Today many applaud the right of women to choose to have (or not have) children – until the number of children edges past two – then eyebrows rise and comments flow. “You do know what causes that don’t you?”
Been there, heard that when I announced we would add a sixth child to our blended family and that I would quit my part-time job as a stringer for a local newspaper to focus on the new arrival. Most people assumed our last child came as a surprise.
They assumed incorrectly.
I knew what caused babies, but I believed no matter how many children we had in the house, we always had room for one more.
What the onlookers also did not know is that I had actually prayed for the child, anticipated the pregnancy and the birth. I did not mind stopping my part-time job. I knew I could return to work when the rush of caring for the little one ceased.
I find it ironic how loudly some proclaim a woman’s right to her own body; how vociferously they will support her decision to terminate an unborn human’s life, yet how few equally proclaim a woman’s (let alone a husband and wife’s) right to choose to have more than two children.
Each time the Duggars have added another child to their household, comments abound regarding the excess numbers. Yet few talk about the Duggars’ extreme sense of family responsibility: The older children receive daily hands-on experiences teaching each to care for themselves and their future families. The boys helped their father build the house in which they live and developed practical hands-on skills. Every day, each child performs basic household chores. By the time the children reach the age of independence, they will be prepared to make a meaningful contribution to society. Neither the parents nor their children expect hand-outs or anyone to pay their way.
Plus – bonus for our society – Duggar family training includes an emphasis on waiting until they are married and able to provide for children rather than impulsively hooking up, initiating an unwed pregnancy resulting in a young woman dependent on the state to fund the pregnancy, the delivery and the first several years of the child’s life while the absent father fails to show up to train his child to be a productive, responsible citizen.
Each of the umpteen Duggar children undergoes daily training with an eye toward their becoming independent, responsible citizens. That is something that not even some one- or two-child families can say they have accomplished. This is responsible parenting – and a style which insures a community of prepared, independent, responsible citizens.
The concept of small families has seeped so pervasively into our society that even the community of believers who say they follow the Bible and oppose abortion, fail to give credence to the ancient statement, “As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. Happy is the man that has his quiver full of them.” Psalm 127:4-5a.
A responsible hunter packs plenty of ammunition to insure he can fill his freezer just as a responsible family and nation need plenty of responsible, capable future workers, soldiers, caretakers, teachers, parents and consumers to insure a viable, ongoing, thriving society.
The dichotomy of our self-centered society is that it emphasizes abortion as a reproductive right of women, expects young adults and teenagers to be incapable of restraining themselves sexually while liberally dousing the air waves with sexual innuendoes, scenes and advertisements and then responds in astonishment when a teen shows up pregnant and wants to practice her reproductive rights to keep the child. Plus, we heap scorn on the reproductive rights of married women who choose to have more than two children and echo the universal comments of a society liberally brain-washed to prefer small families.
Honest support of the reproductive rights for women (and I refrain from mentioning anything about the reproductive rights of fathers) demands that we equally celebrate the anticipated birth of any child and do everything we can to facilitate those families to be financially stable and able to train their children to be pulled out of the quiver, fitted into the bow to fly out into the world and hit the mark of independence themselves.
(Joan Hershberger is a reporter at the News-Times. E-mail her at email@example.com.)