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1 or 17 -- Or Somewhere in the Middle

"While I know this won't go over well, I also think most people should not have more than one child. It takes a lot of self awareness, stable life and economic situation, and ability to stand up and decide to do what will work best for the whole family over the long term." -- Liz wrote in the On Parenting comments last week.

Try telling that to the Duggar family of Arkansas. Jim Bob and Michelle, known to many Discovery Channel viewers, are pregnant with child number 17. The baby's due in July, according to Bloggingbaby.com.

My first instinct when I started watching the Duggars was to dislike them. After all, who in their right mind would willingly have as many kids as God gives them? But watching them over time has turned more into fascination than dismay. Michelle and Jim Bob are the calmest parents I've ever seen, and that's with 16 munchkins of various ages running around being home schooled!

Their grocery bills are a couple thousand dollars a month and they do a couple hundred loads of laundry a month. So, while 16 and one on the way seems to work for the Duggars, I'll stick with my two, thank you very much.

What about you? How many children do you have? How many would you have if money were no object?

By Stacey Garfinkle |  March 22, 2007; 7:00 AM ET  | Category:  The Debate
Previous: Straight Talk for Teens | Next: The Debate: Do You Talk Religion?

Comments


We have one, and are hoping for a second in the next year or so. We've always agreed that we'd aim for two kids, with an option for the third. I don't think I'd want more than that, even though I think that I'll really miss having a baby in my arms.

I also really didn't want to like the Duggars, and they still kind of freak me out. It seems like they're stealing thier older kids' childhoods by making them be, in effect, substitute parents (they have a "buddy system," where each older kid is responsible for meeting the daily needs of a younger child (feeding, getting dressed, etc.)). Plus, they're drumming traditional gender roles into those kids -- the girls all want to be housewives just like mommy. But if their house is any indication, they also seem to be making an effort to give each kid something special of their own. That makes things better.

Posted by: NewSAHM | March 22, 2007 8:04 AM | Report abuse

Stacey,

How closely did you watch this program?

Didn't you get the sense of a brainwashed cult vibe? It reminded me a lot of the Manson girls.

Did you take a good look at the litter? The kids look like they would fill a special needs kids' classroom.

Did you see how these kids are fed? Lots of pre-packaged processed garbage! Plenty of filler-upper budget stretcher starchy crap!

The father has the religious psycho look of Andy Yates.

This is not a normal household! I wouldn't be surprised if one of these kids cracks under the strain someday and goes postal.

I can think of a lot better ways to spend my life than bible schooling a pack of kids.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 22, 2007 8:07 AM | Report abuse

I know of quite a few large numbered children families (some even in Arlington!) that are completely normal and debunk any stereotypes.

The Duggars weirded me out not by how many kids they had or even that they homeschooled (which is growing!), it was that they all dressed the same in those Little House on the Prairie dresses! Ack!

I hope to have a large brood too! Can't wait for all the chaos, laughter, tears and hugs!

Posted by: Lou | March 22, 2007 8:36 AM | Report abuse

Part of me thinks having a family that large is socially irresponsible. Part of me is envious because on some level it must be fun to have all those kids. And the rest of me knows there ain't no way I'd ever do it and stay sane. And the mean part of me is seriously p.o.'d at how much taxpayer support you know these folks are getting. If it's God who wants them to have so many kids, maybe their church should support them and not people who don't necessarily share their beliefs.

It will be very interesting to see how many of those kids when they're adults want families and how many children they have. Most people I know from large families don't reproduce quite so prolifically.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | March 22, 2007 8:51 AM | Report abuse

People have different needs and expectations as far as family goes, and as long as my tax dollars aren't involved (in terms of food stamps or other forms of welfare), family size is a personal decision.

What I dislike is the sound of whining from people who intentionally chose to have a second (or third or fourth or sixth) even knowing their finances were at the breaking point with one. I just stare in wonder. What on earth did they think was going to happen? Magic fairies would bring diapers into the nursery?

Posted by: SMT | March 22, 2007 8:58 AM | Report abuse

If you ever played CYO sports (that's Catholic Youth Organization to the blissfully unaware) in DC or Maryland from the 70's forward you have played against a Veith.
Mr. and Mrs. Veith had 16 beautiful children, many of whom have married into other large clans in this city. When the Nalls married the Veith there was much merriment wondering where they would host a reception to hold 1,000. Family only would be tough to estimate. I'm a Mulholland and was sometimes melancholy as a child that we only had five; we needed one more for Irish Catholic respectability at St. Jane De Chantal Parish and School.
My mother just smiled when I asked.

Before we raise eyebrows or mock others for their choices, why don't we take a moment to salute all those who go forth in good faith every day to do the best they can.

Personally, I'm happy with my two boys, the husband, the labrador, not so much the needy cat. This type of debate reminds me of the woman who hissed at me when I was late term pregnant with my first child, thirteen years ago. We were going up in a crowded smelly elevator in a Youth Hostel. She glared and said, "You know the world is overpopulated". I looked her straight in the eye and calmy said, "meet me out back at the trash dumpster in 15 minutes and we'll even it out".

Posted by: MMF | March 22, 2007 9:01 AM | Report abuse

"why don't we take a moment to salute all those who go forth in good faith every day to do the best they can."

Because I don't feel I should have to pay for their foolish choices, that's why.

Posted by: to MMF | March 22, 2007 9:04 AM | Report abuse

Arlington Dad, here! I was TOTALLY misquoted! I had cut and pasted that quote that someone else had written. SO I COULD DISAGREE. I found that comment so judgemental and stupid, that I had to comment. I did not say that!

Posted by: Arlington Dad | March 22, 2007 9:05 AM | Report abuse

Here's the post from March 13:

I was responding to the nonsense that Liz D posted. Stacey, you can credit her, not me!

---

"While I know this won't go over well, I also think most people should not have more than one child.

"It takes a lot of self awareness, stable life and economic situation, and ability to stand up and decide to do what will work best for the whole family over the long term."


So Liz -- which is it? Mandatory sterilzation or the ability to decide what is best for your family?


Posted by: Arlington Dad | March 13, 2007 11:19 AM


Posted by: Arlington Dad | March 22, 2007 9:09 AM | Report abuse

Since I didn't see the program, was it said the family is relying on public aid? If they can pay for that many, then I have no problem with it....the mention of Bible schooling and Little House on the Prairie dresses creeps me out a little, but that might just because I'm from Mormon country...

Posted by: Anonymous | March 22, 2007 9:09 AM | Report abuse

MMF, I have to disagree. Just because someone goes forth in good faith to do the best they can every day doesn't mean that they should have so many children. It isn't fair to the kids, who grow up raising their parents' children, and it isn't fair to those of us in society who have to pay more taxes to support people who have families so large they cannot support themselves.

WorkingMom X, the people I know who came from large families (5+) never seem to have more than 2 or 3 kids at the most if they have kids at all. MMF seems to fit this bill, too, even though she didn't feel her family was large enough to make the Catholic church happy.

Posted by: Chiclet | March 22, 2007 9:09 AM | Report abuse

Stacey: You really need to edit this blog. Liz made the opening statement that you attributed to Arlington Dad. Don't contribute to the misinformation.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 22, 2007 9:14 AM | Report abuse

I'm pregnant with number six (and one of my five is a special needs child). I had always wanted twelve, but am content with my brood. I have extraordinary kids, who are thrilled with having such a large family. They are empathetic, kind, and can play with other kids of all age ranges. They have an innate sense of responsibility towards one another, yet I always make sure that they're still kids themselves, and able to enjoy the silliness and euphoria that should be a part of every childhood.
I don't foresee my children being a "drain" on society -- even my special needs child (for whom we are setting up a special trust). We are instilling in our children a sense of caring for one's neighbor (charity towards others, which includes tithing), as well as a work ethic to maintain a decent lifestyle. The children all have a fair number of toys (and books), yet have been denied extravagant toys in favor of extensive travel. They have a sense of the world, its inequities, and the heroes who are shaping it toward a better place.
I cannot think of anything that has brought me more happiness than these five, and the gifts they will bring others when they mature.

Posted by: Mary | March 22, 2007 9:14 AM | Report abuse

This country has over 300,000,000 people already. We have over 11,000,ooo illegal aliens using our schools and health care facilities paid for by you and me. Why do we need more people? Don't give me that crap about survival of the species. We've messed up the world pretty much so far. I'm for mandatory sterilization of criminals, welfare recipients, illegals, Harley-Davidson riders, anybody living south of the Mason-Dixon line. (Florence King said if you put a fence around the South you'd have the world's biggest insane asylum.) The Duggers are freaks and shouldn't be allowed to continue breeding like rabbits.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 22, 2007 9:16 AM | Report abuse

I have a different take on the conversation, since I always planned on a family with two children. I felt I couldn't really handle more than that. However, after my first was born I became pregnant with twins, so I had three babies under the age of three at one point. I have always felt that having three was a real life-changer -- it became extremely difficult to hold down a full time job, and ultimately, I left the workforce altogether. This was complicated by the fact that my oldest had anxiety issues that weren't easily turned over to a day care center or nanny. I'm sure other people may have the opposite issue -- wanting more kids but not being able to conceive. So, keep in mind, we don't always get to choose the size of our families.

Posted by: upper NW mom | March 22, 2007 9:20 AM | Report abuse

Wrong pronoun! THEY are not pregnant. SHE is.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 22, 2007 9:20 AM | Report abuse

My husband came from a family of 7 kids - he only wanted 1 of his own. I came from a family of 2 kids, and I wanted 4 of my own. We agreed on 2. Is it a case of the grass is always greener on the other side?

Posted by: JerseyGirl | March 22, 2007 9:22 AM | Report abuse

My limit is two. One of my best friends in high school was Mormom, part of a family of 8 kids, and I always enjoyed the feeling of warmth and just-barely-controlled chaos in their home. But I know myself better than to think that I could survive being in CHARGE of a family like that. I just need more downtime than that (big introvert -- loveLoveLOVE my kids, but even just the two of them exhaust me).

Plus I love my career. If we had more kids, either I would have to quit (which I don't want to do, and which frankly would not make me a good mom), or we would have to have a nanny. And if we hired a nanny, I would have to go back to full-time work instead of my current 80% to pay for it.

The love and joy that more kids bring is enticing (I am already sniffling that soon we're going to have to cut the adorable blond ringlets off my 16-month-old, and someday he isn't even going to want to snuggle with mommy any more). But I'd rather have fewer kids and be able to work a reasonable schedule and have more time to spend with them, than add more kids and have less time and energy for any of them.

Posted by: Laura | March 22, 2007 9:23 AM | Report abuse

Arlington Dad and Liz:

My apologies. I thought I was pulling the first reference to the comment. I'll fix that right away.

Posted by: Stacey Garfinkle | March 22, 2007 9:24 AM | Report abuse

I think as moral humans we should only reproduce our genes with two children. If you want to have a large family, adopt or foster the existing children that need a home. Then the impact on the earth and your desire for large family can coexist.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 22, 2007 9:24 AM | Report abuse

Mary, are you receiving any kind of financial public assistance?

Posted by: Chiclet | March 22, 2007 9:26 AM | Report abuse

I grew up in a family with 10 kids and only dad working (he had a middle to upper middle income). We did struggle with finances from time to time. But we had most of the nice things (video games, vcr before other class mates etc) However, I take great issue with a number of assumptions often made about doing you kids a diservice by having so many kids. my childhood was not stolen because as a teenager I cooked dinner from time to time or helped wash cloths or watched younger kids countless evenings. I had a fun childhood, learned to be responsible and now have a great support network of siblings (also Christmas is great with everyone together). The modern concept of childhood as generally lacking responsibility until you turn 18 and magically become an adult was not the historical norm. Now, I am not saying everyone should have 10 kids, and I don't plan on that many for myself, but don't limit yourself based on fear and misguided notions.

Posted by: Lee | March 22, 2007 9:28 AM | Report abuse

I despise the comments like "The world is over-populated". It makes no sense whatsoever. What's the human population of the world supposed to be? Who's supposed to have kids? Mostly, it just seems these people would like to wipe out the human race. If that's the case, of course, they could just take themselves out, but I don't see them doing that.

Moreover, the population of the U.S. is NOT over-populated. If our population were to start declining, we'd be facing the problems that Europe and Japan are facing.

Really, anyone who says that the world is over-populated doesn't have a clue. I think it's great when people have lots of kids and can afford to do so (which I have seen plenty of people do -- they just know how to live within their means and aren't materialistic like so many Americans). That doesn't mean I want lots of kids, but that's a personal preference and not something I want to foist on others.

Posted by: Ryan | March 22, 2007 9:31 AM | Report abuse

I had my first right around the time that that woman - what was her name? - that had the septuplets. I remember watching the specials about them, about how they had round the clock help taking care of the babies once they started coming home, diapers for life, a new custom made van... all sorts of stuff. She even gloated that because she had so much help, she was able to get 8 hours of uninterupted sleep a night! As I stared at the TV in a sleep deprived stupor, holding my newborn for the fifth straight hour- because if I put him down for second he would scream, I can honestly say, that I did not like her one bit!

Seriously, though. I agree that couples should not have more children than they can afford. Don't assume someone will be there to help you. But, I can't say that there is a magic number.

Posted by: JerseyGirl | March 22, 2007 9:32 AM | Report abuse

I truly don't believe in using contraceptives. Honestly! I don't think it's good for my marriage. I don't need to be medicated 24 hours a day to discipline myself (or my husband for that matter) to appropriate times of the month.

So what are we to do 9:24 AM? We will have more than 2 most likely. ;)

Posted by: Anonymous | March 22, 2007 9:35 AM | Report abuse

This reminds me of a conversation on the "On Balance" blog a while ago about "what do we owe our children?"

I'll confess to my own sort of sick fascination with the Duggar Clan (went to Catholic schools and there was a family in our school with 15).

But what intrigues me is that the Duggar mom thinks of herself as a good mom because she provides the basics -- three meals a day, shelter, clothing, the kids are healthy, they're getting an education (sort of?) and they get love and a moral grounding (even if some of you disapprove of that).

So what's the issue? what are they being denied? It sounds like you guys are saying that these kids are deprived because they're not getting organic food, trips to DIsneyland, a ton of extracurricular activities, and oh yes, fashionable clothing. So what? It actually appears that their parents are working hard to provide the kids with a modest lifestyle -- maybe the rest of the junk we give our kids is just icing on the cake.

I'm fascinated because I spend a lot of time trying to figure out how to give my kids more (more lessons, more travel, more books, etc.) and here's somebody who's really confident saying "I'm doing a good job and my kids have enough."

Posted by: Armchair Mom | March 22, 2007 9:35 AM | Report abuse

I believe the Duggar's have their entire property designated as a religious site, making it tax free. They also get significant public assistance. I find any family that acts as they do a little disturbing, large or not.

I'd like two children but given my wife's age as well as mine, I'll be satisfied with one. I just hope it is healthy.

Posted by: John L | March 22, 2007 9:35 AM | Report abuse

I'm 1 of 5 and my husband's 1 of 5. We both think 5 kids sounds good for us! I always thought it would be nice to tell your kids to entertain themselves - sure there's conflicts sometimes and you have to make an effort to spend individual time with each kid, but it's not as hard as you'd think and it's kind of nice to have so many people around (plus their friends). You make do. Even I think 16 kids is a lot, but not necessarily irresponsible. We practice natural family planning, so we'll have fewer than that, but there is something to be said for being open to life that way.

