22 Comments
Jan 21Liked by Misha Saul

Congratulations! I'm not religious in the slightest but since having kids of my own (I have 3, ages 6, 4, and 20 months) I have very much converted to the view that every baby is a miracle.

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Jan 21·edited Jan 21Liked by Misha Saul

Probably going to get overly personal and you may guess who I am from this post. But.

Gosh Misha, your thoughts are so resonant. You and I land on entirely different ends of this spectrum of how we manage these conflicting desires, but I too struggle with a longing for extended family and connection (I am extremely close to my family) with a desire for self-determination and curiosity about the world and personal fulfillment on individualistic terms that has been expressed through career, and a model for forging an entirely new life with an immigrant grandparent. I am totally disinterested in pursuing religion, but very interested in pursuing family formation. In another life I would have loved to have 3 kids. In terms of the "atomized Anglo," I am an academic who has moved all over for my career. My husband has a similarly "global" career and it was a leap of faith to take advantage of an incredible opportunity that brought us to Australia.

A combination of life circumstances--divorce, not getting partnered again until my mid-30s, pursuing a rewarding but male dominated career that--while is getting better for women-- is still intrinsically tricky to navigate as a woman, and some biological realities, means that I probably won't have more than one (if we are so lucky!). I don't regret my decisions--I have had (and continue to have) a full and rewarding life whether children are in the picture or not. But I respect people who have taken the plunge to make different decisions especially in light of all the angst millennials have about child rearing and the opportunities lost that is intrinsic with each choice we make.

I recognize some aspects of my life would have been different with different choices and others are totally out of my control. The positive side to my situation at present is that we may be able to hedge and have it both ways a bit (as you describe people must, but that's not always a bad thing). Having the finances to travel to see overseas family and bandwith continue to individually rewarding demanding careers while still having a small family is one way to go about it, while missing out on all the richness that comes from a larger family. This is in many ways a less brave choice than the one you and your wife have made (although perhaps one that was never in the cards anyway--who knows), and a much more conventional one for left leaning members of the professional class like myself. So I applaud you and your wife for going all in.

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Jan 21Liked by Misha Saul

"Ponder how much kidmaxxing conflicts with civilization building" -- the Israelis seem to be able to do both!

Ofc, the connection between children and civilization building is much more clear when today's children are tomorrow's warriors defending the homeland.

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Jan 22Liked by Misha Saul

Interesting post, Misha. You may not be surprised to know that philosophers in the 17th century sought to justify kingship by analogizing it to fatherhood. The example that comes most readily to mind is Filmer's "Patriarcha", which Locke sought to rebut.

Anyway, congratulations on the forthcoming child!

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Jan 21Liked by Misha Saul

I was having similar thoughts. A few months ago I was at a memorial service at a Reconstructionist Synagogue for one of my advisers who had just passed at the age of 99. His children, grandchildren and great grandchildren all spoke on their love for him. One of his granddaughters talked about their virtual Shabbat dinners and how much she will miss not having grandfather around (he was sharp to the end). I found it all very moving.

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Congrats!

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Nicely put, and my warmest congratulations to you and your wife!

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Jan 21Liked by Misha Saul

Hmmm. I'd say that independence and individualism aren't good things either. None of us is truly independent these days; even some rural farmer buys goods at a common market, depends on roads and police and so on. Independence is a weird American fantasy that's quite damaging if people pursue it too hard. We're meant to be in community; God created people that way, and the modern fragmented families would be very alien to people from Bible times.

Exploration and mobility are harder. They do seem like good things, but with a societal cost if they become too common.

There's a crisis of loneliness, isolation, a lack of communities for vast numbers of people, and I think that is a consequence of what you call the Anglo export. The internet helps somewhat - people can find communities where they fit in much better than with the pre-made community in their neighbourhood - but not everybody will look for such a community or find one if they do.

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Kidmaxxing does not conflict with civilization building at all. Kidmaxxing is how civilization expands.

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