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In this podcast you will hear the first part of a conversation between Steve and Jill in which they talk about women, family, raising children etc.
Steve: Hello, Jill.
Jill: Hello, how are you?
Steve: Not too bad.
Steve: Jill, since the last time we spoke, you’re a married woman.
Jill: I am, yes.
I know, it was over a month ago that we last spoke and I guess a lot has changed since then.
You know, it’s interesting; we will talk a little bit about your trip to Latin American, Central America, which sounds very interesting and I think people are interested in that subject but, first of all, I would like to ask you about marriage and children.
Nowadays, women seem to get married later and they have children later.
Jill: Women and men.
Steve: Well yeah, it kind of takes the two.
Jill: Yes, but men used to be younger when they got married.
Steve: Right, but it becomes, in a way, more of an issue for women than for men because women have this so-called biological clock which, in theory, the men don’t have.
So, this is one of the reasons why the birthrate in many countries has dropped in so-called advanced countries or the wealthier countries.
Jill: First world countries.
Steve: Yeah, it seems the wealthier a country is, the fewer children they have.
Jill: Right, the poorer the country, the more children people have.
Steve: The question I want to ask is, first of all if it’s not too personal, how many children do you intend to have, if all goes well?
Jill: Yeah, if all goes well, I think probably two; maybe three.
Definitely, I want more than one and I don’t want more than three so two or three.
Steve: Do you think that most of your friends, your girlfriends, do they want to have two or three children?
Do some of them just want to have their professional career?
Is your attitude typical amongst your friends?
Jill: Most of my friends I have to say, actually, a couple already have children or one child and most of my close friends do want at least a couple of children.
I do have one sister-in-law and another friend who are more focused on their career.
Although they love children and they are very good with children, it’s hard for them to think of, you know, giving up the lifestyle that they have to raise children and if they did have children, they would definitely want to go back to work.
That’s what they think now anyway.
Steve: I think it is a little easier now to work and have children and probably we should make it even easier.
Now, obviously, for a small company like ours, we are not going to start a daycare center here on the premises for 10 employees but we are quite flexible; people can work from home.
Everyone has a computer and high-speed access which the company pays for and people regularly say “I’m working from home today” and we do tend to accommodate people who have to take their children here or take their children there.
Jill: Right, yes.
Steve: And I think the workplace will become more flexible.
Jill: Well, and actually, I read several months ago an article, I think in the newspaper, that was talking about a few big companies here in Vancouver not all Canadian companies but gaming companies such as Radical and EA [Electronic Arts] ,and talking about how they have started, because of this situation of both parents having to work or wanting to work, they’ve started allowing different schedules.
So, one woman, for example, comes in at 6 in the morning and stays until 2 and her husband gets the kids to school and she’s off in time to pick them up from school.
Others go in later and stay until 8 at night and I think some bigger companies are doing things like that or providing daycare services so that it’s easier.
Steve: There was an article in the paper here the other day saying that in Denmark they have increased the birthrate because the health system there is more generous in paying for various, you know, technologies related to helping older women have children.
Jill: Oh, that’s interesting.
Steve: Whereas in Canada, these can be quite expensive and they are not necessarily covered by the health system.
So that whereas women, perhaps, traditionally felt that their childbearing years ended at the end of their 30s or into their early 40s and that was it, now it’s possible to have children later than that.
If women have a career and are professionally very active up until their early or even mid 30s and they then decide to have a family, the idea that the national health system helps them to have children, if they for whatever biological or medical reason would normally have difficulty, you know, that’s not a bad thing to do.
Steve: That’s not a bad thing to do.
Jill: Seems to me that Europe is always sort of on the cutting edge of things like that.
There is often technology there for quite a few years before it comes over to North America.
Steve: Well, it’s not so much that the technology comes from there; I think a lot of the technology is developed in the United States.
But, what’s interesting in Denmark is that the state health system will pay for these technologies so they are not considered just an optional procedure
Jill: That only wealthy people can afford.
Steve: That’s right.
I think people in developed countries are concerned about their aging population; their declining birthrates.
Denmark apparently has a birthrate of 1.9 per thousand or whatever which is quite high per family.
I don’t know what the number is, but replacement is two so at 1.9 they’re not bad.
Steve: Korea is like 1.1; Italy is 1.2; I think Canada is 1.5 or 1.6.
Jill: Japan is very low.
