Wednesday, August 11, 2010
Difficulty of Changing Social Priorities
He had recently received the surprising news from his wife that she was pregnant with their third child. Many different thoughts passed through his mind. He was happy, but since they were both over forty, there was also worry. This last child would make his years of retirement different from what was planned. Taking care of the needs of the child would be an added financial burden, but even more than that, he was concerned for the health of his wife. He had wanted three children; two did not seem enough. Now, he was to have his wish answered.
He received words of congratulation and encouragement from many. It was somewhat embarrassing but he was happy. It was a different feeling from what he had felt with the first two children. These days, having children is good for the country, he was told; you have done a great work, people would jokingly say. Of all the words of congratulation received, the one that meant the most to him was from the mother who gave birth to their third child when she was 45 years old. She also was concerned because of the burden on the family, but she was happy with the decision to have the child. With this change in the family situation, another big change was soon to follow. The husband came home early from work and helped with the bathing of the baby, which he had not done with the other two children. The husband's love for the family also increased; he spent more time with the family, and there was more joy and laughter in the home.
Considering the current low birth rate in Korea, which is a concern of all we need more articles of this type. Today, many young married couples don't want children and of those who do, few have more than two. The big issue is the cost of raising the children, which might account for some of the abortions, more than 300,000 every year-- a staggering figure.
There are families who are taking the problem of the low birth rate to heart and are having children later than was the case up until a few years ago. However, the cultural climate in Korea is similar to most of the advanced countries regarding family size: the norm is to raise one or two children and try to do it well. Even many years ago here in Korea before it was fashionable you had the pace setters that the crowd followed--small families. It took many years and a great deal of government help and peer pressure,but the small famlies became the norm. I was always surprised to see the few large families in the congregation. It made me pause to think what it must have meant for them to go against what was accepted practice?
The columnist ends with a prayer: "God, be with all the pregnant mothers and bless them. May the pain of the birth remind the mothers of Jesus and the cross. And may they be thankful for the new life. Bless them and may we realize that life is your gift. Amen."