Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Big Families as a Status Symbol

I'm part of a huge family. Grannie always said she just had a knack for making babies. A big family made sense back in the 1920s and 30s. Infant mortality rates were high, and particularly among farm families, another pair of hands to help with chores was an asset.

In the 60s and 70s, birth control made it easier to control family size. Large families were less common, but not all that unusual. Rather than another set of hands, another baby was more often seen as another mouth to feed. Larger families became more of a liability when you had to buy rather than grow your food. Population growth became more of an issue for many, and smaller families became the norm.

Large families are back in vogue and appear to be something of a status symbol. I see big families all over the place--shopping malls, grocery stores, and community events. They roll out of the Esplanade in matching outfits as Mom & Dad unfold a stroller that's bigger than some RVs.

The media is all over a gianormous family. There's John & Kate Plus 8--their eight kids (sextuplets and twins). Then we have the Duggars who proudly proclaim 18 and counting. That's right--18 biological kids that dutifully line up for interviews on news and talks shows. And now we have Welfarjolina with her 14 kids in just two litters. You wait--as soon as those little pups can talk they'll be all over television.

For the life of me I can't understand how anyone would think it's OK to have more than 3 or 4 kids in this day and time. Frankly, that's being generous. The Chinese policy that limits couples to one child makes much more sense in this day and age. Does seem, however, that the policy is starting to create an entirely different set of problems. Oh well. At least they get it, and they tried.

Yeah I know. Couples have a right to have as many children as they want. Shoot. You don't even have to be a couple. Single parenthood is all the rage now. If a single mom wants to have 14 kids, who am I to object? Besides, it's immoral to have an abortion. Many believe it's immoral to practice any form of birth control, too. Those same people don't see anything the least bit immoral about a big family like the Duggars. I blame the new math.

We care more about dogs and cats. Thanks to Sarah McLachlan, most people would adopt pets from shelters rather than pet stores or puppy farms, and have those animals spayed or neutered. We're much less concerned about the plight of foster kids that grow up in group homes or bounce around from foster family to foster family without every really finding a home. Maybe the difference is the picture of an actual animal in a shelter that Sarah sends when you donate.

I say let everyone have two biological kids, then off to the spay/neuter clinic with your gonads. If you want more than two kids, you're going to have to adopt them. Hardly seems fair to bring more kids into the world when there are many perfectly good kids out there waiting for homes. Just ask Sally Struthers--and she'll send you a picture, too.

1 comment:

MadeMark said...

I was the last of nine from an alcoholic father and a mother who couldn't seem to stop getting pregnant. He split and she ended up giving six of us up. Amazingly we found our way back to some extent and I'll be going to see her and my siblings in Mississippi in May (it's been 10 years). This time my partner is going with me. I'm a little nervous, but they assure me everything's going to be fine. I don't believe it's possible to truly nurture eight or twelve or sixteen children. It's kind of bizarre in my opinion. There's some kind of pathalogy to it, but you're right, the media and the public love that stuff. I have no idea why. They're repelled when someone has twenty cats. Maybe there's some immortality/fear of death element to it.

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