Families of four—no more

Ishmael Raymon is a writer and poet with a gardening business in Chico.

When I see a mother with several kids and pregnant with another, I wonder what she and her spouse are thinking. With the great imbalance in the consumption of the Earth’s resources by U.S. citizens, having three or more children enhances our taking-more-than-our-share image in the rest of the world.

Parents in developing countries plagued by poverty produce large families out of shortage of birth control and family-planning education; religion further complicates the situation with primitive mandates. But in this country we can make conscientious decisions balanced with the big-world picture, so individually and collectively we set a positive precedent. An appropriate spiritual perspective is in Paul Simon’s song “Born at the Right Time": “The planet groans every time it registers another birth.”

If parents already have more than two children, stop there; if larger families are desired, adopt or foster one of the many children requiring a home.

With schools, prisons and hospitals overcrowded, our children would better benefit if parents directed their attention to one or two kids instead of having to spread that energy out over three to eight, or more. This isn’t to say that parents with more than two children can’t see to the upbringing of their families, but it seems only common sense to encourage new parents to limit their family size. When, out of 6 billion people, so many are inadequately provided for, what sense is there to increase that number to 10 billion? Wouldn’t overpopulating the planet be considered against spiritual principles if it adds to social calamities?

Family-planning and parenting classes could be taught beginning in junior high school. Also, free vasectomies and “tube tying” could be offered, plus tax breaks and utility-bill discounts for those with one or two children. Immigrants could be required to stay at a two-child quota, and if they already have more, then the prerequisite for staying is to be medically fixed to prevent pregnancies. If we welcome immigrants into our states, why should they then be allowed to have baby after baby, further burden our social well-being and expect to receive medical attention, food stamps and other assistance?

I don’t believe people who hate the U.S. despise us for our freedom or high standard of living but for the misuse of power and overconsumption of natural resources that is so blatantly displayed to the rest of the world. I do believe less can be more.