Steve: Japan is very low.
I think it’s also an attitude thing.
I know in talking to some of our French learners the feeling there is that young women now are more interested in having children.
That this whole idea that the women felt that well, I’m not going to have kids; I’m going to have my career.
I think societies’ attitudes are changing and it’s almost as if there’s a sense now that gees, we can’t just
Jill: It’s important to have children.
Steve: We need kids.
Jill: You need to carry on.
Steve: Well, that’s right.
It’s almost as if the sort of western, including Japan and Korea, modern, call it secular non-religious lifestyle, is essentially a suicidal lifestyle in the sense that those communities don’t reproduce themselves.
Steve: So that over a sufficient period of time they won’t be there anymore.
Steve: So, anyway, that’s good.
No, I think we should do more to make it easier for women to have children and to bring them up and yet maintain their, you know, professional careers and so forth.
Jill: And, I mean, part of the problem I know here in Vancouver is there are a lot of women I know and my mom was one of these women who would have loved to have stayed home with her kids but simply couldn’t afford to.
It was just not possible to survive on one income living in such an expensive city and that is definitely the case I think for a lot of people today.
Sure, living in smaller communities and things like that can be cheaper, but it’s just often a necessity.
Steve: And it is true, I think, you know, as attitudes in our society change, there are a lot of women who work who don’t need to work; right.
There are a lot of two-income families where actually one of them makes enough money for both.
Jill: And by the time they’ve paid for daycare too, often they don’t even take in very much from the other person’s salary.
Steve: That’s right.
But it always was I think the case that if a woman is at a party somewhere and someone says “And what do you do?”
And she says “Well, I stay home and look after the kids,” then that was kind of like a loss of face or something.
Steve: But I think attitudes are changing and I think people in society now have more respect for someone that says “Well, I look after the family and I’m very busy doing it. “
Jill: Yes, that”s right and I”m happy to do it.
Steve: And people kind of say “Good for you; we need someone to do that. “
Jill: It’s a tough job.
Steve: It’s a tough job and, of course, it is also a less stimulating environment than, you know, going to work.
But, of course, occasionally I’ll go to a party and I’ll meet some man and I’ll say “What do you do?”
And he says “I”m a househusband. “
You’ve had that happen?
Steve: So, yeah.
Jill: I thought that was only in the movies but that’s great.
Steve: No, I’ve had it twice; I’ve had it twice.
Jill: That’s great.
Steve: I don’t think society has yet fully accepted the househusband.
Jill: Well, and I think it is still rare that a woman makes more than her husband, in most cases; not all, of course.
And so, I think that’s just where it has always made sense that the person who makes the most money is going to continue to work and that’s typically the man.
Steve: Right, although, as you say, it doesn’t have to be but it very often is.
It’s almost like a vicious circle.
I think one of the reasons why women often make less is that the employer kind of halfway expects that somewhere down the line
Jill: they are going to leave.
Steve: And, statistically, they do.
I mean even in something like medicine, a very high percentage of women doctors, which are a higher and higher percentage of graduates from our medical schools, they don’t work as many hours as the men.
Jill: They do part-time.
Steve: They do part-time and they end their careers early so, I mean, there is some truth in that.
Steve: Of course, there are other reasons too, but we don’t want to have the women earning too much money.
I mean that’s come on now.
Jill: You’ve got to keep them under your thumb, ha?
Steve: Well, you know, you have to be a little sensitive to the position of the man.
Steve: So, if the woman makes more than the man, how do you think the man feels?
Have you thought of that?
Jill: They’ve just got to get their egos under control.
Steve: Well, it’s easy for you to say that but, you know, if the woman makes more he can’t boss her around.
Jill: Not all men are interested in bossing around!
Steve: I’m not really, but no, that would be a big comedown.
But, she would have to pretend to make less.
If she were really smart, she would pretend to make
Jill: she would let him still think that he was the breadwinner.
Steve: That’s right. I mean the women control the money anyway.
Jill: We control everything, pretty much.
Steve: Well, that’s right. I haven’t a clue where my money gets spent.
Fortunately though, my wife is more frugal than I am so it’s probably a good thing
Jill: that she’s in control.
Steve: She knows what’s happening.
Steve: Well, okay. Well, we’ve talked a little bit about family-type things and it’s been interesting.
Maybe the next time we talk we’ll talk a little bit about Central America.