Sign up for Meridian’s Free Newsletter, please CLICK HERE
The following is excerpted from The Federalist. To read the full article, CLICK HERE.
This year, the birthrate in the United States has fallen yet again, to 1.7 children per woman—well below the 2.1 replacement rate. With the exception of Hungarian President Viktor Orban, most leaders in the developed world seem to shrug at this news and focus on other matters.
Part of the collective indifference to this otherwise-alarming statistic is the way it’s treated. Most often, a low birthrate is framed as a long-term economic problem that might affect the labor market, pensions, productivity, and the like. Occasionally, it’s seen as an environmental issue and not really a problem since each new human being produces whole landfills of garbage and leaves a Godzilla-sized carbon footprint over a lifetime. Because people often resist the suggestion that they have any responsibility to give back to society by having children, and many will be dead or close to dead by the time these kinds of effects have become disastrous, many people take little interest in the demographic crisis.
What is more pressing and relevant, however, is how this trend will affect the cultures and general attitudes of the developed world. Not only does low fertility lead to a society dominated by the elderly, with young people shouldering a heavier economic and cultural burden, but it also means a society increasingly dominated by childless adults. This latter development warrants far more attention than it normally receives, because it will determine the character of American life.
Not Having Kids Makes You a Different Kind of Person
Having children makes an enormous difference for the average adult in both positive and negative ways. Unfortunately, the more advanced a society is, the more people seem to emphasize the negatives. If individuals hope to be decent parents, they must forego many material freedoms and benefits they used to enjoy. For example, parents must provide and work for their family as a breadwinner or caretaker. They can’t just spend all their income on themselves, or be unemployed long-term.
This reality affects every other aspect of a person’s lifestyle. For most parents, certain forms of recreation are curbed or impossible. To travel, they must make extensive arrangements for their children and feel pressure not to be gone too long. The same occurs if they want to go out for a night on the town with friends.
Considering all this, it’s no surprise that many people choose not to have families. But there are also great benefits to parenthood, both personally and to society. Children can bring deep joy and purpose to a parent in a way that no career, no lover, no trip abroad, no college degree can. Even the restrictions that come with parenting have the welcome effect of regulating one’s habits and teaching endless lessons in patience and humility.
Perhaps the most unappreciated benefit is how children frequently make their parents much more social and outward-oriented. Children connect parents to their community in a multitude of ways. They often force adults to break out of their small circle of friends to find other parents for playdates and affirmation.
Many adults never go their public library, or to parks, or to community events until they have kids.
To read the full article, CLICK HERE.