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Alec and Hilaria Baldwin have announced that their recent fourth child was the first one they had “planned.” They have since been criticized for having a large family. The Baldwins’ quickly responded:

“Here is why we like having babies: they are simply so lovely and bring so much joy. Plus, I feel like we need to populate this world with a whole next generation of really good people. My little Baldwinitos are such good souls and I hope they continue to grow and make this world a better place.”

There is a problem with that approach to parenting. Why couldn’t every couple use the same rationale to justify a large family? If enough people followed this couple’s lead and chose to have four children, we would have no chance to mitigate the worst effects of climate change. We would accelerate the mass extinction of other species, and the quality of our lives would be reduced as we tried to navigate life in even more polluted, politically dysfunctional, and crowded communities.

In short, we would not be able to help all children have a better future.

The Baldwin’s choice, applied broadly enough as a model, would make our and our kids’ world uninhabitable. Large families don’t make the future better; they make it worse, for all the reasons that the quality of life in our crowded world today is so much less than it could be.

There’s another problem. Assuming the Baldwins don’t mean that their rationale should apply to others, we have to figure out who would not qualify for a large family under the Baldwin’s model, and who would not produce a next generation of really good people. If the implication is that the Baldwins wealth is the determining factor, we have to ask why that’s the case, and what justifies any children getting a massive head start in life, with the best health care, nutrition, and educational opportunities available. Why is that fair or justified? Did the children earn that advantage?

Don’t all kids deserve a fair start in life?

The great news is that the Baldwins can still act, and publicly choose to stop at four children. They can also help other parents plan something at least approaching a fair start in life for their own kids. They can act to show that having kids is not a private “none of your business” matter, but that which most defines the future we all share.

If you agree, please politely suggest this option, at @alecbaldwin.

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