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Family size may matter to those who are studying, working or who have other goals in life other than forming a family.  It is common to hear nowadays that people do not want to have kids and even more common to hear that some couples are actually considering adopting kids.  However, there are still communities in the world where people especially women feel pressured to have children.  Culture plays an essential role in the formation of families in some communities.  In class this week, a young girl boldly stood up and said that poverty is a choice that some people foolishly inflict on themselves because of their own selfish and ignorant behavior which leads them to have more kids that what they can possibly maintain.  A Maya girl (the only Maya girl in class) rebutted and said that in her community people valued family above everything and that having kids is a blessing that should never be regretted regardless of one’s economic situation.  She blamed the government for not providing enough support to people by giving them land to plant or small loans that would help them engage in micro business.  Although she is right in that the government marginalizes these Mayan communities, I told her that planning a family is not at all hard and that people may actually find that it improves the quality of life.  To this she replied that while many women have heard about contraceptives, many of them are afraid to use them because it contradicts the teachings of the church and because many of the men need to become fathers in order to feel fulfilled.   Culture,  particularly values and beliefs concerning the family and its role, is one of the major factors influencing family size in traditional communities.  I find it hard to understand why some men insist on having so many children even when they know that they do not have the means to support a large family.  Some of the reasons are obvious I guess, such as carrying on the family name.  For men, it is an honor and a privilege to have children since being a father carries the “macho” label along with it.  Furthermore, in many of these traditional villages force of habit is causing people to have kids in the same way that their poverty stricken families and neighbors have always done. It is important to keep in mind that traditions do not simply develop by chance.   They are passed on from one generation to another and big families in traditional communities is very common.  The more children there are in a family the more income they bring into the house when they are working.  Nothing is wrong in appreciating the gift of fertility by having kids but think about the responsibilities that come along with having so many kids.  Family planning does not mean not having children at all but deciding when and how much children one can afford to maintain.  Women need to recognize and defend their sexual and reproductive rights and men need to realize that there is more in being a man than donating sperm.  Being a father means taking full responsibility for that child and making sure that that child gets all the necessary requirements to foster the healthy development of a human being.   Culture is a shared way of life and the world has advanced in such a way that people need to change and adapt.  Call it survival of the fittest except that in this case one does not need to have a large number of offspring to prove the fittest but instead plan in order to have a better quality of life.

 

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