After last week's article on falling birth rates, a lot of men blamed generational selfishness. (Kids today!) Here's what the sex that actually gives birth had to say...
I’m a baby boomer (b. 1960) who was taught in school that marriage and childbearing are oppressive to women. At the very last moment I thought “what if that’s wrong?” Also, my husband said it was okay if we didn’t have kids, but I knew he really wanted them.
I took the plunge and had two children at age 38 and 41. They are the joy of my life. To think that I almost didn’t have them because of a ridiculous ideology.
A lot of these mention selfishness. The funny thing is all my friends and myself being the good progressives we are believed having children was being selfish and for all the generic reasons... climate change, polution, overpopulation, etc AND that stay at home moms were lazy sacks! Like who couldn't be a mom!? We would make fun of it. Our jobs were VERY important. I found myself pregnant at 33 with my forever partner (we were dinks, not married, as I said...good progressives) and he wanted to keep it! The audacity! Well, i love him so I begrudgingly agreed. Needless to say my entire world turned upside down. I am a stay at home to my only child which is the hardest job I've ever had but hands down the most rewarding and as the saying goes shes the best thing to ever happen to me. I was pissed, I felt lied to, betrayed by a society that feeds bullshit to young girls saying "you can have it all why have a family!" And by "all" they mean a condo in a cold skyrise in a filthy city, just you and your dog hanging out at your local pub every night with other lonely losers. YAY! WiNNING! All my progressive friends have not changed, most single or dinks all childless. All sad and most will die alone. I blame society and whatever wave of feminist bullshit we're on.
I have two medically fragile children which my husband and I adopted from foster care; this was after raising three biological children. Yes, it’s a lot of work, but they are the absolute joy of our lives. I was 48 when we adopted the youngest child. He’s nine years old now and he is keeping me active and young. I started my parenting journey in 1988 when our daughter was born. I definitely see the difference between parenting the first three and parenting now. I am way more laidback than my parenting peers. It makes me sad that these young moms worry so much. Just enjoy your kids! It’ll all be alright. Stay off social media, stop reading all the parenting blogs and just be a parent using your personality, values and gifts.
I am a 41 year old woman with 2 kids. I grew up in a family of 6 (2 parents, 4 kids). It was chaotic. I wanted my kids to have a sibling, but felt we should stop at two to afford the lifestyle we want. I live in New England and houses here are $1 mil for a run down 70s kitchen/bathroom house. It’s absurd. We’re lucky we got a house when we did because we couldn’t afford our house if we bought it today.
I know a lot of boomer grandparents (including my own) who don’t want to help out with their grandkids because it’s their time to travel, rest, party, etc. Meanwhile, my grandparents helped my parents out a ton. I do it all (work full time outside the home, homeschool our kids, clean/cook). My husband and I work opposite shifts so we can also homeschool our kids (they’ve never ever worn a mask). It’s all exhausting. I almost never catch a break.
But even though it’s exhausting, I’d never trade it for anything. They are bright, creative, fun, sweet souls. I love them so much.
There are so many women with fertility issues (my older sister had to do IVF for her kids) or mental health issues (my younger sister unfortunately). But if I couldn’t have had children, I resolved to be happy without.
I do wish I could be a stay at home mom, but it’s too expensive in my area (and we do have used cars -per another poster’s comments).
Wow, what an interesting and heartfelt collection of comments from an honest, intelligent and diverse group of women. Bravo to Alex for putting this together and for letting these women speak on the Unreported Truths platform.
I'm 56 with two kids. I can't believe how many of my smart, wonderful peers never ended up having any. Society really lost out.
When I was in college, I was inundated with Cosmopolitan magazine and Oprah telling me over and over that career was everything and that a man should just be a second thought. I could do it all - or so they said. I really took it to heart and fortunately in my mid-30's started seeing the light of an empty life ahead of me if I didn't change course. I met a great guy and because he wanted kids... I realized I wanted them. Are kids easy? Of course not - but our lives would be meaningless without them. Expensive vacations, sleeping in and pricey dinners are a big zero in the big picture.
I did leave an interesting career to be a stay at home mom; that's a whole 'nother can of worms. I know working moms and women see me as less than. Of course they don't come out and say it... but it's there. The dismissal is always from women - never men. So much to say about all of this, but I'll stop here or it will turn into a novel :)
The birthrate of Israeli Jews has been rising over the past decade or more to comfortably above replacement level. They have about the same living standard as we do and the same modern temptations, so why do they have children?
