Children are precious. No one would argue with that, but how many children is enough? Michelle Duggar, the mother of one of America’s most famous large families, says that she leaves that question for God to answer. In 1988, Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar had the first of many children. By 2006, they had 16 sons and daughters and became the subjects of a 1-hour TV documentary about their unusually large family. By 2007, they had 17 children, and became the stars of a weekly reality TV program. The TV show was aptly named 17 Kids and Counting, because they weren’t finished having children. In 2009, the show name became 18 Kids and Counting, and in 2010, the name again changed to 19 Kids and Counting, to reflect their growing family. Michelle Duggar now says, that even though she is a 47-year-old mother of 19 children, “We would love more!”
At Duggar’s age, the health risks of pregnancy to both the mother and child are high, but some people question her desire to keep growing her family for different reasons. Is it responsible or ethical to have this many children? Of course, the environment cannot support everyone having large families, but the Duggars are wealthy, live frugally, and have no problem supporting their large family. They live in a 7,000 square foot home, and own 8 cars, including a 21 seat bus. They consume a lot, but they also rarely buy anything new, and all their cars are bought used. They do laundry 35 times a week and go through 36 eggs, 5 pounds of bacon, 3 pounds of green beans, 2 watermelons, 2 pans of brownies, and a gallon of ice cream every day.
On the other side of the planet, China’s one birth policy, taxes people severely for having more than one child. Even though people living in Chinese rural areas are exempt from this rule, the Chinese government says that the one child policy has prevented 400 million births in Chinese cities from 1979 to 2011. While this policy has lessened some of the social, economic and environmental stresses created by a population well over a billion, it has also caused problems. Because of a cultural preference towards having boys that can help support parents as they age, some families have chosen to abort female babies in China. This has created an imbalance in the ratio of men to women in the population. By 2020, there will be 24 million men of marrying age that will be without wives because of this imbalance.
While no other country has followed China’s one child policy, in many countries people are voluntarily choosing to have less children. According to surveys of Americans, 2 children is the ideal family size. What do you think is the perfect number of children? Do you think there should be limits on how many you can have?
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