Having Kids recently wrote an open letter to Prince William and Kate Middleton to ask them to consider the Fair Start model in deciding whether to have more kids. The reaction of many proves that we need a public discussion of family planning, and we need it now.
Much of the reaction to our letter fell into these categories:
1) Racist and eugenicist rants about why white and wealthy couples should have lots of kids to compete with birth rates in parts of the Southern Hemisphere. It’s hard to think of a more immoral or lose-lose proposition.
2) Commentators who think royal family size shouldn’t be of interest to those from other countries. This ignores the global nature of climate change, which does not recognize antiquated national borders. Having Kids has been vocal against Mr. Trump, father of five, on these issues. And our points are equally and obviously applicable to any public figure – wherever they may be – pushing unsustainable families. It’s cognitive dissonance to say that choices which so profoundly affect our world are none of our business.
3) Bloggers who seem creepily obsessed with celebrity babies, and who would subject the rest of us and our kids to a hotter and more crowded world so they can gawk at other people’s newborns. This seems almost too hard to believe, which explains why the blogs are sponsored by companies that sell baby products. These bloggers will have to tell their children, on one of the hotter days in the future, that they were more interested in the royal offsprings’ clothing than the degradation of the world’s atmosphere.
4) Some asked why we didn’t write to enormous and less admirable families like the Duggars? The simple answer is that we did. But given the massive swings in population that even small changes to a typical worldwide fertility rate of 2.5 would create, the question of role modeling is best raised in the context of couples considering a second or third child rather than marginal families like the Duggars.
5) Those who feel the right to have children is totally unlimited, and should not be publicly discussed. The fact is that bioethicists and legal scholars have obliterated all arguments for such a right, and instead shown that the right to have children is more akin to the right to speak freely, which is limited in a way that protects others’ rights. Governments have simply not acted because they benefit from growth, and continue to shuffle the problem off on future generations.
At the core of the responses, however, was this message: Focus instead on would-be parents who won’t be able to give their kids a fair start in life. That is exactly our point.
Within our current family planning models, there is no medium in which to have this discussion. Prince William and Kate can’t tell massive and irresponsible families to act responsibly while they ratchet up their family size, claiming their right to do so as a matter of personal privacy. We need a child-centered model that focuses on what all children need, as well as what parents want. We need publicly influential people to break the taboo, step forward and say “I gave my kid a great start in life and tried to protect their future and environment. For my own and your kids’ benefit, I want to help you do the same.”
That is why we wrote to Prince William and Kate. Their leadership could be an effective way to build a better future by breaking the taboo and setting a new and crucial trend of public family planning. They can break that which keeps us paralyzed in the face of threats like climate change. That is what our letter asked them to consider. It’s not about altruism or charity. It’s about working together to help the actual people who will comprise the future, our future. Many in the past have given their lives to protect this world from various threats. The least we can do is plan our families in a responsible and sustainable manner.
Our environment is degrading, the gap between rich and poor widens, and children are being born into worlds of unfathomable suffering. We can find the cause in large part in a family planning model that privatizes having kids and prevents vital social cooperation.. Having Kids asks you to change this, and join the discussion about child-centered family planning at Havingkids.org