Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Big Happy Family in Britain.

Just read this nice essay from a mother of five. A mother who understands what is important in life and is passing that value onto her children. The essay is here.

She says:

Whenever I admit to having five children, people's eyes tend to pop. A decade ago, the brave used to ask: "Are you Catholic?" (answer: no), but today that is no longer the question. Now, what everyone wants to know is: "How on earth can you afford it?" So I wasn't surprised to learn this week that Britain's families are shrinking at an alarming rate, and that the root cause of this reluctance to breed is money.

What you learn:

Being one of a heap teaches you things that no curriculum can encompass - give and take, sharing parental time, looking out for one another, even doing your bit to help in order to show up the laziness of the rest.

Being part of a larger family not only makes a child aware of the limits of their own ego, it forces them to be self-sufficient in order to get some personal space. When the noise levels at home are just too high, my children have to engineer their own escape routes. This may be playing the guitar, reading a book, or going down the road to a friend's house, where there is a calmer atmosphere. Inevitably, they get less attention than they would if they were fewer in number, but benign neglect is overdue a revival. Few children actually want to bask in the full beam of parental attention beyond babyhood. They would rather get on with their own lives and seek out an adult only when they want something.

And money:

That something is often couched in monetary or material terms - "I need a new pair of shoes" - but rarely is the request to be taken at face value. I have found that money in families is shorthand for love. When a child is complaining or demanding something, he or she often needs a cuddle, not cash, not an expensive treat but someone who wants to hear about their battle with a schoolfriend or why they weren't picked for the football team.

What I want to know is when does the book come out? A good writer and with a lot of common sense about children and human nature, how rare is that?


Madeline said...

I've often wanted to do a sociological study on the economic efficiency of the large family, compared to the more PC smaller (2.7 children) family. For example, most people with smaller families can afford a larger home than many people with larger families (ironically). So in a smaller (more PC) family you have fewer people using more space, with an annual heat and light energy consumption rate that is probably comparative to the amount of heat and light used for a larger family, annually. In a larger family, you will often see a packed car , whereas in the smaller (more PC) family there are fewer people per car which would calculate to more people going farther to the gallon in a larger family, than in a smaller family. I could go on and on.

I just love bringing up these comparisons (especially when working at a pro-life booth), when the population control crowd gets on their collective soap-boxes. I think would should encourage the larger families to get larger, and the smaller families to stop breeding altogether. ;}

Thomas Shawn said...

Madeleine -

I'm an economist by training ... yes that is a very good issue.

Think of all the shared toys and clothing!

The "how do you afford it?" question really gets me. George Bush passed a $1000 per child tax credit which effective removes the sub $60,000/yr crowd from federal tax rolls and yet Sen John Kerry voted against this. Hmm.. which party supports the poor?

Today at work I made an observation to a engineer about great designing: The 2005 Ford Taurus will fit three baby car seats in the back seat and yet a Nissan Xterra and an older Nissan Pathfinder will not.

A liberal busy body overheard us, got all flustered and denounced Fords as junk. I just re-interated to her and others, "hey, what can I say? Three cars seats !!!!"

(Three is considered a huge family in liberal/corporate circles ... and it is a source of scandal.)

Madeline said...

TS -
Good for you! I just love flustering liberals.

I wish I had the optimism to attribute the design that accomodates three car seats to a recognition of the needs of the traditional large families. But, I rather suspect it's a concession to the laws that now require children to be in car-seats longer (the Libertarian in me rebels).