One birth - so much controversy...

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One birth - so much controversy...

Post by Saint Kurt » Sat Aug 04, 2007 5:10 am

So, I was looking at the news and I noticed this random article about a family that just had their 17th child. My thoughts: "wow. That's a whole lot of kids." and that was it. Then I noticed a link to various blogs that were discussing the topic and clicked it.

I was shocked that people were not only discussing this topic in depth, but had the most obnoxious things to say. Such as:
Nice couple–a mental eunuch and a brood sow who does little more than spread her legs. Whether they can afford this spawn has nothing to do with it.
Brood sow? Spawn? That's kind of harsh don't you think?
These people are just selfish.
Yeah. How dare they do what they want with their own family! Who do they think they are?
That woman needs to have her uterus stapled shut.
Right. It's nice to threaten bodily harm when you disagree with someone.
It's a uterus, not a clown car.
Well, that's pretty funny actually, but still... kind of harsh again.

And I can't even go into quoting this article/debate/debacle from the most conservative guy on the planet.

What's the deal? I admit it's not exactly the typical way families go, but ... since when did we get so judgemental?

I don't even know if I can form an opinion on this family other than - I hope they're providing a good and loving home for all of their children. If they are - then, what's the big deal? Or am I missing something here with my TV media impaired-ness? Some scandal I don't know about?

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Post by Angelique » Sat Aug 04, 2007 5:37 am

Oh, don't you know? According to a member of my own state's Congress, having even one baby is "the worst thing you can do for the planet."

If you get enough people believing variations of that, plus the notion that a woman's pregnancy and childrearing decisions are everyone else's business, well, that could explain the reaction.

Sad to say I'm not at all surprised. I mean, I have taken flack just for carrying a crisis pregnancy to term rather than aborting, having two children "too close" in age (whatever! They're best friends!), and so forth, and I only have these two children! Had I made any different decisions, like to abort (completely not within my conscience, but you get the point), I would have also been judged harshly, and I wouldn't be surprised if I was so judged by many of the same people who recommend forcibly sterilizing Michelle Duggar.
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Post by Freak » Sat Aug 04, 2007 11:08 am

Meh, haven't you noticed? Having many children is no longer something desireable, it's a stigma. And I know what I'm saying: Coming from a family with four children, it already was hard to find a flat/house for rent. Not that we were poor, the owners just were afraid we'd destroy something (yeah, seems like child=poltergeist).

Funnily enough, I'd say this is just another form of 'racism': A family with many children is something alian to most people, so they react with hatred.

Oh yeah, and on the conservative sob: Only because a woman decides to have 17 children not all women on the whole planet have to do the same and become living breeding machines *duh* Give the man an uterus and let him have the joy of birth :shifty
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Post by fourpawsonthefloor » Sat Aug 04, 2007 5:18 pm

You know what? If there is one thing that people ultimately do, is critique your choices as a mother. Have them a year-2 apart? They are too close. Have them 5 years apart? You are having them too far apart.

You had them that young? You had them that old? You put him in preschool already? Wait - you DON'T have him in preschool yet?

Honestly. Being a mother, will open you to critique. Its not right, or fair, but that is humanity.

I think that this family is completely within their rights to do this. I think I'd die, in their shoes, but that is why there is that wonderful diverseness on this planet. They appear to be a very loving family, and it works for them, so fantastic.

What I am ultimately for, is for people to quit thinking that they know what's best for the rest of the world. I'd rather that people embrace the notion that different things work for different people, and to not dictate to others what they should be doing. That is not to say that advice sometimes can be a marvelous thing...but not judging.

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Post by Saint Kurt » Sat Aug 04, 2007 10:25 pm

Originally posted by fourpawsonthefloorHonestly. Being a mother, will open you to critique.
It's weird isn't it. Suddenly everyone else knows better than you do about what to do with your own family.

About the closest I get is crying babies in supermarkets. This actually has nothing to do with parenting however, but just because supermarkets in general set my teeth on edge. Add a few crying babies and... I want to start crying too. If someone else could push me around in a shopping cart doing my grocery shopping while I sat and cried, I'd totally do it, because I hate shopping.

But unfortunately, it looks bad on a 35 year old woman.

I never say anything of course because ... what would I say? "Hi. Your child is giving me a nervous break down. Anything you can do about it?"

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Post by Garble » Mon Aug 06, 2007 10:56 pm

It's her body, her choice (presumably), it's free country, every child is a miracle, blah blah blah...