Posted by: KAL | March 22, 2007 9:42 AM | Report abuse

I'm from a family of five children, as is my husband. When I was growing up, I wanted nine of my own. I now have two children and since I'm in my mid 40s, I guess that's it, but it wasn't my preference.

I still feel that I'm missing out. That said, I think my mother and father were the typical Irish Catholic parents of the 50s through 70s -- they provided food, shelter, clothing, some laughter, but not a lot of affection or direction.

We're all responsible adults, but I always felt a little lost in my family.

So, now I have to be honest with myself, I think with 5, I might be overwhelmed. I do not want to homeschool or carpool 10 places a day.

I like to think that my kids have some of the strengths of coming from a large extended family but also the strengths of having a little more attention paid to them.

The Duggers -- I find them a bit odd, but really it's up to them how many children they have. Their oddness in my view has more to do with the wacky clothing the girls are subjected to, but not the boys.

As for the work of so many children, the kids have a lot of responsibility --each child has a "jurisdiction." One child is in charge of the laundry, another the pantry, etc. The mother is not a 1950s housewife, doing it all herself! (Smart lady).

I'm curious as to their next generation, however. There is no way that their 17 children will be able to sustain that kind of large-family lifestyle.

Out of 17 people, the odds are that someone will want to leave to make it in the big city, travel the world, or just remain single.

By the way, has anyone hear ever read the book "Fourteen"? It's about a family of 14 children and how for one child at least, the experience was an emotional disaster.

Posted by: Kate | March 22, 2007 9:44 AM | Report abuse

The duggars are not on financial aid. At least watch the program and know what they are about before you criticize. They do not have any debt, not even a mtg on their house. They live off of his job + real estate investments made from the time they were married. They live a very modest lifestyle, including hand-me-down clothes.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 22, 2007 9:45 AM | Report abuse

To KAL - We practice NFP too! I think it's great! I hear more and more people who do, and it's not necessarily a religious thing.

Why spend all the time and effort going to Whole Foods and getting the best to put in your body only to have an excess of hormones going in as well??

Posted by: Lou | March 22, 2007 9:47 AM | Report abuse

Bullsh*t. They are to receiving assistance. Do a little research.

Posted by: To the 9:45 poster | March 22, 2007 9:47 AM | Report abuse

To Chiclet:

I am the fourth of five children. My dad came from a family of six children. My brother, number five, doesn't have children yet but that's because he's 23 and not married. My three older sisters all have children, number two has five. My husband and I want to have four. None of us were planned, my mom did use birth control but it didn't work. She didn't have that many children for religious reasons, it just happened. We were never on any type of government assistance.

Yes, it is true that in large families the children do tend to have more responsibilities than children from smaller families, but that isn't always a bad thing. My sisters didn't raise us, my mom did. There was the occasional baby sitting but that was rare.

I learned a lot of valuable life lessons being in a large family. I learned the whole world doesn't revolve around me, that money doesn't grow on trees, not to be greedy or selfish, how to work as a team, to take turns, how to share, to appreciate what you do have, that there are always people that have more than you and people that have less than you. When I got into upper grades and my parents couldn't help me with difficult math such as Pre-Calculus, I had a sister who could help me with it. I helped my brother when he was taking Spanish. Because I came from a large family, by the time I went to college, I was fully capable of taking care of myself since we had chores to do growing up. I met a girl in the dorm's laundry mat that had no clue how to wash her clothes and I had to run her through how the washing machine worked. I had no problems sharing a room with someone and my roommate and I got along great.

I was responsible for paying for my own college because my parents didn't have it, but I got scholarships and what they didn't cover my student loan did. I have no regrets about this. I appreciated my college education more because I was responsible for it. I knew people whose parent's were paying their tuition, one girl's dad was working two jobs so they could send her to school. She partied the entire time, almost flunked out and was put on probation for the next semester. She ended up dropping out.

I cherish coming from a large family and wouldn't have it any other way. There is always something going on. Family gatherings are always exciting and my nieces and nephews have plenty of cousins to play with.

Not all large families are a burden to society. Not all people who come from large families resent their childhood to the point where they don't want children or don't want several.

Posted by: Meredith | March 22, 2007 9:53 AM | Report abuse

If you don't like large families or have other issues, that's fine. But I find it really disturbing how much anti-religious invective is woven into all of these comments. I don't share the Duggars views, but I thoughts I lived in a country where we had freedom of religion. So many of you seem to be irritated by their beliefs. What's it to you? I may not like yours either but I wouldn't personally attack you or try to limit your family size. Live and let live!

Posted by: Arlington Mom | March 22, 2007 9:54 AM | Report abuse

The Duggars' home is owned by a Baptist Church the father made up; (ya gotta love the good old U.S.A.) and is tax exempt. Other buildings on the property are classified as "Missionary Housing" and are tax exempt.

Don't know if they receive any direct government aid, but talk about the carbon footprints from those kids! Yikes!

Posted by: Anonymous | March 22, 2007 9:54 AM | Report abuse

My thing with the Duggars: did anyone mention that they bought a fair amount of property with the hope that their kids will build their own house next door? That's creepy. Definitely seems like the start of a major cult compound.

Posted by: Tara | March 22, 2007 9:54 AM | Report abuse

This is not only socially responsible, but environmentally responsible as well. Some of the "fun facts" listed by Discovery include the 90,000 diapers of which they have disposed, the 200 loads of laundry they do each month, the amount of work they have put into their massive house, and the $2000 they spend each month on groceries. Does anybody else consider this excess?

Posted by: Anonymous | March 22, 2007 9:55 AM | Report abuse

Wife and I have 2 and that's plenty!! Were money no object, 2 is still plenty!!

Posted by: E | March 22, 2007 9:56 AM | Report abuse

Of course, where I say "responsible" in the above post, I mean "irresponsible".

Posted by: I need some coffee | March 22, 2007 9:57 AM | Report abuse

Many of the people that I know who were the older children in large families such as these are very resentful of the parenting that they were required to do once they hit puberty. The feel like they missed out on a lot of being a kid.

My personal concern is how could you possibly have the time to truly know and parent that many children. With all the added operational responsibilities that come with a family that large, I cannot understand how you would have the time to spend with each child so that you could truly know who they are. I'm open to learning though.

Posted by: moxiemom | March 22, 2007 9:57 AM | Report abuse

I don't think I can handle more than two or three (number 1 is due in June so this is projection), but I also came from a family with two kids and that's the dynamic I (and my husband, also one of two) know. My father was one of nine, so we have a wonderful extended family. I'm a bit sad that my children won't have the volume of wonderful aunts and uncles and cousins I grew up with, but I hope to make up that lack by staying close with my cousins and their families. The one thing I won't do is have an only child - I always felt sorry for my only-child friends. They may have had more stuff or attention (but not always) but having that one sibling made all the difference in my life.

Posted by: SPC | March 22, 2007 9:59 AM | Report abuse

16 kids is ridiculous. Where is the personal responsibility in that? They can't pay for the ones they already have and yet continue to have children. I personally have NO problem with most government assistance programs, particularly if childrens are involved, but I do have a problem with people milking and/or abusing the system. That is what appears to have happened in this case. BTW, I am happy with one.

Posted by: NC Mom | March 22, 2007 10:00 AM | Report abuse

Meredith, it sounds like you had a great childhood and I think that's wonderful. I also think you are unusual in that you are choosing to have a larger (by today's standards) family than most.

For Arlington Mom, my issue is this: I couldn't care less what they believe but their beliefs are causing them to have 17 kids and it's a burden to others outside of their family (tax burden) not to mention I will maintain that the 17 children will not escape unscathed.

Posted by: Chiclet | March 22, 2007 10:01 AM | Report abuse

Lou - I agree! We mostly practice NFP for religious reasons, but I am glad to find solidarity with people who make this choice for any reason - I wouldn't be comfortable with taking all those artificial hormones in any event, since (as you said) we go to all this trouble to eat healthily and exercise, so why treat fertility as if it's a disease to be managed? So it takes some self-discipline (yes, a challenge for newlyweds) but it works and it's not a big deal.

Meredith - I second that on the life lessons. We didn't have a lot growing up but I never felt deprived, and I definitely learned how to share, get along with roommates, do chores, and work for things because the parents weren't going to pay for them. My husband's family was pretty similar. So yes, he worked his way through college which wasn't easy, but he definitely appreciates that degree even more.

Posted by: KAL | March 22, 2007 10:04 AM | Report abuse

the question was: how many kids would you have ideally -
I would have 3. I have one. If I had it to do over, I would have seen if we could have adopted 2 the first time as I kind of feel I have aged out of the baby thing.
I think a ton of kids is fine - why not adopt them??
I think that adoption is a wonderful, wonderful and in our case FIRST choice.

Posted by: Sue | March 22, 2007 10:05 AM | Report abuse

If you go to the Duggars' own website, you'll see that the teens already have semi-permanent jobs to help support the family. One does laundry, another cooks dinner, etc, in addition to helping raise the younger kids. Those aren't children, they are employees.

The parents' role in all of this appears to be creating more siblings and conducting religious studies. No way can either parent have enough time in the day to spend any decent amount of time with any of their children. Oh, and Jim Bob is running for state legislator.

Posted by: John L | March 22, 2007 10:06 AM | Report abuse

I have two kids. I think I would like three or four, but no more than that. I can afford that many, so financial concerns aren't an issue. However, my wife's last pregnancy was rather difficult, so I think we will have just the two. We have a girl and a boy, so really it's perfect. It's nice to have a boy and a girl so that we can decide whether we really want a third, and not be pushed by the need to have a son or a daughter, since we already have both. But having a 10 month old and a 3 year old is a lot of work. We decided we don't want to make any decision for another two years at least and perhaps wait until the kids are both in elementary school. But I think my wife is done, and given how difficult her pregnancy was last time, I'm letting her decide.

Posted by: Cliff | March 22, 2007 10:08 AM | Report abuse

KAL - The best part is my husband's involvement and knowledge of what's going on with me and my biology. It's not only up to me to be responsible for timing. We are also motivated by our religious beliefs. It makes so much sense!

We kid by calling it NFG for Natural Family Guessing, because we don't mind if we have lots, and only needed to avoid for medical reasons. We are pregnant now and can't wait! Best of luck to you.

Posted by: Lou | March 22, 2007 10:11 AM | Report abuse

I bet the yearly "carbon footprint" of the Gore mansion exceeds that of the Duggars household and they have far fewer people. But the Duggars aren't going around yelling about how immoral it is to use the world's resources.

Posted by: Kibbitzer | March 22, 2007 10:12 AM | Report abuse

I googled the Duggars and there are many, many interesting blogs out there on the family.

There is some criticism aimed at the mother for "blanket training" of the children when they're babies. I had never heard of this, and it sounds extremely odd, sort of like an invisible, electric fence for dogs!

Apparently, you place a baby on the blanket and if the baby tries to scoot or crawl away, you take a wooden spoon and bang at the edges of the blanket so that the baby becomes afraid to explore outside the perimeter of the blanket.

If true, it is unusual.

Also, there's some talk that Jim Bob Duggar, through his political involvement, is working toward vouchers for homeschooling families.

So he could actually profit by having so many children.

I find this willingness to play the system (also the tax exemption for a non-existent "church") to be completely at odds with the old school men and women who had large families in the past because of their religious beliefs.

I can't imagine for one moment any of my Catholic relatives trying to play the system for school vouchers or tax exemptions. If nothing else, they were taught to pray, pay, and obey.

(That's not to say that the current Catholic establishment isn't trying to milk the system for vouchers, it may well be).

Posted by: Kate | March 22, 2007 10:14 AM | Report abuse

KAL - while I totally respect and understand your decision to use NFP there can be significant benefits to taking oral contraceptives at least for some period of time. (see below). While there are side effects, its not all bad.

Benign Breast Cysts:
Oral contraceptives are considered first line treatment for this condition. Seventy to ninety percent of patients see improvement in the symptoms of fibrocystic breast conditions with use of oral contraceptives.

Dysmenorrhea:
While the FDA does not approve of oral contraceptives prescribed primarily for the relief of cramps, women who use these hormone rarely experience menstrual cramps.

Ectopic Pregnancy:
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) there is clearly controversy about whether oral contraceptives prevent ectopic pregnancy. An ectopic pregnancy occurs when a fertilized egg fails to implant itself in the uterus, most often remaining in the fallopian tubes.

Endometriosis:
Progestin only oral contraceptives are an effective treatment for endometriosis.

Functional Ovarian Cysts:
These are the most common type of ovarian cyst and usually dissolve within two menstrual cycles without treatment. Oral contraceptives may help prevent this type of ovarian cyst by helping to regulate the menstrual cycle.

Hirsutism:
Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is the most common cause of excessive hair growth in women. Oral contraceptives can improve or stabilize up to 50% of cases caused by PCOS.

Metrorrhagia:
Women who experience abnormal uterine bleeding can often regulate their menstrual cycle with oral contraceptives, if after close medical investigation the abnormal bleeding is not found to be a symptom of a more serious condition.

Mittelschmerz:
Oral contraceptives block the surge of hormones that occurs before ovulation, and are often effective for relieving mid-cycle or ovulation pain.

Ovarian & Endometrial Cancer:
Women who use oral contraceptives experience these types of cancer at about half the rate of nonusers. However it's important to note that there may be an increased risk of breast cancer and cervical cancer in women who use oral contraceptives for more than five years.

Premenstrual Syndrome:
Many women experience less symptoms of PMS while using oral contraceptives. However, there are other treatments and lifestyle modifications which may also provide relief and which should be considered.

Posted by: moxiemom | March 22, 2007 10:15 AM | Report abuse

Two is enough for me. Goodness knows I feed enough of their friends! I have considered being a foster parent. But I wonder if that isn't tempting fate as I'm a godparent to 3 more.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 22, 2007 10:16 AM | Report abuse

The Duggars really makes me wish we had laws in place to stop people from having more than maybe 5 kids. Tell me, WHAT is the reason for having more? I would love it if someone could find the percentage of large families who receive public assistance and the total cost of that assistance. Then again, there are plenty of people with 2 or 3 kids who milk it for all it's worth.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 22, 2007 10:16 AM | Report abuse

We just had our first child and I'd like to have at least two more. But our age may be a factor. I am 39 and my wife is 36

I'm surprised by the criticism of the Duggars. Not looking at the question of whether they are getting governmental aid, it's their choice to have a huge family. I think if you believe in reproductive freedom, like I do, then you gotta support their choices, no matter how many children they have. Speaking as a liberal, I think some of the comments are condescending and not helpful. What would the same people say if folks from other parts of the country criticized their decisions to limit their family size or work full time while parenting? If you support the right to do this, you gotta support the Duggars' too.

Posted by: Bob | March 22, 2007 10:22 AM | Report abuse

Moxiemom, thanks for pointing that out - I do acknowledge there are a lot of reasons that the pill can be used that are beneficial to health. (Although for mittelschmerz and cramps, I just take ibuprofen.) I'm just not comfortable with a lot of the side effects, and when not taken for the reasons you describe, it often is taken to suppress natural fertility/hormonal cycles. Anyway, I do understand there are many reasons people use this - just was sharing my thoughts.

