Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Why Aren't We Having Kids?

An article came up on my igoogle page last week from Wiki. I usually don't read them, but when I do, they are really fun. They are a how-to type thing. This one was called, How to Explain Why You Aren't Having Kids. I didn't read it right away because I was busy, but I kept thinking about it. Why would anyone need to write an article on that? Isn't our generation the most anti-life generation EVER? Then I read the article. It was really good. And then it made sense. It was how to explain why you aren't having kids to people like your parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc. Because people in my generation, the ones not having babies, already have the same mindset of- "Having kids? No, maybe not." It is the older generations that still think having kids are essential to life and need the explanation. So I got to thinking, why is it that my generation is so anti-life?

When I use the term anit-life, I use it because we are more accepting of abortion, and birth-control than any other generation. Most girls don't even think about it, when they get married or become sexually active (whichever comes first) that of course, they will go on the pill, or whatever type of hormone treatment they think is most convenient. They don't consider that some pills actually act as abortificants. Because that is what we do. We avoid making babies, at least until it is convenient. We also have a bad attitude when it comes to children in general. When people we know have babies, they usually are ostracized from their former peer group, because babies can cramp your style. Toddlers are to be avoided at all costs in restaurants, and movies. Children are herded to Sunday school so they do not make noise during church and distract those that are there to "worship." When we hear of a woman who has more than two children, many people look upon her with pity. Oh, and stay-at-home moms, what is THAT? When my generation has a baby, they usually go right back to work and drop their kids off at the closest daycare center. So, that is what I mean when I say we are anti-life.

What if we are anti-life because our first round of the parent-child relationship wasn't so great? We are the first generation to be the offspring of the liberated couples where the woman went to work, and we had joint incomes in our home. We experienced more divorce than any generation before us. Many in my generation were not valued and did not feel loved at home. I read a book recently, and it was by far the best book I have read on parenting. It is called How to REALLY Love Your Child by D. Ross Campbell. He discusses how many children do not feel loved even when their parents adore them. Why? They are not getting one or all three essential things:

1. Eye Contact. I don't know why, but this has made a huge difference for Ethan. The tantrums I was experiencing with him many times per day have dwindled to one a week maybe.

2. Physical Contact. Many parents feel uncomfortable with this after their kids are 5, yeah?

3. Focused Attention. Um, blackberries anyone? Checking email, facebook, twitter?

During my second pregnancy a good friend of mine said that I should get fixed after it was over because it would be terrible to have THREE babies. It made me really sad. Why did she hate the idea of new life so much? Then I remembered, oh yeah. She has one of the most horrible stories when it comes to having a Mommy Wound. Why should she understand how beautiful and amazing it is to have a mother-child relationship? She couldn't, of course she couldn't.

Is that how it is for many people my age? Is that why they don't want children? Is that why many people can't understand why I would want to stay at home with my toddler and baby? Maybe to them it is unthinkable that I see raising my kids to be a once in a lifetime opportunity. I only get one shot being their mom. Only one time will Ethan be a crazy, loud, boundary-testing, negative, joyful, exuberant, funny, happy, curious toddler that steals markers and writes on the wall and runs to me to kiss his boo-boos, and joyfully shouts, "Momma!" when I enter the room. Only one time will I get to breastfeed Noah, and sometimes it takes FOREVER and I just want to get up and do something else already, but only one time will he light up with adoration and joy just because he saw my face. Only one time can I watch him discover he can put his foot in his mouth--literally. When my generation doesn't want children or drops them off at daycare, they are missing precious moments with their kids, and then what will happen? Will the next generation be like us or even more anti-life? At least they won't need a wiki article to tell people why they don't want kids.

Please feel free to leave comments and tell me how wrong you think I am. I welcome feedback.


  1. All right... I accept your invitation.

    We are not having kids because we treasure our precious wonderful future children. We want them to have a mother or father that can take care of them full time and yet afford to keep food in their mouths. We want them to learn that women have choices, and that careers are a choice, but that they were also a choice that was deliberate and celebrated, not accidental and dreaded. We want to give them the time and attention our parents could not possibly financially afford. We don't want our kids to feel second rate to a job we have to keep to feed, shelter and clothe them.

    We might not ever have kids because we might not be able to afford it. While our (grand)parents' generation could afford to live on one paycheck, we live in a time of an inflation rate that rises much faster than the median wage. We might be forced to work all day to pay the bills, and let someone else we don't know raise our kids, and we don't want that anymore than we liked being latchkey kids.

    We also leave our kids the legacy of a polluted, violent world that isn't just relegated to the nightly news, but is readily available to us as we check our aforementioned Blackberries/iPhones. We'd bring them into an era where hatred, hypersexuality and intolerance is bandied about as freely and meaninglessly as a beach ball at a concert. Live. Streaming. 24/7.

    We don't take the pill because it screws with our natural chemistry by forcing us not to ovulate. We don't abstain because we love each other and choose to express it physically. We don't get abortions because we use ethical forms of birth control wisely...so that we have a child when the time is right for us, and most importantly, for our dear, precious, wonderful, yet teetering on hypothetical future child(ren.)

  2. I think you raise many good points and I agree with most of them. Being in Seattle where dogs outnumber children (and don't even get me started on all the idiots who treat their dogs like children) I've thought many of those same thoughts myself. I'll say it....in our culture (Seattle anyways) it boils down to selfishness. We are too selfish to give up our time, our money, our jobs, etc. I know I was. I see it clearly now that I am a mom. I was horribly selfish. Now I realize it's not about me. It's about raising this little life, no matter how terrible the world is, or how little money I have, or how messed up my parents were. But what many people miss is actually how much you get back....like you said, those hours breastfeeding (oh how I reminisce now), afternoons spent in the rocking chair, singing silly songs together, even changing diapers....such a blessing.
    So back to the selfishness thing. That's why I don't buy the argument that those who put off having kids or decide against them entirely do so because they want a better life for their children. What, a life with big screen TV's, SUV's, and a giant house in the suburbs? If we imagine all the things society says we need to have happy kids, then yeah, it doesn't look very attainable anytime soon or ever. We need to get over that. There will never be enough money, enough time, etc. Kids are raised by the culture and environment you provide for them, not the things you give them.
    Anyways, all that to say I agree with your comments and thanks for blogging what you really think. I wish I was as brave as you.

