Printed on: October 31, 2013

The price of reckless parenting


Anyone who knows me knows I can't wait for my grandchildren. Facebook friends love to share (taunt?) me with photos of their newborn progeny and I dutifully "ooh" and "aah" at each milestone. My daughter and her husband have decided to have only one, though, and they are planning to wait until money is saved and careers are on track before they conceive. While the wait is frustrating, I'm glad to see them preparing for such a life-changing event.

Several months ago, the Post Register ran a story about a college couple that have at least one child and are planning to have more, even if they need government funds to do it. Many wrote in asking how they justify using taxpayer money to raise their family. Is there a good answer to that? Religious beliefs aside, we're having too many kids. Though we're not India or Africa, having more children than you can afford or nurture is just plain selfish.

In the U.S., there are more than 120,000 orphans and more than 400,000 kids in foster care; 27,000 of those will "age-out" this year and 25 percent will not have a high school diploma. That's almost encouraging when compared to Asia (30 million orphans) and Africa (1 in 9 dies before age 5). But nearly 50 percent of our pregnancies are unplanned. The taxpayer cost of prenatal care and delivery of these "unintended" children is $11 billion in the first year alone. Also, 15 million U.S. kids (1 in 3) live without a father and 5 million without a mother.

These figures are staggering. Aside from physical needs, what about mental well being? We're all familiar with Jon and Kate, the Duggars and other reality TV families who seemingly just keep having kids for our amusement. But after the celebrity has run its course, who pays the bills? The saddest example is "OctoMom" who is raising 14 kids by herself. If the reports are sound, she's resorted to exotic dancing for cash. And, a few of her kids have special needs. How can one person care for so many at once?

Kids aren't little adults. They need individualized attention to know they are loved for who they are, not as part of a litter. It's not fair to society if you have so many children that the state must clothe or feed them -- or worse -- assume daily care.

I believe God said to "be fruitful and multiply." But he also gave us brains and the ability to weigh consequences. If two people can't meet the obligations of bringing another human into the world, they shouldn't. Birth control is abundant and abstinence is free. Reckless parenting affects the child most and society the greatest.

Buckmaster lives in Idaho Falls and can be reached at robin.buckmaster@gmail.com.