Sorry for going OT!

Posted by: KAL | March 22, 2007 10:22 AM | Report abuse

Chiclet: Why should Mary receive any kind of public assistance? She doesn't indicate she's single, unemployed, handicapped, or any other type of protected class. She just has 5.5 kids. Wow, if we all got public assistance just for having kids, we'd be stacked up like cord wood.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 22, 2007 10:24 AM | Report abuse

Bob says What would the same people say if folks from other parts of the country criticized their decisions to limit their family size or work full time while parenting?

Apples and oranges is what I'd say. Someone's decision to work full time while parenting does not impact me as a taxpayer. And I don't know what criticism someone would have about limiting family size, unless it's religious.

Posted by: Chiclet | March 22, 2007 10:25 AM | Report abuse

KAL - thanks for the reply - really not trying to diss you just wanted to show the other side of the coin. RE: OT - I willingly went with you! haha

Posted by: moxiemom | March 22, 2007 10:25 AM | Report abuse

Moxiemom - It is fine to use medicine when it is needed. But to take it for years on end, in case you get a boyfriend and in case you have sex with him, seems a bit excessive.

As a practicing Catholic who opposes birth control, I have used the pill to help alleviate all sorts of symptons in the past as long as the intention is not to impede pregnancy or end a life. (Ie, not having sex, but used the benefits of the pill)

Posted by: Lou | March 22, 2007 10:26 AM | Report abuse

To 10:16 - Some people just like children! And many people, like the Duggars I assume, see parenting and family life as a kind of vocation. None of the large families I've known have ever been on public assistance, and as you yourself point out, the welfare system can be used by people with just a couple of children.

We can't always control how many children we have - see how many people say they wish they had more but couldn't for age or other reasons. But if you can have a lot and you want to, why not?

Posted by: KAL | March 22, 2007 10:27 AM | Report abuse

I have no kids, and am totally happy with my decision.

Posted by: Phillyfilly | March 22, 2007 10:27 AM | Report abuse

Ok, OT, but I'm a little confused about the BC discussion -- why is it either the pill or NFP? I understand if you are following a religious belief, but if you're just avoiding BC because of concerns over the hormones, why not use one of the other, non-hormonal alternatives? They're not as effective as the pill, but they're more effective than NFP.

Posted by: Laura | March 22, 2007 10:32 AM | Report abuse

"But the Duggars aren't going around yelling about how immoral it is to use the world's resources."

That's because they appear to be completely clueless about both child-rearing and the negative impact they are making on the psyches of these children and the environment around them. Inaction on an ethical/environmental issue doesn't mitigate responsibility.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 22, 2007 10:32 AM | Report abuse

Moxiemom - It is fine to use medicine when it is needed. But to take it for years on end, in case you get a boyfriend and in case you have sex with him, seems a bit excessive.

I've been married for 10 years and have taken and continue to take the pill to ensure that we only have children when we want them. Incidentally, I got pregnant first try, both times. Not willing to take any chances. Others may choose to live differently, but that's our deal.

Posted by: moxiemom | March 22, 2007 10:34 AM | Report abuse

To Chiclet, I too have problems if the Duggars are gaming the government system to get assistance for their brood. But that aside, I think it's detrimental for folks to look down their noses at those with families as big as this. It's a choice they made that our society allows and protects.

Posted by: Bob | March 22, 2007 10:36 AM | Report abuse

Laura,

Don't be mistaken, NFP is highly effective (I think it's around 98 or 99%) if used properly. Like anything else. Besides, if you aren't doing it, there's 100% chance you won't get pregnant.

Also, the divorce rate among couples using NFP is around 2% in part because communcation is so good. The Couple to Couple League has all the stats!

Posted by: Lou | March 22, 2007 10:39 AM | Report abuse

I came froma family of 5 it was great. We were not rich nor poor. Lived in a nice size house, both parents worked. My Mother didn't work until the youngest was 6. We had extended families back then , so an great aunt came to live with us when my mother went to work. My Mom had a college degree and this was in the early 60's.

I started my family late (38) just had 1 child. Great kid. If I could I would have at least 3 or 4. I have so many GREAT memories growing up. Unfortunatly, my son will not have the same.

Posted by: Angela | March 22, 2007 10:43 AM | Report abuse

To anon at 9:16 -

Your invective directed at Southerners was mind-bogglingly ignorant. The vast majority of the current generation of people born and raised in the South have absolutely nothing to do with the hatred in the past. I would be willing to bet most Southern high school students couldn't even tell you where the Mason-Dixon line was (not "is"). Not to mention that part of the country that had the hardest time with desegregation was the Northeast!

Get rid of the South and Southerners, and you eliminate Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter, Al Gore, Martin Luther King, Booker T. Washington, writers like Mark Twain, Flannery O'Connor, Willa Cather, Lee Smith, musicians like Elvis Pressley, Al Green, Ray Charles, Louis Armstrong, athletes like Michael Jordan and Peyton Manning...this is just to name a tiny portion of Southerners who have made huge contributions to this country's history and culture.

This is why some Southerners still refer to y'all as "Yankees".

Posted by: PLS | March 22, 2007 10:44 AM | Report abuse

Okay, not I'm obsessed with reading about the Duggars! I have to get to work today!

I'm fascinated that they were initially guilt-induced into having so many children. According to their own website they used the pill for birth control until Michele had a miscarriage. They now say that they weren't aware that the pill could allow a woman to become pregnant and then "cause a miscarriage."

They also write something to the effect that their attitude about having children was more aligned with people who were in favor of abortion -- that they were hard-hearted to some degree. So Michele went off the pill, and voila!

I don't wish them any ill will, but is it possible that they were wrong about the pill? I've never heard that it can cause miscarriage (spontaneous abortion).

Miscarriages are rather common, and I've also known a few people who became pregnant while on the pill and had full-term healthy babies.

Posted by: Kate | March 22, 2007 10:46 AM | Report abuse

Lou --

Ok, I'll have to trust you on the stats. My only experience with it is that that my mom got pregnant with me during her period -- guess I'm a statistical anomaly. :-)

Oh, and as you can probably guess, I was trained from an early age to believe in the importance of BC at all times. Let's just say that, for a woman who planned her entire life from the age of about 3, a baby in her sophomore year was NOT on the agenda!

Posted by: Laura | March 22, 2007 10:48 AM | Report abuse

The need for public assistance should not be the issue. there are planty of families with only one or two kids that have hard times and need public assistance...should we banish all but the wealthy from having kids. The real issue is the ability to let kids be kids. I have seen all of the various shows on the Duggars on Discovery and what I find the most deserving is that they essentially have the older kids raising the younger kids. If you don't have the time and the help, whether it be grandparents, aunts, uncles, nannies, etc. to allw your kids to be kids, then you probably shouldn't have more than you can handle. I have 2 under 2 1/2 right now and my wife and I hope to have 2-3 more. While my oldest son will probably get stuck babysitting when he is older, I would not have anymore if I thought I would have to make him responsible for potty training his sibling or teaching him/her to read. he deserves to be a kid and as long as I know I can do that I think it is fine to have a large family.

Posted by: HappyDad | March 22, 2007 10:52 AM | Report abuse

So:

1) The children are all homeschooled (by a Mom who married as a teenager and has no education beyond high school)
2) Don't go to church, but rather have their own religion and religious gatherings in their home
3) Older kids care for the younger kids (and I don't mean babysit on accasion, but rather a full-time deal that involves feeding, bathing, helping with homework, brushing teeth, dressing, etc.)

When do they socialize with people they aren't related to??

And Lou: Of course the Couple to Couple League boasts that couples who use NFP have a low divorce rate! Consider the source you are citing--would they brag about an archaic method if they didn't have some made up statistics to back it up? And if 2% really is somewhat close to the actual, it's because most couples who use NFP are religious zealots who won't divorce no matter what, even for a valid reason (abuse, adultery, etc.)

Posted by: Anonymous | March 22, 2007 10:52 AM | Report abuse

what I find the most deserving is that they essentially have the older kids raising the younger kids

Is that comment a joke?

Posted by: Anonymous | March 22, 2007 10:55 AM | Report abuse

PLS: A lot of those people are already dead. DUH! So that solves part of the problem. Bill Clinton? Excuse me? You're proud of him? I was a Canadian during the Clinton administrations.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 22, 2007 10:57 AM | Report abuse

PLS: Very well stated! Yay for the South! :-)

Posted by: to PLS | March 22, 2007 11:00 AM | Report abuse

What most shocked me on the Duggars' site was their recipes. Tater-tot casserole? Everything had either mayo and the few veggies on hand were canned. Nutritionally absent.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 22, 2007 11:00 AM | Report abuse

Phillyfilly -- You go, Girl! I wish more people were as responsible as you. Most of the people having kids aren't fit to raise them.

Posted by: Child Support Services | March 22, 2007 11:01 AM | Report abuse

to 10:55

Ok so the pill is so high tech and NFP is archaic?? Is that what you are saying? Self discipline is now considered archaic, huh?

Have you looked into it? There is a lot of science backing it up. We're not talking the rhythem method here.

Posted by: Lou | March 22, 2007 11:02 AM | Report abuse

We have one. I find the disturbingly interesting. It is kind of like watching a train wreck. I think the hardest thing is that the kids seem to have no venue to the outside world. The oldest just seem to do the traditional work of the parents.

Posted by: foamgnome | March 22, 2007 11:04 AM | Report abuse

Canadian: GO BACK!!!!!!!

Posted by: Anonymous | March 22, 2007 11:04 AM | Report abuse

10:55am----I meant disconcerting...not deserving. my fingers got ahead of my brain. Thanks for pointing it out!

Posted by: HappyDad | March 22, 2007 11:09 AM | Report abuse

It seemed to me that pregnancy, despite the discomfort, lifted my wife's spirits to a new level. She simply enjoyed carrying a baby inside her.

Now, when we go to parties, she seeks out the couple with the youngest baby to hold. Her voice gets a few notches sweeter for the next few days, and then we share memmories of our own babies.

I consider encouraging my wife to hold infants if somewhat dangerous because we are maxed out with the 4 children we already have, but not so much as to compell us to use contraception. I find that having a wife that is completely open and trusting of me to create another human life with her makes sec much better than having sex to gratify an urge by engaging in carnel pleasure. But, that's just me. I also think that to maintain a sexual relationship and limit the number of children without the use of contraception takes a mindset that requires constant communication, training and practice..., just like all lasting marriages.

Posted by: Father of 4 | March 22, 2007 11:14 AM | Report abuse

I don't care how 'happy' these people with a litter of 16 are, our society cannot afford it. It's not like the human race is in danger of dying out.

Posted by: Denver, CO | March 22, 2007 11:15 AM | Report abuse

Lou,

I never claimed the pill to be high-tech. In fact, I never made any mention of the pill in my post at all. I think NFP is a great way to know when to have sex if you'd like to conceive (I have a niece on the way b/c my S-I-L read up on it and was so vigilant). My only problem is that you cite a clearly biased source as support for your point. I certainly wouldn't want my kids to learn NFP in school as being an effective way to prevent pregnancy. NFP is not as effective as the pill or condoms, no matter how self-disciplined one is or isn't. And speaking of self-discipline, any method of birth control takes self-discipline--you have to use it properly each and every time, no matter what. Don't get all self-righteous on me because you don't have sex 10 days of the month.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 22, 2007 11:16 AM | Report abuse

HappyDad, I actually agree with you on that one - I did help sometimes watching the younger siblings (as the oldest of 5) but my parents tried to be careful to never just *expect* that I would be the default baby-sitter any time they went out. I really appreciated that - I do think I would have resented it if they just thought I was there to work for free.

OTOH, when it came to things like family efforts to clean out the garage, my parents often joked that the reason they had a big family was to have a workforce! Since everyone pitched in on things like that, though, it wasn't the same kind of imposition.

Laura - your position makes perfect sense! I wouldn't have used NFP if I wasn't married - but I guess it was a "statistical anomaly" for my husband and I to both wait until marriage (at late twenties). Otherwise, I'm sure I'd have done what you did :) Just that Catholic thing, I guess.

Lou - Best wishes!

Posted by: KAL | March 22, 2007 11:17 AM | Report abuse

You say "Yankees" like it's a bad thing.

I've got no problem with the idea that every place has great people and idiots, high culture and low culture, beautiful landscapes and wastelands. But I'm tired of hearing about how Southerners are the only real Americans, or how much more polite they are (in my experience, they are just much thinner-skinned and ready to take offense at the drop of a hat).

Southern paranoia is so 1998.

Posted by: to PLS | March 22, 2007 11:18 AM | Report abuse

Are you saying that the Mason-Dixon line isn't there anymore? I know that borders only exist on maps but I don't understand what you are saying. Please clarify.

Posted by: to PLS | March 22, 2007 11:19 AM | Report abuse

So far a lot of this discussion is very theoretical--how many children people who currently have NO children think they will have or would like to have. Until you have your first, you don't really know what it will take out of you and how many more you will be able to handle well. You might change your mind after your second, too.

And as for natural family planning, it may work for some people, but others are so fertile that they would wind up like the Duggars even if they were careful.

Posted by: Theoretical | March 22, 2007 11:19 AM | Report abuse

As for how many kids is enough, for me 3 is plenty. It's not the money that stops me from wanting more, it is the desire to sleep through the night more often than once a week.

to anon at 11:00 - I agree that the tater tot casserole thing sounds gross. But, canned vegetables can have more of the nutrients than fresh produce from the store. Canned & frozen vegetables are usually packaged very soon after they are picked and that preserves their nutrients. The same cannot be said for produce that has traveled hundreds or thousands of miles to the store.

Posted by: MOMto3 | March 22, 2007 11:21 AM | Report abuse

The best gift you can give your child is a sibling.

Posted by: Father of 4 | March 22, 2007 11:21 AM | Report abuse

"And as for natural family planning, it may work for some people, but others are so fertile that they would wind up like the Duggars even if they were careful."

Theoretical, did you hear about the poor couple that got pregnant in high school and had triplets? They got married, she got on birth control, and they got pregnant again with triplets. 6 kids by age 19. They had an article about her in the Post. Apparently she is just hyper-fertile beyond all reckoning.

This was soon after the fertility-treatment McCaughey septuplets... I'd rather see the hoopla and help go to someone like this unlucky couple.

Posted by: Neighbor | March 22, 2007 11:24 AM | Report abuse

For those who prefer NFP, fine. For those who are preaching it for ideological reasons, here's a newsflash: OTHER religions (e.g. Judaism) forbid relations when the wife has her period and 1 week thereafter.

This is an example of why proselytizing types alienate others -- you make the assertion that you are the only ones who have the morals to practice self-control.

Posted by: No NFP for me | March 22, 2007 11:25 AM | Report abuse

The best gift you can give your child is a sibling.

Posted by: Father of 4 | March 22, 2007 11:21 AM

As an only child, I have to disagree. I don't think I'd be where I am today if my parents had to raise two kids. And I don't think they'd be where they are today either.

Posted by: Columbia, MD | March 22, 2007 11:27 AM | Report abuse

Don't let word get out that NFP means you can't have sex 10 days a month, wives will be leaping to get on that bandwagon!

Posted by: Anonymous | March 22, 2007 11:28 AM | Report abuse

Quoting Father of 4: "The best gift you can give your child is a sibling."

