Let’s start an argument!

vAlterNet posted this entry: Going Green Means Having Fewer Kids, by Emily Badger.

She quotes Andrew Revkin, a New York Times reporter, who said:

“The single most concrete, substantive thing a young American could do is not turning off the lights or driving a Prius. It’s having fewer kids.”

Paging the Duggars!

72 responses to “Let’s start an argument!

  1. “We just found out that Michelle is expecting our 19th child! Baby 19 is due to arrive around March 18, 2010! This news follows the announcement from our oldest son Josh and his wife, Anna, that our new grand-daughter Mackynzie Renée is on the way with the due date set for October 18, 2009!”

    Wow! This unsatisfied obession with endlessly reproducing sounds like a mental disorder to me. I know that they reference the Bible and have different beliefs, but something is really off, I think. I wish they would stop getting attention and the reality show would be cancelled.

    • Have you read “Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement?” It’s a good explainer for this phenomenon.

      • I read something about this movement and I can’t imagine a woman wanting to go along with it by having 19 children unless there is something else going on. I can’t help but wonder whether the fame perpetuated things, too. If the show is based on a large family that keeps adding another member, then does she feel even more pressure to keep adding kids? Did having a baby within 6 mos of the first grandchild make for better shows? I wonder.

  2. The Duggars are only one family. If the people who care about the earth stop having kids…well, what kind of families are we left with?
    Part of having and raising your own kids is trying to keep your ideals alive in the future. It doesn’t always work that way but kids from families who don’t care? Well, I’d rather not leave the world solely in their hands.
    The Duggars have brought up several responsible, caring citizens who will bring good things to our world.

    • And it probably looks like I’m picking on them, and maybe I am, but having 19 children (18? 20? I’ve lost count) bothers me to no end for all kinds of reasons, not the least of which is the overuse of resources.

      • With the way they live, they still probably use fewer resources than your typical American family. I just can’t find fault here, they are responsible and kind and they aren’t foisting this way of life on those around them.
        They are too Christ-like in the way that they live for me to pick on them.

        • I think I am that kind of hateful, then. And judgmental. I just don’t see bringing this many children into the world when there are so many that need our attention.

          • How do you justify having any children then? And not adopting?

            • I don’t have any children, but I’m glad that someone is because I’m going to need someone to administer my meds in the nursing home in a decade or two. And I sort of get wanting your own kids even though I never had a real drive to do so. But yeah, after maybe two or so, why NOT adopt? I know a couple who had a really hard time conceiving, and when they finally had a child he turned out to have some serious difficulties. They wanted another one, and finally got pregnant again, with a boy who, had he lived, would have been 50% likely to have the same problems as the first child. Sadly, he died in utero not long before his due date. The parents then worked very hard to have another child, and fortunately did, a little girl. But they went through hell through all the fertility worries and the pregnancies, and to a person who didn’t have the drive (me), it seemed like a no-brainer to adopt.

              • I was happy with one, and then married a man with one, and we discussed having more but it seemed a big enough challenge to raise the two we brought into the world to be gentlemen. It was our decision and I wouldn’t foist it off on any one, but I maintain that all these babies need homes.

              • There is something very special about carrying a child in your womb. Of course like everything else, this biological drive will be stronger in some people than in others. I want to adopt, I like big families and the chaos of several personalities trying to work together. But I’d have a couple more of my own if my husband would allow it as well.
                Again, genetically speaking, do we want to leave the procreating to those who don’t care? I’d rather have thoughtful, healthy people passing down some genes as well.

                • But we can’t dictate any one’s procreating — though it probably sounds like I’m trying to do so here. I don’t think I want to dictate who gets to have babies — amazing people can rise from families I would write off, myself — but I do wish everyone would consider their footprint. And I say this as the grandmother of five.

            • Probably if you take this discussion to the nth degree, it would be hard to justify having your own biological children. But does that make the argument for having 19 or 20 stronger?

      • I’ve seen the show a few times, but these reality shows reveals a manipulated view of them. We really don’t know what family life is like when the cameras are off or how happy or unhappy the kids are as part of such a large family.

        I think by intentionally having a family that size and exploiting it as a fun thing to do through TV, it sets a bad example for viewers.

        • I have to agree. I don’t watch these reality shows because I find it painful to see children’s innocence exploited like that.

  3. “With the way they live, they still probably use fewer resources than your typical American family.”

