Living Single

The truth about singles in our society.

Do Fewer Babies Create Happier Humans and Better Societies?

As more women are having fewer children, a panic has developed about what this might mean for societies. Here are five ways in which the tendency toward having fewer children might actually be good for individuals and nations. Read More

Where are the fishes in the sea?

One of the things that intrigues me about this generation is how womens social development is still evolving. It is different. Outdated ideas are getting replaced by social causes. I think it fascinating, from a psychological point of view. But I also believe is dangerous, because we tell women that doing traditional women things is not a priority anymore. And I will briefly explain why is dangerous and helpful.

I don't buy the NYT article. As far as I'm concern human existence is a survival and sociological need. The need to be married or have kids is still prevalent in our society today. The only difference is how traditional norms of human relationships are getting replaced by social norms of social relationships. Where the church may not be a necessary incentive in order to have a healthy and happy relationship, couples, especially white people, are finding out other ways of interdependency, where social and personalized causes meet a persons individualistic needs than a religious one. Identity, which back in the day was due to religious recognition, is taking new meaning about the way we see ourselves in an ever-changing world. What may have been a religious necessity back in the day is now a healthy psyche, where new psychological meanings are shaping the new generations indvidual and social needs. Family, no matter what critics say, is important for growth and other important societal needs. And even that belief exists to this day. However, even with that religious belief, family is becoming defyingly narrowed than broaden. And many times, it gets confused with personal needs, because as we can see, many don't see family as the cornerstone as once was before or have different meanings regarding social changes to family circles, such as friends vs biological members. That belief still exists, just not from the traditional point of view.

The bad, on this new social cycle, is indeed telling a new generation that the human experience can be achieved without what your parents taught you. That's dangerous. We know problems in childrens development can affect relationships once they get older, as they may be unable to have healthy and happy relationships with their friends or the like. I think is delusional to think that having less kids achieves independence and greater political stability. Is ridiculous to suggest to a country of 300 million people to not have any kids, and the less or none you got, the happier you will become. Is no secret many couples or singles are finding other ways to be in healthy relationships, due to their own respective needs. But many of these people do have some sort of interdependency and motivation. If you live in this life without trying to get a girls number or trying to talk to the cute co-worker, then you, my friend, are indeed a special case. But if you have, then you are sane. Nothing is more important than to like someone, and that crush or physical attraction, makes it OK. You don't need other people to tell you otherwise.

Is important to look at this new phenomena, because it is changing our culture. I'm not one of those who thinks is bad because more people are having less or no kids; but neither am I one of those who thinks is good because of better work performance. Is ridiculous to suggest that something is too good to be true. Political, economic, racial, etc disparities have been an issue that affects everyone, and these are issues that are caused as much by social or cultural changes than by biological ones. Is radical to think that by having less kids you will have a raise, or is even more ridiculous to suggest that your relationship will not be a productive one because you don't go to church or are atheists. Studies are out on both sides, from how legally married couples are as happy as religious married couples. Even on sex studies, though more religious-minded couples enjoy better sex than non-religious couples. And these are important studies to tell to the public. Just as much as it is good to exercise to enjoy a better sex life and have a less stressful marriage, it is equally important to have a religious relationship if you want a truthful relationship. And that's important. If something sounds too good to be true, it is. But if it is, why live. That's what I say.

female-centric

Not sure why this subject has to be so exclusively female-centric. I dare say there are plenty of advantages to men in not having kids and being enslaved into the provider role that society seems to exclusively demand from them too.

Stable population is good for everyone

With fewer people, good land stewardship is possible, and sustainable agriculture without too much manipulation of the food supply. It's easier to deal with the waste stream. Without the constant addition of new customers, businesses have to get better to get and keep customers, instead of just more numerous.
I can remember in college how people were freaking out because we were about to add the six billionth person to the earth. Those were the days.