First, I would appreciate you not deciding what's best for anyone else's children but your own.

Second, I think that the best gift I can give my child(ren) is a household with content, fulfilled parents who feel that they are getting sufficient sleep and can adequately manage their own stresses. I'm glad that it works for you, but we would not be able to provide that "gift" in a family of four children.

Posted by: PA Mom | March 22, 2007 11:29 AM | Report abuse

I came from a family of 9 children (I am #8). We lived in poverty and I hated that aspect - alot of household stress surrounding that. I was fine having 2 children; especially since our life went chaotic after having these "planned" two children. After supporting husband thru college; he decided he wanted a third child. I was willing only if I could stay home or at the minimum work part time without us living in poverty (which I hated growing up in). That never happened... so, no third child. husband always seemed to want to do "his" own thing versus with the family.. fast forward.. now divorced.. ex found a younger woman and is starting his "second" family with one baby here and probably more on the way. He figured the family he already had didn't need him as they got more independent.

Anyhow, I guess a rule of thumb in today's society is to not have more than children than you can handle on your own - especially since it is highly possible your spouse could leave you. A sad sad reality. It sucks.

Posted by: C.W. | March 22, 2007 11:31 AM | Report abuse

Momto3, I heard that about frozen foods but I thought that canned ingredients (like canned corn or mushrooms, as they used) were the least nutritional of the three, since the nutrition leaches into the canning liquid which is then discarded. If the canning liquid is retained (as in the case of tomatoes) I can see how canned ingredients can be healthy.

Posted by: Neighbor | March 22, 2007 11:31 AM | Report abuse

Wow, that's awful, C.W. :(

Posted by: KAL | March 22, 2007 11:34 AM | Report abuse

1. I believe that the Mason-Dixon line is largely a historical remnant. It was originally surveyed long before the Civil War between 1763 and 1767 and the line became part of the borders between Pennsylvania, Maryland, West Virginia, and Delaware. Markers are still there, of course, but its cultural significance has diminished greatly in the last several decades.

2. I never said Southerners were the only real Americans, I just was making the point that Southerners are every bit as American as the rest of the country, that we don't need a "fence" around us. (By the way, Washington, D.C. would be included in that fenced-off area if you go by the Mason-Dixon line). I'm certainly not paranoid, I actually live in Northern Virginia and have no intentions of moving back to my native South Carolina, largely for lack of jobs in my field.

When I was in college (in Virginia), I was told that for my summer internship in Manhattan, I'd need to "lose" my relatively mild Southern accent to be taken seriously. I enrolled in the school's public speaking class and made a concerted effort to change how I spoke. Today, about 10 years later, almost everyone I meet says I have no accent at all. To me, it's kind of sad that the college me felt the need to change who I am because of others' misguided opinions about Southerners. There's just not a whole lot I can do about it now.

Posted by: PLS | March 22, 2007 11:35 AM | Report abuse

Someone stated something to the effect that they couldn't understand who would have a problem with limiting the number of children allowed unless it was religious. That's just extremely short sided and only takes into account the views of the poster who clearly doesn't want a large family. All well and good for them, but personally I want to decide how many children I have. I don't know if it will be two or ten but I do know both of my parents were from larger families (9 children and 7 children respectively) and both of them are well adjusted, fun, loving parents who are very close with both of their parents and siblings as well as having an extensive out of family network. What sort of freedom does this country allow if we limit that basic right? What do you suggest for the "extra illegal" children that WILL exist in the new system? Do we throw their parents into prision? Or fine them? And this will somehow cause LESS of a drain on society? How about we mandate that everyone MUST have one child to expand the gene pool variations while we're at it? Its just a silly route to take. As a CPA, I can also tell you that getting all worked up over any sort of federal assitance is just fear mongering. Most assistance is phased out after the second child and certain income levels. If the Duggers (who I actually enjoy watching just because its so different from my life) are getting tax relief solely on the basis of their children- I'd be surprized if it even is material. The house thing if true is questionable and I disagree with it (who ever said anything about the Dugger's morals except that they have many children which really has no impact on moral character) but I also doubt that many people without large families don't try to cheat the system to. However, that is an entirely separate tax issue and, in my opinion, irrelavent here.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 22, 2007 11:36 AM | Report abuse

I am an only child. I would never suggest to anyone that they have only one child. Yes, I received a lot of attention from parents and grandparents and yes, some may say I was spoiled with material things. But I lacked the companionship that siblings offer, and other lessons that can be learned from growing up with brothers and/or sisters, such as sharing, working as a team, getting along in groups, selflessness, etc. I used to love visiting my friends' houses who had 4, 5 or 6 siblings. There was always something going on there. My house seemed so lonely in comparison.

I am married now and still am sad that I am an only child. My husband and I would like to have four or five children, god willing.

Posted by: lonely child | March 22, 2007 11:37 AM | Report abuse

I wanted 4, DH was happy with one. We have two and stopped there. Money isn't an issue but I certainly understand that it can. While we have more than enough to provide the basics needs of our children, we also want to provide time with our kids, we want to provide for our retirement so our kids don't have to, we hope to be in a position to help our kids with college expenses and a down-payment on their first homes. Those priorities preclude having more kids. The biggest issue I have had since the birth of our second child, is having time to do quality things with my first. Last night he wanted to re-stage a WWII battle. I wasn't able to play with him because I was taking care of the baby. I left the "battlefield" set-up so we could play tonight but this morning he was still hurt that I play with him last night.

As for the Duggars, I disagree with most of their choices but I am struck that yes, despite what I am sure is careful TV editing, they seem to be a very loving happy family. I didn't grow up in a huge family (4 kids) but I did want to comment that I don't think it is unfair for the older Duggar kids to care for the younger. I was 14 when my youngest sibling was born and my mom often says she couldn't have survived if I and my sister's hadn't pitched in with chores that frankly, are part of every houshold. I bathed, fed, and looked after my baby brother and was still expected to help with housework and yardwork. At no time did I ever feel that it was my mom's "job" to do these things. As a family, we split up chores and cared for each other. That's pretty normal in my book.

Posted by: LM in WI | March 22, 2007 11:38 AM | Report abuse

There is no way that the children are getting true one on one time with their parents when there are so many. This has nothing to do with with providing children with the extras that many believe are family perogatives (trips, individual rooms, upscale clothing, or electronic toys), but with just providing for your kids with a backing to become a productive citizen. DO NOT just expect scholarships and others to provide the child with a post secondary education to live in our current world.

Posted by: mom of 2 | March 22, 2007 11:40 AM | Report abuse

Oh, and for the question of the day - we have one child and are struggling with whether or not to have another. Our daughter is already two and a half, and I don't see myself having another child any time in the next few years. I'm in my late twenties, so I have time, but my husband is 36. It's a tough decision. I have NO idea how people have more than 3 children, it boggles my mind because even one is so much work. And yes, the Duggars do creep me out, but more for the religious brainwashing than the number of children.

Posted by: PLS | March 22, 2007 11:42 AM | Report abuse

PLS: Read Florence King's books about being from the South. She was actually born in Washington DC but raised in the South. Stop being so touchy and sour-pussed. Everything she writes about crazy Southern women is true and you know it. Then you have those role models Tennessee Williams wrote about, God help us.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 22, 2007 11:43 AM | Report abuse

I was an only child and loved it. Parents were able to afford to raise me without stressing financially, which made it somewhat easier on their marriage, and they were able to give me great financial support in college (high-profile, high-achieving school, and I worked my a** off, didn't party and waste what was given to me).

I have no kids and likely won't. There are too many things I want to do with my life, and by the time I do those things I'll probably be too old for child-rearing. If I did decide to parent, I would probably adopt an older child.

The "big family" down the street was always fun to hang out with, but would have been a *nightmare* to live among. Constantly loud, chaotic, broke, no privacy, no system. I would have been miserable in that environment.

I just think Fo4 is flat wrong. I loved life without siblings. It's the "gift" I'm most glad my parents never gave me.

Posted by: only child, no kids | March 22, 2007 11:44 AM | Report abuse

"And yes, the Duggars do creep me out, but more for the religious brainwashing than the number of children."

As opposed to the secular, hollywood non stop onslaught on our children? Holding up Britney, Paris and Lindsey as role models? Puleeeze! Get a grip!

Posted by: pATRICK | March 22, 2007 11:46 AM | Report abuse

I have one child and am fine with that if that is what happens to me. But if another one came along I would be okay with that to0. However the financial limitations wiht a second do cause me concern as I am not too keen on being in debt. And my pregnancy was a bit tough at the end so I am not sure I want to go through that again. Again we shall see how things play out.

Posted by: One is fine for me | March 22, 2007 11:47 AM | Report abuse

I have 4, large by today's standards. Basically a younger set and an older set. I would not change it for the world. Occassionally I sit back and wonder where we would be financially with just the 1st two because the little 2 still cost us $1000s in child care [which there is min. tax benefit]. But the joy and energy they all bring to the house is irreplaceable. There interactions, their growth, their maturity and their battles. I love it and them beyond words. Heck, if I could skip my wife's emotional swings during pregnacy, and avoid the babies 1st 8-weeks or so [the sleep dreprivation whips me bad], I would love to have #5. Oh yeah, and if my wife would not be at risk too.

Posted by: RobGreg | March 22, 2007 11:47 AM | Report abuse

Oh, throw in Angelina Jolie and Mia Farrow (I think she has 14?), who adopt from third world countries as if there aren't enough children here to adopt. What's with them trying to be Mother to the Whole Universe. If we all had the money Angelina and Mia have, we could save the world, too.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 22, 2007 11:50 AM | Report abuse

"to anon at 11:00 - I agree that the tater tot casserole thing sounds gross. But, canned vegetables can have more of the nutrients than fresh produce from the store."


The benefits of eating raw fruits and vegetables are more than nutrients.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 22, 2007 11:51 AM | Report abuse

"Dina Lohan had kinder words for Davis' sometimes girlfriend, Paris Hilton.

"Paris Hilton's mom was wonderfully embracing to me. You know, you can't blame parents for kids, and Paris is a really smart girl, and she's come really far," Lohan said. "They're the American dream. They're the Trumps of the little world, these kids."


Wonderful, PARIS HILTON represents "the american dream". This is what the hollywood trash thinks is all that girls should aspire to be . Gross!

Posted by: pATRICK | March 22, 2007 11:52 AM | Report abuse

"I don't think I'd be where I am today if my parents had to raise two kids. And I don't think they'd be where they
are today either."

Sounds like you base your happiness on material wealth. How about a toast to greed?

Posted by: Anonymous | March 22, 2007 11:53 AM | Report abuse

I personally would love to have a housefull if we had the money - but since we are of modes means, we'll stick with the one we have, and maybe add a second in a few years.

Living in Arkansas, the Duggars are both a source of fascination and embarassment for me. However, as the wife of a minister of a small church, I can say that I resent the tax breaks (considerable) that they take - we pay our property taxes, etc. and we run the church office in large part from our living room (but aren't eligible for tax breaks at all since we don't have services there). In a state as poor as ours, it's a disgrace that they don't chip in.

Posted by: Rebecca in AR | March 22, 2007 11:56 AM | Report abuse

Um, Patrick, did I say anything about the Britneys or Lindseys of the world? No. Absolutely not. There's a way to raise children with religion, morals and values while still teaching them to be able to think for themselves - my parents did it. The Duggars' views on religion and education (and yes, I have seen the show) are just way, way out there. Only allowing girls to wear dresses, teaching them that the best job they can have is to be a housewife and mother to another huge family? Keeping the children segregated from the rest of the community by home schooling them and essentially selecting their friends for them? Making the older children responsible for the care of the younger ones instead of allowing them to live their own childhoods? No thanks, not for my family, and dare I say, not for the vast majority of families.

I've read Southern Ladies and Gentlemen several times (Florence King's book) and I think it's hilarious. There are definitely kernels of truth in there but her characters are gross over-generalizations about different "types" of Southerners. Just because I was born and raised in the South doesn't mean I'm a catty, gossipy person. Or overly sensitive for that matter. If someone was attacking a part of you that you found even somewhat important (like being a mother, for example) on this board, wouldn't you try to defend it? If someone said "mothers are crazy, they should be eliminated", you'd just let it go? So why should Southerners just sit back and "take it" when people bash them?

Posted by: PLS | March 22, 2007 12:00 PM | Report abuse

"I loved life without siblings. It's the "gift" I'm most glad my parents never gave me."

Only child, don't like people, huh? Problems with relationships? Not that there is anything wrong with that, but it is probably a good thing for you not to have any babies of your own.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 22, 2007 12:06 PM | Report abuse

"I don't think I'd be where I am today if my parents had to raise two kids. And I don't think they'd be where they
are today either."

Sounds like you base your happiness on material wealth. How about a toast to greed?

Posted by: | March 22, 2007 11:53 AM

How about financially secure and not fearing their retirement? As in, "Will our child take us in when we lose the house?" or "However will we afford a nursing home, we can barely make ends meet now?"

Posted by: Anonymous | March 22, 2007 12:14 PM | Report abuse

The Planned Parenthood website has question-and-answer piece on the effectiveness of natural family planning. It talks about how contraception is rated both on "perfect use" and "typical use" (these terms seem fairly self-explanatory). Including various methods of natural family planning (Billings, Creighton, and Standard Days) the range of effectiveness (incorporating both perfect and typical use) is 75-98%. In comparison the range for condoms is 85-98%.

Natural family planning can be a fine choice, but one should know the full facts about ANY form of birth control they choose to use, not just the pretty picture.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 22, 2007 12:16 PM | Report abuse

As a single mom, I think I've hit my limit with two. But I look with envy upon families who are able to adopt scads of children. Someone once asked me how many children I would adopt if I was married, and my honest answer was that my husband would be the limiting factor. I would adopt as many as he was willing to adopt. I've known families who've built their family through birth and adoption, and are at 9, 10, 11 children now. That's where I would be if I was married to a man who was willing to do that. But I think I would lose my slim grasp of sanity if I adopted a third on my own. I know other single women who have adopted a baseball team, but I don't think I have it in me. And I'd be willing to stick with just my two if I married a man who wasn't willing to have any others--not that getting married to anyone is a likely chance at this point.

Posted by: single mother by choice | March 22, 2007 12:18 PM | Report abuse

I have two, and I was once tempted to have a third. But I knew that things were shaky with hubby, and if we separated, I knew that at this point in time, I would only be able to comfortably raise and provide attention to two kids.

Analytical birth control.;>

Posted by: theoriginalmomof2 | March 22, 2007 12:19 PM | Report abuse

Ned and Maude Flanders can have as many kids as they want, but why must they have a website revealing their smugness about something at which cattle do as well or better?

Posted by: Noiseboys | March 22, 2007 12:23 PM | Report abuse

A lot of the Duggars' kids have the look of inbred special needs kids (sometimes confused with looking "happy").

Have these kids been tested?

Posted by: Anonymous | March 22, 2007 12:31 PM | Report abuse

Have these kids been tested?

Posted by: | March 22, 2007 12:31 PM

They're home schooled, so no.

Posted by: to 12:31 p.m. | March 22, 2007 12:34 PM | Report abuse

"The house thing if true is questionable and I disagree with it"

The tax exempt house and other buildings on the property is true. It is public record and pretty easy to check. Over 200k worth of real property is not taxed.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 22, 2007 12:38 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: MOMto3 | March 22, 2007 12:42 PM | Report abuse

"Have these kids been tested?

