Opinion Brief

Is having 19 kids 'abusive'?

The Bates household in Tennessee is already packed, and now baby number 19 is on the way. Is that unfair to the other 18 children?

Kelly and Gil Bates, who already have 18 kids, are about to catch up to the Duggars, stars of the reality TV show 19 Kids and Counting. The Bateses, evangelical Christians from Tennessee, oppose using birth control. With a little help from hormones (and, they say, prayer), they're now pregnant with No. 19, and hope some day to have a 20th child. "It feels more normal to me to be pregnant than not be pregnant," says Kelly, 44. "I'm happy holding a baby." She might be ecstatic... but what about her kids?

These parents are a danger to their kids: Kelly and Gil — who approve of medically aided procreation but oppose contraceptives — aren't just "Bible-thumping nut job hypocrites," says Maressa Brown at The Stir. These "dangerous" parents don't even have health insurance for all their kids. Plus, the children have no privacy or "lives of their own," so crowding them with another sibling "borders on abusive."
"Parents praying for 19th child are a danger to their kids"

They're just old-fashioned: The Bates family lives the way people used to, says Whitney Jefferson at Jezebel. They don't have much use for the internet or TV. They live a "modest and simple life," far away from the reality TV cameras that keep tabs on the Duggars. It won't be long before their 21-year-old eldest daughter has her first suitors, and winning her hand will take a traditional courtship, "as the whole family looks on." That's not crazy, it's traditional.
"How to date when you have 17 siblings"

We could all learn from the Bates' example... sort of: The family's teamwork, at least, is "a Harvard Business School-worthy case study of home economics," says Juju Chang at ABC News. They go through seven gallons of milk per week, and two pounds of sandwich meat at every lunch. Many parents buckle under far lesser challenges, but the Bates family bands together and makes ends meet with "multiple income streams, cost-cutting, division of labor, strategic leverage, and tax savvy."
"Tennessee family of 20 relies on thrift and teamwork to make ends meet"

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