The Children Who Wait | Heritage Of Words | Grade 12 | Summary | All Questions Answers |

The Children Who Wait

By Marsha Traugot

In "The Children Who Wait", Marsha Traugot suggests reasons for a new trend in adoption. Now a wider variety of families can open their homes to children who in the past would have been labelled adoptable. In setting forth the causes for this phenomenon, she draws from specific case history.

A Child Is Born | Grade 12 | Heritage Of Words | Summary and All Questions Answers Solution |

A Child Is Born

Germaine Greer


"A Child is Born" presents a comparison between the parent child relationship in the rich West and the traditional East. In traditional societies child birth is managed in different ways. All the ways are accepted by all, and they also free the mother from the mental burden of finding out new ways. Although there is the possible danger in  child birth, the traditional behaviours make the pregnant woman forget her worry to some extent. According to the custom, she is supported by her husband, her relatives and her community. These behaviours make her feel safe because she believes that she is conducting the pregnancy. Belief in traditional practices is common in the highly advanced Western society. A university graduate practised prenatal exercises regularly buy a bed and clothes for the baby. Afterwards she gave birth to a baby very easily without being attended.

               In traditional births, infant and mother mortality is higher. And modern marriage. But they modern obstetric  care has helped a lot to reduce such death. But it has stopped the people from observing their traditional values.
                In many societies, women go to their mother-in-law's house after their marriage. But they do not become the members of their new family until they have born  a child. The Western people criticized such practices. Once a Muslim marriage was severely criticized at an international conference, but the only Muslim woman present there kept quite because she could not use the language fluently which was used there. At such conference, only Western approaches are presented and the native participants are not consulted.

             In traditional societies, after her first child the woman would lose her name and she is called by the child's name. People in the west find it hateful. But when the married woman is given her husband's surname, they don't object. In many traditional societies the child's relationship with the extended family is considered more important. The child is intentionally separated from its parents. Thus children there  are born not at the parent's choice, but under the group's pressure.

            By producing the child the woman satisfies the desires of her family members. They are very curious to see the baby and they celebrate the birth. Even during pregnancy the woman is well-cared especially in her mother's house. All her desire for food are satisfied. After the birth there are various ceremonies. The baby and the mother are given new clothes. There is a feast and the women and the girls sing at might. One of the rewards of pregnancy is that the woman can go home to visit her mother and sisters.

           In Bangladesh children under  the age of five or six are looked after together by the whole family. They are taken together to the pond to have a bath and fed together. They play out of door with natural objects. In the afternoon they are told fairy tales. But at night they always sleep with there own numbers.

             In traditional societies Western medicine has brought a lot of problems. The doctors and their syringes are highly respected. People expect too much of them. That's why even the weak patients have to be given very strong dose of medicine. The drug is very expensive, too. Without foreign aid, the hospital can't be established. The combination of the old Africa and the modern West can be seen at hospital. In the delivery ward there are groaning women in the pools of blood. Nurses watch them but they keep themselves busy with machines and ignores the labouring women because they don't understand the patient's language.

          If we look at the tragedy of the mother during the birth, a live child is not much more important. Women will no longer offer up their bodies and minds to such cruel acts if the child is not welcomed at home and if the mother is not praised for her courage and not helped to raise it. The peasant communities are doubtful of Western method and  they can resist a easily. They accept that death is common in the birthplace. Poverty has stopped introducing modern techniques there. The machines have not allowed to hear the waning of a few women. If Western technology is not practised there population will be automatically controlled.

1. What differences  does the writer show between a traditional society and a modern society in matters of pregnancy childbirth, and child hearing?

Ans: In traditional societies when a  woman is pregnant, she is covered with taboos and prohibitions, which helps her to lessen her pain. She actively carries out all the rites and keeps the unknown fears some distance away, she does not  have to to reinvent anything and she is mentally free. In many of the ritual customs of pregnancy, her husband and other relatives have to supports her. Some of these behaviours are reasonable and useful and others are magical. But all of them increase her sense of security. In the West the pregnant woman is not cared like this. She has to do everything herself. She  has to practise prenatal exercises and make other preparations herself. In the hospital the staff is uncooperative about breastfeeding.

         In traditional births, infant and mother mortality is greater than in the modern Western methods. The Westerners have avoided death in birth, but they have neglected the value of the culture which free human beings love more than their lives. After the birth of the first child, the woman in the traditional society is not called by her own name, but always referred to as the child's mother. But the Western people find this practice objectionable. In the traditional society, a child has to strengthen its relationship with the extended family, so its relationship with the biological family is weakened knowingly. Children there are not born at the whim of the parents but in response to a broader pressure from the whole group. But there's no such tendency in the individualistic Western society.  

             By producing a child, the woman satisfies the desires of her relatives. They are very curious to see the child and when she gives birth to its her achievement is celebrated in many ways. The mother and the baby are given new clothes. There is feasting and singing. When the woman is pregnant, she goes to her mother's house and she is happy to see her mother and sisters. After the birth the whole family helps her to rear the child. All the children at home are looked after together. But there is no such system in the West. There is no one at home to welcome to child, to praise the mother for her courage and to help her raise it.