Posted by: | March 22, 2007 12:31 PM

They're home schooled, so no."

They seem to be mostly Bible schooled.

Posted by: YLS '85 | March 22, 2007 12:42 PM | Report abuse

No comment on the Duggars - I can't even find words for it really.

I have one child and honestly would be happy to have just one. We're a nice little family unit, she's about to start preschool and then we'll be on to school etc. with fewer child care concerns, we've started saving for her college fund (if she chooses to go) and will probably be able to provide a good amount of her tuition fees. And life is hectic enough with one.

Everyone I know with two or more seems totally stressed out - to me, this is a major deterrent. I think my husband is dead set on having two children (he has bought into that whole myth that only children turn out weird) and I suppose I don't really mind having another, but I would be perfectly happy with just one.

Posted by: Vienna mom | March 22, 2007 12:49 PM | Report abuse

"Only child, don't like people, huh? Problems with relationships?"

Actually, no. That may be a stereotype, but it's definitely not true with me. I date, I have a full social life and really enjoy throwing parties etc., and I volunteer in the community and have good relationships with my extended (albeit small) family.

I just enjoyed being an only child, and I know enough about myself to know that I probably won't want to have a baby.

I honestly don't get why people think any of that is a bad thing. Each person to his own, eh?

Posted by: only child, no kids | March 22, 2007 12:50 PM | Report abuse

We use Billings method NFP, and I'm familiar with Creighton (sympto-thermal) as well - don't know "Standard Days," but if that's like the rhythm method, I'm sure it has much lower effectiveness. For regular NFP (Billings/Creighton, designed by OBs and scientifically proven), at least if you get pregnant, you know why! - not failure of the method, but "what the heck, we know it's more a risk on this day, but we don't want to wait." Of course, that's not perfect use, but it's not the fault of the method. But I have no problem agreeing that you should know all the facts about whatever method you use.

Posted by: to 12:16 | March 22, 2007 1:02 PM | Report abuse

" don't wish them any ill will, but is it possible that they were wrong about the pill? I've never heard that it can cause miscarriage (spontaneous abortion)."

It is true, although unlikely. (And it's highly unlikely that they KNOW the pill caused their miscarriage.) The pill works in three ways:
1)It suppresses ovulation
2)It increases cervical mucous to inhibit the sperm's ability to get to the egg
3)It thins the lining of the uterus, therefore making the uterus less hospitable.

My understanding is that #3 is not the main way that the pill provides safety - #1 is. #3 is more a side effect of messing with the body's hormones. However, we know that #1 and #2 fail on occasion because people DO get pregnant on the pill.

I do find it frustrating that we don't hear about reason #3. I read about it on, for lack of a better word, a "religious fanatic" website. When I asked my OB - actually two of them - about it, they both confirmed those facts.

I don't take the pill. I'm just not comfortable taking something that would give a fertilized egg less of a chance, no matter how unlikely it is that #1 and #2 both fail.

Posted by: Carol | March 22, 2007 1:05 PM | Report abuse

Mrs. Duggars' babies must slide out when she bends over....

Posted by: Anonymous | March 22, 2007 1:07 PM | Report abuse

I'd like to know how people can be so stupid and mean as to say, for instance, "only child, don't like people, huh? trouble with relationships?" or "sounds like you base your relationships on material wealth. here's a toast to greed." This "only child" was and is quite happy and sounds confident and well-balanced as opposed to these people who surely must be reflecting their own jealousies of someone who didn't have siblings to hate. Boy, these two need to go see a psychiatrist and find out what their problem is!!

As for the Duggars and any other 21st century family that has church at home, makes girls wear dresses, and home schools, they need to have all those government assistance dollars taken away from them. If there were no tax benefits and credits, and no free whatevers, and no vouchers, and the Duggars actually had to pay for their way of life, then maybe they'd stop milking the rest of us for all they can. In the old days, when infant mortality was high and people needed children to work on the farms, lots of children made sense. It is not the "old days." My opinion is not that people shouldn't have large families, or that people shouldn't have only children. I say people need to know themselves and act responsibly and teach their children to be responsible adults especially when they become parents. So if you have lots of kids and your children can tell by your example that you can handle lots of kids (you are parenting, not the older kids are parenting the younger ones) then fine. If you have one child and that child thinks you are a fine mom/dad and you actually are a well-balanced and happy mom/dad, then one child is right for you. What your kids don't need is a parent who has one child and that parent is constantly complaining about that one child. Or a parents who has ten kids and the kids' lives are a wreck because the parents and the kids have nothing. The Kennedys had lots of children, but they could afford all of them. On the other hand, some people who had only one, shouldn't have had even one child. So it really does depend. But some of us never take anything from the government while others soak the taxpayers unfairly to the rest of us. Unfortunately for the religious, some of that is coming from folks like the Duggars.

Posted by: Mimi | March 22, 2007 1:09 PM | Report abuse

Can someone tell me what NFP is? Trying to search thru the posts, but having trouble with the multi-tasking? Thanks!

Also... re the blanket teaching technique... very interesting (and scary) as it seems as though the children are taught not to leave the nest very young. Wonder how psychologically it works into adulthood... keeping the chicks so close to the hen. Very unnatural to me. Ugh.

Posted by: NFP? | March 22, 2007 1:11 PM | Report abuse

Very impressive egos we are exhibiting on the board today. We all seem to know exactly what the right number of children to have is, and exactly what the most important things to give a child are. Fresh veggies, canned veggies, college educations paid for, a life free from laundry duty and tater tots.

These are the luxurious worries of people that don't know what real problems are. Abuse, neglect, poverty. These are the real problems some children in our society face.

You may have issues with how the Duggars live their life but their children are fed, sheltered, safe, cared for and seem well adjusted enough. Their's are not the children in real danger.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 22, 2007 1:15 PM | Report abuse

The Kennedys had lots of children, but they could afford all of them

That clearly worked out well. What an unbalanced, unhappy gropu of people. Having enough money does not mean having enough. Trump comes to mind.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 22, 2007 1:16 PM | Report abuse

NFP = Natural Family Planning = method of naturally spacing births or avoiding pregnancy by observing natural (and scientifically verified) signs of ovulation/fertility (cervical fluid variations, temperature, etc.)

Posted by: to NFP? | March 22, 2007 1:23 PM | Report abuse

I'd like to know how to get my home declared as a religious spot so I can stop paying taxes. That'd be great. Then I'd run for legislature so I could pass a law that tax free area's shall be given an additional $2,000 a month to cover expenses and that the cost of electricity and water should be borne upon the rest of the people making it FREE FREE FREE for ME ME ME.

16 kids is too much and by homeschooling, you're depriving the children of a chance to learn other ideas, to think for themselves, to meet other people and how to act outside of the family. Watch Wife Swap, you see it everytime there is a "closed" family. The kids want to see friends, meet other people, try new things. Religion is simply brainwashing to a lot of people.

Posted by: FREE FREE FREE FOR ME ME ME -- Jim Bob | March 22, 2007 1:23 PM | Report abuse

Father of 4,

"The best gift you can give your child is a sibling."

Is quoting the Pope (JPII) without providing the source a sin? Any canon lawyers here today?

Also, I think the exact quote was - "The greatest gift you can give your child is ANOTHER sibling"

Just in case your kid already has a sibling (or three) and you thought you were done! :)

Posted by: Rockville Dad | March 22, 2007 1:24 PM | Report abuse

I was lectured once as a teenager about the evils of assuming that my offspring would be better than the offspring of other people. So I tried not to think that.

Many years later, I'm back. I would dearly love to have as many children as I can feed, so as to try to keep pace with those other people. (First is on the way. We'll see how it goes.)

Those people who can give their kids a safe loving home, a education, an upbringing that encourages responsibility and kindness... these are the people who should be having lots of kids.

Because the ones who spend time and money on entertainment, clothes, alcohol/drugs, rather than on their kids-- they certainly aren't agonizing over how many kids is good for society and the planet. If every welfare recipient has three or four kids, and degree-holding career folks limit themselves to one, are we doing "society" any good at all? Nope. We need to stack the odds in favor of education and responsibility.

This is why I say leave the Duggars alone. They're raising their kids in such a way to encourage family ties, education, appreciation of the arts. I don't agree with the looney religious aspect, but I'd much rather they populate my world than most of the people I ride the bus with. (The ones who tell a crying baby to "shut up". The ones who give their kids cheetos at dinner time. The ones who haul their kids around by one arm...)

Posted by: WDC | March 22, 2007 1:25 PM | Report abuse

I'm an only child myself and know that I would not have the successes I had later in life had it not been for being an only child early in life. Why? Because the times I would forget something and mom or dad would help bail me out by bringing it to me so I could complete the job I was doing. Or the trips we went on that we wouldn't have been able to if there was one more person along. Yes, I would've liked to have had a sibling, but know that there would've been a lot of struggles just to reach the point that I'm at now and think that my life would've been a lot different.

Now for me, I'd like to have at least two kids so they have someone to play with, but I know that I've also got a little bit better support system going than what my parents had.

Posted by: Jarrod | March 22, 2007 1:26 PM | Report abuse

"You may have issues with how the Duggars live their life but their children are fed, sheltered, safe, cared for and seem well adjusted enough"

This doesn't sound like a description of the future of America; it sounds like an auction of a barnyard litter!

We only saw what we permitted to see and that was more than enough for me. More than half of the kids are retarded! Can't the parents see it?

Aren't there enough Duggars on the planet??

Posted by: YLS '85 | March 22, 2007 1:29 PM | Report abuse

I'm an older child in a family of nine, now in my 20s. I have always loved having a big family. Yes, I had to do chores and cook dinner sometimes and babysit my younger siblings, but now I know how to do all of those things. I consider myself better off for having had responsibility while growing up. I certainly never felt "robbed" of my childhood.

We were never rich, so instead we learned how to work for the things we wanted, and we all so far have gone to college, paid for by scholarships and jobs. I didn't grow up with the sense of entitlement that a lot of my contemporaries with smaller families did.

Also, my siblings are my best friends. We are all very different people, but also very close. to each other I'm so grateful to have such a strong support network of family.

I won't have as many children, because I don't think I could do as well as my own parents did, but I will do everything I can to have at least two.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 22, 2007 1:29 PM | Report abuse

Lou, Kal, moxiemom and others: I took the same NFP class that Lou mentioned. And yes, I have read all the literature from couple to couple league puts out. But I can say that my friend who works for the CDC specifically in the area of BC/family planning medicine does belief the efficacy rates that NFP claims (98%) is true. But an efficacy rate is the rate of failure given the method is used correctly 100% of the time. The usage rate is the rate of failure (unplanned pregnacy) when the method is used across all users. And NFP has one of the worst usage rates. Why? Because the method is very labor intensive. The method is based on actual scientific and biological concepts but requires more effort on the part of the user. That being said, I used NFP for several years effectively. But have since switched to non oral related BC (that my faith disapproves of) because of the labor intensive nature of NFP. Again the divorce rate of NFP users, is really irrelevant because the mass majority of NFP users are practing Catholics and do not consider divorce (except in cases of abuse etc...) an option. They can't really test the significant difference between a non religious family using NFP and a non religious family using other forms of contraception. But I applaud anyone wishing to use NFP. It takes a lot of work and a lot of communication. All that is good in a marriage.

Only children: Well, we plan on just one because of my DD's learning disabilities. And I don't feel guilty about it. Or at least most days. Although it would be nice to have given her a sibling, there are a lot of advantages to having just one. Yes, money is easier, time is easier, energy is easier. Sometimes, you have to be grateful for the blessings that you do have and can't be concerned about what you don't have.

Duggars: I think what makes me a little disturbed about this family is how they are willing to subsidize their families lifestyle by going to the media. I guess all the large multiple families sort of do that too. But my friend, who is Mormon, has seven kids. And I respect her family a lot more for working hard and providing for her family. Rather then the Duggars, who made up their own religion to get a tax break, make TV shows to get their house finished and furnished, or a trip to Disney Land. The Duggars can shun American materialism but they sure use it when it is given to them for free. But I fully recongize this is their legal right. And no, I don't think there should be laws against having 17 kids. And their kids did more then just help out. They had an 11 year old girl in charge of laundry for the 18 people in the family. The oldest boys were building the family house.

Posted by: foamgnome | March 22, 2007 1:30 PM | Report abuse

It is morally irresponsible to have 17 children in a country where they will all survive and consume 400 percent of the world's resources that children in the rest of the world have available to them.

Are they on welfare? Do they get government assistance for the thirteen extra kids? If they are its even more reprehensible.

Posted by: Onestring | March 22, 2007 1:36 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, I'm still skeptical. The study smelled of propaganda to me, and the lead author gets funding from Green Giant, Campbell's soup, and ADM, amongst others.

Buried in the summary is the following "Although some vitamin C is lost during the heat treatment, much of it dissolves in the cooking liquid and can be recovered by using the liquid in soups and sauces." and she says several times that it is good to use canned foods in casseroles and sauces, etc. Reading between the lines, there is a lot of nutrition lost to the liquid in the can.

Posted by: Neighbor | March 22, 2007 1:40 PM | Report abuse

ZERO is a perfect number for me.

The Duggars freak me out and it is good to see that parents are as freaked out by them as I am. I wouldn't be surprised if one of their kids ends up childfree, having already done the 'parenting thing' with their younger siblings.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 22, 2007 1:42 PM | Report abuse

For all who are upset at possible government assistance - do you get a tax break for mortgage interest? How about anything else that gives you a tax break? I don't hear families who rent because they have children and can't afford to buy a house complain that you are getting a tax break they're not getting.

Would you be happier with a flat tax? Let's tax all your income with no exclusions or deductions. Maybe you will be a little more understanding of people getting assistance when yours (tax break) disappears.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 22, 2007 1:44 PM | Report abuse

I think it's 100% awesome that someone cited "Wife Swap" to prove that home schooling is bad. That is rock solid, irrefutable evidence. Did you know that, according to TV, the ideal family is actually three boys and three girls, each from previous marriages? Sure, they have problems, but nothing Alice or Sam the butcher can't solve!

I'm an only child, and not religious. But can we please stop this whinging about big families and taxes? Complaining about the few bucks a year you pay in taxes to support your fellow citizens is selfish, unbecoming and ignorant. I wonder how the Duggar kids will feel about paying for your Social Security and Medicare? After all, they'll be paying 16 TIMES the taxes your only child pays to support you in old age. But I have a feeling they won't be stomping their feet about it.

Posted by: larry | March 22, 2007 1:45 PM | Report abuse

"The Duggars freak me out and it is good to see that parents are as freaked out by them as I am. I wouldn't be surprised if one of their kids ends up childfree, having already done the 'parenting thing' with their younger siblings"

I wouldn't be surprised in one of them cracks up and blows away the whole family!

Lands sakes! My pets get more attention from me than these kids do from their parents. And my pets can't get gun permits!

Creepy, creepy people.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 22, 2007 1:46 PM | Report abuse

I don't know if we in the US consume 400% of the earth's resources but I do know this. The industrial output of this country brings transportation, electricity, IT, agriculture and basic building materials to most every nation in the world. Yes, our per capital consumption is high but our industrial output is higher still and more efficient than many countries.

