International Day of Families: ‘We would like to have another child, but...’

Two young one-child families from the town of Orhei, Moldova, say they want to have two or three children in the future. Many Moldovan families want the same. However, according to young families, several decisive conditions are needed for all couples to be able to fully realize their reproductive aspirations and have the intended number of children.

‘We would like to have one more child when we are ready financially’ – say Elena and Mircea Tira – a married couple from Orhei who raises a two-year old daughter. Before having a second child, Elena (27 years old) has plans for growing her business that she launched during maternity leave – prenatal classes for future parents. The family wants to move to Chisinau to have more opportunities for developing their careers.

Just like the Tiras, many Moldovan couples would like to have two or more children. In reality, however, the fertility is much lower. According to the National Bureau of Statistics, the year 2018 was marked by the fewer number of children born since country’s independence.

The UNFPA’s ‘State of World Population 2018’ Report gives various reasons. From the massive migration of young people, financial constraints, lack of nurseries or policies to reconcile work and family life, to health issues. For instance, low fertility could be caused, among other reasons, by infertility among young couples caused by sexually transmitted infections. Sexually transmitted infections can be prevented by improving health education of young people and having access to condoms.

‘The employers are not very supportive of young fathers’

Mircea and Elena Tira think that the Republic of Moldova needs certain mechanisms to improve implementation of the current family-friendly policies and create favourable environment for couples to reach their desired number of children.

‘Let’s take paternity leave. Paternity leave is indeed critical for both parents since mother and father should take care of their child from the very first days of his or her life. Here in Moldova the employers are not very supportive of young fathers taking such leaves, because they need workforce and each day of absence means inactivity. At the same time, many parents are not even aware of the possibility of taking paternity leave, which means that our society needs more information about this policy, and how it works”, Elena says.

According to the young family, another condition for growing families is having access to public nurseries so that women would be able to return to work when they are ready. Right now, number of pubic nurseries is limited in the country that creates a big challenge for young families. ‘Women without family support or other possibilities are forced to stay on maternity leave till their child turns three. Thus they lose professional skills and face difficulties in returning to work’, Elena states.

Economic factors are important as well. ‘You would hardly think of having a child if you live with your parents and do not have a well-paid job’, Mircea adds.

‘If men were more involved in child-raising, the couples would decide on a new pregnancy easier’

Another young couple from Orhei – Vasile and Cristina Cucu would like to have two more kids in the next five years. Cristina is 25 years old and is on maternity leave with her first child – Matei, who recently turned 18 months. Before becoming a mother, she was working at a foreign company. Vasile is 28 years old. He is an accountant.

They say they mastered parenting on the fly. Cristina claims that her husband got involved in child-raising straight from the maternity unit. ‘He took care of the baby, changed his diapers and fed him, because I needed recovery’. Vasile took a parental leave from his job in order to be there for his wife and child during the first days after birth.

‘I’ve fully committed myself to raising and taking care of my children and helping my wife. I helped my wife during birth, we experienced all the emotions together. It was harder for her, clearly, but I was by her side’, the man says with a smile.

Vasile kept constantly participating in raising and educating his son – he feeds him, takes him for walks, tries to read him children’s books. ‘As a dad, I teach him some small but very important things every day – how to drink with a straw, how to make different sounds, etc.’, says the father.

According to Cristina, if all fathers were more involved in child-raising, it would be easier for women to decide on having another baby. She admits that she has started thinking of having a second child only a few months after Matei’s birth. ‘I was telling my husband that I wanted one more child’, the young woman states.

State policies became friendlier, their applicability – not yet

According to UNFPA, some critical policy efforts to support families having the desired number of children, such as introduction of paternity leave and flexibility of the maternity leave, have been made by the Government over the recent years. Now, more attention and investments should be focused on
implementation of the family-friendly policies especially in private sector. Many employing institutions continue to be reluctant to hire and sustain employment of pregnant women or parents with small children. Gender stereotypes deter fathers from getting more involved in raising and educating their children. And a healthy planning of families including use of modern contraceptives remains to be a
“silent issue” among many women and men.

Additional efforts are needed to reduce these barriers and offer all women and men a chance to realize their reproductive rights and have as many children as they desire and intend, affirms the organization.