An article in the NYTimes has me scratching my head, and I need some help.
The original article is a well written piece about large families. It defines a large family as one with more than three children (that made me giggle). It is, however, largely a positive piece on having a big brood.
The discussion going on after the article, however, has honestly shaken me by the shoulders. I’m realizing that I see the world SO DIFFERENTLY than a lot of other people on this planet. Over and over and over, parents of large families were called utterly selfish. We are selfish for overpopulating the earth, selfish for thinking our DNA is important enough to make 10 replicas, selfish for trying to birth our way into someone loving us, selfish for not providing just one or two children with an ivy league education, and (this is my favorite) selfish because I’m such a racist I’m just trying to perpetuate my own race.
Someone actually said that having 10 or 20 grandchildren was “disgusting”. She writes, “I suspect that the meaning of family is lost when a family is this large.”
Am I being selfish?
Because I’ll tell ya, giving up my career (and its salary, as meager as it was), forgoing a clean house, spending money on piano lessons, braces, extra furniture, and barrels of food does not sound like a wildly selfish and indulgent life. I realize that I am probably indeed selfish and prideful in many, many ways, I’d never consider that having children was one of those ways. And no one touched on the argument from an economic point of view. In 50 years, we are going to need at least a few people around to drive the economy forward.
Someone had actually suggested we institute a one-child policy like China.
Have they been to China recently? Have they noticed the enormous economic tsunami that is threatening to crest over the entire region because people aren’t having children? Or in Japan, where the government is creating enormous incentives to entice people to have children. Because as uncaring as it sounds, children are a future and vital resource for any economy.
I want my children to grow up and actively contribute to the society around them. I want them to become productive and caring members of a community. I want them to work to make the world around them better. I’m not trying to have children to perpetuate my own race, create people to love me, or because I don’t know how babies are made.
I am not an uneducated welfare mother. I am not selfish or stupid or indifferent to the individual love my children need and receive. I think that love can divide itself more than once or twice. I think there is value in that sacrifice. I am wealthy because of the rich relationships in my life. I might not buy each kid their own car, but I won’t ruin them by not.
Can’t we be at peace with our own choices and circumstances? Some people have a few children. Some people have a lot of children. Some people mourn they can’t have more. Some people can never get enough. And if someone makes a choice different from my own, I say be happy. Be happy and peaceful with all our own choices and circumstances. The Lord will direct us in the particulars of our lives. Our lives need not look alike to be rich and fulfilling.
I declare to all that my children are a gift from God, and I don’t see that as a selfish endeavor. We all must seek the Lord’s purpose for us individually.
But please don’t tell me that I’m narcissistic or egotistical or self-serving for having children. I want to be right with God, not the New York Times (Yet I still feel strangely compelled to argue with them anyway).
Tell me true, am I completely out of touch with the entire rest of the world?