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  1. #1
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    Default SPIN-OFF - Others' opinions on your family size

    Another thread this morning inevitably leads to the question - is it okay for others to have an opinion on the size of your family? And who, if anyone, should have a say in how many children you have?

    From my perpsective, there are a range of factors that need to be considered when having children. Some are purely personal considerations, eg. "How long do I want children at home for?", "How much noise/mess/sleep disruption can I handle?", or "How strong is my biological urge to reproduce?". Some are personal financial considerations, eg. "What standard of housing/car/education do we want to provide?", or "How long can I afford to be out of the workforce for?". And some are wider societal and environmental considerations, eg. "What are the community financial costs/benefits?", "What is the world they inherit going to be like?", or "What is the environmental footprint/impact of each additional person?"

    Some of these considerations and choices really have no bearing on anyone else. For example, choosing to have more children and consequently having to share bedrooms, or choosing to have fewer children so they all have separate rooms has zero impact on anyone else. It's not their business, and they have no legitimate reason to foist their opinion relating to it onto you.

    However, some of these considerations and choices do have a bearing on everyone else. For example, choosing to have more children leads to population growth, with greater usage of resources, increased future requirements for housing, and greater environmental impacts and degradation. It is indirectly other people's business, because it inevitably impacts on everyone's quality of life.

    So, my opinion is that yes, it is perfectly reasonable for others to hold (and to voice) an opinion on your family size, when their concerns relate to the environmental and societal impacts of population growth, because your choice does affect them. If, however, their concerns relate to their disdain for people movers, then no, their opinion should be kept to themself.

    I'll also go one step further and say that I think it's reasonable for society to attempt to have some say in limiting family size using influencing tactics such as education, financial incentives/disincentives, providing free, high-quality contraceptives and family planning, and plain old peer pressure.

    My own opinion on this is really driven by environmental concerns. I was one of four kids, and was raised in a religious setting where most families had taken the direction to"go forth and multiply" seriously. I even had a couple of friends from families with 12 or 13 kids! However, these days I hold atheist views, and don't believe in any divine direction to reproduce. My uni studies in the enviro field have really impressed upon me the need to reign in the size of our human population to long-term sustainable levels (and quickly), or else head down the path of inevitable self-destruction (taking most other species with us).

    So, WDYT and why? What is it in your background that has led you to this view?

    Pease try to be rational and dispassionate in your posts and respectful in your discussions!

    ETA: I deliberately haven't said what I consider to be a reasonable size, because this thread isn't about the number as such - it's about whether it's okay to have an opinion on the number.
    Last edited by Gentoo; 11-01-2016 at 11:38.

  2. #2
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    We have a large family- 4 kids with one on the way. No, I do not believe anyone has the right to comment or judge us for it. You don't agree with it? Fine. But its *our* choice. Unless you are raising our kids, you get no say. Nobody but us knows the reasoning behind our large family- unplanned pregnancy, planned pregnancy, personal beliefs about various forms of contraception or maybe we just wanted a large family. And its nobody's business but ours.

    Environmental factors etc aren't something we even consider. And honestly it probably wouldn't change our minds anyway. Actually then only consideration we have ever really had is "do we want another baby... Another child... Another teen".

    Not everyone agrees and that's fine. But I will not apologise to anyone for such a personal choice.

    ***** when I say you, its a general reference, not directed at anyone in particular****

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    Yep I wish people wouldn't put forward their opinion on family size without the facts. I am not able to have any more children because of complications from DDs birth, but when she was young I was always getting told "you should have another one soon, she'll be so lonely". Why don't people realise that maybe the person they're talking to would love a large family but can't? Even more ridiculous because people who knew us mostly knew that I was in the ICU after she was born so perhaps there's a reason we're not having more! But polite discussion between close friends or family is fine by me when they're enquiring without any opinion just support.

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    I agree with pp, we took 3 years and many rounds of IVF to get to this point (21 weeks pregnant with a child who we just learnt has significant heart issues). We are constantly told by friends and acquaintances that we should have at least 3 or 4 kids. It is heart breaking to be reminded just how hard getting pregnant was let alone knowing our journey will continue to be very challenging.

    Nobody has the right to comment or judge another person in the size of their family regardless of size. I think more people need to stop and think before they choose to comment on such personal and potentially delicate things.

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    Family size is a very personal thing, therefore commenting on such a matter is likely to cause offence.

    I have an only child and I'm sure loads of people think all sorts of things about that choice (and it is a choice for me), but thankfully I rarely seem to receive any negative comments or judgments about it.

    Seems like those with only children or those with more than 3 children cop the most unwarranted opinions.

    The only time I would feel upset about someone having a large family is if they continued to add children to a home of neglect. I don't have any issues with the environmental impact factor because there are loads of people who don't have kids at all, and I figure the larger families make up for that.

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    Re the environmental impact: You could have 5 kids who you raise with a consciousness for the Earth, disgust of waste and needless consumption, love for recycling, upcycling, sourcing organic and local products, passion about advocacy, respect for other sentient beings and belief in the benefits green power who would be significantly more valuable for the Earth than one kid who is a massive, ignorant, wasteful consumer.

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    While I understand the environmental point, I still don't think it's anyone's business. The environment is not f***ed because of large families anyway. We need to do way more to fix the environment that dish out birth control.

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    I don't think its anyone else's business how big other people's famiies are, and I'd consider it very bad manners to comment on it to someone.

    Something like family size is a matter of personal choice or circumstance and part of our freedoms. If we lived our lives with every choice we make being public property and up for debate then it would be a fast track to a very anxious society. Hmmm, hang on....

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    This my 2 cents worth.

    Talking in general terms about population growth and it aspects is a very important conversation. But it all about how and in what spirit you talk about it. Talking in worldwide, country wide etc. Not individual families. Certainly not in a only large families. That is extremely rude.

    I know that it not any business but mine and dh to how many children we have.

    We have every man and freaking dog have their say on our family choice. It amazing how people that don't know you from Adam think they should tell you how to live your life. They have no idea of our footprint on earth. They know nothing other than we have 6 kids. It's disgusting.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LoveLivesHere View Post
    This my 2 cents worth.

    Talking in general terms about population growth and it aspects is a very important conversation. But it all about how and in what spirit you talk about it. Talking in worldwide, country wide etc. Not individual families. Certainly not in a only large families. That is extremely rude.

    I know that it not any business but mine and dh to how many children we have.

    We have every man and freaking dog have their say on our family choice. It amazing how people that don't know you from Adam think they should tell you how to live your life. They have no idea of our footprint on earth. They know nothing other than we have 6 kids. It's disgusting.
    Thanks for your thoughtful response. I agree that it's not productive to villify individual families. I'm interested to know- as someone with a large family, how do you think a societal conversation about overpopulation can best be framed to avoid doing so, whilst still discussing and addressing the causes of population growth (which include, of course, having children)?


 

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