Post-Nuclear Family

Demographic Doom Main Post-Nuclear Quotes

Post-Nuclear Family: Main Features

The post-nuclear family is a system of collective parenting where between 9 and 18 children are raised in a single household by a group of cooperating adults who do not live there. The children are evenly spaced in age, with a new baby added every 1-2 years. The wide spectrum of ages means that older children can care for younger ones and teach them basic skills, relieving the adults of many routine tasks.

The household is supported financially by system of "family taxes" levied on adult members, similar to a church tithe. Children who age out of the main household can live however they choose and are free to move elsewhere, so long as their taxes are paid. The incentive for paying them is the promise of family support in emergencies and eventual care in old age.

👉Described in a 🔊series of podcasts, a 🧵tweet thread and this website.

The post-nuclear family addresses these five main issues:

  1. How does my community or culture produce enough children to sustain itself?
  2. How do we raise children economically?
  3. How do we raise them intelligently and consistently so they can achieve their potential?
  4. Who will care for me when I get old or sick and can't care for myself?
  5. Who will support me emotionally and be there for me when I get in trouble?

The system was formulated by Glenn Campbell starting in 2019 and was first proposed by him under the "post-nuclear" name in a podcast released on 23 October 2020. It was further described in subsequent podcasts (ongoing) and in a Twitter thread starting on 26 December 2020 (also available as a blog post). The page below has been assembled by Glenn starting on 25 January 2021. For discussions on Twitter, see: #PostNuclearFamily and #dd_pnf

On this page: overview · defining features · introductory video · implied features · policy issues · formation
On separate pages: Quotes & Observations · Answering Objections

Here is a "dramatic reading" of this webpage, as it existed on 3 Feb 2021:


The goal of the post-nuclear family is to raise a large number of children at a low per-child cost without compromising the quality of their upbringing. The ultimate aim is to sustain and expand a local community or culture whose existence is otherwise threatened by low birth rates and the high cost of parenting. This plan is not presented as a solution to the demographic woes of a whole nation, and it does not require government sanction or support. It is, instead, an independent plan for raising children by any small group of adults who choose to form an alliance.

The post-nuclear family is intended to preserve and perpetuate your "culture"—whatever you consider that to be. For a culture to survive beyond a single lifetime, it needs new members, ideally raised within that system from their earliest days. The post-nuclear family, like traditional families, is a vehicle for acculturation and character formation, as well as a safety net when members get in trouble. To entertain this plan, you would have to see your culture as valuable and worth preserving beyond you own lifetime. You would have to be willing to make a substantial life-long investment in the project, but it shouldn't be as costly in time or money as a traditional nuclear family. Costs and risks would be distributed across multiple adults, so no individual or couple is bearing an excess of burdens.

A post-nuclear family can be started as a simple parenting collective. For example, three or more couples, producing children in the traditional way, could choose to raise their children in a single shared household. The founding adults would not live in the shared home but would take turns as on-duty parents on a scheduled basis. This is intended to reduce competition among parents and grant more autonomy to the children.

Children are expected to perform all of the routine tasks of the household that they are within their means, like preparing meals, cleaning house, changing diapers and teaching basic skills. They are evenly distributed in age from 0 to 18, which allows older children to care for younger ones.

If founded by 3 or more heterosexual couples, the original mothers would bring a new baby into the family every 1-2 years. The system becomes more complex when the fertility of the original mothers runs out, some 10-20 years after the collective is formed. To preserve its cumulative wisdom and culture, the post-nuclear family is intended to be a permanent institution, continuously raising children in perpetuity. If the system is to continue beyond the fertility of the founding mothers, decisions would eventually have to be made about where the next generation of babies will come from.

This system is not a commune, kibbutz or group marriage. Apart from clearly defined responsibilities in support of the household, adults of the family can live however they choose. Like members of a church, they live away from the main household but close enough to it to perform their duties. They remain free to accumulate their own assets and aren't expected to share them with the family or other adults, except upon their death. While alive, their only obligations to the family are taxes based on income, the sharing of parenting tasks according to a pre-determined schedule, and devoting special attention to any unexpected crisis.

Fifteen Defining Features of the Post-Nuclear Family

The post-nuclear family is defined by 15 essential features:
  1. Between 9 and 18 kids are raised in one dwelling.

