Sometimes I don’t realize how quiet things are on my blog because I’m so busily leaving long-winded comments elsewhere. I’ve done recycling posts before, where I culled my comments from elsewhere and posted them here to get double mileage out of them, and I’ve been thinking of doing that again, but it gets complicated: I get all tangled up trying to explain the nature of the original post, explain which other comments in the thread I may have also responded to, explaining Mormon terminology I may have used (since a lot of the blogs I comment from are either LDS-themed or just personal blogs by other Mormons who will know things like that when I say “RS” I mean “Relief Society, the women’s organization of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints,”) or re-creating links my comments may have contained. And then I also find myself wanting to fix typos, and it all just spirals out of control.
SO, I’m skipping all that due diligence and just posting my comments with a link to where they came from, which you’re free to follow if you feel like it. Also feel free to ask me about any unfamiliar Mormon terminology. (Really, I doubt anyone will bother to do either of those things — but I still have to make an effort to shake off my overly-conscientious tendencies.)
And away we go:
At Segullah, Justine was responding to some very anti-large-family commenters at the New York Times’ website. Her post is here. Here are my two long comments:
1. Justine, if you’re looking for an antidote to New York Times commenters, you might enjoy the book “America Alone” by Mark Steyn. The book is all about worldwide demographics and birth rate patterns. Among other arguments, he makes a strong case for why the western world as we know it (particularly the limited-population liberal crowd) is going to have to make a change in how we think about repopulating the planet if we don’t want to end up under Sharia (the same point djinn was making when she mentioned Yemen, I assume,) since with current birth patterns it will only take a few more generations before there’s an Islamic majority in most Western European countries — and so far, European Islamic populations have shown little interest in integrating to their local cultures. (Mormons do get a couple of mentions in the book — in spite of our families being smaller than a couple of generations ago, we still lead the United States in birth rates.)
[Responding to commmenter Childless by choice,] my large(ish) family is often more efficient than smaller families in our use of resources — we use fewer individual pudding cups, for example, since we can buy bulk in a large container (not that we’re big pudding eaters, though.) And our car is almost always at near-max capacity of passengers, qualifying us for the carpool lane and making more efficient use of fuel. My family by no means sets a gold standard for conservation, but there are certainly ways in which we can be more efficient than other families. Ultimately, though, my reasons for wanting and having a large(ish) family are more spiritual than practical — but there ARE practical arguments to be made, including those others have pointed out such as our children being tomorrow’s caregivers and taxpayers. And you can see the above-referenced book for many more examples.
Oh, and C-b-c, while I truly feel for the neglected daughter you’ve befriended (and agree it’s not fair for her parents to stand in her way of her starting on her own road to adulthood) as the 2nd of nine kids in a family that was pretty chaotic and dysfunctional, I still derived some strengths from my challenges. My parents could offer me nothing in the way of funding for college, but, aside from some money from my grandparents, I was able to pay my own way through college with scholarships and working part-time jobs. This left me very motivated to do well in school and not waste what I had worked so hard for, and I don’t regret the challenge, although I did often have to do without in ways that some of my fellow students might not have understood or ever experienced. It really wasn’t a bad introduction to the responsibilities of adulthood. I’d like to be able to offer my own kids much more support, but I also have personal experience in how good for them it will be if I also expect them to do as much as they can to fend for themselves.
When I lived in the Bay Area and had two kids, I got scornful glances from the white liberal college crowd around the Berkeley campus — and VERY warm receptions when I traveled a half-hour north to a more ethnically diverse area (which I did regularly for the cheaper groceries.) When I moved back to Utah (and had more kids,) sometimes it was a relief to blend in so easily with all the other moms with more than one kid riding in their cart, but other times I kind of missed getting attention and feeling special.
2. Justine, I’ll be interested to hear what you think of the book — it is politically conservative and “provocative” (although no more so (or, in my opinion, much less so,) than the comments you read at the New York Times,) but it is also (in my opinion) based on sound reasoning, and is carefully researched and referenced. It’s probably a good one to get at the library rather than buying, since it may well bother you that the author DOES frame the issue as a culture competition, in the sense that whichever populations reproduce best will eventually dominate politically and culturally by virtue of having the most voters and human resources. And he makes the point that most of Europe is well on its way to losing the culture war because they’re not having enough babies to pay the costs for the expensive social programs they politically support, whereas heavily-reproducing immigrant populations have so far shown little interest in maintaining the type of liberal democratic government that Western civilization has been built on. (Yes, that’s painting with a broad brush, but I think accurately describes the message of the book.)
As I said before, my own desires for as many children as I could healthily have and care for (still an unanswered question/work-in-progress — I’m very close to the end of my 5th pregnancy and am on semi-bedrest for gestational hypertension) are almost entirely personal and spiritual, but I still really enjoyed Steyn’s book since there are those such as you encountered who would and do attack my personal choices on political and cultural grounds, so it’s nice to have a clear-thinking defender to point out the obvious fact that limited-population movements will die out on their own lack of demographic steam.
(As you may have by now guessed, I’m politically conservative on a lot of issues, and also strongly believe in the value of preserving what I called “liberal democratic government,” by which I mean things such as freedom of speech, freedom of religion, trial by jury, etc. — none of which have been the traditional underpinnings of Islamic governments to this point, nor are there many Islamic/Middle Eastern leaders really pushing for that kind of liberalization. To put it mildly.)
Anyway, I do still highly recommend the book, but now you’re perhaps more fully warned of its nature. 🙂
By the way, one of my most dramatic exposures to the kind of hostility you encountered from the New York Times commenters was when I was reading a (randomly-found) blog a few years ago whose author said she didn’t want children herself, but didn’t fault those who did — and then went on, a few lines later, to refer to children as “crotch-droppings.” I thought that vulgar expression gave the lie to her previously-expressed tolerant attitude — and it definitely also motivated me to click away from her blog immediately.