    Is that possible? I haven’t seen the show or read much about them so I don’t know if they’re off the grid, so I wonder about water-usage, power-usage etc. Do they not take showers or baths, use a flush toilet, have electricity from a utility? How do they get around (if they do)?

    • I’ve never seen the show, I saw a special about them ages ago. They grow a lot of their own food, buy in bulk, buy their clothes used or make them, they homeschool so that’s a huge positive environmentally speaking (19 kids minus the school bus), they built their own home with no debt. They were living debt-free before the show btw. As I understand it, they have a van. Not 2 or 3 SUVs like other families. *cough*JonandKate*cough*
      Of course their carbon footprint is high for just existing but they are raising the future generation to be very conservative of their resources.
      I think the carbon footprint thing gets used as an excuse by those who just don’t *like* the Duggars. It gives people a clear conscience to judge them for their religious beliefs and practices.

      • Hunh. So maybe in their case the carbon footprint is smaller PER PERSON than the average family.

      • Vegas, you might be partly right. A religion that uses the Bible in ways to justify unfair practices bothers me. I realize that “unfair” is subjective. I view having that many children as unfair to society. If everyone in my town chose to reproduce as they did, our town wouldn’t be able to support the population. I also object to their role divisions based on gender and the male domination. It bothers me that they take a phrase from the Bible to justify their decision to have 19 or more children. They behave as if they have no say or responsibility for the many births because it’s God that decides how many children they should have. They may be very nice people, but I have a problem with their use of religion to justify things that I view as harmful to women and to society.

      • Yes Cynical, I believe that’s true

      • I’d say that unfair is a stretch, they are not purposely harming anyone. I’m grateful that there is a strong number coming up who are caring and responsible.
        I don’t know anything about gender roles in their family. If that is an issue then, yes I would say that’s not cool. But it’s not a reason to not have children.

        • The Duggars are of a particular branch of Christianity that is, and I don’t think I’m being unfair here, patently patriarchal.

          • Though the son has said he and his wife don’t plan on having so many children (I think they said maybe 6). Sounds like his parents gave him a brain of his own which bodes well for how the children are being raised.

            I was recently involved in a conversation on twitter during which I was called names and told I condoned child slavery and baby killing all because I chose not to boycott Nestle. I have my own passions, if we all had the same, some things would get overlooked. I will not say that this family should not have so many children because of the environment (is that the only real argument against it?) because I sure don’t want anyone finding out that I only recycle what my local pickup will take and that I still use plastic bags at the grocery store. Glass houses and so forth.
            And I really can’t say a word about adopting if I’m not willing to do so myself. IMO, there’s no real argument there. They aren’t putting more children in foster care and people saying that if they want kids they should adopt is dictating a moral code to someone that you are not willing to follow yourself.

            • You make good points. I have gotten up and walked away from the table when one of my friends started in on my choice of white grapes in my salad. At the time, I didn’t know I was supposed to boycott them and she made an ass of herself being so strident. I don’t want to be that person, I promise. And I choose not to call you names just because we disagree.

  4. “Again, genetically speaking, do we want to leave the procreating to those who don’t care? I’d rather have thoughtful, healthy people passing down some genes as well.”

    Hmm. I agree with DJ that “amazing people arise from families I would write off…” — and I think that sometimes HORRIBLE people arise from “thoughtful healthy” families. It’s a crap shoot.

    I hear sometimes that WASPs should really procreate more to offset all those people who threaten the mix in the country (y’know, those Other People). If each group were to have lots of kids so THEIR way would be carried along into the future, then we’re going to have too many people, all of whom think they’re right.

    • Kind of like my hometown! We’re all right!

    • I’m afraid that telling intelligent, thoughtful people to stop all the procreating will limit the gene pool when I think it needs to remain varied. There’s a reason we hear about the great arising from bad situations. It’s an exception. Saying that it’s a crap shoot would mean it doesn’t matter how I raise my kids. But it’s a strawman anyway, no one is talking about eliminating a particular set of genes, just keeping them varied.

  5. If (and it’s a big if) the Duggar offspring reproduced at that same rate, the next generation would be 400, the next generation would be 8,000, the next 160,000 and then the next 3.2 million. That’s enough to have one Duggar in every square mile of the U.S. within a little more than 100 years! I know it’s not realistic, but it’s eye-opening, I think.

