Stop Having Children: Why Many Are

Why people are having fewer children, if any.

Posted Jan 07, 2011

I don't disagree with Seth Meyers who posted Please ... Stop Having Children!*: You should not have a child without thinking about why you want one and how well you can provide for him or her. There is evidence that people are strongly considering these questions.

I believe people are also thinking about when they wish to become parents. Increasingly, men and women are opting for fewer children. The steady decline in the birth rate bears this out. The drop, in part, is due to the fact that more and more women choose to work and have to work to support their families. They question how "thin" they can spread themselves without cheating their children in the ways Dr. Meyers mentions.

For as long as any of us can remember, children have been central to most people's lives. Some are wondering if they should have them at all. According to the Pew Research Center, only forty-one percent of Americans say that children are "very important" to a successful marriage, down sharply from the sixty-five percent who said so twenty years ago. Where once they held a much higher rank, children stand eighth out of nine on a list of items that people associate with successful marriages - well below "faithfulness," "happy sexual relationship," "sharing household chores,"  "adequate income," and "good housing."

Women are starting their families later, leaving less time to have additional children naturally. Because of the "late" start, women suffer age-related infertility and secondary infertility (the ability to have one child naturally, but being unable to conceive or carry another baby to term). Without even getting into the cost of raising children as a reason behind the trend toward fewer babies and one-child families, it looks as if some are heeding Seth Meyers's request to "Please...Stop Having Children" seriously. Let's hope that those who decide to have babies, do so for all the "right" reasons.

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Copyright 2011 by Susan Newman, Ph.D.