Monday, December 18, 2017 | site map | contact | FSJ

Subscribe to Salvo magazine today! Take a look at an issue online and if you like what you see, SUBSCRIBE at a discounted rate.

You Can Be Part of Salvo By Supporting Its Mission Today

We depend on all our great readers to keep Salvo going!

Follow Salvo online

Join Our Email List
Enter your email below:

Further Reading

Department: Parting Shot

Accidents Waiting to Happen

In Defense of the Deliberately Large Family

by Joel Sams

Article originally appeared in
Salvo 30

Yes, I have six siblings. No, my parents are not socially malformed zealots bent on subjecting women to "The Patriarchy" or engineering a global food crisis.

That should go without saying, shouldn't it? But no—having more than a few kids is weird, if not irresponsible, according to a society that has forgotten what sex is for. Parents of large families are often the objects not only of jokes and superior smiles, but even of outrage and derision. I'm not sure why this happens. Maybe it's a misplaced trust in outdated population research. Maybe it's an irrational fear of the unfamiliar. One thing is sure, though: parents don't deserve to be shamed for their family choices, least of all when those choices are children.

I'm not the only one who has noticed this tendency to deride parents for perpetuating the human race. Writing for The Federalist last year, Mollie Hemingway mocked the ignorance of what she calls "Fecundophobia":

Do we need some remedial courses in how babies are made? Treating the entirely expected procreation of children as something to be avoided at all costs—and an unspeakable atrocity if one has, say, three children already—would be weird even if our culture weren't obsessed with sex at all times, in all places, in every context, at every moment.

Our society isn't just obsessed with sex. It's also convinced of the inherent goodness of individual choices, so long as those choices are not influenced by, well, you know, religion. The evils of slut-shaming, gay-shaming and sex-worker-shaming are routinely denounced. The private decision of a husband and wife to bear children, on the other hand, might be the only sexual proclivity that can meet with public censure.

Shaming large families is more than hypocrisy. The American Feminist, a publication of Feminists for Life of America, recently ran an article by Susan Thomas claiming that the tendency has misogynistic undertones.

"Families with four or more children are scarce, causing people to gawk at the mother towing a line of little ones through a grocery store or restaurant," Thomas said. "Comments like 'Are they all yours?' 'Do they all have the same father?' 'You know what causes that, right?' and worse, shame the mother—telling her she is an anomaly, worthy of pity or contempt."

Writing as one who knows, let me clarify that it's not always that bad for the kids. I never experienced anything beyond sidelong glances and baffled expressions, which were natural enough, given the average family size in Frankfort, Kentucky.

My parents had a more difficult experience. Not because of our extended family, though—they were remarkably supportive. Oddly, opposition came from people who barely knew my parents. A near stranger once accosted my mother with, "Don't you know what causes that?" One of my father's coworkers blamed him (and by extension, his children) for her high health insurance premiums. Others intimated that it was all just a big mistake. "Was that an accident?" they asked.

I still remember the awkwardly serious speech Dad used to give us kids, even before we understood the mechanics of conception. "Your mom and I didn't have any 'accidents,'" he would say. "We wanted every single one of you."

That was a strange thing to hear as child. Of course we were wanted. Parents love their children, right? More disturbing was the implicit suggestion that someone, somewhere, thought my life—or my sister's, or my brother's—was superfluous.

This is the crux of the issue: Parents are not shamed for bearing children. They are shamed for bearing too many. In other words, they are shamed for daring to believe that children are more than a commodity to be prevented, altered, or eliminated at will.

Maybe that speaks more eloquently than some of us would care to admit. 

If you enjoy Salvo, please consider giving an online donation! Thanks for your continued support.


A Boy's Life: 5 Recommendations for Shielding Our Sons from the Anti-Culture—And Setting Them Towards Manhood by Anthony Esolen

Revolution 101: How the 'New Civics' Is Fomenting Civil Unrest by Terrell Clemmons

Up for Grabs: In Science, When 'Anything Goes,' Everything Goes by Denyse O'Leary

Optimal Optics: Evolutionists Don't Know a Good Eye When They See One by Jonathan Wells


The Darwin Tales: It's Time to Remit Darwinian Storytelling to the Annals of History by Terrell Clemmons

Engendered Confusion: The Chaos of Postmodern Sexuality by Laurie Higgins

Zombie Killer: The "Icons of Evolution" Have Joined the Ranks of the Undead by Denyse O'Leary

My Favorite Zombies: Can We Let Them Rest in Peace? by James M. Kushiner

Eye Openers: Eight Common Factors for Atheists Changing Their Minds About God by Matt Nelson

Tuning Out the Universe: How Naturalism & Post-Fact Science Ignore the Evidence We See by Denyse O'Leary

Deep-Seated Rights: What They Are & Why You Have Them by Steve Jones

Improbably So: Fine-Tuning Is Unlikely, but Unlikely Things Happen All the Time by Tim Barnett

The Long Red Shadow: Mike Shotwell Has a Message for Millennial America by Terrell Clemmons

The Good Life: It's to Know, Serve & Love the Truth, Not the Pursuit of Happiness by James Altena

Taking Polls Apart: Human Complexity Foils Electoral Predictions by Denyse O'Leary

Morality as Story: The False Charity of Modern Journalism by Rebekah Curtis

Can We Talk?: It Is Crucial That We Put Our Minds to Contentious Issues by James M. Kushiner

© 2017 Salvo magazine. Published by The Fellowship of St. James. All rights reserved. Returns, refunds, and privacy policy.