Posted by: to onestring | March 22, 2007 1:46 PM | Report abuse

I was raised on canned and processed foods. I still love sweets and salty snacks, although I don't eat them as much as I use to. I am in my early 50's. I will admit to being somewhat overweight, but I have no health problems. BP is normal, all blood levels are normal, I take no medication other than Tylenol for occasional headaches.

Stop acting like it's the end of the world that people give their children canned food.

Posted by: nutrition | March 22, 2007 1:48 PM | Report abuse

My uncle is a successful doctor who has 9 childred. Most of them have behavioral problems of one form or another...anxiety, hyperactivity, attention deficit disorder, and the oldest is just plain antisocial. To support that many kids, unless you're Trump's son, you have to work a lot to support them, so you're not around. There's one problem. There's just not enough parent to go around be it mom or dad. Most developmental psychologists (I am no layman) will tell you two is better than one and three is ok, but cut it off there. Space them apart by no more than two years and no less than one. After knowing my cousins and hearing my office-mate's stories about her three kids of 4, 2 and 6 months, I am seriously going to get a vascectomy. I'm not kidding. The world has enough trouble with the humans on it now. Why add to the chaos. Having kids for the sake of having kids is ridiculous. I'll stick to my dogs and be happy and health long after you parents are dead of heart attacks at 45. Have fun.

Posted by: Balakili | March 22, 2007 1:48 PM | Report abuse

1:44: No one here has a problem with them getting a legitimate tax break (say the 17 dependents). It is the tax break on their own personal home that they claim is a church. It is making up a religion, in order, not to pay property taxes that is the issue. If you don't have any problems with that, then you are fine with all of us making up our own religions, claiming tax exempt status and no one pays local property taxes. ie, schools would have zero funds.

Posted by: foamgnome | March 22, 2007 1:51 PM | Report abuse

"Most developmental psychologists (I am no layman) will tell you two is better than one and three is ok, but cut it off there. Space them apart by no more than two years and no less than one."

This is the most ridiculous statement I have ever heard about having children.

Posted by: me | March 22, 2007 1:52 PM | Report abuse

Why haven't you committed suicide then? Your existence is morally irresponsible because the resources you consume could sustain 100 in other parts of the world. You are truly evil for continuing to deny those more deserving souls what they need to survive!

Posted by: To Onestring | March 22, 2007 1:53 PM | Report abuse

"I was raised on canned and processed foods. I still love sweets and salty snacks, although I don't eat them as much as I use to. I am in my early 50's. I will admit to being somewhat overweight, but I have no health problems. BP is normal, all blood levels are normal, I take no medication other than Tylenol for occasional headaches.

Stop acting like it's the end of the world that people give their children canned food."

It's not the end of the world, but it is not recommended base on science, not your ancedotal evidence.

Since you admit to being "somewhat overweight", you are probably obese. That might be the end of the world for you down the road.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 22, 2007 1:53 PM | Report abuse

Ah my favorite topic, How do you do it? Don't you know what causes those? You have how many kids? The list goes on and on. I am a mother of seven, yes seven, and I do just fine thank you. No we don't use government assistance of any kind. My husband has a good job, a technical degree from an ivy league school and I am a stay at home wife and mother. Yes I know what causes them, I have 5 years between #1 and 2, 3 years between #2 and 3, #4and 5 are twins, but then 4 more years and #6 and 7 are also twins. If I didn't know what caused them I could have fit a few more in there.

I work hard to keep my kids clean, I cook homemade meals. I don't really like pre package stuff I think it tastes gross and my kids are fairly well behaved--they are kids after all. They all have chores, but I am careful to be the mom, to do the bulk of the child care and household running because they didn't ask to have so many siblings. I do have the oldest babysit on Saturday's for a couple of hours but then she is free to go with friends to the movie whatever. They do help each other out. The littlest ones love their big sisters and follow them and play with them. They all play together and have fun. They like the noise and having so many kids close to the same age in the house.

I am doing my very best but I get tired of the stares and comments and people counting my kids when I go out with them. They are clean, well fed, smart and respectful, the same things I hope the kids from other families are no matter the size of family.

I didn't plan to have seven, I didn't plan to have twins or two sets of twins. You cannot always plan everything down to the last detail. But this is the family I have and I wouldn't change it at all.

Posted by: magnificent7mom | March 22, 2007 1:53 PM | Report abuse

just make sure that you compost yourself!

Posted by: to onestring | March 22, 2007 1:55 PM | Report abuse

"It isn't fair to the kids, who grow up raising their parents' children, and it isn't fair to those of us in society who have to pay more taxes to support people who have families so large they cannot support themselves"

Actually, some people did complain about paying taxes to support large families - it wasn't just about a 'questionable church'.

Posted by: to foamgnome | March 22, 2007 1:58 PM | Report abuse

I wonder how the Duggar kids will feel about paying for your Social Security and Medicare? After all, they'll be paying 16 TIMES the taxes your only child pays to support you in old age. But I have a feeling they won't be stomping their feet about it.

They're not going to be paying much. All of the girls are being brainwashed into being stay at home moms and the boys will probably be building their own compounds right next to their parents. These are not exactly a bunch of upstanding and contributing citizens. Just a bunch of weirdo freaks trying to suck off the system for as long as possible.

Posted by: to Larry | March 22, 2007 1:59 PM | Report abuse

I find it interesting that people are so threatened by others not just like them. Those without children or only one feel the need to denegrate the decisions of those who chose to have several children and vice versa. Why is this? We're not all the same are we? Thus what is right for us and what will make us each happy SHOULD be different from others. I'd be creeped out if everyone thought, did, and lived just like me!

For the record, we have four children.

Posted by: An Dliodoir | March 22, 2007 2:00 PM | Report abuse

1:58: Then I did not read all the posts clearly. But my guess is at least the 17 children as a deduction might not be an issue with AMT. It depends how much else they write off as church thing.

Posted by: foamgnome | March 22, 2007 2:02 PM | Report abuse

"Since you admit to being "somewhat overweight", you are probably obese. That might be the end of the world for you down the road."

Hey, we all gotta go sometime. I'm guessing that family longevity into the 90's will influence my lifespan more than canned green beans.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 22, 2007 2:03 PM | Report abuse

Cracking up over the ideas of the perfect tv families and how easy their problems are to fix - silly husband messes up, kid butts in, beautiful witty wife wearing cleavage while bumming around the house fixes things.
On the flip side, one family I really do like is the one on Little People BIg World on The Learning Channel. Do any of you watch that?

Posted by: TV Families | March 22, 2007 2:05 PM | Report abuse

Oops... didn't finish... re Little People Big World. They have four kids including a set of twins. They have their set of problems, but they seem to keep it real and understrand when something is a big problem and when it's not. I've always wanted three kids (just have one so far), and they make me think that more than 2 can actually work. (Then again, the Mom is SAHM and I work f/t... but that's for another day.)

Posted by: TV Families... | March 22, 2007 2:07 PM | Report abuse

"I wonder how the Duggar kids will feel about paying for your Social Security and Medicare? After all, they'll be paying 16 TIMES the taxes your only child pays to support you in old age. But I have a feeling they won't be stomping their feet about it."

My old age is completely funded without the need for Social Security and Medicare, so the Duggars' kids and my kids won't be paying for it.


The Duggars' kids will follow their slick father's way to get around paying for anything.

I agree that the kids will find some religious pretext to avoid taxation. After all, their time is mostly spent on Bible schooling, not home schooling. There is a world of difference.


Posted by: Anonymous | March 22, 2007 2:07 PM | Report abuse

Went to Amazon and looked at the reviews for "Fourteen." These suggest that quantity clearly detracts from childhood quality IF the parents are bad parents to begin with. See one excerpt of a review below.

"Poor Stephen Zanichkowsky never had a chance. As the eighth child out of fourteen, he had a childhood of missing out on most of the things kids need. Money was mostly tight until family fortunes changed later on. As you would expect, the kids were sick of doing endless chores, of living in cramped living quarters, of eating canned goods, and of being surrounded by dirty diapers. Such complaints soon seem trivial, as you read Stephen describe a childhood devoid of any emotional nurturing. Stephen's only memories of communications with the folks involve them belittling and bullying him, if they communicated at all. The young, fragile, defenseless kids grew up in fear of their evil Father. Father was mostly absent, when he wasn't brutally beating his kids with a stick for corporeal punishment. Mother was equally evil, although Stephen describes her in terms of being overwhelmed. This is a much kinder description than Mother deserves, as you find out when you hear how one night, helped by the family priest, she drops off her most bullied and victimized child at a mental institution. She offers no explanation to the other thirteen sibs about his overnight absence. The brood soon learned to do anything to avoid the brutality of their parents. They have no hesitation to deflect blame on another sibling. Since Stephen's horrible parents are religious zealots, it is also only a matter of time before Stephen is zapped of his faith in God."

Posted by: Judge C. Crater | March 22, 2007 2:10 PM | Report abuse

I have 2 kids and AMT is not an issue. foamgnome, you must make too much money.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 22, 2007 2:10 PM | Report abuse

Please don't assume that every large family is on public assistance. My mother was one of 12 kids, and they were totally self-sufficient. They even sent all 12 to college, not even government assistance for that. Certainly, they lived more modestly than they would have with fewer children, but they did not have any children they could not afford. And when the youngest child was 16, my grandmother started her (second) career. She only retired when she was forced to at age 82. All of her children are upstanding, contributing members of society. As a group, they have paid way more in taxes and social security than they ever get out.

Posted by: another possibility | March 22, 2007 2:15 PM | Report abuse

To the mother of 7, no ill will intended at all, but how on earth do you have time to spend with each of the children, talk with them about their joys and challenges. I'm a SAHM and I have two children and feel pulled on many days - how do you do it. Not trying to be critical, truly curious.

Posted by: moxiemom | March 22, 2007 2:19 PM | Report abuse

The world is overpopulated: we are, as planet, running out of clean water and air, not to mention open space and all kinds of other species. Schools are overcrowded, cities are overburdened. Anyone who is realistic, compassionate
and truly cares about the future (and not just their own desire to have many bio-kids)should have no more than two biological children. Want more? There are millions of abandoned & orphaned children all over the world.

Posted by: mom of one bio, one adopted | March 22, 2007 2:21 PM | Report abuse

Judge C. Crater

FOURTEEN AKA How to Create a Serial Killer/Mass Murderer.

Been there, done that.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 22, 2007 2:21 PM | Report abuse

I have 2 kids and AMT is not an issue. foamgnome, you must make too much money.

Posted by: | March 22, 2007 02:10 PM

NO, I meant the Duggars might be subject to AMT even though they have 17 dependents. They may not be able to claim all 17 due to AMT rules.

Posted by: foamgnome | March 22, 2007 2:25 PM | Report abuse

Good for you for adopting, but don't claim the world is overpopulated! The entire population of the world could fit into the state of Texas, with each person getting 1200 square feet (more than many DC apartments). I wouldn't worry about the people problem.

Posted by: to mom of one | March 22, 2007 2:33 PM | Report abuse

I wouldn't worry about the people problem.

Them's good eating!

Posted by: Anonymous | March 22, 2007 2:36 PM | Report abuse

Mom of one bio,
Please tell me what else I need to do to be a perfect human being like yourself.

Following your logic though, perhaps we should just kill all the children because if we don't, they'll just have more children and then there will be less of those resources you mentioned. Or is there some perfect ratio between people and planet? Please enlighten us as you appear to have it all figured out!

Hey wait!! Why should we have to kill our children? I think the Chinese and the Indians should have to kill theirs until they get down to the 300 million number we're currently at. It seems only fair.

Mom of one bio will tell us the correct thing to do!

Posted by: An Dliodoir | March 22, 2007 2:37 PM | Report abuse

Back on topic I have one and one's enough for me. Mostly I think to each his own, with this topic, but in response to the previous poster who said giving a child a sibling is the best gift you can give them, I would disagree, as half of my friends & acquaintances don't really get along with their siblings (or feel neutral towards them). If it works out that they like each other, that's great, but it isn't a guarantee.

Posted by: smf | March 22, 2007 2:40 PM | Report abuse

Good for you for having one child (I mean that), but of course the world is overpopulated. Why global warming? Why rainforest destruction? And it's not just a matter of numbers and what area you could conceivably cram every human on earth into; even one child (in the US) uses an tremendous amount of resources. That's why it's irresponsible to have many if you have the wherewithal not to. Read some real news!

Posted by: Mom bio/adopted | March 22, 2007 2:41 PM | Report abuse

"How many children do you have? How many would you have if money were no object?" My answer is 0 to both questions.

More generally, I think it is ok for people to have as many children as they are mentally, emotionally, physically and financially they are able to handle. Speaking on financial ability, if you anticipate that you will only be able to care for your child through some government social programs or tax breaks or you want more of those things, you are not financially ready.

World population is not at a crisis level, but there is certainly no shortage either. We will eventually hit the limit and the population level will pull back one way or the other. Anyone who has that burning to desire to raise children and is prepared mentally, emotionally, physically and financially should consider adopting I think.

I was 1 of 5. A little larger than normal even for my time. I never lacked for anything and I love all of my siblings, but even so, I think my parents would have been a little more responsible had they stopped earlier. I'll never tell them that, however. Full disclosure, I'm the eldest. :p

On the Duggers, I concur with many others here. I too anticipate some blow ups when some of the children pop from the pressure of that closed environment. Some of them are going to want use their brains. Really that goes in general for all parents. Overprotection backfires. The Duggers have an extreme case of indoctrination going on. Some of them will never challenge it and will be okay if they can stay in the same environment for the rest of their lives. But some won't be able to stay in that environment and won't be able to function in the real world. Others will challenge their indoctrination and break free on their own and blow up since they won't have any clue how to function on their own either. The oldest one just turned 18, didn't he. Let's sit back and watch.

Posted by: PersonL | March 22, 2007 2:43 PM | Report abuse

I come from a large family - 8 kids - and while I suppose I would have received more attention in a smaller family, I certainly don't feel deprived. There were several other large families in my neighborhood and we all had a great time playing together during the summer. I just guess my parents somehow did the right thing - we are all still friends and actually hang out together because we want to, not out of obligation.

Posted by: Missicat | March 22, 2007 2:54 PM | Report abuse

All of you are idiots to be honest. Okay, let me get this straight...you don't want your taxes to be used on US citizens for the services and programs that your taxes are being taken for? And did you know that the dollar amount that you get for each child is not that much, so stop your crying and I fairly certain that no where have I ever seen that they receive this assistance. Are you all assuming with your big east coast educations? I have met these people, they are wonderful and their choices are their choices. Now, how come I don't see you all in the streets crying about the 18 illegal Mexicans living in that house in Arlington and somehow they did get your tax dollars.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 22, 2007 3:00 PM | Report abuse

My Mom is one of 14. The kind of parenting the Duggers believe in has serious consequences. It took one of my uncles 35 years to forgive my Dad for taking away his "mother" (my Mom).

Posted by: ukspy | March 22, 2007 3:02 PM | Report abuse

PersonL,

You write, "Speaking on financial ability, if you anticipate that you will only be able to care for your child through some government social programs or tax breaks or you want more of those things, you are not financially ready."

Does that mean that if you want to buy a house, but the only way it fits within your budget is to take advantage of mortgage interest tax deductions, you're not ready for that either?

