Yesterday night at work I turn on the radio at about 8:30PM to hear what's on AM1500 KSTP while I'm finishing up work. Chris Krok was discussing large families, specifically in regards to a Minneapolis Star-Tribune article by Katherine Kersten entitled "Meet One Big 'Counterculture' Family" which talked about a large family that puts all the kids to work with daily chores. Chris claimed that every large family he knows is screwed up. He also repeated many of the falsehoods about large families. He tried to portray large families as somehow being socially maladjusted because of how closely the family members tend to be growing up, and that Mom doesn't have enough love to go around. He speculated that mothers have that many children for the selfish reason that they just like being busy. He compared childhood assigned chores to child labor. And of course he repeated the common "How can people afford a large family?" nonsense. If I recall correctly, he even claimed that large families are at fault for "overpopulation".
I knew I had to call in. So I called... 651-646-TALK. Grr. Busy. Redial. Grr... still busy. So I gave up. Then I called again 2 minutes later. IT'S RINGING! I'm nervous. The call screener comes on and asks me what I'm calling about. I tell him I come from a family of 12 and I don't agree at all with Chris. I think it was great. He puts me on hold and I listen to a commercial break and about 3 other callers. Finally, I'm on. I stumble for the first 3 seconds and then finally spit it out "I really don't understand what the big deal is. I came from a family of 12 and I thought it was great. We all grew up on a farm." Chris interrupts to ask if I think it'd be as good an experience off of the farm. At this point, I hear the faint sound of the end of the hour bumper music coming through my phone. GAH! I'm not going to get to finish a point! I tell him something to the effect of "I really don't think that should make a difference" and "The whole economic argument is bogus. If anything, it was harder back then than it is now to raise a large family." Chris thanks me for the call, and says "Maybe we're just spoiled." in regards to society as a whole. Well, at least I can agree with that.
So there I was. Nervous AND frustrated. So what can I do? Write about it I guess. Let's take a look at some of the arguments:
People today can't financially afford/support large families. But yet, somehow we can afford to eat out several times a week, go the the bar, buy new cars, get new furniture, subscribe to cable, high-speed internet, the daily paper, magazines, rent movies, go the the theater (or theatre if you're a cultured lib), drink $5 cups of coffee, take exotic vacations, well, you get the point. With an occaisional exception or two, my family grew up without most of these things, and as far as I'm concerned, we were all the better for it. Some might have considered our youth to have been
impoverished, but we never would have known or cared about it. Most all us grew up to be fine, upstanding, intelligent, and successful adults. Poor economics does not result in economic and intellectual poverty later in life. Poor morality, however, can.
Large families result in socially maladjusted adults.
If this were true, we'd have had a country filled with mostly serial killers and criminals back in the 50's. Large families usually have parents that concentrate on the development of their children instead of the development of a luxurious social life. Raising kids would take away time from precious careers, and after-work activities. Selfish stuff really. If you take the time to raise your kids to be good adults, instead of sending them off to daycare to learn how to be bad children, they'll grow up just fine. And when you have responsible older siblings giving a good example, the kids learn well from each other how to be good adults.
Large families contribute to the problem of overpopluation. This is simple. Overpopulation is a myth. Here's a simple test to help demonstrate this point: Take an hour drive in either direction from where you are now, and you'll get a better idea just how populated the surface of the planet is. Still disagree? Fine. I've maintained for sometime that God has a fateful plan for the world that favors his followers. God said "Be fruitful and multiply" for a reason. If a Catholic teaches his children well, they will be fruiful and mutiply as well. If he does not, they will not. It's God's own wonderful form of Darwinism. Those who obey him will literally inherit the Earth by default. God wants a strong army on his side, and he will by his own design.
Giving children daily chores is child labor. I can't think of anything anything better to do for your children than to get them off the couch, away from the computer, and even away from the pool or playground and put them to work. Mowing the lawn, maintaining a garden, cleaning the house, cooking meals, doing laundry, wash the car, etc. There's plenty to do in a household, and if there's not, show them how to help out in the family business. Farming, as much as I hated it at the time, showed me how to be responsible and the value of hard work. There was always work to be done, and usually we spent our days during the summer vacation months working hard from sun-up to sunset. Work is good for the soul, and kids need to learn this. When you take this away from childhood, children grow up to think that they are entitled to have things, instead of working to have things. Life isn't about self-gratification, it's about learning selfless service in preparation for eternity.
Personally, I take offense to those who say that people shouldn't have more than a few kids. If my parents had decided at nearly any point in their marriage to stop having children, I woudn't be here today. I'm eternally grateful for my Mom and Dad's dedication to our family, and to bringing more souls into our family, rather than more money. When we've all left this world, what will we have to show for ourselves. A life of selfish pleasures which have long since faded? Or of selfless love which will live on for generations if not for eternity? We all have the choice by free will to take control of our own lives, but I suggest we give control over to God and let Him decide how many is "too many".
PS: It's so nice to know that there are still women out there that agree with these views, especially Kaylan, whom I copyright. ;-)
Update 8/1: Much thanks to Chris Kroc who kindly responded to my request for information on the source of the article. A link has been added above to view the original column.