So if your mothering is not based on Western Society, consider the options for alleviating Third World poverty that are presented to most of us here in the privileged West: we are shown pictures of darling babies, innocent toddlers, toothless grins of elementary-aged school children, and asked to support them monetarily. There is no question that we feel compelled to lend aid to innocent children. These are people who never asked to be born, have not done anything to ‘deserve’ their station in life, and typically they bear the brunt of poverty’s bite as they are unable to defend themselves or provide for their own needs. They are dependent on others to care for them. So we want to do what we can to help them.
But after decades of NGOs distributing aid in the poorest regions of the world, there is little improvement in the misery that severe poverty inflicts around the world. And so it is worth reflecting for a moment when we are faced with the darling image of the crushingly poor baby and ask ourselves: who are they dependent upon? Are they dependent upon their local or national governments to feed, clothe, shelter, bathe, discipline, nurse through illness, mediate disputes, teach about the world, and otherwise raise them? Are the dependent on multinational NGOs and charity organizations? Some few are, and hopefully the orphan care in their respective countries is somehow equal to the task, or at the very least making a good-faith effort to meet their many and complex needs. But the chief answer around the world is that innocent children are dependent upon their parents.
And in the Third World, the task of raising children, particularly very young children, falls exclusively to the mother. Now return to the exercise that was previously described: place yourself and your family into grinding poverty and continue to raise them to the best of your ability. Speaking for myself, I have two very young children who are prize-winning cute. Really, they are. I get stopped all the time by strangers commenting on this fact, and I feel free to agree with them because I didn’t have anything to do with designing them. So I can imagine that if I were struggling to raise them in an environment of severe poverty, my kids might be featured in a solicitation for aid or ‘sponsorship’. But if aid were given to them, as I retained the responsibility for their care and well-being, I have to say I would feel a little skeptical that anything a stranger offered would be a quality investment in them the way I would supply it, since I know them better than anyone else and I am deeply motivated to see their lives improve.
In honor of all Mother’s this week, we all relate to the need to improve our children’s lives.
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