Grade 3 Assignment on big families and "proper birth spacing"

My 9 year old niece who is in Grade 3, studying in a Catholic school, has a homework this week that has put me in a dilemma. You see, I don’t quite agree with how the topic is being presented in her book and I am supposed to make her understand the topic based on the book

Her assignment goes like this:

  1. How does proper birth spacing affect children’s growth and development?

  2. What problem may arise in an overcrowded area

  3. Give meaning of

a. proper birth spacing

b. Overcrowding

  1. Clip articles or stories on affect of a big family on health, education and privacy. The book seems to point that smaller families are better off in all three aspects.

Personally, I think this subtly is saying that children are to be looked at more as a burden than a blessing and that bigger families are more problematic tnan happy…which I don’t agree with.

To me, “proper birth spacing” is dependent on the parents how many children they want. If they want year after year (which my niece’s book seems to discourage) then it is still “proper”. If they want children every two years or more, that’s ok too…as long as methods used are in line with Church’s teachings. That is my opinion.

Thing is, I’ve been researching about articles about big families being happy and healthy…but all I could find are about the Duggars who seem like one really big happy family…but they have a way nicer house than most people in my country so I don’t think a lot of people can relate.

Anyone knows any nice articles on big, happy and healthy families I can share with my niece for her assignment in school?

Wow - what book are they using? I would definitely call and ask the teacher about the content.

Ug! Is this a “Catholic” textbook or is the school just using something provided by the Government for free? If it were my child, I’d speak to the teacher and the principal regarding this assignment.

Here’s some links
wilsonmar.com/bigfam.htm Lots of various articles on parenting large families.

loveathome.com/cms/index.php/family-features/44-family-features/70-parenting-for-a-better-world (The site has more articles too. I found this one interesting.)

A search on Lifesite’s New turned up several articles you might find helpfeul.

lifesitenews.com/ldn/2001/mar/01031201.html

lifesitenews.com/ldn/2008/apr/08042210.html

From that article “… a recent University of Maryland study indicated a link between larger families and longer lifespan.
A 2006 study of Amish in Lancaster, PA found that men born between 1749 and 1912, who lived 50 or more years, averaged 0.23 more years of life per additional child. Women from the same period average 0.32 extra years of life per additional child, up to the 14th child.
“We conclude that high parity among men and later menopause among women may be markers for increased life span. Understanding the biological and/or social factors mediating these relationships may provide insights into mechanisms underlying successful aging,” the researchers stated…”

Lastly, as far as the impact on society, several famous people were the products of large families. St. Catherine of Sienna comes to mind. She was the youngest in a family with over 20 children! Many of the saints come from large families. Many others who helped shape the world and make it a better place also came from large families. The American Benjamin Franklin was one of the younger chidren in a large family. sln.fi.edu/franklin/family/famtree.html People seem to forget that many of the people who shaped our society, including many of our ancestors!) came from large families.

I hope this helps.

I certainly would be asking the teacher for more clarification on this topic. What is the textbook they are using? Third grade even? My daugther never discussed anything close to this topic when she was in third grade, seems a bit too advanced for that age group.

:eek: That is awful!!! If it was one of my kids I would definitely go in and talk to them about this one. Why are they having a 3rd graders look into this?

Okay, at first sight I too was upset at seeing this as 3rd grade material… and it does indeed send the message that big families can be problematic…

But, that doesn’t mean the topic shouldn’t be discussed… because this topic IS going to be discussed for the rest of our lives, and we need to ARM our kids with good, holy, solid, CATHOLIC teachings on these subjects so that they have information to lean on and are able to respond knowledgeably and thoughtfully.
So, don’t *FIGHT *the assignment… work *with *it and *through *it. :slight_smile:

Pull out your Catechism and find the relevant sections. (here’s an online link)
Research encyclicals online… last year our Pope wrote a beautiful encyclical that has a lot of very relevant information to this topic. (here’s the link to the encyclical)

It’s NOT too early to arm our kids with this information.
Embrace the assignment and use it as a learning tool for both your niece and her entire class.

You can have fun with this assignment

It just seems to me like it is such a complex subject, and pair that with what the op said
“I don’t quite agree with how the topic is being presented in her book and I am supposed to make her understand the topic based on the book”
and
“I think this subtly is saying that children are to be looked at more as a burden than a blessing and that bigger families are more problematic than happy”
…it sounds to me that this could do more harm than good to have the class discuss this unless the person in charge is going to guide it in the right way and has strong arguments that will help young minds understand what the right answers are, rather than just go along with whatever anyone says, good or bad. Kids are impressionable, they are forming their perceptions about things, something like this could have a lasting effect on their views on family and children, and if it is not handled correctly, could do a decent amount of harm, especially if the children are not learning about it at home.

Talk about it at home, yes definitely! Kids aren’t to young to hear age appropriate information on the subject at home. The assignment as it is written out, with the book as described, nope, I think its a bad idea.