    • A large family allows economies of scale and systems of mutual care that aren't possible in smaller families.
    • It also discourages any sense of entitlement. No child is a "prince" or "princess" in the family but part of a cooperating collective.
    • If nothing else, a large family means lower childcare costs, because one on-duty adult can manage all nine kids.
    • Nine kids is considered the norm, but 18 kids is the target size when the family seeks to expand, eventually splitting into two 9-child families. (See "Mitosis" below.)
    • Although nine children is unusually large by today's standards, it is not implausible. It is similar to a very large blended family today or a traditional farm family of the past. (Imagine the Brady Bunch but 50% bigger.)

  2. Children are evenly spaced in age, born every 1-2 years.

    • This is intended to reduce direct competition between kids and create a natural hierarchy among them. Older kids have more privileges, responsibility and authority.
    • Since every child is a different age, each can expect to be treated differently, reducing claims of "That's not fair!" when older kids get privileges younger ones don't.
    • Older children, once they learn a useful skill, can teach it to younger ones, with little adult intervention.
    • If the intention is to split the family in two at a later date, new babies are added every year. (See Mitosis.) Otherwise, every two years is the norm.
    • Only twins are likely to be the same age.
    • If family members are spaced every 2 years and average longevity is 80 years, the total size of the family—kids and adults—will eventually stabilize at around 40 people. This is consistent with a large extended family today.

  3. Children themselves provide most of the routine labor of the household.

    • Children prepare meals, clean house and care for younger children.
    • A child is given important household responsibilities at the earliest age they can reasonably handle them.
    • At age 17 or 18, a teen can manage the family for short periods without an adult present (such as overnight).
    • Adults supervise the tasks of the home as needed, and they may pitch in to help, but the ultimate goal is a self-regulating system that needs little adult intervention for routine tasks.
    • Freed of repetitive tasks, adults can focus on higher-level functions.

  4. Adults provide supervision, education, mentoring, financial support, logistical support and long-term planning. They supply the physical dwelling and protection from outside threats—all the complex things that teenagers can't reasonably do.

    • They also define and enforce the policies the kids and adults are expected to follow.
    • As a general rule, adults don't perform duties that children and teens are capable of—except, perhaps, to show how it is done or to share in the tasks as peers.
    • Adult interaction with the family should emphasize "quality time" that makes maximum use of their skills and creativity.

  5. Adults come into the household for assigned duties and social visits, but they do not live there.

    • They live separately in their own homes in any arrangement they choose.
    • This gives the kids more autonomy and helps prevent adults from stepping on each others' toes.
    • Although adults cooperate on the raising the children and supporting the household, they retain their own property, lifestyle, relationships and careers, independent of other adults in the group.
    • This is not a commune or group marriage (unless the adults choose it to be).
    • The system is analogous to a community church, where many members contribute to the church and its functions, but no one lives in the church, and parishioners lead separate lives outside it.
    • The household may have an "open-door policy" where adult family members can visit anytime they want, but at any particular time, only one adult is in charge.

  6. Childrearing never ends.

    • As teens age out of the core household, new babies are brought in.
    • Where the babies come from is a policy decision and is not part of the core definition of "post-nuclear family".

  7. Most basic knowledge, culture and training is passed from older children to younger ones.

    • For example, language is taught primarily by older children to younger ones. Adults step in only to fine-tune basic skills, teach advanced skills and provide a system of formal education.

  8. Admission to the initial group of founding adults is highly selective.

    • Before they form the collective, they have to have high confidence in each other and be in general agreement on the basic principles of parenting.

  9. Once a child is born into the family, they are a member for life.

    • Like families today, under normal conditions, your family is forever.
    • No one gets to choose the family they are born into, although they can choose to leave it in adulthood. It is human nature, however, to remain connected to your birth family for life.
    • Members can be "excommunicated" from the family only under extreme circumstances.

  10. The family is a life-long support system.

    • Like families of today ought to be.
    • If you get in trouble as an adult, you know your family will do what they can to help, usually without pay.
    • Pride and mutual respect keeps people from asking too much of their families.

  11. All adult family members are expected to support the family financially through a system of "family taxes".

    • This is similar to a church tithe, probably a percentage of your income.

  12. The family provides lifelong health care for its members (for example, health insurance in the U.S.) and appropriate care when a member is sick or disabled.

