Sunday, February 8, 2009

The More the Merrier?


Large families are all over the news and the internet, thanks to the birth last week of 8 human babies at once to an unwed, unemployed mom of 6 in California (oy vay, as if Californians don't already get a bad rap), to say nothing of Angelina Jolie's recent additions to her family.

Which is why there's a long article in the New York Times about large families "And Baby Makes How Many? In the Era of Shrinking Broods, Larger Families Can Feel Attacked."

Writer Kate Zernike interviews several moms of large families, with as many as 12 children, and she writes:
With anecdotes of a boomlet in larger families in places like the Upper East Side of Manhattan and select pockets of suburbia, large families are presumed to be either really rich, having children as status symbols, or really poor, living off the dole and completely devoid of culture.
I found this article very interesting (and it features a photo of a friend of mine, Meagan Francis, who is expecting her 5th and is the author of "Table for Eight," but I read it wondering about the dads? We see them in the pictures but not a single dad of a large family is quoted in the article.

So what do you think of large families? Do you want to have more than 2 or 3 children? Do you think large families are culturally irresponsible or do you think they are a celebration of happiness? We'd love to hear your thoughts!

6 comments:

Cindy L said...

Ok, I'm a mom, not a dad, so I hope it's OK to comment here. I find this topic very compelling and interesting. I know many people from BIG happy families, and I know that parents of large families are often criticized today, and I think that's terribly unfair.

That said, when you're an only child (like I am) and your child is an only child, you also get TONS of criticism. You're often accused of being selfish for "limiting" your family, and if you're an only, people label you as spoiled no matter how generous you are. Seems like we can't win, either way.

I believe family size is a personal choice -- one we must make with care and responsibility and love. And a healthy dose of self-knowledge.

How many kids a parent has is their business, a private matter. But then again, things can get really tricky when parents are unable to provide for their children -- and then seek government help to subsidize them. Then, really, it's not quite so personal ...

Anonymous said...

I think this is a very difficult and touchy subject. As a single father of three, having children at all is a job that in the wake of my divorce, has lost some of it's appeal, while also creating a more sensitized relationship with each of my children. I find it more apparent than ever that the single most important aspect of having children is the ability to have a personal relationship with each one individually, while maintaining the unity of family and transferring the social importance of our own familial communities on to them, in how this relates to our global community.

With population statistics that personally, scare me, and the consumption of the average 2 to 3 child American family, I see the point in considering smaller families to be more culturally responsible. On the flip side of this, I do not believe in population control.

If I were able to go back in time, I would have preferred to have 4 kids instead of 3. It seems that no matter what, one child is always being left out or singled out by whichever two are teaming up. This mentality is common in all species of mammals and my happy little inner city brood is no exception.

Having children completely changed my life. I find there is little in the world that compares in value and importance to raising a family. Child development philosophy that I feel every conscientious individual needs to experience in order to understand our race on a societal level as well as our own selves in relationship to others in our personal circles. Without the experience of children, i feel one is left without all of the information needed to live responsibly, humanely, and compassionately.

For me, every child is a complete celebration of life itself. And isn't celebrating life the point? It's certainly not to work for the continuation of commerce. That's just a side effect of needing to feed ourselves.

Nik Edgerton said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nik Edgerton said...

I think this is a very difficult and touchy subject. As a single father of three, having children at all is a job that in the wake of my divorce, has lost some of it's appeal, while also creating a more sensitized relationship with each of my children. I find it more apparent than ever that the single most important aspect of having children is the ability to have a personal relationship with each one individually, while maintaining the unity of family and transferring the social importance of our own familial communities on to them, in how this relates to our global community.

With population statistics that personally, scare me, and the consumption of the average 2 to 3 child American family, I see the point in considering smaller families to be more culturally responsible. On the flip side of this, I do not believe in population control.

If I were able to go back in time, I would have preferred to have 4 kids instead of 3. It seems that no matter what, one child is always being left out or singled out by whichever two are teaming up. This mentality is common in all species of mammals and my happy little inner city brood is no exception.

Having children completely changed my life. I find there is little in the world that compares in value and importance, to raising a family. Child development is a philosophy that I feel every conscientious individual needs to experience in order to understand our race on a societal level as well as our own selves in relationship to others in our personal circles. Without the experience of children, I feel one is left without all of the information needed to live responsibly, humanely, and compassionately.

For me, every child is a complete celebration of life itself. And isn't celebrating life the point? It's certainly not to work for the continuation of commerce. That's just a side effect of needing to feed ourselves.

About the book said...

Nik-you ended up anonymous and my name is "About the Book" cause I can't figure out how to change it, oy vay.

Thanks for your thoughtful comments. I think everything you both said is really true and that this is such a difficult, touchy subject. On the one hand we need to stay out of people's lives. On the other hand, when people need help from the government, and ask for it, then they are giving us a reason to feel we have the right to an opinion because -- in a way -- we are supporting their lifestyle.

Nik, it's so true that kids need INDIVIDUAL attention and alone time with their parents. I feel sad about one friend in town who has 4 kids and another on the way because I see her kids (they are all under 7) really starved for some individual recognition and time with their mom. Don't get me wrong--the kids aren't mistreated or suffering in any way. But they are lost in the family, especially the littlest two (the oldest will always be the oldest and of the 4 there is 1 boy so that makes him special)...

A friend on Facebook (a father of three!) wrote, "Does my insurance pay for a vasectomy?" The truth is a lot of larger families include Whoopsies...

Also, Cindy, I totally hear you about people judging you for having one child. I think that is so strange and unfair. Jennifer Neisslein at Brain, Child has wrote a bunch about that topic too. Is your husband also an only child?

Jennifer Margulis (posing as About the book but not on purpose)

Paul said...

Caveat Emptor...I know nothing about this. I'm an only child and only have 2 kids. If we had started earlier, we would have had more. That's easy to say, now of course. I wonder why more dads aren't discussed in these articles. Maybe, because at this size, it takes a village and brothers and sisters become just as big a factor as then entire family ends up doing part of the parenting. At least, that's what I've heard.