Jim Gaffigan plays himself in his self-titled, TV Land show, complete with a television family that, at least numerically, reflects his real-life family of a wife and five children. Much of the show’s humor, as well as that of Gaffigan’s own stand-up routine, revolves around the peculiar circumstance of being a family of seven living in a two-bedroom apartment in the center of New York City. But transport the Gaffigan clan to any other city in America and the peculiarity remains. Large families have become something of a curiosity. Big families are in short supply these days. We could posit many reasons for this, from financial restrictions to personal preference to physical limitation. Each individual couple and family is built and gifted differently and a certain charity towards those with different inclinations on the subject would be helpful. Nevertheless, it is not an uncommon occurrence for those with large families to garner vaguely disapproving glares from others in public or, at least, to have the wisdom of their choices called into question.
Underlying our culture’s distaste for large families is, among other things, the assumption that couples should only bring enough children into our overcrowded world to replace themselves. That is to say, no family really needs to have more than two children.
Our Overblown Fears
We can make at least two arguments in response to this assumption. The first is multi-faceted, but it boils down to the fact that society’s fears of overpopulation are a bit overblown.