Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Response to "The New Traditional Family Gets Respect"

Psychology Today writer Susan Newman is noticing that the single child family is getting more respect than in the past. She claims the traditional notion is that families should have multiple kids. She believes this is a good step because raising children is much more expensive, and she discusses the fact that many parents are choosing to have fewer children.

I agree but also disagree with her assessment. First of all, I do not believe single child families are discriminated against very much. It is indeed rather normal for a family to opt to have but one child. On the other hand, families with 4 or more children are often looked upon with suspicion and possibly disdain. The mother is seen as an oppressed baby-making factory that is the result of a domineering patriarchal subgroup. Sometimes they are even compared to parasites who are beset on overloading the fragile earth with offspring.

Most often, two children is considered the responsible number. Three is reluctantly accepted, but go beyond that and you open yourself to ridicule. I do agree that perhaps people look down on single-child families. The child is seen as selfish, as is the family. It is also seen a cruel to refuse a sibling for this young person.

I think we must have respect for single-child families. Often they have very good reasons for having only one child. Perhaps financial, medical, or other issue. We ought to give them the benefit of the doubt.

Another area with which I take issue in this article is the idea that parents decide how many children they will have based on financial considerations and lifestyle choices. Children are seen as additions to a marriage, like a two-car garage vs. a one-car garage. People try to "engineer" their family. Many say they want one boy and one girl. That they say will complete their "image" of a family. This of course leads to other abuses of fertility.

Couples who achieve their two child limit will often have permanent sterilization performed on themselves. In extreme cases, they may even opt for in-vitro fertilization as they seek to engineer their boy-girl family. On the other side of the equation, many couples who have fertility problems will resort to any means to have two children, whether these methods are morally licit or not.

I believe we must renew our understanding of fertility. It is a gift from God and does not fluctuate between a blessing and a curse depending on the desire of those using it. Rather than manipulating and controlling our bodies, why not seek what God and nature has intended. Contraceptives are the only medical tool used to prevent a properly-functioning system from doing what it is meant to do.

Because of our contraceptive mentality, our society is suffering. Most Western nations are at below-replacement level fertility rate, meaning if this trend continues, our populations will continue to decline. This has many negative consequences. Because people are living to an older age, we need more workers to support them. With not enough young people around, the system becomes top-heavy with many elderly but few young people. Also, young working people pay taxes, which is used to provide services for elderly people. Right now there is a lot of risk for social services, including pension.

Because Western countries are dropping in fertility, so too does their influence drop. Those with ideas which are radically different than ours flood into these countries to keep them alive. Our democracy, ideas of equality, religious freedom, and other issues are affected negatively.

Let us stop putting our bodies at risk by sabatoging natural processes. Children are not accessories or ego-boosts, they are gifts from God. There are good, valid reasons for refraining from seeking to have another child, so we can never judge anyone's motivation. But if someone can properly support them, I implore them to joyfully follow God's plan.

The article to which I was responded is located here.

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