Why having 17 children might be a rather bad idea:

Human beings consume resources and produce waste. Especially "not poor" people. Humans also take up space. Not just the physical living space (chances are the kids wont all stay in the same house their whole lives). Think 17 houses, 17 landfills, 17 cornfields & 17 cow pastures for food, 17 cotton fields for clothes, not to mention automobiles and the likelihood that many of these kids will want to have giant families themselves someday. Granted this family is not going to throw the environment into chaos all by themselves but it would be a fucking disaster if everyone did this.

Having said that, I don't agree with the people being hateful towards this family. (It sufficed to roll my eyes when I heard this story.) But I can see why people wouldn't respond well to this presented as an "Oh isn't that cute!" story.

Thinking about it further, what gets me is wondering how much love and attention can each of these kids really get? Do the oldest kids rather resent having virtual parenthood thrust upon them so early? What does middle-child syndrome feel like when there's 7+ siblings on either side? Do the younger kids even get that much attention, or does mom just stampede back into her perpetual state of estrus?

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Post by JSherlock » Tue Aug 07, 2007 4:44 am

Personally, I think having that many children is not a good thing, for many many reasons. How much love and attention are they getting being the biggest one. Can the mom really devote the amount of time needed for each individual? Then, how are they being supported? Having that many kids is a burden not just on the family's expenses, but I'm sure the whole community pitches in, so now they have another mouth to help support. I also think it's fairly selfish of the parents to just keep reproducing. If they like sex that much, why not have all the sex they want and take birth control or use condoms?
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Post by fourpawsonthefloor » Tue Aug 07, 2007 4:51 am

Well. Yes and no. I've seen this family on TV. Now, granted, that's not necessarily a good overall picture, but the kids all kinda help each other, and the older looks after the younger etc. They have this great sense of family.

Now. That may not fit with this generations ideals. At least not in north America.

But look at the rest of the world. And look at a hundred years ago. Families helped each other, and it didn't matter if mom and dad could only afford to buy them each one toy for Christmas, rather than the almost disgusting array that kids get nowadays (and yes, I'm guilty of that too).

While they may not be getting as many financial goods, they have learned other skills, and have other things to bring them happiness. That's a good thing too. Maybe in ways, its better and healthier for them than a single over indulged child that has two parents that work all the time.

I do get the whole concept of 'overburdening' the world as well. Its another mix in NA, cause there is an increasing amount of people that have single children or none at all. So maybe they balance out.

Its all a matter of perception, I think.

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Post by Angelique » Tue Aug 07, 2007 5:37 am

Originally posted by Garble Do the oldest kids rather resent having virtual parenthood thrust upon them so early? What does middle-child syndrome feel like when there's 7+ siblings on either side? Do the younger kids even get that much attention, or does mom just stampede back into her perpetual state of estrus?
If the oldest kids resent "having virtual parenthood thrust upon them," they may be less likely to have a lot of children or even any children at all. Speaking only from my own experience, however, I loved helping my parents out with my siblings from the moment I was old enough to understand that kids in any number are hard work and well worth it. My daughter, at a mere 20 months old, also perceived that being a big sister came with responsibilities, and she embraced her role when her baby brother was on the way. I have also heard other children express disappointment when their parents said there'd be no more baby brothers or sisters.

It seems odd to me that some people would call helping with younger siblings "virtual parenthood," when to me, it is simply a natural part of being an older sibling. In fact, I think any older sibling that doesn't help in such a way is missing out, and parents who try to shelter their children from responsibilities of that or any other nature are not doing them any favors. For instance, when I got pregnant with my daughter, I had to teach my husband stuff like how to hold, burp, bathe, or change a baby... stuff I was helping with and learning to do since I was 2!

As for middle children, again this is only anecdotal, but people I know who were middle children in families from 8 to 14 children did not have the same issues as middle children in families of 3 or 4 children. The middle child role is a less lonely one if you share it with more siblings, and in the larger families I'd known, it was the youngest child, rather than the middle children, that was more likely to feel isolated. Of course, family size alone is no indicator of how children will turn out. There are plenty of small dysfunctional families producing maladjusted kids. I think we could all afford to evaluate how well we raise our children before we judge a mother for having "too many" kids.
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Post by The Drastic Spastic » Tue Aug 07, 2007 4:07 pm

Conservative blog posted
Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar
That explains everything.

