deciding on having another baby

I have four children myself, now all grown with their own children. Here’s my two cents on making this decision: We live in a time and place where most every family is so isolated that two opposing unreconcilable forces are created–the first is the difficulty in raising even one child in our isolated families.  We currently do not have the Haudenasaunee long house filled with grandmother and aunts and uncles and cousins or any of the other systems that non-industrial peoples figured out to raise children together. So having even one child is often an overwhelming and sometimes unworkable possibility.

The other force, also stemming from the isolation, but pushing us in the opposite direction, is our longing to be part of a supportive community.  We want to create our own little society by having as many children as we can possibly manage without going mad.

I have a tentative theory as to why our society has moved in this direction. Most native american cultures did not correct, criticize, or hit their children. They were appalled at the way europeans did. I wonder if our culture’s habits along those lines caused the development of this isolated life style. We “chose” isolation over attack.

Of course I would not send any of mine back. I love them dearly; now, forty years later, we provide support for each other, but that’s different from the reality of the forces that shape our decision to have a child.

So my thought is, if you have one child, consider how to build community with other families and take your time in making the decision.




4 thoughts on “deciding on having another baby

  1. Only if there are no other children around close in the child’s life. And Najwa, would you say Yemeni culture is similar in its organization around raising children as the Haudnesaunee, i.e., children are not raised in nuclear families?

  2. This is from Najwa: Generally in extended families (parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents, etc.) childbirth and child care are family concerns – everyone participates. As more families live in nuclear households, the childcare load can be quite heavy for mothers and can get depressing. On the other hand, fathers and older siblings tend to be more involved with playing with children than American fathers (tho not usually involved in house work.) There is a drawback to large extended families. Young married women don’t have a lot of say in what they do and how. Generally, grandmothers take on the major roles in childcare. So women have to choose whether they want less work along with interference or control over what they do but with more work. The other thing you don’t have in the Middle East is all the chauffeuring of children, which can get anyone down. All social life involves children, so they just go everywhere with the parents and find other children to play with. Elite families who participate in dance, music lessons, sports, etc., can usually afford to hire a driver.

  3. And also from Najwa on Yemeni society:
    children are highly valued in Yemen and other Arab societies. They are loved, cuddled, played with by siblings, taken places by their fathers. So the idea of limiting a family to one child is not popular. But limiting family size to 2-3 children has become common in the past 10-20 years. An important issue is that in rural society, large families are needed to share in the labor. Another issue is high infant mortality rates. When 1/2 of the children who are born are likely to die before age 5, women give birth to as many children as they can. But when I did research in the 80s on fertility and child spacing, a number of women who had given birth to 10-12 children told me that if they had some assurance that the children would survive, 4 children would be their ideal.

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