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Balancing tradition and modernity in narratives surrounding contraception use among poorer women in West Bengal, India.
Unformatted Document Text:  21 do not have the money to send them to school on only my husband’s salary.” A related worry is that by having fewer children, women believe that they are depriving their sons and daughters of the kind of family structure that they need for support. Most of the women interviewed in this study grew up in homes with several children. Some of these children were their own siblings, and others cousins who lived in the same house or ones in the same area. As migration has caused fewer and fewer families to live under the same roof or in close proximity (Duvury, 1998), there are simply less people of the same age around for children to play with or older children to potentially receive protection from. Several women mentioned this phenomenon during the interviews. One woman at Bangur said: “When I was growing up there were my five brothers and sisters, and four other cousins around. I look at my son and think; he will never be able to have a childhood like mine.” Later during the interview she added that her son kept asking her to bring him a brother or a sister, and though she and her husband had decided not to have another child, she was actually considering having one more, just to keep her son company. This is not just a question of fun or good memories. Siblings from communities of support around each other. Like elsewhere in the developing world, older siblings frequently help younger ones through school, and sometimes pay for higher education. They are also expected to be present when help is needed in any capacity. In such a cultural context, having only one sibling or none is truly problematic.

Authors: Mookerjee, Devalina.
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21
do not have the money to send them to school on only my husband’s
salary.”
A related worry is that by having fewer children, women believe that they are
depriving their sons and daughters of the kind of family structure that they need for
support. Most of the women interviewed in this study grew up in homes with several
children. Some of these children were their own siblings, and others cousins who lived in
the same house or ones in the same area. As migration has caused fewer and fewer
families to live under the same roof or in close proximity (Duvury, 1998), there are
simply less people of the same age around for children to play with or older children to
potentially receive protection from. Several women mentioned this phenomenon during
the interviews. One woman at Bangur said:
“When I was growing up there were my five brothers and sisters, and
four other cousins around. I look at my son and think; he will never be
able to have a childhood like mine.”
Later during the interview she added that her son kept asking her to bring him a
brother or a sister, and though she and her husband had decided not to have another child,
she was actually considering having one more, just to keep her son company.
This is not just a question of fun or good memories. Siblings from communities of
support around each other. Like elsewhere in the developing world, older siblings
frequently help younger ones through school, and sometimes pay for higher education.
They are also expected to be present when help is needed in any capacity. In such a
cultural context, having only one sibling or none is truly problematic.


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