Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Are Large Families Irresponsible?

This isn't a great picture, but I love how the big boys are helping Owen.

 My friend Renee was recently quoted in an article about whether or not having a large family is irresponsible. Renee asked her blog readers to weigh in and, as usual, what I have to say can't really be fit into a small comment .Basically I agree with Renee, it's not the size of your family that matters as much as how you raise them.

 There is a deep seated belief in the United States that no one could possibly CHOOSE to have a lot of kids. If you have more than two or maybe three, it can only be because you are too stupid or irresponsible to understand how birth control works. It seems to be incomprehensible to many people that some of us actually make a conscious decision to have large families. I  feel that many of the things I want my children to grow up learning are easier with more children. I want my children to have compassion for other people. I want them to understand that their own wants don't always come first. I want them to learn how to cooperate with others. I'm not saying that you can't teach kids those things without them having lots of siblings, but I think it is easier. My kids don't have a choice about sharing, they've never had their own rooms. They have to wait their turn, I can't possibly cater to each of them the instant they want even if I wanted to. They pretty much always have to think about other peoples needs, it's just in their face all the time.

You wouldn't believe how many people are shocked at how great Connor is with his baby sister.
 I'm always hearing about how overpopulated the world is and how there aren't enough resources for everyone. the truth is there wouldn't be enough resources to go around if everyone in the world lived the "ideal" American life. My response is why should everyone expect to live that way? My Grandfather shared a bed with his 5 brothers. My Mother shared a room with her 4 sisters. I recently had an appraiser ask me how my 7 kids fit into a a 2000sq ft house. He was shocked to find that one of our 4 bedrooms isn't actually used as a bedroom. Why should each child expect to have their own room? They share just fine. Most of them actually prefer it that way. My kids don't have any problems wearing hand me downs. They get new clothes when they really need them. Why should we change clothes every season just because a magazine tells us that the jeans we wore last season aren't in style any more? That's what strains our natural resources, not creating more future workers.

 When my fifth child was a baby, I remember hearing about Mariah Carey bragging about her 1200 sq ft closet on Oprah. No one was condemning her for wasting space and resources (I'm assuming she filled that closet with pricey clothes and accessories, not poor orphans in need of shelter). Our house at the time was smaller than her closet at 1149 sq ft , but I was accused of being selfish and wasting important resources by having 5 kids. The city we lived in had recently increased their water and sewer charges. Several parents were talking about the increases at Taekwondo class. I knew that we had always tried to conserve, but even I was shocked to find that our bill was less than any of the other families with 2-3 children. That's with using cloth diapers and having a large garden. Our electric bill was one of the lowest too. We had a close acquaintance who always bought their daughter a whole new wardrobe every season. They would just go to their favorite store and buy a line of clothing. I was telling my husband about it one day (a bit enviously) and my daughter overheard. She quickly piped up "I guess we're just hand me down kind of kids". I admit, I started crying. In this country our parenting is often judged by how many things we provide our kids and our worth by how much money we spend. My adorable little daughter didn't understand why I was upset by her comment. " I thought recycling was a good thing Mommy, You always teach us not to waste. Besides, I like hand me downs, they're more comfortable". My kids have never had any idea that they are being short changed by modern American standards. It's just how we live. They have everything they need and quite a few things they want. They don't understand the need for more. If they do want something we don't provide they figure out how to earn the money for it. One of my children recently raked in quite a bit of money for his birthday. He still hasn't spent most of it months later. He told me he doesn't need anything badly enough to want to spend his money he'd rather just save it.  Honestly, how can our world NOT need more kids like him? Wouldn't I be MORE irresponsible if I stopped producing children like that?

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