Modern Western society is unusual in seeing the family as an institution defined by a marriage and which has at its core the benefit of children. In contrast to such child-centred models of the family, other cultures emphasize the family and kinship as the transmission of wealth and power, as well as of cultural tradition. Leach (1994) points to a curious and complex anomaly. Whereas in non-Western societies children are ‘needed as apprentice people’ (to validate the marriage, to work, to broaden kinships, etc.), in our culture children are ‘wanted’, not to meet practical social needs, but rather to fulfil perhaps biologically rooted, and certainly deeply felt, personal desire. Society’s ambivalence about children may well be linked with this exclusively personal emotional (rather than, say, economic) investment in the next generation.