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Be Less Fruitful, and Cut Down Your Carbon Footprint

Dear Bintel Brief:

My husband wants to have a big family, but I think that in today’s world with all of the suffering and the need, no one family should have more than two children. As someone who wrote about the stroller capital of the world, who’s right?


Amy Sohn replies:

Dear Pondering:

I could not agree more. With all the unwanted children in the world, the ethical choice would be to adopt. But before you do that, consider the environmental impact of large families — biological or adoptive: A recent Oregon State University study found that having children is the surest way to increase your carbon footprint. I think there should be an environmental tax on families with more than two.

Yes, God told us to be fruitful and multiply but God also told us a lot of things that clear-thinking Jews have rejected over the centuries as sexist, cruel to animals, homophobic or out of touch with modern values. You need to tell your husband that two is enough and that you are lucky to have two, when so many people have trouble conceiving. You are the woman and ultimately the woman makes the child-bearing decisions. You’re the one who will have to carry this baby, after all!

Suggest that you get a dog instead. If your husband is still insistent, why don’t you tell them that he will have to quit his job to care for the baby for the first two years, and use his free time to care for the other two as well? Then you can see how much he really means it.

Amy Sohn is the author of, most recently, “Prospect Park West” (Simon & Schuster) — a novel about living, loving, hating and procreating in the leafy Brooklyn neighborhood of Park Slope. She is also the author of the novels “Run Catch Kiss” (Simon & Schuster, 1999) and “My Old Man,” (Simon & Schuster, 2004). A graduate of Brown University, she lives in Brooklyn with her husband and daughter.

If you have a question for the Bintel Brief, email [email protected]. Selected letters will be published anonymously. New installments of the Bintel Brief will be published Mondays in October at

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