World Population and Children: How Many is Too Many?

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By Lyz Lenz

This week, somewhere in the world the 7 billionth person was born. And while some celebrated others were concerned. With food shortages, financial problems, and global warming, is having a kid in this world selfish?

According to the US Census data, the number of children per household in America has declined significantly over the past decade. Currently, the average family size is 3.14.

Judging by that data, I am far from normal in that I grew up as one of eight children. That’s right. I have seven brothers and sisters. And usually when I tell people this, the conversation goes something like this. “What? Are you catholic? Mormon?”
“No,” I usually answer. “My parents really just like babies.”

The truth is both my parents grew up in small families and wanted to raise a brood of kids and that they did. When we get together, the house is teeming with eight loud siblings, a dachshund, a smattering of spouses, two grandchildren and, of course, my parents. Despite the fact that I love all of my siblings, I won’t be having quite as many children. But the reasoning has very little to do with the global situation of climate change, debt crisis and global warming. The reasons are more personal and frankly no one elses’ business but our own.

The decision to have children is deeply personal, but it’s also a decision not many people in the world are allowed to make. In some countries, birth control isn’t readily available and high infant mortality rates mean that families often have several children to ensure that a few survive into childhood. Often women with lack of access to health care and education become pregnant and are forced to start families sooner than they wanted. The forces at work when conceiving are personal, emotional and often beyond our control. Thinking globally isn’t a luxury many people have.

But I do have that luxury. So, when comes to making babies, is failing to consider the state of the world a selfish thing? Am I bequeathing my children to a future of uncertainty?

Ultimately, I think that’s the wrong question. Too many factors of my child’s life are out of my control. I can’t predict, war, famine or disease. I don’t know how my child will or will not impact the world. I can only do what I personally think is right for my family and hope that the imprint we leave is positive and not negative.

Do you think it’s selfish to have children?

About the Author:
Lyz Lenz is a writer, a mom and a midwesterner. Although, not in that order. She lives in Iowa and on the web at

This week, the 7 billionth person was born, causing some to be concerned. Is having a child in an overpopulated world selfish?

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