Didn’t you have anything better to do than to have so many children?
Armenia faces a serous problem with demography.
What steps is the country taking for the growth of the birth rate? Does Armenia really attach importance to the growth of the birth rate? Is it doing anything to promote it? Why are multi-member families always immediately associated with poverty? Anahit has given birth to and raised four children. She loves her husband and children and thanks God for granting her such wealth. The mother of four would be fully happy, if her children were healthy. Three of the four children have serious health problems. Anahit’s husband works days and night, but the family still has financial problems that seem to be problems that can’t be solved. Anahit is discontent with the government and says it doesn’t support multi-member families at all. “In any case, my advice is-if you’re financially insecure and don’t have stable incomes, don’t have a lot of children. Believe me when I say that it’s impossible. Everything will become horrible if, God forbid, one of your children has health problems. Eritasard.am conducted a small survey of couples and, based on the results, most couples don’t want to have more than two children. The reason is clear-they have to raise and provide for them. This comes amid Armenia’s ongoing problem with demography. Based on the demographic data provided by the United Nations, Armenia’s population will decrease by 25% until 2025, Azerbaijan’s population will grow by 31%, and Turkey’s population will grow by 43%. After fifty years, there will only be half of the current population in Armenia. However, to ensure simple reproduction of any society, the birth rate needs to be at least 2.11. Societies with a 1.3 birth rate indicator are doomed to elimination. In 2007, Armenia’s birth rate indicator was 1.348. Psychologist Lilit Gargrtsyan says the reason for this situation is the peculiarity of Armenian families. “We Armenians are extremely connected to our children, and this often doesn’t let them be independent. We keep thinking about their safety, even after they mature. Meanwhile, in other countries, youth work and study at the same time, pay their tuition and take care of their expenses. Armenian parents won’t let that happen because they’ll be considered bad parents. They always fear of meeting their children’s demands. This is what stands in the way of having many children.” The psychologist also blames adults who keep urging their daughters not to have many children, saying that times have changed and that having many children is risky. The psychologist suggests showing more stories of successful families more often on television so that people will see mothers who have many children, are happy and successful. President of the Association for Support to Mothers with Many Children” NGO Margarita Hovsepyan is one of those successful mothers. Margarita has five sons. She confesses that it wasn’t easy, but she managed everything. She raised her children and even graduated from two universities. Margarita assures that having many children is a joy, but also emphasizes the fact that couples have to treat the issue seriously. “I served the community not with charity acts, but by raising the level of awareness of future mothers. I blame mothers who give birth to up to five children without having absolutely any income. That’s irresponsible. I meet families that live with animals, but continue to have children. That’s wrong.” When asked if the lack of state care was the reason for the current situation, Hovsepyan said: “Times have changed, regardless of everything. People have to rely on themselves. If they’re unhealthy, unemployed and lack living conditions, how can they have so many children? No matter what the government does, parents are the ones responsible for raising their children.” We found out that the description, status and definition of a multi-member family had been missing in Armenian legislation since independence. It turns out that families with two or six children are no different and have the same rights and are of the same significance for the government. This goes to show that multi-member families in Armenia are protected by the law. The fact remains that the social benefits can’t foster the birth rate growth. Policies vary in different countries. For instance, in Germany, mothers with many children have the right to get accepted to universities without taking exams, get hired, and no employer has the right to fire them. In addition, in Armenian reality, multi-member families are viewed differently. A multi-member family is always associated with poverty, illiteracy and sectarianism. However, it had to be the other way around. Those families should be in the center of attention of the society and the state, as well as respected and protected. Instead, we are certain that every Armenian mother has heard the following nonsensical question: Didn’t you have anything better to do than to have so many children? Satenik Khachatryan