Posted by: PersonR | March 22, 2007 3:04 PM | Report abuse

Ron Hubbard got away with it...why can't these guys?

Posted by: Amanda | March 22, 2007 3:08 PM | Report abuse

This entire discussion runs rampant with classic liberal hypocrisy. If the Duggars were Muslim and reared their daughters to wear clothing that covers everything but their eyes, and expect nothing more from life than to be subservient to their husbands, and shielded them from the perceived immoralities of mainstream society, everyone here would be saying that we should strive to understand and respect their culture; and rightfully so. But the fact is the Duggars are white, upper middle class Christians, and that makes them fair game for your ridicule and hatred.

Posted by: PersonR | March 22, 2007 3:09 PM | Report abuse

I will tell you this, those "18 illegal Mexicans living in that house in Arlington" most likely don't get welfare because Virginia is very hostile to illegal immigrants. And they probably work, pretty hard, because that's why immigrants come here. Receiving welfare is not part of their culture. And they contribute to the economy by working. And their kids are US citizens who will pay for your social security even as the Duggar kids find a way to avoid taxes and live on tax free compounds because of their "religion." And the kids of those illegal Mexicans will adapt to American life, unlike the Duggars who will always be on the fringe. Those illegal Mexicans are more like average Americans than the Duggars ever hope to be.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 22, 2007 3:10 PM | Report abuse

"I fairly certain that no where have I ever seen that they receive this assistance"

I fairly certain that at least half of the kids are retarded and will need some assistance down the road.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 22, 2007 3:10 PM | Report abuse

"Does that mean that if you want to buy a house, but the only way it fits within your budget is to take advantage of mortgage interest tax deductions, you're not ready for that either?"

PersonR, that is correct. Nice name, by the way.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 22, 2007 3:22 PM | Report abuse

Well, that's fair enough then, if you think that. Most people would disagree. Are you saying then that you're opposed to child tax credits, mortgage interest deductions, and other similar benefits?

Posted by: PersonR | March 22, 2007 3:24 PM | Report abuse

"This entire discussion runs rampant with classic liberal hypocrisy. If the Duggars were Muslim and reared their daughters to wear clothing that covers everything but their eyes, and expect nothing more from life than to be subservient to their husbands, and shielded them from the perceived immoralities of mainstream society, everyone here would be saying that we should strive to understand and respect their culture; and rightfully so. But the fact is the Duggars are white, upper middle class Christians, and that makes them fair game for your ridicule and hatred."

On the contrary, the more extreme Muslims demonstrate what happens with extreme isolation and indoctrination. There's nothing wrong with raising your children as Christians or any other silly religion you like as long as they are not isolated from other ideas. One day that child will have to process information other than that approved by the parent and they will need to be able to process other information.

If a person get to their mid 20's and they've been exposed to everything else in the world and they decide they want to adopt the world their parents world view while not be threatened by others world view, that's fine. But if they get to their mid 20's and they've never been exposed to any other world view and anything contrary to their indoctrination threatens them, you could have a problem. They might decide they need to destroy those who don't share their beliefs. Or their little world might simply be thrown upside down and they could go crazy and end up doing a Boys gone wild video for free.

Posted by: PersonL | March 22, 2007 3:31 PM | Report abuse

"But if they get to their mid 20's and they've never been exposed to any other world view and anything contrary to their indoctrination threatens them, you could have a problem."

Yes, and these folks tend to be socially awkward and easily manipulated. Maybe it is the Duggars intention that these kids never succeed in the bad, bad world at large and become dependent on their parents in one way or another for the rest of their lives. That sounds a lot like a cult.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 22, 2007 3:48 PM | Report abuse

This entire discussion runs rampant with classic liberal hypocrisy. If the Duggars were Muslim and reared their daughters to wear clothing that covers everything but their eyes, and expect nothing more from life than to be subservient to their husbands, and shielded them from the perceived immoralities of mainstream society, everyone here would be saying that we should strive to understand and respect their culture; and rightfully so. But the fact is the Duggars are white, upper middle class Christians, and that makes them fair game for your ridicule and hatred.

If the Duggars were Muslims, they wouldn't have a tv show and we'd never even know about them.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 22, 2007 3:52 PM | Report abuse

I was an only child and my best childhood friend was one of five. I vowed that if I had a child, that child would have a sibling. I have two children. They both have advanced degrees and I am very proud of them. I think two was about all my husband and I could afford. They squabbled with each other when they were young, but now they are best friends...someone I wish I had had to continue throughout my lifetime. My only regret now is that I didn't have 3. However, it's better to regret having had too few than to regret having had too many.

Posted by: EmptyNest | March 22, 2007 4:00 PM | Report abuse


"If the Duggars were Muslims, they wouldn't have a tv show and we'd never even know about them."

Or all the freebies or the property tax exemption.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 22, 2007 4:01 PM | Report abuse

We have two, a boy and a girl. Would have had three if money and health were no hinderance. One is a very lonely number I think.

Posted by: Neerja | March 22, 2007 4:04 PM | Report abuse

my earlier post:
"The best gift you can give your child is a sibling."

and

"I would appreciate you not deciding what's best for anyone else's children but your own."
by PA Mom,

and after reading other posts,I realize that my comment was offensive to those of single child families.

Please accept my apology.

Posted by: Father of 4 | March 22, 2007 4:08 PM | Report abuse

Hey Father of 4 -- I'm an only child, now a father of three, and I think the best gift my wife and I gave our children are their siblings.

I agree that each family makes their own decisions based on their dynamic, but I don't think you need to apologize too much for your opinion.

Posted by: Arlington Dad | March 22, 2007 4:15 PM | Report abuse

Wow! What an interesting barrage of topics! From too many children to how to raise children to BC methods to South vs. North to Hollywood and so on and so on....
I have three beautiful children and one more (and last) on the way. Our three older ones were stair-step, and my middle son has Asperger's. Until my youngest was four, life was extremely hectic, but as a stay at home mom, I loved being with them and experiencing life through their little eyes. When my baby went to Kindergarten, I went into a state of shock...I didn't want to return to the workforce (my husband has an upper-class job and anymore money we would bring in would just all go to the government). I felt I had lost something inside. After a year and a half of planning, we decided to go for one more before I got too old. People have had a variety of comments: Am I crazy? How many more do we think we're going to have? Why don't I just go get a job?
While I don't agree with the Duggar's way of raising their children and I highly disagree with them getting tax-exemptions on their home as per mentioned, I guess it is their choice as long as they can afford their children. I question their child-raising techniques, and I would love to hear what any child psychs out there think of that "blanket method". As for my husband and I, four will probably be our limit because we want to be able to provide college educations for all of our children in the future and still be able to save for retirement.
Before we married we talked about having a large family: I come from a family with 6 children, he is one of three. I have to agree with the father who said the greatest gift you can give a child is a sibling. I treasure all of my siblings, and we knew growing up we had each other to depend on. Holidays were wonderful times; and, yes, we did fight and carry on like most sibs do:) Now, when we all get together with kids and spouses, our reunions are filled with wonderful memories, both of the good and bad. My husband's family is quite a bit smaller, but he too says he cherished his times with his siblings growing up. I am not trying to put down the person who wrote in about being an only child, but until you've had a sibling(s) live with you 24-7, you can't possibly imagine all of the wonderful things sibs can bring to your life (again, I cannot walk in your shoes since I have never been an only child). When my husband and I married, we both wanted a larger (more than 2?) family: we are completely satisfied with our decision; our children are all happy and well cared for, and somewhere I find the time to spend one-on-one time with each of them, keep my Aspie child on a good routine, and get them each to one activity of their choice each week. We've talked to all of them about how much more effort everyone will need to put in when the baby is born, and all of them seem to be excited about our new addition. And, for all of our "friends" who ask me if I'm crazy? I smile gracefully and reply, "Like a Loon":)

Posted by: momof3andahalf | March 22, 2007 4:29 PM | Report abuse

Wow, I can't believe the vitriol here. Only children are spoiled and dysfunctional? Sheesh.

I am an only child. I had a happy childhood and have never felt like something is missing from my life. And no, my every whim was not catered to. I know how to share and have functional relationships.

I'm pregnant with our first child. This will also be our only. We know, without a doubt, that financially we can't afford more than one.

My husband comes from a family of five, but agrees that we should only have one.

Don't tell me I'm going to ruin my child by not providing a sibling.

Posted by: AlmostMom | March 22, 2007 4:33 PM | Report abuse

I recently discovered that "homeschooling" is a polite way of the religious right's to say that their homeschooled kids will not learn one of the basic principles of science - mainly evolution. I discovered this in talking to a father of 10, and a father of 5 that I used to work with. Scary how engineers (of all people) would brainwash (yep, that't the proper word) with religious doctrine. And I agree - if this family on TV was Muslim, or Jewish, or non-christian, they would not be plastered on our TV sets. It's scary to me as a secular free thinker, that many children of this country are brainwashed into fear of the non-existent (heaven-hell, etc), and that their basic learning principle is that 'god will take care of everything'. How sad for this country.

Posted by: Scared of Homeschoolers | March 22, 2007 4:34 PM | Report abuse

I'm 22 and the oldest of 11 (soon to be 12) children. Yes, we were homeschooled. My brothers and sisters are still being taught that the world was created 6000 years ago.

But kids are people too, and they grow up and make their own choices and have their own beliefs. Homeschooling can be one of the best ways to learn to think for yourself, because it usually means reading lots of stuff from many different points of view. Parents of huge families have enough work to do trying to care for and teach all their kids - they sure can't brainwash them too. (And yes, i believe the world's old and all that.)

Oh, and we never took any government money. For the record, and coming from an area in Pennsylvania with lots of large families (Amish, Mennonite, and other conservative Christians), i don't know any other large families who were on public assistance either.

From watching just one special on the family, the Duggars sure do seem odd. But just having cameras around makes people self-conscious. And big families are always strange entities when they're all out in public together. Spend lots more time with the individual kids, the real people at stake here, and you'll probably find they're much smarter and more interesting and questioning than you initially give them credit for.

Posted by: Ben | March 22, 2007 4:51 PM | Report abuse

Be a parent to as many, and NO MORE than, you can afford and handle. I know a woman with five kids already who has NONE of them actually living with her; she is expecting number six and frequently argues how how it is just as easy to raise several kids as it is to raise one. But since the kids all live with grandparents, dads, aunts, etc - HOW THE SNOT WOULD SHE KNOW?

I also know moms with 2 or 3 foster kids IN ADDITION to their own 2 or 3 biological kids. I know folks struggling buy milk with ONE and others flitting off to Europe with FIVE. It depends on what you can handle and what you can afford but be sure you ARE handling it YOURSELF and REALISTICALLY affording it, not depending on the goverment or someone else to pay the bills regardless of how many you have.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 22, 2007 4:58 PM | Report abuse

Congratulations, Stacey: :You're just about par with Leslie Steiner's blogs. I don't think you've ever had 200+ posts in one day. Venom is spewing all over regarding spawn and those who produce them. I love children -- I have one for breakfast each morning.

I've always felt if you can't afford them or can't take care of them yourself, DON'T HAVE THEM.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 22, 2007 5:00 PM | Report abuse


When my husband and I married (1975,) we wanted six--three boys and three girls. He was the youngest of nine and as one of three, I always envied large families. When the realities of age and economics set in, we decided to stop when I was 30 and we had four boys. Although that didn't seem like a large family at the time, we were constantly asked if we "meant" to have that many and other less flattering versions of the same question. We were able to give them a good and solid life. If you think a certain number is "too many" that is when you need to stop.
I want to see how many children the Dugger children have 20 years from now!

Posted by: Roxanne | March 22, 2007 5:02 PM | Report abuse

I also have a friend who came from a huge family (14, she's number 6) as the older kids always had to care for the younger kids by the time she was married and ready to have kids of her own, she was in NO HURRY and stopped at one. She felt like she had already had her fill of childcare. She also had family members assume her slow/no reproduction was infertility so just rode it to dodge their constant pressure to have kids. After her daughter was born, she reminded them how long and hard it was to have even ONE whenever they would bring up having more.

It does seem that we are kinda screwed either way - you dont have ANY or ONLY ONE and folks wonder what's wrong with you, why arent you having any/any more. If you have too MANY, they chide you for having too many. So no, there doesnt seem to be a 'right' number that is gonna please everybody.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 22, 2007 5:09 PM | Report abuse

I am one of 12 children(#11), and my father worked 2 full time jobs to feed, clothe, and educate us all. We had chores, but less than a lot of our friends because there were so many of us to do them. My Mom is one of 8, and Dad is an only child. Most of my sisters have 1 or 2 children, my brother has none, I have 3, as does one other sister. I sometimes wished we had more money to go around, but in retrospect, we had everything we needed. When I was pregnant with my 3rd, I got a lot of unsolicted comments from people who seemed to think that the only reason to have more than 2 children was to have one of the opposite sex. I already had a boy and girl, so these people were outraged that I was having another. I usually told them to MYOB. My husband and I wanted 4, but health issues stopped us at 3. I have many friends with larger families(5,6,7,9), and none of them are on public assitance. They are very frugal however.

On the BC pill issue, yes they can cause a miscarriage. Plan B (the morning after pill) is high dose BC pills.

Posted by: Sue P | March 22, 2007 5:10 PM | Report abuse

Joining late with a few thoughts:

1 - Mason/Dixon line - it had nothing to do with North vs. South; slavery or not; etc. It was a religious issue - the line was surveyed to indicate the boundary between Catholic Maryland and Protestant PA/Delaware ("them thievin' Catholics are up here in our territory" "those unfaithful Protestants are harrassing us yet again"). You folks ought to learn your history.

2 - NFP - who says it means you can't have sex 10 days a month? Well, only if you're Bill Clinton - you can "not have sex" (and he could even reciprocate for gosh sakes) during that 10-day period and have a lot of fun.

3 - How many kids are enough? How many can you afford and provide love to? For some people that's zero; for others it's one; for others it's four, five or more. For us it happened to be three. I refuse to accept anyone who thinks that for political, environmental, moral, religious or any other reasons we should have 0, 1, or 32 children. People making such statements should, in the immortal words of Ann Landers, "MYOB".

Posted by: anon for today | March 22, 2007 5:15 PM | Report abuse

I know there is a God because I knew a family who had 7 already - all girls. They kept having kids because they quote NEEDED a boy; they also were quite blunt about it - each little girl was throw-away by-product of the quest for a boy to assuage dad's ego. God must not have been pleased because number 8 was also a girl. Mom immediately got pregnant (within 6 weeks) with number 9. I believe God was determined to teach them a lesson - number 9 was ALSO a girl and Mom was unable to have any more after that.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 22, 2007 5:15 PM | Report abuse

Mason/Dixon line - you might want to check out Wikipedia - your facts are a little off.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 22, 2007 5:17 PM | Report abuse

:::On the BC pill issue, yes they can cause a miscarriage. Plan B (the morning after pill) is high dose BC pills.:::


Just to clarify, BC doesn't cause a miscarriage in the way implied above.

Plan B is a higher concentrated dose of BC pills that must be taken within 72 hours of a pregnancy risk to PREVENT conception from occuring. It can reduce the risk of pregnancy by about 89 percent and the sooner it is taken, the more effective.
If conception has already occured, Plan B will not work.

Plan B is NOT the same thing as RU-486 (the abortion pill).