There are Irresponsible parents

I might be wrong, but we (as a global species) don't seem to be at risk for extinction anytime soon. We have so grossly overpopulated the planet that we are stripping it of its natural resources and polluting it at an exponential rate and, at some point, will have to find another planet to invade and deplete before we wear this one out.

Moreover, why are we not talking LOUDLY about the roughly 500,000 children in foster care in the U.S. alone? Not everyone who has children wants them or can care for them appropriately. As a public defender for many years, I represented scores of both men and women charged with child abuse and neglect. Many female clients had had children (often more than one) taken from them by the State. Invariably, they would meet with me about their case while visibly pregnant with another potential ward of the State. Many were long-term drug addicts (still using even though pregnant), and many were transient.

My particular state has seen in the last decade, as has the nation over all, a decline by almost 68% (the national decline is 25%) in the number of children in foster care. However, what that means is that the state agency investigating claims of abuse and neglect, in concert with "family law" judges, has worked overtime to keep children in the home with the offending parent(s)/caregivers (usually family members who don't really want to care for the children and/or can't afford to do so), while the agency/court monitor the parent's/caregiver's progress at court-ordered parenting classes. Unfortunately, my state is now investigating the deaths of 477 children who were known by the respective agency to be "at risk" for injury or death from abuse or neglect.

I think it's great that intelligent, responsible women are making conscious choices about having children (I decided in my 20's never to have a child for a variety of reasons). Women should consider the timing of childbirth, and their overall ability to care for that child throughout its lifespan. But what about all of the women who "accidentally" or negligently have children they don't want and can't/won't support, either financially or, more important, emotionally? These women are often begetting children born addicted to drugs or disabled because of these women's damaging lifestyles. If only we (as a society) could convince these women to be more thoughtful and responsible BEFORE they engage in egg-fertilizing behavior.

That is one thing my parents did really well

They educated me and my two sisters about pregnancy and birth control, and instructed our family doctor to confidentially furnish contraception if we asked for it. When a classmate got pregnant by one of my cousins, we attended the shotgun wedding and after we got home, we had a long family discussion about what life was going to be like for Jane, Mark and their child. We talked about what opportunities might be limited for Jane now, and for Mark, and there was no glamorizing of the marriage or the upcoming baby. We girls all knew that the one thing we were not going to be forgiven for was pregnancy before we graduated from high school, because we knew how to avoid it and we knew the consequences. We were also given a high view of our own potential and a sense of what would be lost with an unplanned pregnancy. My sisters went on to choose to have children after they were in stable marriages and had a plan for supporting the kids. They have great adult kids now who have made good choices for themselves, one of whom just had a planned baby girl. I have no regrets at 50 about my own choices. I knew a teenage girl who worked in my store, who chose to get pregnant at 17, and I think she did that because she was afraid of her own potential and the effort it would take to realize it. Having a baby that young absolved her of the need to try to do anything else but live hand to mouth. Unfortunately, her baby was stillborn and when I last saw her, she was trying hard to make another with anyone who would walk into her trap. I was too young at the time to be an effective mentor to this girl and I wish she'd had someone in her life to guide her.

Idiocracy

Remember the movie "Idiocracy?" It was based on the premise that the best and the brightest stopped over-reproducing, and only the dumb people kept having babies at the same rate, and eventually society devolved. It was a funny movie with some thought- and discussion-provoking ideas, though you'd run the risk of all kinds of unpopular labels if you discussed them too seriously. Drink your Brawndo! >: )

WSJ article: Single parents are to blame for income inequality

On a related topic: Bella, perhaps you want to address this op-ed in the WSJ today. The idea is that the rise of single-parent families is contributing to income inequality in the US.

http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB1000142405270230360390457949361215...

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Bella DePaulo, Ph.D., is author of Singled Out: How Singles Are Stereotyped, Stigmatized, and Ignored, and Still Live Happily Ever After. She is a visiting professor at UCSB.

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