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Author Topic: The New Red-Diaper Babies
philnotfil
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http://www.nytimes.com/2004/12/07/opinion/07brooks.html

quote:
All across the industrialized world, birthrates are falling - in Western Europe, in Canada and in many regions of the United States. People are marrying later and having fewer kids. But spread around this country, and concentrated in certain areas, the natalists defy these trends.

They are having three, four or more kids. Their personal identity is defined by parenthood. They are more spiritually, emotionally and physically invested in their homes than in any other sphere of life, having concluded that parenthood is the most enriching and elevating thing they can do. Very often they have sacrificed pleasures like sophisticated movies, restaurant dining and foreign travel, let alone competitive careers and disposable income, for the sake of their parental calling.


quote:
You can see surprising political correlations. As Steve Sailer pointed out in The American Conservative, George Bush carried the 19 states with the highest white fertility rates, and 25 of the top 26. John Kerry won the 16 states with the lowest rates.

In The New Republic Online, Joel Kotkin and William Frey observe, "Democrats swept the largely childless cities - true blue locales like San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, Boston and Manhattan have the lowest percentages of children in the nation - but generally had poor showings in those places where families are settling down, notably the Sun Belt cities, exurbs and outer suburbs of older metropolitan areas."

Politicians will try to pander to this group. They should know this is a spiritual movement, not a political one. The people who are having big families are explicitly rejecting materialistic incentives and hyperindividualism. It costs a middle-class family upward of $200,000 to raise a child. These people are saying money and ambition will not be their gods.


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Zyne
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More power to 'em.
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TomDavidson
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"The people who are having big families are explicitly rejecting materialistic incentives and hyperindividualism."

Ah. See, I just figured they liked being covered in spetum.

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Kit
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Nah, Tom, the spetum covering is just a fringe benefit.

Got one, want more. 1st of 5 myself, wife is 2nd of 5. "Lots of kids" runs in the family?

Incidently "3, 4, or more kids"? That small to medium to me, now my cousins with 10 children..that's a big family.

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TomDavidson
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I've got one. I want two. And that's where I intend to stop, because I prefer quality over quantity. [Smile]

Seriously, I've seen people with gi-normous families -- my wife comes from one, for example -- and I just don't see the appeal. *shudder*

[ December 07, 2004, 11:29 AM: Message edited by: TomDavidson ]

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Wayward Son
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quote:
The people who are having big families are explicitly rejecting materialistic incentives and hyperindividualism. It costs a middle-class family upward of $200,000 to raise a child. These people are saying money and ambition will not be their gods.
I find this rather offensive. My wife and I only have one, and I doubt we will have more (this one is more than enough [Roll Eyes] ), but I certainly don't consider myself "materialistic" or a "hyperindividualist." Just because we only have one doesn't mean we're limiting ourselves for selfish reasons.

And just because people have many doesn't mean they are all doing it for unselfish reasons.

The author appears to be using a very simplistic stereotyping based on his own prejudices.

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JLMyers
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I agree with WS.

I wanted two, have two, and that's enough.

People with too many kids are drains on the enviroment. Might as well go out and by an SUV. [Razz]

Not too get to serious, but I've heard some of those religions won't let their followers use birth-control. So, bigger families.

KE

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TomDavidson
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"Not too get to serious, but I've heard some of those religions won't let their followers use birth-control."

And others teach that it's one's sacred duty to create lots of bodies for waiting souls to inhabit.

[ December 07, 2004, 12:35 PM: Message edited by: TomDavidson ]

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JLMyers
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quote:
My wife and I only have one, and I doubt we will have more
Selfish bastard!

KE

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Wayward Son
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Hey, we also have two cats, two goldfish, two mice, and a box turtle that's buried itself until the weather gets warmer. What else do you want us to do??? [Wink]
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philnotfil
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quote:
Originally posted by Wayward Son:

And just because people have many doesn't mean they are all doing it for unselfish reasons.

Good point, I have met many welfare families who were having more kids because they could get more money.
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Aurelius
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2nd of 10, and loving it. I plan to have lots of kids when I get married too.

Quality over quantity? Drain on the enviroment? You were kidding I hope.

Kids cement marriages like nothing else. Statistics show families with more kids who dont practice contraception have vastly lower divorce rates. It's true. Kids are the point of marriage, even politically speaking.

I've also heard some religions wont let families kill "unwanted" children. Hence, larger families. Anyway, people follow religious principles because they believe they're right, not because the religion "makes" them. They've got free will.

