My friend has 4 children in the UK, together with her wife, they are a family of 6.
While children are seen as a blessing, these 4 children have heavily impacted on the lifestyle—and to some extent, the enjoyment of my friend—as well as the wellbeing of each of the children.
My friend’s family of 6 have never been on a holiday anywhere abroad in the last 10 years together. They cannot literally afford it.
The children have not been taken to Ghana before. My friend goes to Ghana once every 2 years and when he is away, the wife takes care of the children. The wife then goes and he takes care of the children.
My friend’s car is 5-seater, and when they have to make a family trip (which they only do when it is absolutely necessary), he has to hire a bigger car or take two ‘ubers’.
My friend does not hide the fact that he has regretted the size of his family, even if children are regarded as a blessing. He believes they are under constant pressure, financially, physically and emotionally.
His wife is always exhausted and going out for dinner or lunch as a family only happens once in a blue moon. That’s something that should regularly happen—but paying for 6 people is not that cheap, even at Nandos.
When it comes to the quality of life, they are sharing a 3-bedroom house. They take turns to shower each day—and cannot even agree on what to watch on the TV at any point in time. There is always an internal riot and “civil disobedience.”
My friend and his wife’s financial standings have deteriorated over the years as they are unable to save or work more. They cannot afford to get a mortgage or own any property—since each dependant child affects how much loan a bank will give.
This is the life of many Africans: we refuse to consider how many children is prudent for a better life, for the parents, and for the children themselves.
However, my friend thinks the chances that one of these 4 children would turn out to be a great person is higher than if they were just 2 children. I told him it does not work that way as it is not merely based on ratio and proportion—but the quality of the upbringing, education and life the children get in general—which is not always great if they are being squeezed because of their numbers.
Minimalism is not just about numbers—it is about quality of life—to be able to focus on what is most valuable.
I believe children deserve the best but that does not mean the parent has to suffer so much or sacrifice everything for the child alone. There are two lives here, the parent and the child. Both are important and deserve to experience life in a way that is best. A parent that becomes a proverbial sacrificial lamb for a child refuses to live his or her life and teaches the child the same.
Living purposely and intentionally, which are ingredients of minimalism, ensure that we think carefully about the number of offsprings we want to bring into this world—considering the available resource, time, and the certain conditions which will impact the parent and the child such that both will have great lives.
It is not a mistake that Bill Gates has just 3 children at the age of 65 and Mark Zuckerberg has 2 at the age of 36. But it is a mistake that Kwesi Manu, unemployed at Akwatia in Ghana, has 9 children whom he cannot feed or provide shelter for.