  3. Beth, I understand what you're saying and I agree with most of it. I think as a society we need a culture change and we need to embrace children. I get so annoyed that we can have phones go off all day and think nothing of it but when my baby makes baby noises people have a problem with it.

    What I don't agree with is that women who delay or choice not to have children are "anti-life". I have so many friends that aren't having children because they treat the decision to have children with the seriousness it deserves. Some think it isn't responsible to HAVE children when there are so many child in the world and this country that need homes. I have other friends that choice to work for social issues want to devote their lives to causes that would help other people raise children.

    I remember being pregnant with my first child and crying my eyes out because I encountered a racist situation and I couldn't believe I was bring a child in the world who would have to deal with that crap and I didn't feel like I would prepare her for that.

    yes sometimes the decision to not have children is selfish but sometimes the decision to have children is just as selfish.

  4. Loved the article, it clearly spells out many of the fears and wounds of our generation. Instead of embracing healing we more often than not reenact the trauma we experienced.

  5. eepah and Danielle (Atkinson):

    I think Beth actually supports birth control for those people who don't want children. She doesn't want people who DON'T want kids (or don't want them now) to have them. It would be foolish to wish children on individuals who don't want to be parents. That's setting up a really detrimental parent/child relationship.

    What she and I morn is the fact that our culture doesn't want kids. One of the indicators of that is the fact that it's not even a second thought; when you become sexually active, you're going on birth control. That doesn't mean that birth control is wrong (we use it, too!). It's merely a symbol/indicator of the anti-children mentality- much the same way that the nursery at church and the crazy stares at the local restaurant when an infant cries contribute to the pattern.

  6. I agree completely!! Being that I am a stay at home mom and I homeschool, wow, I get really looked down upon by some people! And it drives me crazy when people say we cant make it on one paycheck, bla bla bla. MOST (not all) of those people could if they were willing to give things up. Staying at home, homeschooling, yes, it is a sacrifice! We only have one car, we dont have cable, we dont have fancy electronics (big screen TV, gaming controls, etc), we dont live in a fancy home. There are times I do miss working out there in the "real world" of course! But it is SOOOO worth it all! Being able to impact our children. Raising them in a home where they are free to be themselves. Having a 6 yr old who can witness to others and debate evolution vs. creationism. (Hahaha) Getting to be there for all the million firsts and lasts! People dont realize what THEY ARE SACRIFICING, because I believe they are the ones making the harder sacrifices when you think about it, they just dont realize it.

  7. Calling people "idiots" for being crazy about their dogs is... one-sided to say the least. That aside...

    But let's talk about selfishness. I think that having children young would have been horribly selfish choice for me. Not because I like shoes or want to buy a second TV but because I have not always been the nicest, wisest, or most patient person. In fact, I think I would have been a genuinely terrible parent before I turned 30. My family has a history of young childbearing and most of it ends in tears. I chose not to do that to my children. I see it as a service to humanity.

    I think people aren't having children because there's a departure from the instinct and the choice. People are opting to be able to feed the people in their tribe and medical technology has given us the option to do so. History is full of starving children, families too large to be sustained. We don't have family farms anymore, where more people means more hands to milk the cow. There's no need to over breed in case Bobby Sue gets Polio and dies.

    Poverty is in my history and for me, it's a motivator. I don't want to make the same mistakes as those before me.

    Do I begrudge people who dive right in? Absolutely not. Should you be able to support the little angels you're creating, both financially and emotionally? Absolutely. But if you can afford to have children on both of these fronts, please do. We could really use some more nice people in this world.

  8. oh shit, was that me that told you to get fixed? probably! dang. I think what you are doing is great- I kinda think unless you can stay home and really provide for your children, you shouldn't have them.

  9. so many things to say, how to say them...

    first, I know I didn't initially want kids because I knew I was messed up and knew how hard my parents tried to do it right and by a lot of standards did and I was still messed up. That just convinced me there was no way I could raise a child to adulthood without 'damaging' them. I didn't want to do that to a kid. It wasn't until I came to terms with that fact and the fact that Jesus was working on fixing me, and he could do the same for my kids, that I even considered having children. So on that front I'd agree, our past has made us anti-children to an extent, and yes that is sad.

    on the working front, we are not one of those couples that could survive on one of our incomes. we only have one tv, we don't have cable, we don't go to theme parks, have vacations, or buy a lot of stuff, when we have to buy clothes we go to the thrift store, but mostly we rely on our community for that and they come through and then we pass back. But it doesn't really cost all that much to have kids, they don't need everything. in fact the actually need very little. our kids have one box of toys and a shelf of books, and they're perfectly content.

    But all that aside I would work anyway. God made us all different and to have someone at home who is not made to be there is not doing your children any great service. My four days I'm away make the three I'm at home precious. It keeps things in perspective, it makes me want to be around my children, it makes me intentional about my time when they are awake. I feel more balanced and less crazy, and having grown up with a crazy mother, I feel it's important to NOT be that crazy mother for my children. But i know there are mothers out there than can be home and be sane for their kids, and I'm glad. One of them is watching my baby, lol.

    Long story short. God made us all different, so let's just stop trying to make everyone else like us and ourselves like everyone else and just be who he made us.