Saying the controversy is over "one birth" is a bit misleading. :P

My skin is just crawling right now. Eeeeeuuggh. Maybe it works for them but eeeeeugh. If they were slightly normal it wouldn't be so bad, but they homeschool. *shudder* Homeschooling that many kids says creepy obsessive freaks.
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Post by Angelique » Tue Aug 07, 2007 4:15 pm

Homeschooling that many kids says creepy obsessive freaks.


It also may say they aren't a drain on the public school system.
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Post by puppygirl » Tue Aug 07, 2007 6:34 pm

Just thought I'd put my own two cents in here.

I come from a 'good catholic family' :P and my mother was one of five sisters. Four out of five of those sisters went on to have families of thier own and the smallest of these families has four children. My aunt went on to have 11 children.

11 children!? That's alot of mouths to feed, and while thier house may not be the cleanest or most ordered in the world, you could not hope to meet a nicer bunch of kids, esspecially given that they all live in an area which is subject to gang-murders and race-riots.

My aunt was also able to have quite a large part in raising myself and my younger siblings when my parents were working long hours and we didn't have anywhere else to go after school, and now also has a foster daughter.

I personally think that it really doesn't matter how many kids you raise, one or twenty one, so long as you raise them well. And my aunt kept her son's out of the gangs and her daughters off the streets, where I know families with only one or two children and thier 10-15 year olds are out every night drinking, smoking, having sex and getting involved with the drugs and gang culture.

I mean, sure most of the kids clothes may be hand-me-downs and they don't get a bazillion toys at Christmas and birthdays like Paws said, but if having a spotless house and tons of (let's face it) usless toys is considered a mark of good-parenting, then society really hasn't got it's priorities straight.

Of course, this could be down to diffent cultures, in England there isn't really a taboo about familiy sizes. :)
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Post by fourpawsonthefloor » Tue Aug 07, 2007 6:34 pm

The only thing I have against homeschooling is the wide variety of people that do it. I have a friend that has homeschooled for years. But she offers her kids a wide variety of things, lots of real life stuff, and offers perspectives that differ from her own belief system, so that they can decide for themselves. They are very healthy, well rounded kids with more understanding of how the 'real world' is than a lot of schooled kids.

Many homeschoolers are homeschooling though because they want to 'shelter' thier children...ie give them only a really limited world view. I can't agree with that.

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Post by NachtcGleiskette » Tue Aug 07, 2007 10:38 pm

Shit, its the Duggars?! They had ANOTHER?! I saw a show about them on TLC when they were having their 16th child, and...yeah they're creepy. They homeschool to shelter.
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Post by Saint Kurt » Tue Aug 07, 2007 10:59 pm

Originally posted by NachtcGleiskette
I saw a show about them on TLC ...
See. I knew they had to be on TV. Everything is now.

My only experience with homeschooling was all the homeschooled kids who used to show up on nightscrawlers chat saying it was "okay" as long as they were learning something new. Which led me to ask the question "why wasn't "nightscrawlers chat" a course subject when I was going to school?"

Cool perspective Tears. Thanks.

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Post by The Drastic Spastic » Thu Aug 09, 2007 5:23 am

Originally posted by NachtcGleiskette
Shit, its the Duggars?! They had ANOTHER?! I saw a show about them on TLC when they were having their 16th child, and...yeah they're creepy. They homeschool to shelter.
I knew it!

I slightly know two guys with kids who are homeschooled. One of them seemed like a nice enough guy with a good kid. The other one... shouldn't even have a kid at all. He once (that I heard) allowed his daughter to travel alone to a different city to have an overnight visit ('fuck') with some guy twice her age that she met at the bus station or something. He thought it was a great idea and indicated how super mature she was. (She was 14.) That's a different kind of creepy than this though.

Anyway, that's what I think of when I think of homeschooling. (Lots more horrifying stories where that came from!) I'd rather pay my taxes and know that the kids have some sort of chance at coming through their education not fundamentally broken.
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Post by taekwondodo » Thu Aug 09, 2007 6:39 am

Originally posted by The Drastic SpasticI'd rather pay my taxes and know that the kids have some sort of chance at coming through their education not fundamentally broken.
All I've got to say to that is that is to ask if you honestly think that the vast majority of kids are coming out of this country's public education system not fundamentally broken in one way or another.

