What of the
Defending the Truth
From United Families Website July 7, 2009
By Tom Christensen
As a father of a large family and a resident of a state
which for decades has lead the nation in terms of
youthfulness, fertility, two parent households, etc; I
usually do not feel a need in Utah to defend large
families. You can appreciate my surprise when the
editorial board of Utah's largest newspaper, the Salt Lake
Tribune, blamed Utah's large families for a myriad of
social, environmental and economic problems.
Below is my rebuttal to the Tribune article:
The Salt Lake Tribune in its editorial called upon "all potential parents to consider not only their own resources but those of their community and planet" and cut back on the "procreation of large broods." According to the Tribune, Utah's big families are the cause of "high taxes . . . more pollution, urban sprawl, increasing demands on limited water supplies . . . and (lower) quality education." The only way, according to the Tribune, to save our "finite world with limited natural resources is to create a sustainable population rather than an expanding one."
It appears that the Tribune editors have overdosed on the dark, unrealized predictions of Thomas Malthus (1798 "Essay on Population") and Paul Ehrlich (1968 "The Population Bomb") rather than current data. The truth is child-welcoming families are among a nation's greatest assets. Capable parents who "multiply and replenish the earth" deserve praise and encouragement not penalties or scorn.
The greatest social and economic problems facing most nations and many states are that they have too few large, cohesive families. As populations age, live detached lives and live longer (while fewer children are born to work, care for their own and pay taxes), economies stagnate, crime and social problems increase, and governments cannot fund their old age entitlements, which in the US are the black holes of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Societies need unselfish people who welcome, sacrifice and care for children.
Supervised by a full-time mother, large families do a superior job of raising children. Children tend to be less spoiled, disrespectful and unproductive when socialized in a large, orderly two-parent family. They develop citizenship and strong values as they learn to obey parents and interact, worship, share, and work together. Children in large families realize that they are not the center of the universe. Mothers and fathers, in turn, find meaning, fulfillment and interdependence in raising a child-rich family. Their marriages are more likely to last.
Large families provide a sophisticated extended family network. Children in one-child societies do not have aunts and uncles, nieces and nephews, brothers and sisters to call upon. Many children in such societies do not even know their fathers. The absence of male authority in a child's life can be devastating. Conversely, children often excel in school when supported by both parents, older siblings, and extended family members who are experts in their respective fields and take personal interest in them. Extended families also provide work opportunities and crisis intervention. Many large families are so skilled and organized that they can effectively home-school their young, providing additional savings to the taxpayer. For example, in the US, over 2 million children are home schooled, one-third of which are families with four or more children.
Large families are more efficient in managing limited resources. Obviously, it is more efficient to raise ten children in one home than one child each in ten homes. Large families operate according to an economy of scale: growing and preparing nutritious food at home rather than always eating out or buying packaged food. They cannot afford to waste precious income on alcohol, cigarettes, the latest fashions and lavish trips and toys. They shop for bargains, recycle clothing and learn to find enjoyment in each other. Supported by one income, they live within a tight budget, which builds thrift, industry and character. All of this portends well for Utah's children and its future.
Utah's academic and educational funding problems, high
bankruptcy rates, juvenile delinquency, and sprawling
neighborhoods are not caused by large families, as the
Tribune suggests, but are more often the result of moral and
financial irresponsibility, family breakdown, poorly
conceived curriculum, immigration and land use policy, etc.
There are better ways to revitalize educational systems, tax
structures, economy, natural resources, and neighborhoods
than to cut back on the size and inherent strength of the