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Omega M.
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We can't know all the reasons why people have the number of kids they have. I just hope that everyone realizes that our civilization will be reduced to a collection of books and monuments if no people are around to live it, and are making their child-bearing decisions accordingly.
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PlaydoughBoy
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quote:
Quality over quantity?...You were kidding I hope.
There is an obvious advantage to having 2 or 3 children over 10+. Like overcrowding in the classroom the children simply cannot be tended to sufficiently with only two parents. There is some limit, different I'm sure for everyone, after which you simply cannot be an effective parent.

quote:
Kids cement marriages like nothing else.
Unfortunately many people use them for just that reason and without the cement the marriage breaks away.

quote:
Anyway, people follow religious principles because they believe they're right, not because the religion "makes" them.
C'mon is there really a difference? The purpose of every religion is to make people believe what it teaches is right.
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Kent
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Conservatives generally have larger families for religious or altruistic reasons, but mine are political. If I can raise 4 Conservatives and the Liberals only raise 1, I can make sure my vote counts even more after I'm dead! But is it worth the investment? Liberals probably figure that spending the money on "converts" or naturalized citizens rather than newborns is a better investment. Guess I need to be a better conservative missionary too and send my kids on missions (we'll will wear red shirts and ties to distinguish ourselves from the Mormon Elders)! 200 years from now only the religious will have representation in government based on current trends.
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Wayward Son
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quote:
Statistics show families with more kids who don't practice contraception have vastly lower divorce rates.
I would suspect that is true because those who don't use contraceptives all ready have strong relgious beliefs that include not getting a divorce. So it's not that the children make the marriage stronger, but rather the parents have all ready made a strong commitment to each other.

quote:
If I can raise 4 Conservatives and the Liberals only raise 1, I can make sure my vote counts even more after I'm dead!
That's assuming, of course, that they will all stay Conservative. There is a phenomenon known as Teenage Rebellion. [Wink] [Smile]
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Kent
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Good point, I better have 8 kids and the odds will be more in my favor. [Smile]
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Aurelius
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True, Kent. Much of europe will be flat out GONE, in forty years or so. Except for the Muslims, who reproduce like crazy.

The whole overcrowding thing is greatly misunderstood. True, some parents can only cope with a few kids, and others, like mine, have no problem with 10, but the fact is that kids get older. By the time you have 10 kids, about half of them might teens, like in my family. This means the family stays in control because authority can be delegated. Large family kids also tend to be (not exclusively) more disciplined and responsible because of this.

There is a difference Playdogh boy. To not contracept today is a hard decision for most people. Those who dont want to simply wont, as in much of the American Catholic Church today. It's very contradictory of them (since why are you catholic of you dont follow catholic teachings) but its done.

Sorry I cant follow your second statement. People know kids strengthen their marriage and therefore it isn't strengthened?

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Aurelius
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quote:
I would suspect that is true because those who don't use contraceptives all ready have strong relgious beliefs that include not getting a divorce. So it's not that the children make the marriage stronger, but rather the parents have all ready made a strong commitment to each other.
This is partially true. But families with alot of kids also know what tearing your family apart will do to the children. In my opinion, couples with children should never separate unless there is abuse involved, since even a kid with antagonizing parents is better off than a kid with only one. Or three, or whatever. But that's another discussion.

Couples with alot of kids also tend to "stick it out" instead of breaking up after the first couple arguments. No two people can be perfectly matched.

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LoverOfJoy
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quote:
The purpose of every religion is to make people believe what it teaches is right.
You could say the same about schools or parents but I don't think it's quite true for any of these scenarios

I could post an argument on here in an attempt to convince you that what I believe is true. Does that mean my purpose is to MAKE you believe what I'm saying is right? No I want you to decide that on your own. I want you to have all the resources available to make a wise decision but there is nothing coercive in my attempt.

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Kit
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quote:
Originally posted by PlaydoughBoy:
quote:
Quality over quantity?...You were kidding I hope.
There is an obvious advantage to having 2 or 3 children over 10+. Like overcrowding in the classroom the children simply cannot be tended to sufficiently with only two parents. There is some limit, different I'm sure for everyone, after which you simply cannot be an effective parent.


The last statement is the most important here I think, especially when combined with what was said about older kids helping to raise the younger kids. My parents handled 5 boys just fine. We may not have been financially well off, but I can't say that it has hurt us. 1 aerospace engineer, 1 biomedical engineering Ph.D. student, 1 construction supervisor, 1 new college student, and 1 recent high school grad; 5 Eagle Scouts, etc, etc, etc.

Quality over quantity, but you don't always have have to choose one or the other. And quality in quantity is better than just quality. For instance, my cousins with 10 kids. Doctors, lawyers, business owners, and one of the most incredible high school basketball dynasties around. No lack of quality came with that quantity.

[ December 07, 2004, 02:31 PM: Message edited by: Kit ]

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towellman
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Also gotta think about efficient allocation of resources. If one parent is going to sacrifice a career to raise children, it's better to produce a bunch for a 1:6 trade than just one or two for a 1:1 or 1:2 result.

If you let daycares do the raising while both parents equally pursue careers then you get into other issues for another place and time.

