The size of a nuclear family which used to be measured by the large number of children in a household and symbolised prosperity in many Nigerian societies, has today ceased to be the norm and now a threat of poverty. Then, a family that had between one and three children was considered a small family and rated low in the society. In contradiction, a large family which had children ranging from six to 12 children or even more was celebrated.
In a nuclear family, a couple and their dependent children, regarded as a basic social unit.
A traditional nuclear family consists of a married couple and their biological child or children. A child in a traditional nuclear family lives with both biological parents, if siblings are present, only full brothers and sisters – that is, siblings who share the same two biological parents.
Also, in the traditional Nigerian society, having a large family conferred on a man, sense of self-worth and achievement. It means more hands to deploy in his farmland, which invariably determines the size of his farm. A man’s worth was therefore determined by the number of children he has and the size of his barns. However, with increasing advocacy about family planning, the practice which saw couples procreating until they were no longer fertile is fast changing.
Large family which used to be a thing of pride is no more fashionable.
With the prevailing economic situation in today’s society, the cost of living and training of children has hit the rooftops. Today, having many children portends certain serious socio-economic, health, and total welfare implications on any family, moreso, with growing unemployment and global recession. The culture of small family size is being embraced by many Nigerian couples. Thanks to family planning.
Experts have confirmed that a small family size aids economic success and social position of the children. This is the role of family planning. Indeed, a couple needs to be in control of the time of bearing children and number required based on their income and financial capacity. This has becomes inevitable as payment of salaries, wages and pensions are no longer regular. Yet, families are expected to spend more on housing, food, clothing, child care as well as on education of the children due to astronomical rise in the cost of products and services.
This often leads to hard times for large families, especially in countries with poor economies like Nigeria. While some small size households make appropriate and affordable budget for their respective families, large families wallow in abject poverty.
Reproductive health experts believe that family planning is critical in meeting the the United Nations Population Fund’s (UNFPA) objectives of “delivering a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every child birth is safe and every young person’s potential is fulfilled.”
Only recently, a new study by the Guttmacher Institute confirmed that women’s ability to use family planning methods to determine whether and when to have children, enhances their education and employment capabilities. Obviously, this improves spouse’s earnings as well as the well-being of their children.
Definitely, the small-sized family has the propensity to save for retirement, because the spouses have only a few children to cater for and fewer expenses.
Speaking during the Pathfinder International’s celebration of 55 years in Nigeria on Wednesday, in a zoom, HRH Dr. Haliru Yahaya, Emir of Shonga, Kwara state, linked girl child education with family planning, while advocating for a young woman to obtain at least college education and or professional training. Yahaya said that education would enable a woman to understand the need to embrace family planning and empower her economically. Ultimately, education would increase her capacity to earn income to cater for family needs. Without education, it would be difficult to get employment and income, which in turn may lead to poverty.
Small size family enables more young women to participate in the labour force. Experts have confirmed that this significantly contributes to increasing women’s earning power and decreasing the gender pay gap that often breeds constant feud in the family.
Family planning helps the couple to find stable and economically attractive matches, decreasing gender gap relationships that are more likely to dissolve after an unplanned pregnancy or birth than after a planned one.
Couples with planned childbirths are more likely to enjoy good mental health and happiness devoid of depression and anxiety, thereby live a long life.
This is not possible for a couple with a large family as they would spend the rest of their lives worrying about how to train their children as well as meet their obligations.
Many demographics and public health experts have confirmed that many children means more mouth to feed and have linked the trend with poverty.