Posted by: To Sue P | March 22, 2007 5:20 PM | Report abuse

"God was determined to teach them a lesson - number 9 was ALSO a girl and Mom was unable to have any more after that"

Do you actually believe that GOd was teaching them a lesson? I would call it pure dumb luck (or unluckiness -- especially for the unwanted daughters). And I would never implicate God in that kind of awfulness.

Posted by: Emily | March 22, 2007 5:38 PM | Report abuse

I say amen to "mom of one bio, one adopted." The earth's resources are limited. If you want a big family, why not care for kids who are orphaned. It seems to me, everyone wins.

Posted by: father of one adopted | March 22, 2007 5:40 PM | Report abuse

How expensive is it to adopt?

Posted by: Anonymous | March 22, 2007 5:41 PM | Report abuse

The cost of adoption can vary depending on whether it is domestic or international. The federal government offers an adoption tax credit to offset some of the cost and many employers offer adoption benefits. Also, adopting children from the foster care system costs next to nothing.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 22, 2007 5:44 PM | Report abuse

I feel the same way about people who have more than two biological children as I do about people who spend thousands of dollars on purebred dogs. There are so many children already in the world that need families, it is utterly nonsensical to make additional children for one's own enjoyment.

Posted by: beehive | March 22, 2007 5:47 PM | Report abuse

The post from Ben | March 22, 2007 04:51 PM is the most interesting one all day. It is a terrific advertisement for home schooling. Thanks for contributing, Ben.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 22, 2007 5:51 PM | Report abuse

I just took a look at the kids that are up for adoption from the foster care system on the HHS website. It is heartbreaking to see how many of them have special health issues, some really severe. I would not be against adopting an older child, but I just am not up to dealing with severe disabilities that require so much extra effort (and probably money). It is heartbreaking to see them though.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 22, 2007 6:10 PM | Report abuse

Wow - we are all in a feisty mood today, aren't we? Well, I have to say that I am also oddly fascinated with the Duggar family. They do seem really happy, which may very well be completely genuine, but I am very curious to see how these kids all turn out once they become adults. It would be particluarly fascinating to see how many kids follow in their parents footsteps as far as religious beliefs and how many, if any, go in another direction.

As for the rest of this discussion, geez folks, lay off the only children and the big families. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that big families can be good and bad and being an only child can be good and bad. It really boils down to the parents in either case. The one thing that does seem to be universally true is that when you get into really large families (more than 7 or 8), the kids simply don't get as much individual attention, for better or worse. And, only children almost always get the laser-like focus of their parents attention, which once again, can be a very good thing, and can be a very bad thing.

I was an only child. My dad only had one sister and she had 10 kids. So, it was us 11 grandkids and I think we all turned out pretty well, but clearly my house was less stressed financially and ran more smoothly (laundry always done, meals organized and on time, etc.). But then again, it could be really fun at my cousins' place b/c with all of those kids, my aunt simply couldn't be as strict as my parents were about keeping the house neat, and we could pretty much run wild. While I may have liked to visit, I probably wouldn't want to have lived there, so I will stick with my one, because I think that just makes sense for my family.

Posted by: Arlington, VA | March 22, 2007 6:12 PM | Report abuse

To moxiemom:

I don't know how I have time, I just do. It is important to them and me that I know them well, their favorite colors, their favorite ice cream and what they hope for in their lives. I talk to them, while I cook dinner, while they bath, while we drive. I don't like a lot of extraneous noise so no radio, music in the car occasionally and TV is too much so they talk to each other and me and I listen. We have family meals together most every night and we talk about school, activites and friends.

My oldest daughter likes to shop so we shop together, talking and laughing and just being together. I know her friends, boyfriend and plans for the future. She eventually wants kids but knows they take a lot of work and energy and she wants to do things before she has them and that is fine by me. My son is a bit of a mystery to me and I am not sure if that is because he is the only boy, or if it is a personality issue. He talks to my husband and when he wants to talk to me I mostly listen. I try to answer all questions openly and honestly no matter what they are about. The youngest five are all girls and talking is not a problem for them : ). Getting them to stop talking at times is a problem. I have one on one time with them on the weekends, sortof a mom date and we laugh and they get to chat uninterruped.

I try to hug and cuddle all my kids randomly during the day, they all like to sit on me and we snuggle while we read bedtime stories. My oldest even hugs and kisses so we must do something right. They know they are loved and wanted and that, I think, is one of the most important things any parent can give their kids.

Posted by: magnificent7mom | March 22, 2007 6:24 PM | Report abuse

"On the BC pill issue, yes they can cause a miscarriage. Plan B (the morning after pill) is high dose BC pills."

A miscarriage occurs when a fertilized egg which has already implanted itself in the uterus is expelled from the uterus. Plan B PREVENTS the egg from implanting in the first place (this is why it can only be taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex - after that it's too late) and therefore does not cause a miscarriage. RU-486 does cause miscarriage but it is a completely different combination of drugs from BC pills or Plan B.

Birth control pills, when taken during an EXISTING pregnancy, can cause birth defects that may result in a miscarriage. Taking birth control pills as a means of PREVENTING pregnancy does not cause miscarriage. BC pills prevent the hormone surge that allows ovulation to occur. No ovulation, no pregnancy, therefore no miscarriage.

Posted by: Clear Up the MISConceptions! | March 22, 2007 6:51 PM | Report abuse

Again - it is not true that "the pill" always works by preventing ovulation. I don't think this information is out there for people to make an informed decision so I'm going to repost from earlier today. (Clear Up and I have different definitions of miscarraige):

" don't wish them any ill will, but is it possible that they were wrong about the pill? I've never heard that it can cause miscarriage (spontaneous abortion)."

It is true, although unlikely. (And it's highly unlikely that they KNOW the pill caused their miscarriage.) The pill works in three ways:
1)It suppresses ovulation
2)It increases cervical mucous to inhibit the sperm's ability to get to the egg
3)It thins the lining of the uterus, therefore making the uterus less hospitable.

My understanding is that #3 is not the main way that the pill provides safety - #1 is. #3 is more a side effect of messing with the body's hormones. However, we know that #1 and #2 fail on occasion because people DO get pregnant on the pill.

I do find it frustrating that we don't hear about reason #3. I read about it on, for lack of a better word, a "religious fanatic" website. When I asked my OB - actually two of them - about it, they both confirmed those facts.

I don't take the pill. I'm just not comfortable taking something that would give a fertilized egg less of a chance, no matter how unlikely it is that #1 and #2 both fail.


Posted by: Carol | March 22, 2007 8:39 PM | Report abuse

If you know you've had a miscarriage, then it is an already implanted embryo being expelled from the uterus - therefore not caused by BC pills. BC pills are safe for the fetus if you're taking them when you get pregnant, but they should be stopped as soon as you know you're pregnant. A huge percentage (~1/3) of fertilized eggs never implant in the uterus, even without BC pills. An egg that fails to implant in NOT a miscarriage. It's fine if you're not comfortable with thining of the lining as a method of BC, but don't say that BC pills cause miscarriage, they do NOT.

Posted by: med student | March 22, 2007 8:59 PM | Report abuse

Wow I feel stunned and very honored. Sorry work was so busy today that I couldn't really get active in the conversation myself.

Yes I did see the documentary awhile ago and thought that it was extreme, worried about the health of the mother, but that they seemed to function very well and together. The parents also specifically made a point that they had worked very hard early in life to save money and buy land and such so that they COULD afford and have the life they wanted now.

I could go on forever about my "ideals" of parenting. And I certainly plan to continue posting here. I really do think that most adults are not called to be parents, and that even the ones who are should only focus on one child.

Sure, most of us get turned into fairly functional decent people. But what about a world where everyone focused on just a few children to make them mature, aware, ideal!

There is no utopia, and I don't ever expect there to be, and some families absolutely can handle more than one kid with their hands tied behind their backs (OK maybe that happens during conception)- I would just rather see selective limited self aware parenting rather than "That's what people do when they grow up is make babies" pressure and expectations that we have in the world now.

Posted by: Liz D | March 22, 2007 9:20 PM | Report abuse

I certainly bow to your usage of the word miscarraige and see how my definition is inaccurate.

I also understand that many fetilized eggs do not find a place on the lining of the uterus regardless of the pill.

However, I hold to the point that this possible consequence of the pill is rarely disclosed to the average girl starting the pill. I think it is up to people to do as they wish with the information. However, I think it is a shame - dare I use the word "unethical" - that this is never mentioned in counseling on BC methods.

Posted by: Carol | March 22, 2007 10:18 PM | Report abuse

Carol, you've got your facts backwards. The pill suppresses the *thickening* of the uterus that occurs each month between days 5 and 14 of the average woman's menstrual cycle (rather than "causing it to thin" as you've said repeatedly). If a fertilized egg does not implant (as most don't, with or without BC pills), then approximately 10-14 days after ovulation occurs, a woman menstruates and expels that thickened uterine lining and the cycle starts again. The uterine lining does not thicken when a woman takes birth control pills because birth control pills essentially mimic the hormonal effects of pregnancy...when you're already pregnant, there is no need for your uterine lining to thicken and no need to release an egg.

The pill is about 99% effective when taken exactly as directed. In actual use, it's still about 94% effective. It's not for everyone, obviously, but if you're going to make an informed choice about how many kids to have, you need to have all of your facts correct about the methods available to help you make that decision a reality.

Posted by: Clear Up Again | March 22, 2007 10:34 PM | Report abuse

FYI, adopting from China (for example) costs about 15-16 K. The Feds give you a 10K adoption credit (that means actual money back), which can be spread over several years.

Thanks to everyone providing facts on BC!

Posted by: mom of one bio, one adopted | March 22, 2007 11:32 PM | Report abuse

This was my first thought, and it's kind of sobering.

With the average rate of gay people in the population roughly one in ten, that means that, statistically, about 1.7 of these children will be gay. If they get all the way to twenty, which doesn't seem unlikely given her philosophy and history of twins, it'll be a statistical likelihood of 2 kids.

And with a religious outlook like this family appears to have, whoever that poor gay kid is, when it becomes known it's probably going to end badly.

Just to add another aspect to this whole discussion.

Posted by: thoughtful | March 23, 2007 11:33 AM | Report abuse

To whoever said we're running out of open space due to overpopulation: it may look like that if you live in the city, but i recommend driving across the country (I did a little less than 2 years ago). Once you get away from the cities, America is really pretty empty of people.

That being said, conservation and reducing your REAL carbon footprint are great practices. As I move forward in my first home, I'm looking into personal solar power, recycling everything possible, and reducing water flow and energy usage (better bulbs, insulation, etc.). In terms of reducing the strain on the world's resources, I prefer this method to simply limiting the number of people.

Posted by: mark | March 23, 2007 2:55 PM | Report abuse

The average rate of homosexuality is probably considerably lower than 10%. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_sexual_orientation

"In general, surveys quoted by anti-gay activists tend to show figures nearer 1%, while surveys quoted by gay activists tend to show figures nearer 10%, with a mean of 4-5% figure most often cited in mainstream media reports." Citing an exact number is probably impossible, but 4-5% does seem more likely based on the research (I'm sure we will get a bit more accurate over time).

Posted by: mark | March 23, 2007 3:02 PM | Report abuse

Interesting comment that a person should limit themselves to one biological and one adopted child.

Are you not enabling social irresponsibility by adopting children? If a culture, a nation or other such groups understands as a whole that any excess production of children will be taken care of by others, where is their inducement to responsibility?

Posted by: A Regular Lurker | March 24, 2007 3:33 PM | Report abuse

I am expecting my ninth child in June. It will be the second girl. My daughter is the oldest,12, then 7 boys (one set of identical twins.) I told her she would get a sister only if I kept on having babies...a 50% chance each time. My husband loves children. He was an adopted only child, so for him, this is great. We don't have financial worries, or I'm sure we would have cut off around 4 or 5.

Posted by: Cyndie | March 26, 2007 2:52 AM | Report abuse

From what I understand, being that the last time I looked up the numbers was college which was a few years ago, the rate tends to be about 5% overall, with men being slightly higher (up to 10%) and women being slightly lower (at around 3%). These are people who describe themselves as being exclusively homosexual, or a Kinsey 6. Since most of their kids are boys, I was going with the higher number. But I'm not a statistician or an academic so I'm sure my numbers are not precise. However, you get the gist. Even at 5%, that still means one child out of twenty. And that'll be a hard road to travel, whoever it is.

Posted by: thoughtful | March 26, 2007 9:18 AM | Report abuse

Please don't confuse homeschooling with being conservative or even particularly religious. I grew up in Texas (yes, Texas) and my family belonged to a large organization of homeschooling families. Most of them were doing it because they thought their kids would get a better education that way than by going to public school. I'm sure some were homeschooling for religious reasons, but they were a very small minority. And yes, they were mostly liberal.

Conservative homeschoolers often pretend to speak for the whole movement, but they don't.

Posted by: Amelia | March 26, 2007 7:01 PM | Report abuse

Heck, I admire parents who can handle two children let alone seventeen, which I think is an absolutely ridiculous number of children to have and raise. My husband and I have always wanted two children, but the way things stand now our soon-to-be 4 year-old may end up being an only child. If we were more financially secure we would have a second child in a heartbeat. I realize that to a certain extent you can never be fully financially prepared to have children (unless you hit the lottery, big time). Having one kid with our daily work, professional, and financial pressures has put a damper on our desire to procreate. Even if our situation changes for the better - I've just turned 40 and my husband is just a couple years behind me - our age could be the final factor in determining whether we will have a second child.

Posted by: anlcollins | March 28, 2007 11:39 AM | Report abuse

The Duggars? Are you serious! Jimbo bob isn't quite a financial genius and hasn't worked in the last few years obviously while trying to build a house backwards. Just in the fact that he's in the real estate business suposidly and can't calculate construction is very sad. As for Government aid, give me a break. They are truely on food stamps and get money for exposing their extreme lifestyle from the networks. All the items were donated that are in the new house. Do you honestly think they have contributed much if any to the government to be able to claim such a vast amount of services? No. It is pretty much stealing from the system by being extremely irresponsible. The children at best will be socially delayed as they know no better than house on the prarie hardly the goings on of 2007.
It disappoints me with ignorant comments from those of you that can't see through this. I worked very hard my entire life contributing to the system, I know unfortunately find myself disabled and getting help only to find the abuse of the system, such as this, has pretty much swallowed up the majority of the help. $800 a week in groceries is paid by the government not someone who dabbles in real estate part time. Religion should not be used as a crutch to take whats not yours.

Posted by: Eileen | April 9, 2007 1:25 AM | Report abuse

Hats of to the Duggars! Why all the negative fuss. I think that Michelle and Jim Bob are amazing. We do see all the edited stuff on the tv shows and really do not see the realistic stuff. However they have a choice to stop but obviously something wants them to keep having more. Some stuff is a little weird like how the girls are dressed and the kids seem robotic but that is about it. Obviously they feel their calling is to raise a large family just like a preacher feels it his duty to teach and send messages about God or a lawyer doing his job and so on. When Michelle and Jim Bob get up in years down the line they can say they raised seventeen kids (or more). What an accomplishment. Really not many can say that. Kind of like if you don't vote don't complain.

Posted by: Christine | April 15, 2007 1:26 AM | Report abuse

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