Is It Selfish To Have More Than Two Children?

A personal view by Alex Freeman

Image Credit: Dariusz Sankowski

Is it selfish to have more than two children?

Being a mother of three I am hardly likely to agree. Jonathon Porritt thinks so, and I am old enough to remember Jonathon being almost a lone voice in the wilderness, telling us all through the 1980s that we were heading for environmental disaster, way before it became fashionable to care about the environment. As such I have a great respect for him, so I decided to find out what was behind such a bold statement.

The Optimum Population Trust (OPT), of which Mr Porritt is a patron, is a think tank concerned with the impact of population growth on the environment. They have launched the Stop at Two pledge which aims to cut the UK population in 2050 by seven million – releasing an area of land the size of Wales for “re-greening”.

Their website has a scary population clock which increases constantly as you watch it, as well as a number of frightening statistics about world and UK population growth. They are, however, at great pains to point out that “The Optimum Population Trust is absolutely opposed to any form of coercion in family planning”.

I regard myself as being a fairly deep shade of green, but I cannot say that when I planned my family, the environment figured highly in my decision making process. My body allowed me those three and then gave up. So what should I do now? I cannot send any of them back where they came from (as my mother used to threaten me with when I was naughty).

As a family we can make a huge difference to our carbon footprint by not taking flights abroad, walking rather than driving, turning off lights and appliances etc, but the biggest difference I can make is to teach and train my children to care about the environment. To make them understand that they cannot have everything they want, travel wherever and however they want, and waste energy and resources.

I can teach them that actions have consequences and that the wider world needs our love and care just as much as our local environment. Maybe this is easier in a larger-than-average family where money, space and resources are scarce, and where children are used to having to share, take turns and make sacrifices for each other.

Related: 10 Ways That Having A Third Child Will Change Your Life For Ever

Text © Alexandra Freeman 2009

About the Author: Alex Freeman is a freelance writer specialising in parenting and family topics and can be contacted via eParenting.








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