Ok when I first read this I was ready to say Hell no! I would demand the teacher give her another assignment. This topic is one only parents should address. Good luck with it. :shrug:

Some large family links:

daniellebean.com/2007/03/27/your-turn-large-catholic-families/
youtube.com/watch?v=6xSPuJx5maw
fourormore.org/
catholicculture.org/culture/library/view.cfm?id=5370&CFID=45065610&CFTOKEN=52376041
catholic-pages.com/dir/family.asp

But I agree with starting with the Catechism.

What a very strange subject matter for 3rd graders??? I’d definitely be asking teacher and principal more about this. Are they talking about ‘proper spacing’ and these other questions in light of Catholic theology or just on it’s own? Very strange.

Eugenics, eugenics, eugenics…

Everyone before me has posted some good links. I echo the call to speak with the teacher, but also ask to speak with the grade chair (or any person in charge of the grade-wide curriculum) and principal. What was the textbook selector thinking? Yes, 3rd grade social studies generally focuses on “community,” but this material seems to promote an agenda that is out of line from Catholic teaching.

Additionally, the content seems to have boiled down arguments from college-level sociological studies (about birth order and population effects), and any person considering summarizing that field would need to know how to synthesize arguments, understand study bias - not what I remember doing at 9 years old. Maybe high school. When it was the appropriate time for us to become young Apologetics. Not “armed” with facts should adults inappropriately get them to defend our faith; but having a real childhood on the playground and learning the Gospels.

I found this Web site on another Catholic site. Given the inherent bias in the assignment and book, their boiled-down arguments have just as much place in this discussion.

www.overpopulationisamyth.com

Do update us, Ma Eugenia!

Thank you for your insights and the articles you shared with me. I am sharing them all with my niece and sister. :slight_smile:

I said to myself, “Why didn’t I think of that?”…when I read the part about saints coming from big families. They are wonderful testament that big Catholic families can be happy and healthy indeed! :thumbsup:

Come to think of it…during the times of my grandparents, and even my parents, it was common for couples to have more than two children…and they were happy, healthy and well-educated. Even our national hero came from a big family and he ended up being a world-class physician, writer and painter …proof positive that big families can be a good thing too.

The textbook that my niece is using is the required textbook for Science in her school. My sister told me that she also encountered the topic last year (when her daughter was in Grade 2) and this year, it was also mentioned in her social studies class.

Can you imagine me making my niece memorize the litany of what can go wrong when couple have children year after year for her test? The hairs on my skin were standing up!..I kept on blurting out…this is not true!..which, of course, confused her.

I can imagine that some of the parents of the other children, probably, just let them memorize this without question for a good grade.

I think that the book has it wrong.

The book is saying:

Cause (big families) -----> Effect overcrowding
less health
less education
less attention of parents for children
older children have to help parents support younger siblings
more garbage, more pollution (Yep, it was also mentioned)

But I believe that the real root cause should be the one that is tackled instead of blaming many social ills on big families.

This is my take…

Cause: Social inequalities ----------------> Effect: Big families —> Effect: (all effects
Social injustice have difficulty mentioned above)
Corruption thriving
“I, Me, My, Myself” mentality extolled

I am very concerned that this sends a wrong message to the children. I agree with many here that it doesn’t seem age-appropriate to talk about birth spacing.

I agree that children at this age are very impressionable. lifeisbeautiful really hit that on the head.

Why make children memorize something like this at a time when their minds are like sponges, also very malleable, and they take what is taught to them without much question? I am wondering if this is laying down the foundation for population control, artificial birth control…or perhaps an anti-life mindset for the future generation.

At this time, in my country, the issue of sex education is being debated. I now realize that controversial issues like this one, have already been integrated in subjects used in Catholic schools.

I have asked my sister to write her objection to the principal and the teacher.

My sister sent her daughter to a Catholic school, in part, to learn Catholic values…and this is what she gets.

I am worried. :frowning:

Oops…can I make a correction above…sorry I did not reach cut off to edit the text above.:o… I meant…

I

think that the book has it wrong.

The book is saying:

Cause (big families) ----->

Effect overcrowding
less health
less education
less attention of parents for children
older children have to help parents support younger siblings
more garbage, more pollution (Yep, it was also mentioned)

But I believe that the real root cause should be the one that is tackled instead of blaming many social ills on big families.

This is my take…

Cause: Social inequalities ---------------->
Social injustice Corruption thriving
“I, Me, My, Myself” mentality extolled

Effect: Big Families have hard time thriving -------->

Effect: less health
less education
less attention of parents for children
older children have to help parents support younger siblings
more garbage, more pollution

I hope this is more understandable…:slight_smile:

Wow! I thought the big problem in the Phillipines was MASSIVE corruption, not big families.

I think one big thing you can look at with this too is context - the moral correctness of birth spacing in a home in american suburbia vs birth spacing in a rural village in South Africa…

What a load of garbage! I can’t believe such a thing would be in a book for 3rd graders. :frowning:

This is way inappropriate for Third Grade.

But I recommend, if you can find it, a copy of Teresa Bloomingdale’s book “I Should Have Seen It Coming When the Rabbit Died.”

It may be out of print by now, but is likely available used, for example here.

And here is a transcript of one of her talks.

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