It shouldn’t be taboo to criticize parents for having too many kids – CBC News

Chip and Joanna Gaines, stars of HGTV’s Fixer Upper, were probably surprised at the backlash on social media last week that accompanied their announcement of baby number five. I was surprised too.

Not because I disagree with their critics, who admonished the couple for having too many kids, but rather because it’s a sentiment so seldom heard in a society that generally celebrates procreation with almost militant cheerfulness.

While having a child or five is a very personal choice, it’s also a choice that affects everyone who inhabits our planet. So while many people might find the backlash unwarranted, it’s actually a conversation we need to have in order to challenge our uncritical acceptance of the life-fulfillment-through-procreation story.

Population control is a fraught topic, and carries with it associations with eugenics and other nasty historical events. But we still need to talk about it, and people who reacted strongly to the Gaines’ pregnancy announcement know this on some level. It’s not an exaggeration to say that the survival of our species depends on it.

In August of last year, New York Magazine published an article claiming we are living through a mass extinction. The article claimed that the earth will be uninhabitable within 100 years due to various consequences of climate change, food shortages and economic and political instability.

In fact, Stephen Hawking has encouraged humanity to find a new home within 100 years in order to survive. He cites “climate change, overdue asteroid strikes, epidemics and population growth” as reasons for this abbreviated timeline.

That said, I don’t think the possibility of an asteroid hitting the earth is reason enough to abstain from procreating freely. But if by some miracle we do end up colonizing another planet within the next century, the logistics of transporting eight billion people are staggering, unless we also invent a Star Trek-style transporter. So let’s lighten the load, friends.

But how?

The best way I know of to change attitudes is to have an open conversation about them. The fact that people are starting to react to those who have many children is great, but we need to go much further.

Alternatives to motherhood

Now, as a feminist, I tend to oppose any cultural conversation that involves…

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