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1.1      Background of the study

The family is the building block of any society, it is a nursery, a school, a hospital, a leisure place, a place of refuge and a place of rest, and it encompasses the whole of society. It fashions beliefs, it’s the preparation for the rest of our life. Abbot and Wallace (1992:131). The family unit is a dynamic societal institution which affects and is affected by several factors. The family is basically premised on marriage rather than on mating. It is inevitably a product of the sociological rather than the theological or biological order. Certain functions are basic to all types of family, namely those of reproduction, socialization of the young, economic and emotional support of family members.

The family is the basic unit of the society; it has often been regarded as the corner stone of any society, (Haralambos & Holborn). While the term family size is used to represent the total number of individuals comprising a family unit, Treas (1981) argues convincingly splitting the concept into two components: numbers of children and numbers of adults in the household.  This distinction is important, as observed patterns of change in overall family size may be attributable to one component or other .Family size in this regard is defined in terms of the number of children in the household. Family size preferences are strong predictors of future fertility levels, Ogunjuyigbe (2001).Family size preferences reflect the values which society or individuals in society attach to children, and such preferences actually indicate the demand for children.

In the early days, sub-Saharan Africa societies had preferences for as many children as possible but today however, relative few societies can afford these perspectives, resulting in increased attempts to limits and manage the birth rate of many families of which Nigeria is no exception.

Nigeria has experience high fertility levels over the last three decades, despite the implementation of the (National Policy on population in 1988) which stipulated four children per woman. (NDHS 2003) Nigeria is the tenth most populous country in the world and the largest in sub-Saharan Africa, with estimated population of 126 million in 2003.

Family size preferences among couples differs from one another, differences in religion and cultural values among the inhabitant of Kaduna south has produce variations in each couples motivation and decision regarding family size. Also religious affiliation is expected to have an effect on family size as a result of different doctrine and teachings on contraceptive practices and the value of children. The level of education of various couples cannot be swept under the carpet, because this also will be a major determinant in measuring their preferences pertaining to number of children, reasons for the number of children desired by each couple. The fact that culture is considered in this study, it is impossible to rule out some couple’s belief about family size in relation to the early days of the African society.

Gender is one of the major facts in family size preferences in Nigeria. It is well documented that men’s general knowledge and attitudes concerning the ideal family size, sex preferences of children, ideal spacing between child births and the use of contraceptive greatly influence women’s preferences and opinions. Oodu, KTI Jadunola and DB Parakoyi (2005).

In Patriarchal society like Nigeria, a traditional role has accorded the males in our society to be paramount in family decision making and such decisions include determination of family size. Men are the dominant decision maker in Nigeria families, including matters relating to reproduction and family size Donavan, (1995). Women’s reproductive behavior is believed to be strongly influenced by their husband’s reproductive motivation and not vice-versa; this is as a result of men’s dominance and women’s financial dependency on their husbands. Men play powerful role in reproductive decisions, without considering their partners wishes or the health consequences for themselves or their partners. However, their actions can have unhealthy and even dangerous results.

The decision of couple on family size has a great effect on the quality of life of the household as well as the wellbeing of both parent and their children especially in the aspect of socialization, education, provision of food, shelter and clothing.

Couples who discuss and reach agreement on fertility issues make positive decisions. Communication between couple on reproductive health is a vital role in ensuring moderate and manageable family size. The basic functions of the family as cited by Abbot and Wallace (1992) is invariably linked to the contemporary issue of family planning, family planning is an organized effort essentially to ensure that couples who want to limit their family size or to space their children have access to contraceptives information and services needed Isiugo Abaihe (1996).

There are various social factors that motivate couples in the choice of their family size in Kaduna south local government and why they consider the choices desirable for themselves, the couple’s status and finally the impact of spousal communications on family size and the use of contraceptives.

1.2     Statement of the Research Problem

The size of the family is a matter of great concern not only to the state alone, but also to the welfare and health of individual, family and community. Okogu, J .( 2011). Family size preferences have always been based on several social factors but the preferences differs from one family to another because of the meaning attached to some of the factors.