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PlaydoughBoy
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quote:
Sorry I cant follow your second statement. People know kids strengthen their marriage and therefore it isn't strengthened?
People have kids to keep their marriage together.

quote:
I could post an argument on here in an attempt to convince you that what I believe is true. Does that mean my purpose is to MAKE you believe what I'm saying is right? No I want you to decide that on your own. I want you to have all the resources available to make a wise decision but there is nothing coercive in my attempt.
It would depend on the means you used to express your argument, but ideally yes the entire purpose of proposing an argument is persuasion. I'm not saying all religions brainwash, but I do think that religions more than other institutions have historically laundered many a noodle.
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Ivan
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Aurelius-
quote:
Couples with alot of kids also tend to "stick it out" instead of breaking up after the first couple arguments. No two people can be perfectly matched.
Well this just seems insulting. Any marriage can go bad. Any person can make a mistake, and to insinuate that people with fewer kids get divorced "after the first couple arguements" is contemptuous. I'm sure you don't intend to imply that all people who get divorces are just being weenies, but that sure sounds like what you're saying here. Do you honestly believe that it is impossible that you could make a grave error in judgement and only realized your mistake two kids in?

And while I'm at it, I believe people who don't get divorced tend to have more kids (pretty logical, neh?) rather than the other way around, as you implied. You have a tendency to quote vague statistics without providing links. Also, you often run in to the problem of correlation vs. causation: there's the one I mentioned above and the "large families are disciplined because responsibility is delegated" bit. I would argue that large families have to be disciplined to function appropriatly, and that is the reason responsibility can be (and is) delegated.

Also, in reference to:
"In my opinion, couples with children should never separate unless there is abuse involved, since even a kid with antagonizing parents is better off than a kid with only one."

I'm not sure why you think that just because two people get divorced they can't both be responsible, devoted parents. What do you think would be better? Two devoted, caring parents constantly arguing and bickering all the time who are living miserably under the same roof? Or two caring, devoted parents living on their own, both of which take active roles in their children's lives? I have too many friends with divorced parents that play a part in their lives to believe that divorce should be ruled out unequivically as an option without the presence of abuse.

Oh, and welcome to the board!

-Ivan

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WarrsawPact
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If you can survive having more kids, they'll be better off for having more borthers and sisters. This is not a scientific judgment and not a claim I would make if I didn't see it all the time.

People with more siblings are jsut better adjusted from my personal experience. I think you learn an awful lot from constant interaction with that kind of group.

It's so obviously not always true, but the tendency in my observation has been noticeable. "Only" children tend to be more selfish, is the biggest thing I've noticed. Learning how to share and play nice with people you HAVE TO tolerate every day as you grow up is a great experience.

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TomDavidson
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"It's so obviously not always true, but the tendency in my observation has been noticeable."

Whereas it's the exact opposite in my experience. The magic number seems to be around 2.5; over that number and your kids start raising themselves, while under that number can produce spoilage if the parents aren't careful. [Smile]

Of course, any such argument boils down to generalizations, which is why the initial article is such a load of steaming crap in the first place.

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Kit
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Tom,
I'd say that over 2-3 kids and the parents generally need help from the older kids to raise the family. The kids end up helping to raise each other, individual kids raising their indivudual selves is pretty rare when the are surrounded by siblings.

That may be what you meant by "your kids start raising themselves", but 'themselves' could be group or individual so I just wanted to make sure.

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TomDavidson
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"That may be what you meant by 'your kids start raising themselves...'"

*nod* It was.

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Aurelius
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What's wrong with older siblings helping out with younger ones? I know a ton of large families most with 6+ kids, and its works out very well. in fact, their some of the most well adjusted kids I've met. Once again, this isn't exclusive, but like Warsaw this is my experience.
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TomDavidson
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"Once again, this isn't exclusive, but like Warsaw this is my experience."

Whereas in my experience, the middle children in particular tend to wind up nutcases. *shrug* Perhaps it's a regional thing.

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Everard
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Large family size correlates with lower behavioral problems, but only for boys. Being the oldest child correlates with lowest behavioral problems. Large family size also correlates with lower total education, and lower future earnings, then smaller family.
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TomDavidson
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How do behavior problems correlate to education and future earnings, then? Are they unrelated?
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Everard
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Those are from two different studies. The low behavioral problems are by age 8, whereas the income and education studies were longer term and didn't deal with behavior in adults.
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LoverOfJoy
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What I've read was that middle children actually fare best psychologically. Oldest children are the most commonly seen by mental health professionals (middle children are the least). But oldest children are also the most commonly found in very high positions (maybe there's a connection--overachievers/stress). I think nearly all the Presidents of the US have been first borns or "effective" first borns (first born son, or later born but with an older brother with "problems").

Comedians, on the other hand, are often the babies of the family.

