Had they limited their number of kids, they would have lived a comfortable, middle class life. Actually, I happen to believe that they did live a comfortable, middle class life-- just not by today's standards. The kids usually received one big Christmas present. As in, one present for all of the kids, not one per child. They shared bedrooms. They passed down clothes. They were expected to help with dinner and share the care of the little ones.
They also had food enough for all, a roof over their heads, and all nine children attended college.
My husband thinks I romanticize all of this. (Maybe I do, a little bit. Especially when I picture big, loud, messy dinners with a slew of children from teenage to toddler!) Really, though, I bring up my dad's story to contrast it with the sense of entitlement so common in childrearing today:
- My child is entitled to his own bedroom by a certain age.
- My child is entitled to music lessons.
- My child is entitled to attend camp.
- My child is entitled to ride in a car manufactured in the last six years.
- My child is entitled to a pair of heelys.
- My child is entitled to a dinner that she did not help prepare.
- My child is entitled to help buying his first car.
- My child is entitled to a college education paid by me.
What does this entitlement have to do with birth control? Well, most folks I know openly admit to planning their family according to what they "can afford." Yet, ironically, the greater the income, the lower the birth rate.
Some people would say that this is because the wealthier you are, the better educated you are, and therefore you have more knowledge regarding birth control and more concern for "overpopulation" (a theory, by the way, not a fact-- but I'll save that debate for another day). I don't buy it, though. I think the lower birth rate has more to do with ensuring Sally's riding lessons.
When I think about birth control in this light, I'll take my grandmother's conviction over today's materialism hands down.
But there's more to this story...