Several weeks ago, I saw an attractive young woman on TV talking about her family. Beaming with pride, she commented, “I am a good mother. I take care of my kids and I love them very much." It was heartwarming, but as the program continued, she shared information that I found to be disturbing.

The mom is 29 years old and the mother of seven children, ages 1 through 12. She dropped out of high school and had her first child at age 17. The seven children have six different fathers, with just one of them paying partial child support. Mom has a part-time job, and with seven young children, she obviously has more than a full-time job at home.

She is trying very hard to be a good mother and the love she has for her children is unquestionable, but I think she is delusional if she thinks she is fully taking care of them. Yes, she may physically take care of them, but I surmise (my opinion only, no facts) she is highly dependent on a variety of government assistance programs.

Mom may have a source of income that is sufficient to care for her large family, but a part-time job held by a high school dropout won’t begin to pay the bills. There is a good chance she is receiving Section 8 housing allowance, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (previously called food stamps), free or reduced school lunches, free school supplies, Medicaid funded health care, help with her monthly utility bills, and possibly government assisted child care. Granted, these are all good, much-needed programs that are meant to be a temporary lifeline to the needy. Unfortunately, this temporary lifeline often lasts for a multi-generational lifetime.

Mom does not realize that, in addition to her loving care, the American taxpayers are taking care of her family to the tune of a few thousand dollars each month. She is not the one who is financially taking care of her family, taxpayers are.

Hopefully, Mom has decided seven children are enough, but at age 29, that is unlikely. When more children are born she will love them unconditionally, but she will be even more dependent on the generosity of America’s Sugar Daddy, Uncle Sam.

Through no fault of the children, what kind of an example is being set for them? If they follow in Mom’s footsteps, in just five years Mom will be a grandma at age 34, and in 16 more years, the seven children will be the proud parents of 49 children (and counting). The children are certainly not to blame, but how can we stop this madness with people like Mom?

Mike Ruby is a Muscatine resident who writes a monthly column for the Journal.