Maybe after school lets out I can hunt down the books I've read for more details.

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Robertson, Ugly and Nohow
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One thing about this thread that sticks in my craw: You don't have to be a statistic!

So what if average kids from small families become spoiled mama's boys, and average kids from large families join gangs. The fact that not all kids in those categories turn out that way means that it doesn't have to be that way in your family. It just means you need to be more intentional in your parenting to avoid being average. Find out what's unique about the succesful minorities. If you want a small family, maybe you'll need to make sure your kid interacts with lots of cousins/friends. If you want a big family maybe you'll need to quit watching tv and spend more one on one time with your children.

These particular studies, statistics, and stereotypical generalizations are great for alerting parents to possible problems. But the results are not universal enough to base my family size on them.

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Jesse
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The basic difference in viewpoint is that while Liberals plan for the future, Religious Conservatives plan for Armagedon.

The resources of the planet are finite. More people will more quickly exhaust those resources. The most selfish people, who care the least about humanity, produce the most off spring.

If these self serving parasites who produce little tax credits as fast as they possibly can and burden our educational system and material resources while contributing virtually nothing in return weren't being off-set by millions who selflessly refrain from reproducing, yet pay for the education of others excess offspring, our entire economy would be bankrupt, we would be in a massive energy crisis, and would suffer sever food shortages.

Well, thats mostly just a satirical response to the idea that those who choose not to have children, or limit the number of children they have to one or two, are "selfish". However, if you think about it, is humanity as a whole going to be better off in 30 years if every breeding pair produces 1.9 children, or 10.1?

[ December 08, 2004, 04:28 PM: Message edited by: Jesse ]

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Dave at Work
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quote:
If these self serving parasites who produce little tax credits as fast as they possibly can and burden our educational system and material resources while contributing virtually nothing in return weren't being off-set by millions who selflessly refrain from reproducing, yet pay for the education of others excess offspring, our entire economy would be bankrupt, we would be in a massive energy crisis, and would suffer sever food shortages.
I'm glad to see that in the paragraph following this quote you metion that it is a satirical response. It does hilight a point that I have trouble with though. The part about large families burdening our educational system and material resources while contributing virtually nothing in return is the big one I have a problem with. First off, while big families consume more in services and resources from society that also means more jobs for those who provide those services and resources, I'll have more about depletion of resources later. Secondly, while larger families may consume more, as the kids grow up and move into the work force they provide more labor increasing the size of the economy and therefore supporting the next generation of large families.

On resource depletion, I have to note that there are several types of resources. There are physical resource, some of which are recyleable or renewable and some of which are not. There are also intangible resources in many forms including services provided by people, knowledge developed by researchers, money, and others. Note that I list money as an intangible resource because money is an idea not a thing even though we often represent it with bills and coins which are things. As we approach limits on recycleable resources, market forces will neccessitate that we recycle more and more. As we approach limits on the renewability of certain resources the market again will respond first by using those resources more efficiently and then by finding replacements for those resources. Similarly with non-renewable resources. We will first respond with more efficient use of non-renewwable resources and then eventually find replacements for them.

As to your question about whether or not humanity will be better off in 30 years if every family has 1.9 or 10.1 children I cannot give you an answer, but when you reduce the equation to a single variable like you have then you will likely get a different answer than if it is a function of multiple variables.

[ December 08, 2004, 05:15 PM: Message edited by: Dave at Work ]

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TomDavidson
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"As we approach limits on recycleable resources, market forces will neccessitate that we recycle more and more. As we approach limits on the renewability of certain resources the market again will respond first by using those resources more efficiently and then by finding replacements for those resources."

It's nice to have faith. [Smile] But what this overlooks is that there may not in fact be a technological solution to every problem that is superior to the status quo, meaning that some of these "solutions" may result in major social and economic upheaval.

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scifibum
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At six, my parents probably had too many kids, but I might think that because they had NO idea what I was up to from about age 12 till I left home, as long as I met a few basic requirements. If they had managed to stay involved in my life to a greater degree maybe I'd have more faith that other families can manage a lot of kids successfully.

Right now I have one and my plan is to cautiously have one more at a time every 2-3 years until frank assessment tells us we have reached the limit. I expect that to be 3 kids, because then I can carry one, my wife can carry another, and one or both of us will likely have a hand free to drag the biggest one. Not that I think physical restraint is the pinnacle of good parenting, it's just good to have the option. ;-)

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LoverOfJoy
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Personally, I think humanity will be better off in 30 years if liberal couples have 0.9 children and conservatives have 6.1 children. [Big Grin]

The thing about resources is that while more people use up more resources, more kids per family tend to use up less per kid. For instance, a family of six may have one big tv in the living room while two families of three would use up two tv's.

So it really would be better if the liberal half of the nation stopped having kids while the conservative half had twice as much to make up for the loss. [Smile]

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