I'm on an email list for discussion of the Theology of the Body. Every so often, one of the list members has an idea that is a little off topic but worth discussing. What follows is one such, and I welcome your thoughts on this topic. It was triggered by a discussion of the various attitudes attributed to Boomers and Gen-X.
What I think it most troubling, with only 2.1 or 2.3 children per family, just about half the kids have no experience of having both a brother and a sister. Half the boys can't really understand the words of the lover in the Song of Songs, "My sister, my bride," and the other half have no access to what it means to care for "the least of my brothers" literally, and thus less analogically.
The sister thing alone is perilous. How much less will a young man value
chastity when he has no sister! I'm only scratching the surface here, of course. The effect of sisterless brothers could be pondered at length, and it's flip-side, the brotherless sister.
Personally, I want each of my kids to be able to say he or she has "brothers and sister," which immediately tells you there are at least five kids in the family. We have six, but only two boys, thus "brother and sisters" for the boys. Hoping for another boy to rectify the situation. But we've had four girls in a row . . .
And of course every boy needs a brother and every girl needs a sister. That almost goes without saying, and you won't find many parents -- at least not many fathers with brothers or mothers with sisters -- to disagree. Yet they still have "their two" and then "quit."
That word "quit" is kind of interesting. In a sense they are quitting, quitting the job of bringing life into the world. But "quitting" suggests a cessation of activity, while in fact they continue the "activity" of begetting life while performing other activities that undermine its natural direction -- actually more "work" rather than less, at least as far as the baby-making function is concerned (surgery, barriers, drugs).
On the other side are the NFP couples who say "quit" when they mean "quit worrying about having another baby" or "quit charting." The work -- the drudgery -- is in postponing pregnancy, a job well worth quitting, when circumstances allow.
Well . . . I do go on. This is why I don't have a blog of my own. I'd never get anything else done.
Eric J. Scheidler | firstname.lastname@example.org | TOTB List Moderator
"God speaks to us primarily in our hearts."
-- John Henry Newman
my comments: In a culture with generally large and connected families, cousins take the place of siblings for those few families unable to have more than one or two children. Also, the attitude is very different towards the smaller families.