Tuesday, 30 September 2014
Familles Nombreuses - Why so many children?
As in all countries, day time TV is pants, but in France there is a programme I quite enjoy of an afternoon called Tellement Vrai (So True). It basically follows the lives of normal people. Sometimes it's about people striving for fame, or 40 year old men who still live with their mothers. It's not a Jeremy Kyle kind of thing, they are proper documentaries. One of the themes they do a lot of is on big families. People who have 8 + children. I want more children, there are five of us (me, my three sisters and my brother) and it's great, but then again we didn't all grow up together, my parents had two children each before they got together and had me. I would like 3 or 4 but I might stop once I've had another one. My partner, typical African stereotype would be happy for me to pop one out once a year until my eggs dry up!
But even after watching hundreds of these mini documentaries I still can't quite get on board with the idea of having so many children. You can't have the same kind of relationship with each child if you have 10 kids as if you had 3, there just aren't enough hours in the day. The kids complain of wearing hand me downs, the elders one have to help with the littler ones, making them grow up too fast and the little ones getting away with murder! And the parents complain about how much milk and pasta they have to buy every week! Is it case of these women being addicted to be being pregnant? Does it stem from them having a lonely childhood or did they love growing up with a dozen siblings? Is it the father putting the pressure on to have so many children?
In France this isn't the norm, and often the parents are accused of having so many children so they can live off the benefits, as the French beenfits are amongst the most generous in Europe. And when do you draw the line? When does it go from lovely big family to that was one too many? I am torn between being in awe of the women who manage to raise so many children and thinking when they complain, I want to slap them and introduce them to a packet of condoms! But as I am human and not perfect, I sterotypically find it harder to understand why white families would want all these children, but don't bat an eyelid if I see an African or Arab or even Chinese couple with football team size broods.