|Marijo Živković, co-director of Family Center in Zagreb (Croatia)|
Reported at The Third Annual International Riga Family Forum “The Natural Family as a Value and State\'s Priority” (Latvia, May, 2011)
Croatia is a European country with 4,5 million population. We have the same or similar demographic problems as the rest of Europe. Voluntary limitation of the number of children to one or two, and consequently less births than deaths.
Due to widespread educational pro-family work carried out systematically during the times of relative freedom of action since 1966 as well as during the times of much more freedom after 1990., the family situation in Croatia has changed for better in many aspects.
One characteristic of that educational work was successful efforts to argue for family values with such arguments as justice, honesty, true love, quality of life, joy in life, constructivity, creativity, human dignity, value and importance of every human person, scientific information, especially about humanity of unborn child from the moment of conception, developing clear vocabulary, etc.
We have now statisticaly visible results:
Growth of the number of families with three or more children, I think, is most important among all the recent demographic improvements in Croatia.
Let\'s look at other countries. In Poland, legal abortion has almost completely eliminated, but the number of such families is decreasing there. In Ireland, abortion is prohibited by the Constitution, but the number of such families is decreasing too. In Germany, Sweden, Switzerland and other European countries with very high standards of living, the number of families with three or more children is also getting smaller and smaller.
We concentrated on so-called personal reasons to love, since having several children is based on true, intelligent and mature love. Having studied the families which in very different socio-economic situation have mature love and therefore decide to have several children, we identified such reasons and started promote them. With the help of those reasons we answered to standard excuses couples usually quoted to justify limiting the number of their children to one or two.
Back in 1973, we printed 300,000 brochures with our arguments. I will mention here only three of them:
The difficulty of our work is to oppose an aggressive anti-family activity of mass-media, government officials and some NGOs:
During the communist time (since 1966 we had more freedom than the other communist countries) we printed and distributed as gift hundreds of thousands booklets and leaflets promoting love to unborn children, having several children, building beautiful, successful and joyful family life, etc. Since the liberation from communism, we printed and distributed millions of booklets and more then a million of books with same messages.
Back in the communist time, we came to schools and churches and show there movies where it was explained that an unborn child is a human being.
When we have money, we buy some space in newspapers and publish our pro family messages.
Fact is that we would have much better results if we would succeed in spreading intelligent messages among all population of Croatia by and doing it repeatedly according to the best promotional methods. Unfortunately, we still have not succeeded in that...
Our government and many local authorities take measures to help families with several children financially. It is very good, it is just, it is necessary. But the government activity in that field has one negative effect. The government speaks about only financial measures to help families to have more children. But speaking about more money to have more children, the government unintentionally repeats excuses often used by couples for limiting the number of their children (complaining about lack of money, good housing, etc.)
In Croatia, we do not use term “natural family”. We associate the word “natural” mostly with landscapes, forests, etc. We prefer the term “true family”; and as often as possible we specify what we mean by true family, true parenthood, true love, which is between one man and one woman and is irrevocable, unconditional, lifelong, faithful, tender, respectful, active, serious and mature.