Is this world so terrible a place that you wouldn’t want to bring a child into it? Lots of people think so. I think such people have little knowledge of history and a lack of hope and trust in God.
A recent article in the New York Times by Alex Williams reviewed the reasons people give for not wanting to have children. Economic worries top the list followed by the high cost of childcare, global instability and domestic politics. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/11/20/style/breed-children-climate-change.html?smid=tw-share
Birthrates in Europe are so low that some countries are giving incentives to have children. The birth rate in the United States has declined for six straight years.
People are letting their anxieties about natural disasters such as forest blight, hurricanes wildfires, 100-year floods, and marine pollution affect their decision about childbearing. Of course, the pandemic hasn’t helped.
Climate Change Creates Fear of Parenting
Surveys show that a quarter to a third of people cite climate change as a reason for remaining childless. Yet experts say that there are so many other factors that need to be addressed about climate change that population reduction is not going to be all that helpful.
Besides, if we get serious about addressing the contributing factors to climate change, we can start seeing a reversal in a decade. Yet people see life getting harder to bear, and the divisiveness over politics and vaccinations has given pause to even more potential parents.
People use the same excuse for not planning to have children as pregnant parents use to justify the abortion of a disabled child: “It would be kinder to prevent the child from suffering than to give it life.”
Why give birth to a child only to face political turmoil, a dying ocean and an overheated planet losing its rainforests and arable lands?
Why? Because as American poet Carl Sandburg said, “A baby is God’s opinion that the world should go on.”
As long as God is still making babies, I think we can move forward with confidence. After all, who among us has God’s knowledge of the future? Who has so much as a reliable crystal ball?
In 1968, an “expert” wrote a bestseller that predicted hundreds of millions would die of famine during the ‘70s. Didn’t happen. Every generation has its doomsday predictions, but humanity is still here.
History Says We Can Make It Too
It’s not like the world hasn’t been in bad shape before. Think of the murderous purges of Caligula, Genghis Khan, and Stalin. Think of the Black Plague that killed one third of Europe. Think of the Protestant Reformation that tore apart families and kingdoms.
Consider the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl. Conditions were desperate in the United States, but we recovered and prospered. Name a current problem and historians would likely say that humanity has already “been there, done that” — probably several times!
Peace and war, prosperity and crisis go in cycles. There was a period of moral decadence before the Victorian era and there is a period of moral decadence again now. Couldn’t the pendulum swing back?
The Catholic Church has been through terrible popes, shocking corruption and many dangerous threats, but the Church keeps surviving. If any group believes that the earth will survive, it should be Catholics.
Politicians and celebrities may tell us it is irresponsible to have children in “times like these” but if our ancestors hadn’t had children in “times like these” would we have avoided anything, made anything better?
Live and Let Live with Hope
Whenever I hear people say they don’t want to bring children into this uncertain world, I think of a man who once stopped by my pro-life information table. He said that when his college girlfriend became pregnant, they contemplated getting married and having the child.
However, this activist young couple decided it wasn’t right to bring a child into whatever political climate existed at the time, so they aborted the baby.
Not long after, they broke up (as post-abortive couples almost always do). Twenty years later, he was still struggling with virtually the same politics, still unmarried, still childless and very sad that he had not given his only child a chance to live.
Rather than act so negatively, the better choice is to reject fear and live with hope. If we welcome children, raise them well and with love, we will prepare them to be the leaders, inventors and teachers of a greater world.
This living with hope applies to non-religious people as well. You don’t have to believe in God to believe in the goodness and ability of humans.
Despair is the greatest sin against God because it denies that God loves us and will always take care of us. Therefore, we have reason to hope in a better tomorrow, one where our children will thrive. Having a baby is a way of saying you trust God’s opinion that the world should go on.