Family life


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Photo by Julian Calverley/Getty
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Ethics
Kids? Just say no

You don’t have to dislike children to see the harms done by having them. There is a moral case against procreation

David Benatar

Photo by Gallery Stock
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Evolution
War in the womb

A ferocious biological struggle between mother and baby belies any sentimental ideas we might have about pregnancy

Suzanne Sadedin

From a 1959 edition of the Ladies’ Home Journal. Illustration by Coby Whitmore

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Family life
Lock up your wives!

Advice columns from decades past provide a chilling glimpse into the horrors of marriage counselling before feminism

Rebecca Onion

At the Caspian Sea, Iran, in 2017. Photo by Newsha Tavakolian/Magnum Photos

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Family life
The marvel of the human dad

Among our close animal relatives, only humans have involved and empathic fathers. Why did evolution favour the devoted dad?

Anna Machin

From left to right: Kristin, Dave, Dan, Dot and Sue. All photos kindly supplied by the author

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Childhood and adolescence
The great forgetting

Our first three years are usually a blur and we don’t remember much before age seven. What are we hiding from ourselves?

Kristin Ohlson

After all these years. Photo by Chris Stowers/Panos Pictures
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Family life
Endless love

We no longer expect passion to last a lifetime, but some couples do stay in love to the end. What’s their secret?

Aaron Ben-Ze’ev

Photo by Timothy Shonnard/Getty

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Sex and sexuality
Afterglow

The intensity of orgasm is sublime, but the gentle love cocktail that follows is what helps relationships to endure

Tove K Danovich

Photo by Carey Kirkella/Gallery Stock
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Family life
Fertility fog

Women in their 30s and 40s exhibit a mix of wishful thinking and woeful ignorance when it comes to their fertility. Why?

Amy Klein

Photo by Stefan Kuhn/Gallery Stock
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Demography and migration
The marriage calculus

Women with money and education tend to get and stay married in America. Why aren’t working-class women the same?

Naomi Cahn & June Carbone

Saturday night in Borgarfjörður eystri, Iceland, 2007. In 2018, 70 per cent of births in the country were outside of marriage. Photo by Jonas Bendicksen/Magnum

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Love and friendship
Is marriage over?

Marriage is practised in every society yet is in steep decline globally. Is this it for longterm intimate relationships?

Manvir Singh

Father and daughter, 1961. Photo by Erich Hartmann/Magnum

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Meaning and the good life
Dreadful dads

Few of the great existentialists had children. How can their philosophy help with the anxiety and dread of fatherhood?

John Kaag & Clancy Martin

Photo by Annie Otzen/Getty

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Childhood and adolescence
The telling

When a parent dies by suicide, how the children are told casts a permanent shadow on their understanding of life and loss

Jesse Bering

Children at the Appleby Horse Fair in Cumbria, England, in 1972. Photo by Bruce Dale/National Geographic/Getty

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Family life
Against ‘natural’ parenting

We’re opportunistic, inventive and flexible animals, and there is no ‘natural’ or ‘right’ way to bring up our children

Olga Mecking

A funeral in Italy, 1951. Photo by Henri Cartier-Bresson/Magnum Photos
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Death
The death of my father

When someone close to you dies, the very fabric of your life is ripped to shreds. Is philosophy any consolation?

Julian Baggini

In praise of praise. Photo by Luca Zordan/Gallery Stock
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Childhood and adolescence
Praise them!

Everyone thinks that too much praise can turn children into entitled monsters but the science isn’t nearly that simple

Carlin Flora

Illustration by Peter Grundy/BA Reps

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Home
Creating some slack

A household is a miniature ecosystem with inputs, outputs and flows: thinking like this can make life a whole lot better

Misty McLaughlin & Michael Erard

Photo by Per-Anders Pettersson/Getty

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Love and friendship
How to find The One

Hold out for the perfect partner or settle for good enough? In the calculus of love, flourishing means getting it right

Aaron Ben-Ze’ev

A Sister of Charity at the New York Foundling Hospital in 1943. Photo by Nina Leen/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty

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Anthropology
Infanticide

There is nothing so horrific as child murder, yet it’s ubiquitous in human history. What drives a parent to kill a baby?

Sandra Newman

Photo by Peter Marlow/Magnum
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Family life
Is that my baby?

Sperm donation is socially acceptable but donor eggs still provoke a wave of unease about blood relations and motherhood

Amy Klein

In the time of Charles Dickens, being left alone at the altar was meant to be a disaster for life. Nowadays, it can be an occasion for a feast. All photos by Anna Eckold
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Rituals and celebrations
Mrs Myself

Self-marriage promises love and fulfilment – but is it a radical act or a depressing concession to self-absorption?

Polina Aronson

Magical ingredients. Photo by Peter Marlow/Magnum
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Stories and literature
Books for life

There is something deeply revealing about the books one truly loves in childhood and adolescence

Adam Gidwitz