Media Release for BAS
(Beneficiary Advisory Service)
Monday 21st February 2012
I read a comment on an article recently criticising a woman for having 6 children and then not being able to afford them. This made me think: how do I feel about blaming people for having so many children?
Blaming parents for having one or two children is clearly selfish as someone has to create the future generations and having children should be a right for all not a privilege for the wealthy. I also suspect some people who have big families did not necessarily do so on purpose but from lack of education / knowledge and/or excessive fertility. Whilst I have been unable sofar to obtain a graph showing statistics of number of children per family, the statistics do show the average number of children per family is about 1.9 so we obviously need the families with many children as well. I don’t think there can be very many of families with more than 4 children.
Getting back to the point, I believe as a society, we need to ensure all children get their basic needs met. I understand the argument about not having more children than you can afford, but if every couple decided to not have children until they could afford it, there would be little to no children born at all!!
Statistics show that to maintain constant population, every female needs to have 2.1 children (on average (!) to account for the birth of boys or non-surviving children) so the girls can grow to child bearing age. We are not even making this at this time as many more people are choosing not to have children at all (or having small families).
To have a socially just and inclusive society where everyone can consider parenthood as an option, we need education of girls about female fertility (a lot more than we currently have) and making parenting a more attractive option. Many people complain that Working For Families ensures some parents have the option to stay at home instead of working. How is this a problem? There are not enough paid jobs in a recession for everyone of working age; parenting is very hard, but rewarding work for those of us who choose to do it as a career (whether long or short term – most parents go back into full or part time work at a point that suits them and their family situation).
I haven’t yet distinguished between single parents and couples – caring for children is hard work (and can be very expensive) regardless. However, it can be harder for a single parent and they generally suffer unwarranted prejudice because of it. I can tell you this, most people do not want or intend to be single parents. This happens for a number of different reasons and not because they are a “stupid person who makes bad choices”. Mostly people in this situation are there because a relationship broke up (either by death of the other party, imprisonment or one party left the relationship). Most of these circumstances we don’t have a lot of control over. I would like to see people think before they critically judge others.
What we advocate for is a community that supports each other; a system that supplies & guarantees enough income for all people, especially parents (so we don’t see children in poverty); a community that doesn’t judge others’ circumstances but is understanding and supportive. Surely this is not too much to ask for: Children are our future!
Rebecca Occleston, Speaker: Beneficiary Advisory Service
Beneficiary Advisory Service is a Christchurch based Community Group who help people on benefits and low incomes with their problems with Work and Income. We are specialists in Welfare Law and provide advice, information, support and advocacy to hundreds of people every year. We can be contacted on 03 379 8787 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.