Why Having Many Children Still Raises Eyebrows

And by many, I mean 5,6,7 children and over.

Children have always been considered a blessing. A source of wealth in African society. If a couple lacked children, then that particular aspect tended/tends to be a source of great misery for the couple. In the past, let’s say about 25 years ago, having many children was considered normal.

My parents for example, come from fairly large families. My father and his siblings total 11 children. On my mother’s side, it was a bit reasonable. Together with her siblings, they total 7. For my maternal grandfather, together with his siblings, they total 15 children. Two died in childhood.

Further afield in the West, renowned Country Singer Dolly Parton comes from a family of 12 children. Celine Dion comes from a family of 14 children. Quite a number of Americans and Europeans born in the 50s and 60s came from families with children totaling over 10. So from this, we can tell that having many children was not really a big deal globally at some point in time.

However, in recent times and with increased awareness of contraceptive use and family planning methods, a possibility of regulating the number of children you got as a couple was created. Having more than 4 children started to seem a little too unwise for a couple.

If a couple intended to give their children a better life than what they had themselves, then the number of children they got had to decrease significantly. In some countries in the world for example, there was a need to restrict the number of children a couple got just to have a control of the population.

One such country which had a more than 35 year old one-child policy was China. Currently, the Chinese are allowed 2. Still restrictive in my opinion, despite the fact that China is considered one of the most populated countries in the world. However, to restrict a couple from having the number of children they would have initially liked to have, does not sound quite appealing to me irregardless of demographics and economic planning.

Just the previous evening, I happened to be a part of a conversation which ended up transforming into a criticism of a certain couple that I have not been acquainted with. According to one of the story tellers, this couple was still in their mid twenties yet already had 4 children. So in jest, she wondered if sex was the only thing on their minds.

It might seem thoroughly unwise or stupid even for this young couple to keep on bringing children into the world but if we decide to be rational for a moment, how many children a couple decides to have is really none of our business as third parties. In recent times, too many children in a family is a sign of poverty and not wealth as it was in the olden times in Africa.

Poverty stricken couples have always been associated with large numbers of unkempt young children tottering around without diapers and with unsightly running noses. The argument has always been if you can barely afford yourself as individuals, how then can you afford children bordering on the tenth number?

Some denominations equally restricted their faithfuls from engaging in the use of artificial family planning methods but rather to rely on the often unpredictable natural method of family planning. The end result, quite large numbers of children in such families that followed their religious denominational rules to the latter.

So when Pope Francis mentioned something bordering on the “Catholics don’t have to breed like rabbits” lines, it was sure to elicit some form of reaction and especially from the conservative Catholics who have in the past stuck to natural modes of contraception. However, it should be noted that Pope Francis’ statements were aimed at addressing responsible parenting.

In my view, if a couple can afford to give their children the very best then the number they decide to have should not be of concern to outsiders. It should equally not be associated with stupidity on their part. There are people who have a preference for large families and equally people, who have a preference for smaller families.

American author Danielle Steel has nine children herself. One unfortunately took his own life as a result of the bi-polar disorder he suffered. Steel grew up as an only child to surprisingly Catholic parents, who decided to have only one child as opposed to staunch Catholics who were known to have many. It should be noted that Steel deciding to have nine children was a personal choice and she was in a position to provide equally for them all.

The famous Kardashian family is a family of six children. Kris Jenner decided to have four children with her first husband Robert Kardashian before adding two more with her second husband Bruce (now Caitlyn) Jenner. Funnily enough, not so many fingers have been pointed at the Kardashian brood for being a large family. I attribute this to the fact that they have spent quite a significant amount of time in the limelight and have firmly imprinted in the minds of their viewers, that they are a family capable of catering for its needs.

However, in my opinion, it would be unreasonable for a couple to have so many children if they can barely provide for them all. If they can take breaks in between just to improve on their livelihood before adding another family member, then that would be less strenuous on their part. But as much as I may think that way, the choice of the number of children to have remains solely with the couple irregardless of whether they are monied or not.

Pointing fingers at a couple for having a number of children YOU consider to be many, is basically judgmental really. So the fact that it still raises eyebrows is quite baffling. Isn’t it time that we minded our own businesses and stopped bothering with why the next couple has 6 and not 2 children?



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