for Charin. It... took longer than it should have."
"She thought I was nuts, right?"
She smiled gently. "Not in so many words, though I fear that may have been her initial reaction. I believe we reached a satisfactory understanding. If we are fortunate, she will convey the cultural significance of the tradition to Dr. Beckett and the others and I will not be asked to explain further."
He frowned at the ceiling. "If they're a problem, just tell them the truth. It's none of their business. This doesn't involve them. It's not impacting my duties, it's not affecting yours, and Charin isn't their daughter. That's enough."
She sighed. "Ronon, you know how those from Earth can be. They mean well, even if they do not understand."
"I just don't like to see you so tired when there's no reason-" He was cut off by Charin, who had apparently decided that there had been enough talking and it was time for her evening meal.
If it hadn't been beneath her, Teyla would have smirked. "Good girl, Charin."
~ Finis ~
Mak'ren - (noun) the Satedan term for a formally bound spouse - literal translation 'blood of my child'.
Quotes from the Satedan Guide to Childcare
ETA: We now have an illustration! A combined effort by myself and thelana.
Author's Note: Thanks to Wychwood for beta-ing and coaxing this out of me under high-stress. The blame for the entire thing can be laid at NoraBombay's feet, with a side-note that this is dedicated to Carleen's Birthday.
Summary: The first time Ronon Dex walked into a briefing with a baby strapped to his back, no one said anything. Ronon/Teyla