As for the Duggar's...they fundamentally horrify me for many reasons and their dedication to filling the world with as many little Duggars as possible is only a peripheral one - and not because I have anything against large families, just that these really aren't the people I'd like to see trying to take over the country by sheer force of numbers.

I homeschool my 3 kids, I personally knew a few dozen homeschooling families in my city, I regularly interact on-line with hundreds more...and as far as I can tell from everything I've seen and read about them, what the Duggars are doing isn't homeschooling, it's brainwashing and indoctrinating. There's way too much about the Duggars that's disturbing to even begin to get into, but 17 kids and god only knows how many more on the way - probably until she dies in childbirth or hits menopause - is only the tip of a very large iceberg.

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Post by Freak » Thu Aug 09, 2007 8:53 am

Heh, the menopause - nature's form of birth control :D

No yeah, I can see the problem with large families especially in the USA: Those who have them are with a high probability some kind of ultra conservatives who think that Earth was created 5000 years ago or so.

But I think the major problem with big families is that they are seen as something ancient, maybe even 'primitive', and alien. You expect to see a family with ten children or more when you go to the Sahel zone, or pay a visit to India, not when you walk across the street in Milwaukee. It's not principally bad, it's just frowned upon.

And, and I hope you won't hate me for that, but I think some people might not like such large family bc it makes them face the fact that they don't even have one child, resulting in the idea that the mothers and fathers of that family are somehow 'bragging'. But only in the back of their mind (The really deeeep back, there where the programing sits that tells you that having a lot of children raises your status in the group. It's the same place that tells men it's ok to look at women's asses :shifty)

About the homeschooling: I think it's just a mean to indoctrinate children, to teach them whatever you think how the world looks like. Sorry, but I can't say it better. For example: I'm studying biology with the highly probable end to get myself a doctor's title one day. Fo r my studies I have to get knowledge I don't have yet out of books, often I have to represent this knowledge. This would make me theoretically a great parent for homeschooling one day. I'd never do it! I despise creationism in any form and therefore have a very critical view on religions at a whole, I think that South America makes a more interesting subject than North America, I dislike chemistry, etc. What I want to say: There is absolutely no way you can be all objective, especially when teaching your kids. Yes, teachers aren't 100% objective in the matters that move the world themselves, but they don't teach their own kids! You're bound to influence your children to think the same way you do, it's hardwired into your brain.

Alas: Many children != bad, but I can understand that people might not like the idea. Homeschooling = a relict and not necessary any more. :)
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Post by fourpawsonthefloor » Thu Aug 09, 2007 6:50 pm

I absolutely love that so many of you are being active in this conversation. It's brilliant.

I'm not a woman who likes absolutes for the most part, though in moments of passion I can and will make statements that are. Always and never are those words that are so very seldomly true.

As with homeschooling/the number of children you do or do not have/any of life, it depends solely on the person that is doing it. Is a mother wrong to homeschool her child that would otherwise have to take over an hours drive to school and back each day? Up here, that's a reality for a lot of farming families. There are a ton of other situations that homeschooling does work for the kids. Not all parents are trying to pursue only a limited point of view, and make every effort to portray a wide viewpoint.

Of course, as with all things, the opposite can and often does take place where, yes, the kids are essentially 'brainwashed' into having a very limited understanding of the world.

But that doesn't make homeschooling bad or good. That's up to the person doing it. And we will form our opinions of it, based on what our life experiences of it are.

I think that families of this size are also rare, simply because in addition to societal pressure, humans generally are just simply unable to have that many children. If you look at other countries/situations where birth control is not widely used, you don't see scads of people having this many children. Women just aren't built for it.

Anyways, I'd like to say again how wonderful it is to see you all. Keep the opinions and posts coming :).

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Post by Freak » Thu Aug 09, 2007 9:46 pm

Yeah, respect knuckles for everyone. :)

And I have to admit that I overlooked the problem with the farms in the USA. Yes, that's something that would make homeschooling necessary (although I have to sneak in that this is also the case in Australia, and they have lessons via radio there ;))

And yeah, human women have developed into a direction of very little reproduction over the evolution, so having that many children is indeed not normal by any definition (which doesn't make her a freak of nature or anything). On that account (beware, trivia passing): The most children a woman has ever given birth to was 69 (the woman was Russian, if I remember correctly...yep: http://uk.answers.yahoo.com/question/in ... 347AARhVCP)....And in the male corner the record is upheld by a persian king who has 'created' around 600 heirs (seems like it's proven, just heard of that one). :D
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Post by littlebamf » Thu Aug 09, 2007 11:33 pm

I hear similar stories in the news every other week or so about people with enormous families who badger the local council for bigger houses for their growing families, though some might feel a set of 14 kids is more of a population explosion.