I think it has to do with what Ofir Haivry called "the shared sense of an Israeli nation-family" and that family realizing that the family won't continue to exist unless there are enough children born.
This raises two questions for the Americans. The first is do we any longer have a sense of an American nation-family as I think we used to have? The next question is do we realize that no children means no more family? Do we understand that the way to best insure an old age that is not merely suffering is to have prosperous children or children period?
Another thing to consider is: What’s going on with dating? 7 or 8 years ago a couple of coworkers were discussing the dating world these days, both saying how miserable it is. I have a very attractive early 30’s daughter who is so discouraged by her last experience 4 years ago that she refuses to date. It does seem like there is some peculiar behavior going on these days.
If couples are torn between children and “things “ and choose “things “, they made the right choice. No child should be less than things.
I suspect that the necessity that most women work outside the home has been a significant contributor to the childbearing slump. Children are a full-time job in themselves and combining that with work outside the home is onerous.
Interesting comments. I tend to lean towards the reason being selfishness. That, and fear. I wonder how many younger people that grew up watching Captain Planet and hear the constant drumbeat of climate doom and gloom feel it's ok to have kids. Attitudes about children have changed, too. Obama said it best, didn't he? He didn't want his girls "punished with a baby." Damn, kids are not a punishment, even when they are unplanned. I didn't plan either of my kiddos and had my youngest at 42. I think my husband would have liked more kids but pregnancy was rough on me.
The comment regarding fear of having a disabled child was disturbing to me. My youngest has Down syndrome. While not severely disabled he may not be able to be very independent as an adult. He's 9 now so I guess time will tell. Regardless of the challenges he is the light of my life. He's the kid I never knew I needed. Everyone adores him. He is funny, sweet, and one of the most empathetic kids I've ever met. I think of all those babies with DS that are aborted every year in the western world and it just sickens me. It's estimated that 70% of children diagnosed with DS in the womb are aborted in the US. It's 90%+ in European countries. Just heartbreaking.
Alex, I appreciate that you are passionate about this topic, but it stings. The reasons I didn't have children and won't have grandbabies are:
1. I met my husband too late, when I was 42 and he was 48. By that time, he did not want to have another child (he was already the father of a 13-year-old).
2. I needed a hysterectomy three years after we met, and the required fertility counseling revealed that I was infertile anyway (after all those years--now rendered a waste of money and hormonal hackery--on the pill).
So, no grandbabies for me. (The stepdaughter opted out of a relationship with me, and lives 1,500 miles away, so even if she has kids, we won't be physically close to them.) I really hope if she does have kids, they look JUST LIKE HER FATHER.
I stumbled upon the book Domestic Extremist by Peachy Keenan. While very satirical, I think it aptly describes our society, culture, and the costs of the feminist movements very well. Wish I had that book gifted to me as a young woman instead of Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg. But alas, the book wasn’t written yet… There were a lot of aha! moments in it for me, as a career-driven women in an engineering field turned mom of 3.
I think there are a lot of cultural issues at play. Selfishness, certainly. Laziness, self absorption. We do not value mothers, motherhood, nurturing, any of it. We put tremendous pressure on the women who do have children to raise perfect, well rounded children but we do not support them. Our culture is not child friendly and the current way of having a family is to basically stay home when your 2-3 children are young and keep a strict bedtime and then you venture out years later when they are bigger. Then you put your kids in preschool, with peers, and your social activities revolve around same age children. Instead of as it used to be, where parents friendships did not revolve around the children, so ages were often more mixed. We don’t have neighborhoods full of kids playing. Kids are much more centered than they ever have been. (We’ve largely removed boredom, and I think that was a great mistake, but that’s a different subject.) My point being - few people now grow up with any real positive experience of children and babies. I think this compartmentalization is an issue as well.
It’s so tragic that the joy and fulfillment of being a mother is being hidden from women in our society. No career can ever compare to parenting.
At 40 years old I feel so blessed with my two children and the one in my belly, and I will have more if I can!
Thank you, Alex! We are expecting first grand baby next year - I can’t wait! My fiends are so excited for me. My kids are overjoyed. I agree babies need very little outside of love. I constantly convey how wonderful parenting is! Wouldn’t trade it in for more “experiences”. As a SAHM, society always devalued my contributions. I have offered my services to help the kids - I’m lucky I have great health and stamina. I pray for many more babies in my future. And yes, my kids live in high rent cities. Fortunately, there is an abundance of childcare options before they find a neighborhood with fields and schools to settle down. And, if they plan well, they can manage on one income and enjoy Friday pizza nights at home like we did.