Sunday, April 14, 2024
HomeLaura PerrinsLaura Perrins: Farewell to the (extended) family

Laura Perrins: Farewell to the (extended) family


Caitlin Moran has a new family-inspired sitcom. She was one of eight children and home schooled so it was pretty full on. You can read more of her experience here.

There are very few families of eight children now. In fact, it is predicted that before long families with ‘only children’ will be in the majority. What will this mean for the future of society?

It is the case that having a sibling or two means that when you become adult there is another person to rely on and the greater the reliance on familial bonds means there is less reliance on the State. Therefore smaller families may lead to a larger State.

Returning again to The Good Right website they use a modern version of the parable of the Prodigal Son to explain the beauty of families. At the end of the story, the wayward daughter returns not just to her parents, but to her entire extended family, “her whole extended family are there waiting for her. Forty aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters, cousins, grandparents — all with balloons and “welcome home” banners.”

This is a nice image, only it is fast becoming a fantasy. With the rise and the rise of the only child you can say goodbye to everyone except the parents and grandparents (or maybe not even grandparents as births to over 40s continue to increase).

In the future, when an only child marries another only child and that union, in keeping with the times, also produces an only child, this child will have no extended family. He or she will be without any siblings and they will have neither a single uncle, aunt nor any cousins. This is a new phenomenon.

I want to be clear that I am not judging any family who has only one child. It is entirely their decision and it does not surprise me that many people stop at one given the astronomical price of housing, stagnating wages, and over-priced childcare, due to an over regulated market.

And it is true that only children can create fantastic and concrete friendships and many siblings grow up not to talk to each other. But still, as a matter of social policy, the reality of contracting family size may have a large impact that we have not yet fully foreseen.

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