Monday, February 2, 2009

How many children is too many?

Last week, the news media was all over the incredible story of a mom giving birth to octuplets! Imagine, all at one time. And apparently, the mom and doctors were only expecting seven. The media loved this story until the revelation came that the mom already had six children.

Immediately, responses from the media and water-cooler talk hailed the now family of 14 children as "stupid," "irresponsible," and "insane." This was my first time through personal conversations that I've heard coworkers reveal their large family bias. I am not unwise to the fact that American society seems to deplore large families, and I'm not referring to families with 3 or 4 children (although to most that is what constitutes a large family). Several of my favorite bloggers have several children...i.e. 8 or more. I guess I've kinda gotten used to that being a large family.

My problem with the majority of criticisms surrounding mega-families is that people don't realize that these children are seen as blessings, not burdens to the parents. Honestly, why does it matter if a family chooses to have God decide their number of children if they desire it so? Most of the time, these families are not living off of the bloated welfare system; their parents are providing for them in a responsible manner. One of my favorite mega-families is the Duggars. I recently read their new book, "The Duggars: 20 and Counting!" Truly inspirational in so many ways.

Big families certainly attract intrigue, considering the average American family has 2.1 kids. It's no wonder that the Duggars' tv show as well as Jon & Kate Plus 8 are getting mainstream attention. Most people, especially parents cannot fathom taking care of a literal classroom of children. Might I add that most parents cannot fathom having well-behaved children.

The title of this post, "How many children is too many?" will not be answered here. It's a rhetorical question that requires serious thought and introspection. I just thought it'd be interesting to weave implications regarding families into the mix.

Here are a couple of links related to families...

Some people believe 2 children should be the maximum.... yet "Worldwide, birthrates have declined by 50% in the past half-century," the groups say. "There are now 59 nations, with 44% of the world's population, with below replacement birthrates." A birthrate of 2.1 is needed to replace current population, but the European Union has a birthrate of just 1.3. By 2030, the group's estimate, Europe is expected to have a shortfall of 20 million workers.

Al Mohler examines the impact of children

One of my favorite bloggers, Jess, looks at the implications of living in a birth-control infatuated society... explains very common stereotypes and misconceptions.

A compilation of large family comebacks :) Q."Do you know what causes that?!" A. "Yes, I do...cold winter nights..."

Another post from Jess on what Scripture reveals about children, moms, and dads.

And this mom of 8 challenges my thinking in "Is eight enough?"....
"To look in each of the faces around our dinner table, to know that we thought we were probably done with the baby thing after 1, then after 2, then after 3...sometimes my heart is in my throat as I think, "What if I had called it quits? You wouldn't be here! I would have missed the amazing miracle of you..."

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