There are various studies on motivating factors on the choice of family size but those factors discussed have not been linked to the misconception the couple has about it. The religious factor for example, the choice of family size that are based on religious doctrine or Holy books, to some Christians the Bible says “go into the world and replenish the earth” (Genesis 1:28) by these statement some couple might decide to give birth to many children as they can, also in Islam where it is written and taught that the Prophet, Prophet Mohammed (S.A.W) desired many followers, this also gives room to having higher number of children and even the adoption of polygamy since it is allowed to marry more than one wife. Religious factor motivate couple on their choice but they fail to consider the economic implications and emotional capability because in both religion it is not permitted to have children that you cannot cater for.

The unstable fertility preferences, recent fertility studies shows that when people express preferences, they may not hold these preferences strongly and may leave much room for changing them if their circumstance changes. Johnson-Hanks (2007). The choice of family based on economic factor is often temporal especially in this part of the world, sub-Saharan Africa, the desire to limits births may be a temporary response to lack of purchasing power rather than internalized aspirations for a smaller family size. Fertility preference may be revised in light of their life circumstance without taking into consideration the effect on the long-run.

Gender relations and communication, from indications few women participate in decision making especially on family planning and the number of children to have especially in patriarchal society like Nigeria. Men and women and biological partners in reproduction process yet, the men shows little interest in participating in family planning issues. Historically, men have exercised enormous power over women’s bodies through controlling their sexuality and reproduction; they just take decisions about planning the family but do not participate. Most men do not consider the role of women who bear the physical and emotional strains of pregnancy and childbirth and also the negative side effects of contraceptives.

The choice of family size and the motivating factors have been discussed in previous studies but the effects on members of the family especially in relation to child’s right has not been critically discussed which has not expose parent to the awareness of the right of children as is done in the developed countries.

However, possible solutions in eradicating the inconvenience associated with family size preferences in this research will go a long way in improving the living standard of married couples.

1.3     Research Question

1.    What are the basic factors that motivate family in their choice of family size?

2.    How does a family size preference affect the family member and the society?

3.    What are the possible solutions in eradicating the inconveniences associated with the choice of family size?

1.4     Objectives of the Study  

1.    To determine the basic factors that motivates family in the choice of family size.

2.    To find out how this preference affect the family member and society.  

3.    To suggest solutions with the view of eradicating the socio-economic inconveniences on the family member and the society.

1.5     Significance of the Study

It is hoped that this research will broaden the researcher’s knowledge on the subject matter. This research will no doubt create awareness and sensitize couples and public on the socioeconomic effect of family sizes.

This work will also help in the formulation of policies by government on enlightenment on the use of contraceptives and the implementation of the child’s right bill which was recently signed into law. Theoretically, the findings of this study will serve as a stock of intellectual knowledge to students and also aid future research on the family size preferences.

1.6     Scope of the Study

The study focuses on family size preferences in Kaduna South Local Government Area. The researcher intends to focus on 4 communities in Kaduna South Local Government for easy collection of data. Which are Barnawa, Kakuri, Tudun Wada and Trikaniya because of some reasons. Firstly it will reduce cost and avoid complexity that may arise as a result of having a very large population, therefore these communities were selected because they have none indigenes residing there, which will help generating diverse views from respondents. The communities are also characterized by mostly middle class men whose views will help to have a sketchy picture of what happens at the upper class and the lower class.

1.7     Definition of key terms

Family:       The family is an infinite domestic group made up of people related to one another by bonds of blood.

Size:            Is the extent or total number of a particular thing.

Preferences: This is the deferential choices couple make concerning the size of family.

Gender:      This is the socially constructed aspect of differences between women and men; it is a stereotype of masculinity and femininity.

Couple:       This refers to two adult male and female who are married.

Socio-economic: This is a measure that is use to classify individuals, families or household/society in terms of occupation, incomes, level of education

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