Why Not Just Have Children?
The Western world is facing a demographic winter. We’re getting married and starting families later in life (if at all) and having fewer children. Every major Western nation has a birthrate below replacement level. From slowing economic growth to the long-term fiscal sustainability of the welfare state, this greying of the West’s population is at the centre of many of its future challenges. None of this is breaking news.It is not particularly surprising news either when you consider it. Parenthood has been demoted, and people are relentlessly told it should be the least of their priorities if it is one at all. What’s really important in our society of fame-obsessed narcissists who’ve all been told from birth how each one of them is a unique special little snowflake is being extraordinary. If you aren’t a runaway success, rich and famous and admired by all, you might as well be a failure. Forget just being comfortable, that’s so yesterday.
If you happen to be a women then the pressure is amplified even more. You don’t just need to be climb to the heights of the corporate ladder while simultaneously founding your own celebrity brand for yourself, no you owe it to all the past generations of women who came before you who didn’t have these opportunities. Lean in and discover that cure for cancer before you’re thirty otherwise you’re an ingrate to Germaine Greer and the suffragettes! They sacrificed so you could have choices in life, so don’t you dare choose to be anything other than a single-minded careerist workaholic.
In this context is it any surprise so many millennials are simply choosing to not have children altogether, or at least push it back till some far off point in the future when they’ve successfully achieved the bare-minimum upper middle-class lifestyle that popular culture demands of them? Children are expensive and time-consuming, so having them might mean you won’t be able to afford that overpriced mcmansion out in the suburbs or perhaps won’t get that corner office till you’re forty (if at all).
However, the uncomfortable truth that no one dares speak aloud though is that most of us probably won’t do anything extraordinary with our lives. Most of us won’t even achieve that bare-minimum upper middle-class lifestyle. The odds are that when it’s all said and done your life will have no achievements of any note. You won’t have made some remarkable technological discovery, or founded the next Apple or Uber, or even become the next CEO of General Motors. You’ll die having lived a very ordinary life, if you’re lucky your immediate family and friends will grieve and remember you, and when they too have left this world you will pass from memory.
The question is then why not just have children (assuming that the answer is you simply don’t want children, in which case fair enough)? Not after you’ve made it and have the time (you probably never will). Not after you’re “financial established” (that time probably will never come). Not as an afterthought when you’re forty (by then you probably won’t be able to). Why not do the one thing only you can do and create a whole new unqiue and special human being (the one extraordinary thing that each and every person on this earth has the ability to do)?