    I got this info from:

    • But really, these kind of families are so rare that they actually make the news. I don’t think the Duggars have ever said this is the life everyone else should be living, which is more than I can say for most people.

      • “I don’t think the Duggars have ever said this is the life everyone else should be living, which is more than I can say for most people.”

        Again, I haven’t watched them, so I don’t know what they’re saying. But IF they’re passing along the idea that they’re doing the right thing, and their kids procreate at the same rate, that’s a lot of people!

        And no, I don’t think it doesn’t matter how one raises his/her kids as far as “a crap shoot” goes, I think you do the best you can and hope for the best lives possible for them. But no one can control what happens to / with their own kids or anyone else’s.

  6. a) Biologically its highly unlikely that ‘everyone’ could have this many children. (Heck, I read a quiverfull blog and one couple only has one adopted child.) Unlikely.
    b)none of our business. You know, Do not judge lest ye…and all that business. You don’t want 18 kids, don’t have them. I don’t think number of children automatically means much of anything. We have friends with 5 (so far) and they are exactly the kind of people we want to have children. I have two, and I suppose the jury is out on that, but my sons seem to be wonderful.
    c) Insurance doesnt cover adoption expenses. And adoption is expensive (even through the state) Conceiving a child is cheap, and you don’t have to have strangers go through your home to see if you are fit parents. And pay for the privilege. We’d like to adopt but its a giant expensive thing to do – and again, I’m talking about adopting through the state.

    • Which raises an interesting question (for me, anyway): If we insurance pays for pregnancy/delivery, why not pay adoption costs?

      • Because it’s health insurance. Imagine what would happen if yet another company was there to earn a profit off of adoption. There needs to be more of the amazing non-profits that help with adoptions. Our friends are adopting their second child from China (they also have 3 biological children) and they are getting many costs covered by one of these organizations.

        • I’m going to show my ignorance here (and I really should know that) but if you go through your respective state to adopt a state-side child, are all the costs on you? I mean, do you pay all costs?

    • I’m not so sure about your b) comment. They want it to be our business because they have decided to participate in a reality TV show.

      • That participation does pretty much open them up for public scrutiny. Again, apropos of nothing, I went out to get my newspaper today and I was wearing my fetching jammies with the monkey faces on them and scruffy slippers and a fleece pullover and I have short, short hair that doesn’t survive the night without sticking straight up and a neighbor walking his dog looked over and said, all serious, “Rough night?” How do you answer that? I said, “Yes,” because I didn’t want him to think I always look that crappy in the a.m., though I pretty much do. Imagine if you were on a reality show. You’d (I’d) have to mash down your hair before you get your paper! And maybe lose the monkey-face jammies!

      • I don’t believe being in the public eye automatically makes people fair game. That is another excuse we use to judge people.
        Carol, ITA on all 3 points.

        • I wonder if I could go a whole day without judging someone. I believe I can’t. I’m not saying that pridefully, either.

          • I think we all judge to some degree whether its consciously done or not. Otherwise, we’d have no opinions at all. Then we would have nothing to say here on dj and that would be no fun.

      • I’ll have to look for that clause in the Bible that says judge not*

        *except in the case of the famous, they’re fair game and it won’t hurt you to sit in a position of judgment against them because obviously they deserve it.

        And at this point in the argument I feel the need to add, I adore everyone here even more than I love a good argument. Obviously that says a lot.

        • I thought I’d try a day of no-judging, but not today because I’ve only been up a few minutes? And already! There I go with the judging! Maybe that’s an exercise for a weekend day when I’m going to see no one and read nothing.

          • You’ll never make it – at least I wouldn’t. You’ll find yourself thinking about something silly like whether you should have done one thing or another the other day and whammo! You’ve just judged yourself! Or, you’ll have a fleeting thought of someone (let’s say G.W.) and whammo! you find yourself judging again. I think we’re all just hard-wired to judge.

    • “…and they are exactly the kind of people we want to have children”

      Um — exactly what kind of people does that mean? Every group in society is going to have different standards for that. Is this a “we” vs. “The Other” situation? (And again, every group in society is its own “we” and outsiders are “the other.”)

      I don’t have kids but I know what “kind of people” I’D like to see having kids, and they may not at all be the “kind of people” YOU’D like to see having kids.

      So where are we now with all this……. Having a quiet argument, I guess.

      • For once, the headline fits. See, if I didn’t like and respect Vegas, I would bore in on her like a weevil, but she keeps making good points and I keep losing my train of thought. Crap.

