In Nigeria, the number of children in the household determines the size of a nuclear family. Thus, a family with one, two or three children could be considered a small family size. But, in a large family, you could have children ranging from six to 12 or even more.
Similarly, in the traditional Nigerian society, having a large family confers 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. Indeed, a man’s worth was determined by the number of children he has and the size of his barns.
Therefore, having a large family used to be a thing of pride and a man would continue to procreate until the spouse was no longer fertile.
But now, this has changed as a result of the prevailing situation in today’s society. The cost of living and training of children has hit the rooftops. Today, large family size has some serious implications on the income or wealth of the family. This is even more worrisome when the spouses have retired from paid employment.
Experts have found that a small family size increases the economic success and social position of the children. This brings to the fore, the inevitability of family planning.
Indeed, a couple needs to be in control of the time and number of children required based on their income and financial capacity. This becomes inevitable as salaries; wages and pensions are no longer paid as at when due.
Yet, families are expected to spend more on housing, food, clothing, childcare 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 United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)’s 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 spouses’ 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 few children to cater for and fewer expenses.
Family planning also ensures that a young woman obtains at least college education and or professional training that would enhance her pay and increase her capacity to save for retirement. Without enough savings, it is going to be a miserable retirement, which in turn may lead to premature deaths.
A small sized 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, and thereby, live long lives.
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 meeting their obligations.