I live right next to what I consider a large family by today’s standards. My neighbours have five kids, all under 10. I don’t think I’d handle five kids and I wonder how this couple copes. I’m not sure what the husband does but I know it’s not some high-paying job. The wife is a stay-home mum.
I know each one of us has a right to make their own choices but I doubt I’d ever be satisfied just keeping house. This woman, who must be in her mid-thirties, will probably still be doing this 15 years from now. I know many housewives who started small businesses which are actually doing well. Some make snacks which they then supply to local supermarkets. Others are keeping poultry, making crafts or gardening; anything to bring in some extra money. Not my neighbor’s wife.
Again, it’s not my place but I don’t understand how she can just “sit” there. What would happen if the marriage ended or something happened to her husband and she had no means to support the kids? Does she even think about that? I especially feel bad for the kids. A couple of times, I’ve seen them home and not at school and you know what that means.
Having grown up in a big family myself, I know the challenges all too well. You never get everything you want because your other siblings are also waiting to have their needs met. It’s a lifetime of hand-me-downs and making one sacrifice after another.
You’re sent to mediocre schools because that’s what your parents can afford. You can’t go to all the cool places your friends from well-to-do families frequent. You forget about nice shoes and clothes. If you’re lucky, you make it through school and get a job and then the nightmares start. You become the parent, raising your siblings and taking care of your now retired and perhaps ill parents, paying for repair works on the family home, assuming there’s one or you’ll be tasked with starting on one.
Then, of course, there’s your extended family; aunties, uncles, cousins and nieces who have their own needs. It’s the curse of these big families. One of my aunties married a doctor and their family was doing well until relatives started flocking to their clinic. Most of them didn’t want to pay and those who did, paid only part of what they owed. How was the poor man supposed to restock the drugs and other supplies needed at the clinic?
Restaurants have been forced to close by relatives who expect free meals, as have shops frequented by family members who take goods on credit and never pay up. No wonder some people keep their investments secret. Only a few have the courage to say no to relatives’ unending demands and we’re quick to label those mean and selfish when all they’re trying to do is keep their businesses running.
We need to put a stop to this ‘child belongs to a community’ mentality, especially if we don’t have that much money. I like China’s one-child policy. It might have been implemented for totally different reasons but a lot of good has come out of it. An only child has a lot more opportunities in these increasingly tough economic times.
It’s easier to pay for private swimming or music lessons for your child, or anything else they might be interested in to better equip them for the competitive job market, if you’re not worried about feeding six or seven others. You’ll be in better position to support your child until they’re ready to stand on their own feet. Chances are you’ll also have been able to put something away for your retirement.
Your child can supplement that but it will not be this heavy burden or a choice between providing for their own family and supporting you.
To be continued...