      • I’m not sure it’s a bad thing to say that there are standards for good parenting. That’s all this is.

  7. Very intelligent, well adjusted, sensible, moral people with all the children loved and cared for.

    And, like most of Jesus’ sayings, its not for the other person that you stop judging, its for YOU. Its not our problem, thank goodness. These folks aren’t on public dime, they seem to all be healthy and productive human beings. I don’t think our society will be actively worse for any of the Duggar kids existing. And I don’t necessarily think that of every person.

    • Crap, again. I hate it when I disagree and then someone makes a good point. Crap and crap again.

    • “Very intelligent, well adjusted, sensible, moral people with all the children loved and cared for.”

      I guess I’m feeling very argumentative tonight (either that or I need to go to sleep) — so here goes. Who determines the parameters of these qualities? Do we give them intelligence tests? Tests on how well-adjusted they are? Who decides what sensible means?

      What if they’re only moderately intelligent? What if potential parents have only three of the four qualities? Only two? Are the qualities weighted? Who decides what “moral” is?

      • Me. I decide. See how easy that is?

      • I don’t understand what you are saying here. The point is that it’s not our place to judge. Saying that they are intelligent isn’t central to the argument, nor is it assuming other people are not intelligent or that intelligence is required to raise a large family.

  8. Me neither. But Jesus never promised easy, did he? Heck, when I drop my kids off at school in the morning we all say the serenity prayer.

  9. DJ, lose the monkey face pajamas? There are laws about public nudity, you know.

    Plus, it gets chilly in Connecticut this time of year. ;-)

    • Oh, good point. Maybe I would just replace them with something more sedate. Before I appear nekkid in public, I need to iron out my wrinkles, anyway.

  10. I know that we all judge everyday. I guess what makes me uncomfortable is the public, unrepentant nature of this kind of thing. It’s like saying to their faces, you are bad people for doing this. It feels different to me.
    For the record, I felt the same way about the public boo, hiss over Nadya Suleman, even though I think she’s probably not all there.

    • And now I am judging WordPress yet again

    • I don’t think I’m that judgmental about people in real life. Or, maybe I really am but I just don’t ask myself to judge most people. I think I’m pretty tolerant, but it’s different here because I find myself forming opinions about things that I may not have thought about before because the question is posed. And, we are doing it from afar and not to their faces. But when asked here, I have no trouble expressing what I think about their choice to exploit the family on TV (for money) and “sell” their way of life by using the show. I do think that they chose to do the show for that reason, but that’s my judgment and opinion talking.

      So what I’m trying to say is that DJ is turning me into a judgmental person. (just kidding!) It may sound that way from what I said, but I don’t mean it. I suppose I’m really more judgmental than I thought I was…or something.

      And damn WordPress – who knows if this comment will show up in the right place.

      • Let’s all blame dj!!
        I get twitchy about assigning motives to people we don’t know. If someone approached me and said that I could film a few months out of the year and pay for college/retirement etc, you better believe I’d have a hard time turning it down (I would probably not turn it down).
        I don’t think that showing people the way you live is automatically trying to convince everyone else to live that way. They were pursued by media after he ran for Senate, I don’t see any reason to believe they pursued the spotlight so much as accepted it when offered.

      • O.K., let’s blame dj.

        Vegas, you’re probably right. It may be easy to get pulled into doing a show initially and then tough to give it up.

        I also kind of worry about Michelle’s well-being because of the way the show is marketed with the “and counting” as if she needs to keep ’em coming for the show. Maybe that’s silly of me since she did have 17(?) before the show even started. I would think by this time her doctors have advised against having more children for medical reasons although maybe not. I know someone who almost lost her life during childbirth (4th child) and she was told that with each additional child your chance of serious complications during childbirth go up. She was advised to have no more children. I think that I have a view that having lots of children is also bad for the mother. But that may be my fear talking based on my friend’s experience.

      • What if it turns up on the wrong blog and the other commenters say, “Who the hell IS this Jac person, anyway? The judgmental twit…” Or something worse?

      • Oh crap! DJ is back and she heard us, Vegas.

    • It did feel a bit like the jackals were circling. I may have been one of the tinier jackals there at the back of the pack. I can’t remember, but I agree: She’s probably not operating with a full deck. And so that makes booing and hissing all that much meaner.

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