The essay ‘A Child is born’ written by Germaine Greer compares the parent-child relationship in the modern western societies and the traditional eastern societies. It shows the differences between these two societies in matters of pregnancy, child bearing and child rearing. It also discusses the problems of modern western societies in these matters.
In the traditional eastern societies, child birth is managed in different ways. Those ways are accepted by all. When a woman is pregnant, she is covered with different social taboos and prohibitions that help her lessen her pain. She actively carries out all the rites and rituals and keeps the unknown fear some distance away. She doesn’t have to reinvent everything. So she is mentally free. She is supported by her husband, her relatives and the community. Their support increases her sense of security. She feels that she is conducting pregnancy. In many traditional societies, the women go to their mother-in-laws home after their marriage. They are not considered as the member of family until they give birth to a child. After the child is born, she is called by her child’s name. She is always referred to as the child’s mother.
But in western societies, there is not such tendency. They criticize the practice of mother being called by the child’s name. The women don’t mind if they are called by their husband’s name. The pregnant woman is not cared like in the traditional societies. She has to do everything by herself. She has to do pre-natal exercises and make many preparations. There are not other people to surround her and help her lessen her pain as they live in single family system.
In traditional societies, the women satisfy the desires of her family members by giving birth to a child. After the child birth, its relationship with the other family members is extended and it is intentionally separated from its parents. As the child is born at the whims of other family members, its relationship with them is strengthened. But its relation with mother is weakened. After the child birth, the occasion is celebrated in different ways. The mother and child are given new clothes. There is feasting, singing and dancing. Different rites and rituals are performed. The mother is helped to raise her child by the whole family. During the time of birth also, everybody waits for the birth of child.
But in western societies, there is no one at home to welcome the new born child, to praise the courage of the mother and to help her raise the child. As the husband and wife live separately after marriage in most cases, they don’t know much about tradition. The women can’t feel secured and safe. So she feels during the pregnancy that the pregnancy is conducting her.
In Bangladesh, the children under the age of five or six are looked after by the whole family. They are taken to the pond for a bath. They play outside with natural objects but they don’t play with toys. In the afternoon, they are told the fairy tales by the other members. But at night, they sleep with their mothers. In such way, the children have very strong relationship with the other members so it is common to call them as Big mother or Small mother.
The writer says the technological changes have brought many problems in the traditional societies. They feel that the doctors and nurses are highly respected. In the delivery ward, the women are seen groaning in the pool of blood having labouring pain. But, the doctors and nurses make themselves busy with the modern equipments and ignore the pain of labouring women. The writer says when the doctors and patients are from different language and culture; it adds more pain to the women. Not only that, if the child is not welcomed at home, the mother is not praised for her courage and she is not helped to raise her child, she will no longer offer up her body and mind to such brutal act. In such societies, due to poverty, the peasant families are not able to afford the modern technology. So they think the death of mother or child is common in birth places.
Q. What differences does a writer show between a traditional society and a modern society in matters of child bearing?
» The writer has shown lots psychological and cultural differences between a traditional society and a modern society in the matters of child bearing. Both societies consist of merits as well as demerits regarding this matter. In traditional societies, there are many cultures and beliefs and child birth is managed in different ways. When a woman is pregnant, she is covered with different social taboos and prohibitions that help her lessen her pain. She is supported by her husband, relatives and community which increases her feeling of security. She feels that she is conducting pregnancy.
But in context of modern societies, where nuclear family is preferred and work is given priority, a pregnant woman is not cared as that in traditional society. She has to everything by herself. She has to do pre-natal exercises and many preparations. There are not many people to surround her and help her lessen her pain. She feels that pregnancy is conducting her.
In traditional societies, the whole matter of child bearing is hidden under superstitious beliefs while no such things exist in modern societies. Modern societies use the modern technology and methods of child bearing which safeguards the health of both child and mother. However, a modern is not helped to raise her child by whole family in modern societies as the way she is helped in traditional societies.