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Monday, 15 January 2018

Family Matters in Poland: The Children

Dearest sweethearts,

There is no such thing as a "broken family." Family is family, and is not determined by marriage certificates, divorce papers, and adoption documents. Families are made in the heart. The only time family becomes null is when those ties in the heart are cut. If you cut those ties, those people are not your family. If you make those ties, those people are your family. And if you hate those ties, those people will still be your family because whatever you hate will always be with you.
C. JoyBell C.

Family is what matters the most in life. If you come to think of ones daily schedule you will see we spend 1/3 of our time, life, at work + 1/3 at home (and sometimes stuck in traffic... in transit) + 1/3 sleeping (or at least we should, but whom nowdays sleeps 8 hours?!). That would lead us thinking that at least a third of our life should be spent with the ones we love, doing the things that make us happy. Dunno how life treated you or what your values are, and I do respect your decisions and opinions, but for me Family does come first. The ones whom I love matter the most for me. Family is important both in my home country (Romania) but also in my adoptive home (Poland). I tend to be subjective on my writings, so please don' throw any stones if you feel you do not fit what I am saying :) 
The Three Kings festivity, Krakow, Poland - January 2018
If I am to talk about "Family Matters in Poland" I must also speak about the religious life - Romania is mostly Christian orthodox country as Poland is Catholic. You will find a church every couple of meters and you will find people do go there often, maybe even more regular here in Poland (than in Romania). Religion for sure is not gone! Let's just think about World Youth Day in Krakow in 2016, and the great enthusiasm and the large number of participants that came throughout the world (reaching a peak in the tourism industry, peak that has not dropped ever since!). Of course Catholic church is against abortion and against using protecting as well, so that does make religious familis have many children. Of course, children are a blessing, don't get me wrong; but looking at the generation of my age (people in their 25-30s) you can see the number of children dropping. I also observed that people of my generation are more liberal in their way of thinking, they do want to have kids - maybe 2, maximum 3! - but they also want to make sure that they have a life of their own, that they can travel and develop themselves not only personally but also professionally. Let's face it, mothers can take maternity leave for 6-12 months and that cuts them away from the work environment. Research shows that the capacity of a woman, up to one year after birth, lowers by 10%! Of course it does come back with exercise, but hey! Your brain no longer thinks of Lean, Six Sigma, Process Excellence, KPIs, SLAs or whatever... It's too busy thinking how to stay alive and not get crazy, how to keep alive and well fed and protected and satisfied another human being, that is totally dependent to yourself!
The joys of childhood - January 2018, Krakow, Poland 
Of course, both parents are entitled to the leave. It can be a paternity leave as well and the father can stay home with the little one, but if you are breastfeeding I don't think that's doable at all... I mean from all my friends here in Poland not one tried paternity leave, and I would say at least 80% of my friends stayed the full year with their babies. When I come to think of the fact that in the States you can stay only max 3 months, I find that so hard to do... but in comparison with Romania where you can stay at home 2 years! Oh, that's a privilege! Also, in Poland, the first year after you come back from maternity, you can choose to work only half term (4 hours per day) for a year and they can't refuse you or fire you, so keep that in mind ;) Anyway, what I was trying to say here is that Family and Faith are central pillars in the Polish community. It's very important for the child to be baptised (they can be baptised, as far as I remember, even up to the age of 1 year). It's important for the family to go to church on a regular basis, in their finest clothes, and behave properly throughout their lives. The First Communion is almost celebrated like a small family wedding and the child gets expensive gifts from his/hers godfather and godmother. It's all about the confirmation of joining the Catholic church sacrament.
Losing Your Color - January 2018, Krakow, Poland
The "500+" program - Law and Justice ruling party in Poland recently introduced this program in Poland. For every second and next child under 18 years of age a family receives 500 PLN per month (approximately 110 EUROS). This money is given to the family in order to better raise the children, to help them out financially. I think it's a brilliant idea, though it may have some downsides to it as well... I mean in a way this may increase the birthrate, but experts still can't tell how much :/ some believe this might be an incentive to leave the labor market and entice women to just pop out children like a conveyor belt... I find that very unlikely, especially when we speak of people in the big cities that are focused on a different way of living and a different quality of life. But when we look at the countryside I still think that is possible and probable at the same time - where people mostly work in the field, in agriculture, and still have a very "rural" way of thinking. There family is even more important, and the survival of the family comes from the father that ploughs the field, plants potatoes and takes care of the apple trees VS. the wife, the Mother, who's supposed to cook and clean and make babies and take care of the family. All wrapped up with at least a weekly visit on every Sunday afternoon, at church, in the finest clothes, to praise The Lord for the blessings that they have. It's sometimes a piece of fairytale to see that still happening; nowdays when it's all about speed and information and depersonalising everything...
First Communion - 2016, Krakow, Poland 
I would say that about 95% of the Poles still identify themselves as Catholic, but if you take a closer look that figure is slowly shrinking, especially amongst the youth - who love to challenge everything that they hear or see. Church going is still popular both in the countryside (a lot!) But also in the big cities. The Polish people also love saying that the Church helped them survive through Communist times. It is still a social pressure to be there, in the Catholic community, but I also see it as a good thing, as it brings up the Children in the Light. It helps them understand from an early age the difference between wrong and right, between the light and the darkness. I firmly believe it's never too early to teach your child about that, and about the fact that there needs to be a balance in this world. I also believe that Children should be encouraged to think and speak up their own mind, less watching of TV and computer games, more reading books and playing outside - and I love to say that this is the tendency that I see here in Poland. Everyday I was talking my little Ladybug Baby Girl out for a walk in the park, while I was on maternity leave - for a year, I would see groups of children from kindergardens and schools, going in the park and doing activities outside - tracking competitions, orientation contests, gathering leaves and chestnuts to do manual things... I remember doing that when I was small, I remember being happy and bonding with others, for sure I want my Baby Girl to have that as well. In the end, as parents, don't we all want the most to have our children healthy and happy?! Well I think that's totally doable in Poland, maybe even more than in other countries where one has to worry about a roof over ones head or about being shot in the streets, in broad daylight. Thank God for Peace!
 
Yours sincerely,
The Twisted Red Ladybug That Loves Poland and Her Family (Especially Her Little Ladybug Baby Girl)