Will they take care of you in old age?
Having children is still viewed by some as an ‘insurance policy’ for old age.
Because most humans have the ability to reproduce does it mean that they have to use their reproductive powers?  I come from a background which views procreation as a 'must' for every adult. Fatherhood is seen as proof that you’re a real man. Your life is viewed as incomplete if you’re not a mother. Children are seen as an old-age pension.

While having a braai with acquaintances, including several young parents, the topic of couples who chose not to have children came up.

Traditional views?

“Why on earth would anyone choose not to have children?” Sue, spoke, holding a glass of red wine. “Childless people become a burden to society in their old age because there is no one to take care of them. Everyone must have a child.”

Sue, a single mum, explained how she planned to have a second child – as soon as she found a suitable man. She’d uttered one of the main reasons why people in my community start families. Children are seen as a protection in old age. Coming from a culture that still frowns at placing an elderly parent in an old people’s home, children are expected to take in elderly parents into their homes.

But then, is it fair to expect our children to take care of us in our old age?  Most parents, in my community, would answer with a resounding ‘YES.’

“Surely,” I’ve heard many a parent say, “if I sacrificed so much for this child for 21 years Why should he or she find it difficult to return the favour in my time of need?”

Even younger adults are expected to pay up

I’ve met parents, still in their prime, who view their children as cash cows. They demand that their newly-employed adult children buy them household appliances before moving out.

However, having children for the sole reason that they will take care of you in your old age may result in heartbreak and disillusionment when they become adults and are not able to do much for the parent because of family commitments or of harsh economic conditions.

Parents should have children for the right reasons. It’s impossible for a child to repay you for all the care and the love that you’ve given him or her. The aim is to raise a child to become a mature, loving and responsible adult. Responsible adult children will always be there for their children.

Read more by Sipho Yanano

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Are childless old people a burden on society?

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