Rob's Soapbox Archives
February 4th, 2008
CHILDREN: A DYING BREED
Despite an absurd report a few weeks ago in the American media that attempted to proclaim we were on the verge on another baby boom, the fact is that fewer and fewer Americans are having children and an even smaller percentage of Americans than ever before are attaching any level of necessary happiness to offspring. As with every action, there come positive and negative consequences which we will explore here.
First the foundation of the discussion; it is not that there are fewer children in America, or even that a significantly smaller number of women are giving birth. The facts are, however, that more and more women are having fewer children than ever before, offset only by the baby making mills of select women who are having multiple children at once, thus simultaneously warping the averages and raising broods of unruly rats. (http://www.hoover.org/publications/digest/3020821.html)
One of the main reasons for this fact is that fewer and fewer Americans are assigning their happiness to the idea of having children. (http://childfreenews.blogspot.com/2007/11/american-couples-having-fewer-children.html)In fact, A 1990 survey done by Men’s Health magazine found that 65% of married American men and women said children were an important factor to a successful marriage, placing it second only to fidelity. In the exact same survey done at the end of 2007, only 41% agreed, placing it dead last of all the choices.
Finally, and perhaps most devastating to the dying breed of our culture who insist that reproduction is not only necessary but an obligation to the culture, more and more American parents are finally comfortable enough to speak out publicly about the strain and burden children place on peoples’ ability to pursue happiness. Decades ago, speaking ill of child rearing was simply not allowed and the task was rather seen as a silent cross to bear. Now, in the first decade of the 21st century more and more parents are able to speak out about the sacrifices it takes to raise kids and many are telling the world that it simply isn’t worth it. In fact, one of the many theories put forth by sociologists of the world is that it is this “burden” factor that is causing more and more American couples to have one child and then no more, suggesting that in many cases the parents found they weren’t quite aware of what they were getting themselves into.
Now before those of you who insist on coddling the children of the Earth shriek in hysterics, let’s all settle down and recognize the facts of what is being said here; American parents are not saying that they regret or even resent their children. Almost on a scale of 100%, American parents report that they love their children and are glad that they had them. However, at rates higher than ever before in modern history, American parents say if they had to do it over again, they wouldn’t have the children in the first place. That, my friends, is stunning. (http://22.214.171.124/2006/8/24/research/children-are-they-worth-the-sacrifice.asp)
So where does this leave us? Well, let’s start with the negatives of this phenomenon. On the surface, there really aren’t that many. With the exception of those of you who live in a fantasy world and believe that all children are wonderful gifts to the Earth (which most of them are not, a fact proven by the simple observation that most children grow up to be adults that suck), the rest of us are actually quite pleased with the slowdown in America’s obsession with children. Peaking in the 1990’s, it got out of hand, to be frank, and this nation could use a few less people, a lot less coddling and some time to recollect its’ senses. The Earth, while not overpopulated by any stretch of the imagination, is also not short on humans in America or anywhere else and short of some sick paranoid desire to “propagate the race” there really isn’t a compelling case to be made on insisting that more Americans procreate.
The only negative that seems to be a consequence of this current trend, and it is a huge negative I grant you, is that the people who are still reproducing are, put delicately, putrid human beings who should not be having, let alone raising, children. Such is the problem with most trends; the qualified, intelligent amongst us are the first to recognize and set the trends, leaving the dregs of society to carry on the behavior that should be stopped. Sadly, this is what we call collateral damage, for the positives far outweigh the negatives.
For decades I have proclaimed that America suffers from a self-esteem deficit epidemic, caused primarily by a vast majority of the people in this nation defining their self worth by what others’ think of them. In this environment, many people have falsely believed that they weren’t worth a damn unless they had kids, only to later realize that even if they did have children, they still weren’t worth a damn (thus the “Empty Nest” syndrome of the 80s and 90s).
People have defined themselves for too long through or because of their children. Offspring are not a ticket to happiness and fulfillment; they are simply a conduit along the way. Not to mention the fact that people who have low opinions of themselves shouldn’t be having children in the first place, for they will pass such insecurities onto their children. This, and I believe this more than anything else, has created the vicious cycle we have seen in America the past 3 decades. People, who as adults are not equipped to handle the real world, have been having children, and have therefore been incapable of giving their children the tools they would need to grow up. Thus, we have had a rash of ill prepared adults raising ill prepared children who become ill prepared adults…and the cycle has spiraled out of control.
If, by some miracle, our society as a collective has finally decided to define itself through a series of accomplishments not related to child birth, we will have turned a major corner in this country. Men and women should decide that they are defined by their relationships with their family and friends, their career goals and achievements, their financial independence, their well rounded lives filled with a multitude of gratifying ventures and their peace with their own spirituality. Once these hurdles have been leapt, they can look in the mirror and proclaim legitimately that they have a cadre of positive influences to bestow upon a child. It is then and only then that we will create a new cycle of well adjusted, confident adults raising children who will become well adjusted confident adults. Fewer children who are better prepared for life is a far better choice than a surplus of children who are never given the tools to be productive.