    • This includes care for elderly members who can not longer care for themselves.

  13. Unlike other adults, sick or elderly family members may live in the same household as the children, or in lodging close by.

    • This keeps them connected with others and allows children to provide some of their routine care (like serving meals).

  14. Adults choose their own leadership structure and governing system.

    • The system of governance is initially determined by the founding adults in a written charter. It can be modified later by an established process.
    • Authority among the adults is clearly defined. At any given time, one adult is clearly in charge.
    • Children should not be allowed to "shop" for permissions—for example, asking one adult for permission that another has already denied.

  15. One household can be split into two through a system of "mitosis", making two households from one while preserving the family's culture and "institutional memory".

    • A new dwelling is prepared a short distance from the original home.
    • Children of alternating ages are moved to the new household (like the undoing of a zipper). This increases the number of households and grows the community while preserving the family's internal systems.
    • In preparation for this division, the original family would be increased from 9 to 18 kids over the preceding 18 years. That is, a baby would be added to the family every year instead of every two years.
    • After the split, there would be two families of 9 kids each, spaced every two years.
    • Adults of the original family also split, with half being assigned to the new family.
    • This change need not be traumatic for the children, since they would have known about it for years. The new household could initially be located close to the old one to allow continued daily communication.
    • After a period of adjustment (perhaps two years) the new household could be moved farther away, as needed.
    • The whole process of mitosis takes about 20 years, from the time the original family starts producing more children to division 18 years later, plus 2 years for the system to stabilize.

Introductory Video

Glenn explains the system in this 7-minute video from December 2020...

Implied Features

Glenn Campbell: The following features are not "essential" to the definition of the post-nuclear family, but I believe they are strongly implied.

  1. Children are homeschooled under the supervision of a paid professional teacher.

    • If you go to all the trouble to establish this system, you're not going to turn over its most important function to a public school.
    • The contents of the curriculum is a matter of ongoing debate and negotiation among the adults. The curriculum—or the plan for what the children must learn and when—isn't static but is continuously evolving.
    • The teacher can be one of the founding parents but doesn't have to be. He or she works a standard Monday-Friday schedule, managing the education plan of one family or perhaps several.
    • The teacher is more of an "educational manager" than a teacher, assigning educational resources and monitoring progress according to the curriculum. They directly teach students only when other educational resources don't work.
    • Educational resources available to the teacher include online learning, kids teaching other kids, textbook learning, standard exercises and any new options technology may offer.
    • Formal education occupies a fixed schedule during the day, just like schools today.

  2. Children of the family should be genetically diverse, from a variety of biological parents.

    • This allows a lot of different talents to emerge and encouraged the overall resilience of the population.
    • Genetic diversity is a lot easier to achieve than trying to pursue a genetic plan (i.e. "eugenics") which is a political minefield and ultimately impractical. (See Podcast #10.)

        The practical problem with trying to "breed" humans is their long lifespan and the difficulty of achieving a complex desired trait, like "intelligence". Dogs can be bred only because their time to reproductive maturity is short (2 years) and the traits we expect from them are simple.

    • Where the babies come from is a policy decision and is not part of the core definition of "post-nuclear family". There will inevitably be a lot of politics and negotiation about what sperm is united with what egg—as there always has been. (See Podcast #50.)

  3. Where possible, the "family census" should be evenly balanced in gender, with roughly as many boys as girls, ideally alternating.

    • In a 9-child household, the ideal sequence would be boy-girl-boy-girl-boy-girl.
    • In a 18-child household, the ideal sequence would be boy-boy-girl-girl-boy-boy-girl-girl. This enables a standard boy-girl-boy-girl pattern when the families are split.
    • In theory, an all-female society is possible—since a little preserved semen can go a long way—but I suspect harmful social consequences if you monkey with nature's 50-50 ratio.

  4. The primary "parental" bonds within the family are between young children and the older siblings who care for them. Adults are seen more like aunts, uncles and grandparents who visit once a week.

    • I don't want to pre-determine who a child bonds with or runs to for comfort, but a young child naturally bonds with the people who are caring for them.
    • To help define their role, adults of the family can be referred to as "Aunt Mary" and "Uncle James"—unless an adult is known to be one's biological mother or father, in which case "Mom" and "Dad" are just fine.
    • The biological parents of a child are allowed to have a special relationship with them, but they should refrain from giving them any material privileges that other children don't get (like special gifts).

