Thursday, 17 May 2007

Population: The Jay Family System

In recognition of the present predictions that the global population of 6 billion is projected to rise to 8 billion by 2028, population poses a great threat to the planet’s ongoing well being and sustainability. UNESCO studies reveal that our planet is already over-consuming by more than 30% the earth’s natural replaceable resources.

Radical attempts to reduce the population may produce extreme or undesirable results. In China for example, mandatory restrictions on family size have resulted in a lack of female children, a lack that will be felt heavily in China’s next generation.

Recognising that we cannot solve this problem in one step, but that we all have a part to play, I suggest that we think differently about family systems. At present a typical family in the developed world consists of 2 adults bringing up at least one child. My suggestion is to consider the potential of these 2 adults sharing parenting responsibilities with another 2 adults. Each couple has one child, to create in effect a family of 6.

What are the benefits of this system?

Firstly it allows couples to have just one child without experiencing the drawbacks that come with having an only child. The system outlined here solves these problems by creating a social environment involving playmates and companionship for the two children, and by providing a relatively large family of 6 people.

What other benefits are there? For the adults there is a reduction in the stresses involved in raising any number of children, because the parenting duties are spread amongst four people instead of just two. It means, for example, that if one of the mothers wishes to go to work and the other to commit herself to full time parenting, this would be viable.

The advantages from the children’s position are immense. Firstly the reduction of stress on the adults will mean less stress experienced by the two children. Also the reduced likelihood of a stressful divorce and subsequent split family scenario are disadvantages avoided by the children. On the other hand, if a parental break-up is caused by other factors such as death of one parent or the departure of an adult, the children will still have three adults to look to for care and nurture.

As to the exact day-to-day functioning of the family, great freedom of design is possible. The main criteria should be the well being of the children. The level of interaction between the couples is to be decided among the families and may vary over time. They might live with or near each other; they can be as dependent or independent of one another as they choose. They might even be quite separate physically, living in different towns or areas. Even in these circumstances there are opportunities for sharing responsibilities and experiences, and bringing the children into regular contact.

The decision to seek to establish the family can be made at any stage prior to having more than one child. Two couples who already have a child each may join together. This will mean that every member of the group will be able to see and become acquainted with one another. Here a ‘try out’ period may be entered into to see how satisfactory it may be.

On the other hand, two couples, neither of whom have a child, may prepare for the formation of this type of family and, in turn, two friends without partners may decide to work toward a Jay family. In this case the two individuals could be simply good friends or even siblings. In short, the possibilities are endless and can be tailored to each family's needs. All that is required is that there are no more than 2 children.
If you have any thoughts about the system, would like to know more or would like to be put in touch with other potential Jay families, email me at This system is one suggestion as part of a global rethink on population and how to control its growth in non-coercive ways. To this end I am also working on a project called Planetary Population Partnership, described on this site.

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