The No-Baby Boom

Tuesday, May 3, 2011
Has anyone else read this article entitled The No-Baby Boom? It was in the April edition of Details Magazine.

The article highlights the growing number couples who are purposely choosing not to have children. Their attitude towards childbearing or “breeding” (don’t you just love how derogatory that is?) is stricter than China’s. All these couples embrace a zero-child policy.

What I found fascinating about this article, apart from a worldview that is completely different than my own (i.e. children are a burden), is that many of these couples made the decision not to have children at a very young age. One husband was 23 when he had a vasectomy. Many of the couples interviewed for the article are in still in their 20’s, so I can’t help but wonder if this a decision they will come to regret in 10, 20 or 50 years. I am inclined to say it is.

Of course, convinced of the moral and environmental superiority of choosing not to have children, the reasons these couples give for making such a dramatic decision are steeped in condescension and superficiality. As the article claims, “there’s less guilt, less responsibility, more sleep, more free time, more disposable income, no awkward conversations about Teen Mom, no forced relationships with people just because your kids like their kids, no chauffeuring other people’s kids in your minivan to soccer games you find less appealing than televised chess.” Really? People are choosing not to have a child because they don’t want to have a potentially awkward conversation about an MTV reality show?

In short, people are choosing not to have children-who-turn-into-teenagers because they themselves want to remain in a perpetual state of adolescence. More sleep, less responsibility.

Another thing I noticed with many of the couples is that they make very drastic assumptions about parenthood. As one childless couple mentioned, “our next-door neighbors have kids, and the amount of yelling, stress, and competition for day care, car pools, and a school with working metal detectors hardly seems worth it. As we head out for our after-work hike, followed by yellow curry in Thai Town and then an Arctic Monkeys concert, we wave goodbye and smile, pretending not to notice their faces frozen in exhaustion.” Parenthood is described as dirty, stressful, exhaustive, and basically, no fun.

Now, I don’t know this couple’s neighbors, but I’m sure it can’t be that bad. Plus the happy-hiking couple never sees the internal workings of life with kids. They don’t see what happens in the home, just the superficial exterior. They don’t see the joy and laughter that inevitably comes with raising kids.

However, I do think this is one area where we “breeders” can improve. Right or wrong, there are a great many negative stereotypes about parenting and family life. Often the harried and chaotic lives of families unknowingly perpetuates this stereotype. This is one area those of us with children can do a better job at promoting the joy of family life, especially in public. We need to slow down, complain less and smile more.

Personally, I try to be very conscious of the preconceived notions people have about life with young children, or even, gasp, children close together in age. In an attempt to pre-empt those judgments, I try to make sure both Hannah and I look clean and presentable when we go out in public. I figure people are more likely to pick up on the positive aspects of life with littles if we look cute. It may sound superficial, but I believe it’s a small way to live an apostolate that promotes children.

Ultimately, though, I feel pity for these couples. I would think that despite all the travels and adventures and money saved or spent, eventually life would become a little dull. A life of self-indulgence and one that glorifies the “me” is an unhappy life indeed. Sure, it may be fun for a while, but all that glitters eventually fades. Plus, I have never heard a person or couple complain that they shouldn’t have had that fourth or fifth or thirteenth child, but rather wistfully looking back on life, wish they had just one more child. That is one regret I hope to never have.

You've got to be crazy to not want a house full of happy children like this.

4 comments:

  1. love it!!!!

    I don't have the mental energy to read that article at the moment. It will make me too sad. GREAT response!!

    No one knows the immense joy of having their own child until they have one.

    I thought I was "happy" with younger siblings. I was. But my own child is out-of-this world joy. And the grace to endure the rough days comes along with it.

    Thai food and a concert? Give me minute nuzzling my child over that any day.

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  2. Thanks, Kerry!

    I know, it's so true, you cannot truly understand how much you can love your own child, until you actually have one.

    All the things that seem may seem gross to someone else, wiping bottoms, being spit-up on, peed on, whatever, are really non-issues when it's your baby.

    I love your nuzzling comment, so true.:)

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  3. This is such a great post, in response to a very unfortunate reality. Thank you!

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  4. My husband spent the first 9 years of married life childless, but not by choice. We prayed, tried, prayed tried and prayed some more for children, but the Lord's answer was "not yet". We tried to take advantage of the things childless couples do to pass the long wait, like traveling, eating out, spontaneous outings and 12 hours of uninterrupted sleep on the weekends. But, our hearts longed for children and there was little joy in our lives.
    6 days after our 9th wedding anniversary, our daughter was born and we were blessed to adopt her into our forever family. She has totally changed our life...we have not gone on one single date in the past year and our traveling is just to see family and has become quite a challenge to make happen with a baby. BUT, she is our joy and we can't imagine life without her. We would love 10 more if God so chooses.

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