Someone at Reddit posted this link about a Angel Adams, a woman with fifteen children (by three different fathers, the article mentions, so the slut-shamers will have material to work with). Twelve of the children are still living with their mother, and the family has become homeless. Ms. Adams is unemployed and wants help at taxpayers’ expense. There’s actually a lot more to it, such as a landlord bringing eviction procedures and Ms. Adams failing to show up for two court dates, and that might make it easier to conclude Ms. Adams is simply irresponsible and that’s the root cause of her family’s troubles. But that’s a simplistic way to measure anyone’s life.
What most this case especially interesting to me is that no one is currently alleging the children’s needs aren’t being met (other than financially). Though the children were taken away from her two years ago on “allegations of neglect”, they were returned six months ago and Nick Cox of the Florida Department of Children and Families says the mother loves her kids and they love her and the department does not want to split the family. In most cases like this that get bandied about in the press, the kids don’t seem to be getting proper care, and that makes it easier to take whatever position will maybe get the kids’ needs met.
But let’s break this down: let’s say you’re a rich narcissist who only had kids because it enhanced your corporate image. You neglect your kids emotionally, causing them to develop intense psychological damage that might lead to them be predators or leeches in adulthood, but you pay for all their bodily needs and then some. So no social workers ever come visit, and we taxpayers are all okay with your right to raise these kids we’ll all actually be “paying for”, one way or another, when they’re grown.
But if you’re poor yet caring and raising kids who are psychologically healthy (as many, many poor families manage to do) despite struggling to take care of their bodily needs, we taxpayers get mighty pissy. Hypocritical of us, yes?
And, as always: where’s all the complaining about the fathers? The father of ten of these kids is in jail for selling cocaine. Talk about bad life choices and living at the taxpayers’ expense. But no, we just blame whatever’s visible and handy – in this case, and most others, the mother.
It’s entirely possible this woman hasn’t made all the best choices in her life. I certainly haven’t. No one ever does. Having fifteen kids may be my idea of unwise (even a very wealthy family could suddenly lose it all, and making ends meet with two kids would be a helluva lot easier than fifteen), but what if these kids grow up to be happy, healthy, productive members of society, as seems likely from what we know now? That would cancel out fifteen of the little sociopathic narcissists your rich neighbors’ nannies are raising right now.
I’m all for educating people on smart family planning and prioritizing kids’ emotional, social and cognitive needs above their parents’ when the two are irreconcilably conflicted. But when I think of the class issues that play into it – that any self-limitations we encourage will always fall heavier on those with less money – I’m not sure how to proceed. Some people can financially afford to have kids for the wrong reasons – to extend their own egos, to get love from the kids rather than to give it, to enhance public image, etc. That doesn’t make their choice to have kids any better than a poor person’s choice to have lots of kids. In fact, it makes it worse – there’s no way for kids to get through emotional neglect without incurring damage that might make them dysfunctional, but plenty of kids get through poverty to become happy, healthy, functioning adults.
What do you think about any and all aspects of this?