In a lot of these cases, the parents don't work and survive on benefits to get by on, and seriously, some of the available benefits are not too shabby and are better than what I am given as a university student in some cases.

I used to live near a 'large brood' when I was small, and being one of the very few young children in the area they would often descend upon my house, take over my room and commandere my toys. As the youngets child of three and by a considerable age gap, I found this incredibly perplexing and I had very little time for it and going to their house was like stepping into another world, especially into a room with four beds as I had only ever had to share with a moody teen sister and a dog.

But then you do have the flipside of these cases where you get a family that seems to be right out of the Waltons and they all work hard and look out for each other and the parents make sure their children are properly fed, clothed and educated in schools.

I must say, it's the homeschooling I find more of an issue I suppose. A house containing that many people must be bursting already, without the kids being able to get out of that enviroment and into school, where they can interact with children who they don't have to share a bedroom with at night.

But then, it does really depend on the family and their location and ability to send the kids to school. Somtimes it just can't be helped.

The family I meantioned didn't seem to go to school much, if ever due to the local primary school being so far away and in winter even I didn't go to school very much due to severe weather conditions and being a sickly little thing, but I didn't have ten brothers and sisters to trip over, just my dog.

Big families are real and a fact and people can like or dislike them as much as they want and bring up valid arguments for both sides, but the fact is, some people are fixed on the idea of having a 'brood' and they just won't be swayed.

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Post by fourpawsonthefloor » Thu Aug 09, 2007 11:40 pm

Ahhh. Having children to gain support has always put my panties in a bunch. Some teen girls seem to view this as a career path. Things are getting harder here to do that though - there are a lot more hoops to jump through.

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Post by littlebamf » Thu Aug 09, 2007 11:47 pm

Yep. A lot of girls here see 'mother' as a valid career option and a way of getting a council flat and regular handouts. It's sad, but they can't seem to realsie they can be a lot more than that and just go on to have a lot of children.

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Post by Garble » Fri Aug 10, 2007 12:19 am

To clarify, I know many families with 6 kids or more. But we're taking 17 kids (and counting) here, and that's quite different.

And when I was talking about love and attention, I wasn't talking about material things. Even if the parents are able to afford to attend to all the kids' physical needs and/or they simply don't require much, there's still only a finite amount of the most necessary requirement for raising a happy child; time. With only 24 hours in a day and much of that devoted to the requirements of pregnancy how much face time can each of those kids really get?

There's usually a practical side to any practice. The regions where having 10+ kids is more common and America's own past are different from here and now in that we have much longer life spans and much lower infant mortality rates. If most children don't live to see 3, and many adults don't live past 30 it's a good idea to make babies early and often. But where infants have a better chance than not of making it and it's common for people to live into their 90's there's really no reason to try to get every egg fertilized. It's safe to ease up on the whole "be fruitful and multiply" thing.

And I'm sure homeschooling works great when the parents are intelligent and well informed. If not... well, good luck with that, kid.

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The Drastic Spastic
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Swashbuckler
Posts: 1846
Joined: Wed Oct 09, 2002 3:01 am
Location: ROK

One birth - so much controversy...

Post by The Drastic Spastic » Fri Aug 10, 2007 2:08 am

Originally posted by taekwondodo
Originally posted by The Drastic SpasticI'd rather pay my taxes and know that the kids have some sort of chance at coming through their education not fundamentally broken.
All I've got to say to that is that is to ask if you honestly think that the vast majority of kids are coming out of this country's public education system not fundamentally broken in one way or another.
I'm from Canada and our public education system seems to be WAY better than anything you can get in the States. Maybe if the schools here sucked, I'd be more understanding of homeschooling. You'd need to have an incredible knowledge childhood education to provide a better education than you'd get in public school in Canada.
Originally posted by Garble
And I'm sure homeschooling works great when the parents are intelligent and well informed. If not... well, good luck with that, kid.
This is the problem I have with it. There don't seem to actually be any controls on who can do it. Some people are probably great at it, some are okay, and some are just horrible. In general, I think kids are better off attending school outside of the home, with qualified teachers. Of course there are some parents who are genuinely up to the job but I don't think that's the rule.
Und die Sonne spricht zu mir

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