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1.1 Background of the Study
Childlessness is a rising social problem. Women who are affected by the experience of childlessness are increasing intensely in recent times and the number might continue to increase. Despite the growing need, the occurrence of childlessness has been greatly overlooked by demographers. The contemporary understanding of childlessness is too narrow and has been defined wholly as a medical condition. Childlessness is a global health concern that affects approximately 10% of couples worldwide (Boivin et al, 2007). Childlessness represents a disruption of the expected and projected life course for both childless couples in midlife and old age. Childlessness is a terrible situation in African matrimonial homes. It is such a topical issue that attracts the attention of every member of the society. Childlessness has major psychological and social implication for couples and especially for women in settings where fertility is highly valued (Van and Boss, 2001). In such settings, childlessness is usually involuntary.
Involuntary childlessness may be caused by infertility, pregnancy loss, and stillbirth or child death. This paper focuses on both voluntary and involuntary childlessness. Despite the importance of the issue, not many studies on voluntary childlessness have been carried out in Africa. Most available studies on this topic are based on America and Western European societies. Voluntary childlessness applies to both fertile men and women who have never had children and desire to remain childless (Chancy and Dumais, 2009).
In Nigeria, childlessness in most cases causes social stigma for couples. Traditional attitudes and cultural practices in Nigeria regard children and large families in high esteem. If this children are not forth coming it becomes a problem in the family, Society has implanted the idea that once couples are married, they must start having children (Ali, et al, 2008). Society expects married couples to have children and feel that something must be wrong with voluntary childless couples.
The folk wisdom maintains that parenthood is central to a meaningful and fulfilling life, and that the lives of childless people are emptier, less rewarding, and, in old age, lonelier, than lives of (Angner, 2005; Ryan & Deci, 2012). As childlessness prior to the 1960s was predominantly involuntary for reasons mostly of non-marriage, late marriage, or infertility (Hagestad& Call, 2007),. In short, not having children may decrease social recognition, and involuntary childlessness may lead us to a sense of failure and disappointment, that in turn, should lower people ‘sense of well-being. It therefore becomes necessary to conducts an assessment on effects of childlessness on the well-being of the family in Kaduna North Local Government Area, Kaduna State.
1.2 Statement of Problem
The word “childlessness” sends a cold signal to the ears of listeners and a sense of pity is immediately aroused in the mind. In Kaduna North; like in many African societies, children are regarded as great treasure to their parents, relations and their immediate community. Many people suffer from childlessness for so many reasons such as drug abuse, hard drugs effect, contraception, numerous abortions, untreated sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and genetically inherited sickness and in most cases, psychological problems (Okonofua, 1994). Most couples are childless as a result of the degree of their waywardness while they were youths or younger and unmarried, such as illicit use of drugs in order to avoid pregnancy (Ugwuanyi, 1999).
For many couples, the inability to bear children is a tragedy. The conflux of personal, interpersonal, social, and religious expectations brings a sense of failure, loss, and exclusion to those who are infertile. Relationships between couples can become very strained when children are not forthcoming. One partner may seek to blame the other as being defective or unwilling. Socially, most societies are organized, especially in the developing countries, such that children are necessary for care and maintenance of older parents. Even in developed countries with social support systems, children and family are expected to provide much of the care for the elderly. Childless couples are also excluded from taking leading roles in important family functions and events such as birthdays, christenings, confirmations, bar mitzvahs, and weddings of their children. Moreover, many religions assign important ceremonial tasks to the couple’s children (Edewor, 2001).
According to Okonofua, (1994) Female identity has been wrapped up in motherhood for centuries; this role designation has led to a very unfortunate misperception of women who are not mothers. It is usually view that something is absent in their female’s lives and in some cases they are view as evil and self-serving and often plays the role of the protagonist, women without children are portrayed in a deficient or negative light, and cast aside as simply unwilling or unable to fulfill their maternal role, which had a site effect on the childless woman. To some extent, it leads to divorce, stigmatization and sometimes being treated as an outcast. The social phenomenon prevails in Nigeria and Kaduna North Local Government is not an exception.
In Kaduna North Local Government Area, childlessness is echoed by the fact that most couples are not aware of the prevalence of medical treatment; this therefore makes them not to seek medical assistance for such form of ailment.
On the research front, several studies have investigated on the effects of childlessness on women in particular, (Van, 2000) and (Okonofua, 2002) documented on how childlessness is perceived in various societies and the multitudes of adverse effects suffered by affected individuals as a result. However, not much has been done on effects of childlessness on the well-being of the family in Kaduna North Local Government Area. This certainly limits our understanding of the issues surrounding childlessness as well as what and how interventions could be developed to support childless individuals in this area. Hence, this study seeks to fill the gap by investigating the effects of childlessness on the well-being of the family in Kaduna North Local Government.
1.3 Research Questions
This research seeks to address the following research questions:
1What is the prevalence of childlessness in Kaduna North Local Government?
2What are the determinants of childlessness in Kaduna North Local Government?
3What is the effect of childlessness on the well-being of the family in Kaduna North Local Area?
1.4 Objectives of the Study
The general objective of this study is to examine the effects of childlessness on the well-being of the family in Kaduna North Local Government Area. The specific objectives seek to:
1 Identify the prevalence of childlessness in Kaduna North Local Government
2 Examine determinants of childlessness in Kaduna North Local Government
3 Ascertain the effect of childlessness on the well-being of the family Kaduna North Local Government Area.
1.5 Research Hypotheses
The formulated alternate hypotheses of this study are:
1. There is no significant relationship between drug abuse and prevalence of childlessness among childless couple in Kaduna north local government area.
2. There is no significant relationship between marital divorced and prevalence of childlessness in Kaduna north local government area.
1.6 Significance of the Study
This study provides theoretical, conceptual and empirical contribution to the topic area. Findings of the study will help bridge the gap in available literature; moreover, the study will further serve as a reference point to scholars and academicians in the study and research topic. The findings of the study will inspire further research into the topic area and the suggestions provided in the study can serve as a blueprint or manual for curbing childlessness in the society.
This study will significantly benefit residents of Kaduna North Local Government Area within the metropolis as it will awake their knowledge to the understanding of childlessness as it affects the well-being of affected members of the community. The study will also reveal the various ways to cope with childless life. This study is deemed important given the scarcity of adequate literature or studies on effect of childlessness on the well-being of the family. The findings of this study would hopefully create more awareness and serve as a source of reference for Government, stake holders, government organization, counselors, non-governmental organization and administrators in research and policy. However, other researchers in the same topic will find this work valuable. This study will add to the existing body of knowledge and create room for further research where necessary on the effect of childlessness on the well-being of the family.
1.7 Scope and delimitation of the study
The study is limited to the effect of childlessness on the well-being of the family and is intended to determine how the problem impacts on the well-being of the family and the society at large. The study is limited to Kaduna North Local Government Area because of the time and financial constraints that would be encountered if it is extended beyond Kaduna North Local Government Area of Kaduna state.
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