  5. Most resources within the core household are shared (food, clothing, toys, etc), but children are allowed to own property. Anything they own is expected to fit into a defined space, like a footlocker at the end of their bed.

    • Individual children are not allowed to own pets, because, logically, a pet won't fit in your footlocker. Instead, the household can own pets, which are shared.
    • Outside the main household, resources of the adults are not automatically shared with other adults. Individual adults or couples are free to accumulate unlimited wealth, subject only to family taxes and the normal responsibilities that adult siblings feel for each other.

  6. Regardless of the family's wealth, children should be raised in conditions of "benign poverty", where resources and privileges are relatively rare and have to be negotiated for.

    • Toys are well-used and most clothes are hand-me-downs.
    • This is another reason why adults should reside outside the main dwelling: Their accumulated wealth should not be allowed to corrupt the children.
    • There is enough healthy food supplied to the house in bulk but the most desirable sweets and gourmet items are rationed.

  7. Children of the family must obey an "electronic media policy" (EMP), with the contents of the policy being determined by the adults.

    • Electronic devices are so addictive and potentially destructive to the family's plan that they must be closely controlled.
    • Since technology can rapidly evolve and its effects may not be quickly understood, the EMP may often be revised.
    • The EMP covers all forms of electronic devices, software, games, TV shows and entertainment products. (Books are generally exempt, but could be regulated if the wrong kind of books get too much attention.)
    • With new media, the policy should err on the side of restriction, because it is easier to relax a restriction than to withdraw a permission.
    • In the simplest example, the EMP would determine what movies the children are allowed to watch and at what age. Perhaps, as each has a birthday, their "content library" expands, until all restrictions are lifted on their 18th birthday.

  8. Once a teen reaches the age of maturity (probably 18, but it could be flexible), they enter into a period of "community service" for several years—similar to the military service of some societies today. This labor force could be used for a various family and community projects, including childbearing.

  9. After a young adult has completed their community service, they are free to conduct the rest of their life any way they choose. The can live anywhere in the world they want, form any romantic relationship and pursue any career. The only permanent requirement is that they pay their "family taxes"—probably a percentage of their income.

    • Some graduates of the family may travel the world. Others may remain close to home. It's their choice.

  10. When a graduate of the family reaches retirement age, it is generally expected that they will return to the family to serve as active parents and to live out their final days under its protection.

    • This is not a requirement, only an expectation. Even today, retired people tend to have a strong desire to return "home" in their final years.

  11. The family is generally indifferent to the sexual relations of its adult members.

    • They can marry, divorce or otherwise associate with anyone they choose. Since it all takes place outside the main household, these relationships are irrelevant to its functioning.
    • The family draws the line only at the bearing of children. If you have a baby outside the sanction of the family, the family is not required to take the child into its system.
    • Due to the Westermarck Effect, sexual relations within the family are unlikely, but if they emerge they are generally discouraged.
    • The spouse or romantic partner of a family member is not automatically entitled to family services like health care.

  12. When a child of the family eventually dies (hopefully in old age), it is expected that their assets will be willed to the family.

    • Until then, they retain their own assets and property, just like adult siblings today. They are required to share with the family only through the mechanism of family taxes and scheduled duties.

Policy Issues

The following are policy matters to be determined by the founding parents and later modified by consensus of the adults. Many of these policies can be formulated in writing as a sort of family charter. Others are determined by ongoing negotiation and defined only by action. (A family is governed by so many rules and policies that they can't all be written down.) These policies are not part of the core definition of the "post-nuclear family" and can vary widely from family to family.

  1. How the family starts.

  2. Where the babies come from.

  3. How parenting duties and financial responsibilities are assigned among the adults.

  4. Rules the children must follow.

  5. Rules the adults must follow.

  6. The family's "electronic media policy".

  7. How the outside world is presented to the children.

  8. How disputes among adults are resolved.

  9. How disputes among children are resolved.

  10. What the educational curriculum should be.

  11. How the family is managed and led.

  12. Where the family lives.

  13. How family taxes are assessed and enforced.

  14. If family taxes produce a surplus of funds, how will that money be used?

A Formation Plan


23 Oct 2020 - Announcement of new name in podcast:
26 Jan 2021 - First Page Content