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By Betty Martin-Finneran, Ph.D.

As I reflect on my lived experience of ineffective, accidental parenthood, this famous quote comes to mind: “I’ve been rich, I’ve been poor; rich is better.” This quote has been attributed to both Mae West and Sophie Tucker, but who cares who said it? I will put it bluntly: Too many hungry mouths to feed will slow down your progress and your share of the riches of life. I believe that most of us want to be rich, although many will not admit it.

Growing up in a large family had the downside of providing me with a poverty consciousness as opposed to a consciousness of wealth, because I grew up in a household in which there were not enough financial resources to sustain the needs of 10 children. Accidental childbirth was the rule, not the exception, in the 1950s. I was fortunate. I loved to read about ordinary people who overcame challenges of all types. Fed up with living a poverty lifestyle, I joined the Air Force after graduating from high school. My tour in the Air Force funded the start of my college education and inspired me to become an educator.

As a teacher and tutor, I interact with parents from many socioeconomic levels. It seems to me that like my parents, far too many of these parents were not clear about their motives for parenting. I wonder whether the partners had a clear communication about bringing a child into the world beforehand: Did they consider their financial readiness to provide a quality lifestyle for a child?

Effective vs. Ineffective Parenting

I have had the pleasure of teaching and tutoring children whose parents are financially prepared for effective parenting. These parents have sufficient financial resources to not only send their children to expensive private schools, but also to hire tutorial services to supplement the child’s education as needed. It has been my experience, as a teacher and tutor, that the recipients of ineffective planned parenthood struggle, fight for survival resources, and live in fear. Frustrated by their parents’ and society’s inability to give them access to the resources they so desperately needed from birth, marginalized children tend to join gangs and are not interested in obtaining an education. Survival of their microcosmic society matters most.

In contrast, I have noticed that the attitudes of the children who are recipients of effective planned parenting show signs of making positive contributions to the planet’s sustainability. Without the fear of limited survival resources, effectively parented children are more thoughtful and compassionate toward humankind. They question the nature of what is happening in the world and want to know how to stop social injustice, especially gang activity and school shootings. Working with the parents of the effectively parented children revealed that they parented on purpose. They were most often well-educated professionals who were if not rich, financially well off.

‘Positive Checks’ on Overpopulation

I read a thought-provoking article by Arthur M. Marx (2018) titled “Overpopulation in the Era of Climate Change.” He spoke of what Thomas Robert Malthus (1798) referred to as a “positive check” on overpopulation. Gang membership and increased school shootings, in response to perceived shortage of resources, are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to planetary threats. The issue of overpopulation has continued to mushroom. According to Malthus, Mother Nature periodically enforces “positive checks” on overpopulation.

Marx offered: “What would happen if people could not restrain themselves from churning out more little bundles of joy? In that case, Malthus suggested that positive checks on human life spans would kick in — and by “positive,” he famously meant three particularly negative consequences: war, disease, and famine. Put another way, if too many humans were coming into the world, then more would have to depart into the not-so-sweet hereafter sooner rather than later to mitigate the consequences of overpopulation.” This writer suggests that we must all do our part by examining our motives for parenting in alignment with planetary sustainability.

“We must also stop proliferating,” Stephen McCarty wrote this year amid the coronavirus pandemic. As I stated before, accidental, unplanned pregnancy was the rule, not the exception, in the mid-20th century for the population who could afford children the least. Working as a teacher and tutor in underserved communities, I have noticed that this mentality among the parents has not changed much. It is if these parents are sleepwalking.

Enter COVID-19, our wake-up call! I find it synchronistic that Marx’s article appeared almost a year and a half before COVID-19. All that has happened since the COVID-19 blessing or curse has given me food for thought: Is the current pandemic a macrocosm of the effects of worldwide overpopulation?

I offer that we need to fund the education of persons who are considering parenting more than or at least as much as we fund projects to help underserved children.

About Dr. Betty Martin-Finneran

Dr. Betty Martin-Finneran completed her Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary Studies at The Union Institute & University Graduate College in Cincinnati, Ohio. Her area of concentration was Transformative Learning with a strong Jungian transpersonal psychology emphasis—sacred psychology. She completed her Master of Science Degree in Information Management Technology at Grantham University in Kansas City, Missouri. Currently, Dr. Martin-Finneran works as an Instructional Associate at Berryessa Union School District in San Jose, California. In addition, she is an online and face-to-face ESL instructor at Techworld Language Solutions of Troy, Michigan.

Works Consulted

Malthus, T. R. (1798). An Essay on the Principle of Population. Retrieved May 17, 2020

Marx, A. M. (2018, April 15). Overpopulation in the era of climate change. Magellan TV. Retrieved May 17, 2020, from https://www.magellantv.com/articles/overpopulation-in-the-era-of-climate-change

McCarty, S. (2020, April 20). Why Covid-19 is a human overpopulation problem – perhaps humans are the virus? Retrieved May 17, 2020, from https://www.scmp.com/magazines/post-magazine/short-reads/article/3080360/why-covid-19-human-overpopulation-problem.

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