A friend of the blog emails:

Given that I am pretty sure that the low birth rate is among the class that can afford to have kids, I am also sure that this op ed is unrelateable to most people.

The frightening part is the end where after her rant, we learn that the author is actually going to have a baby. 

I read the article, and wondered – what must it be like to see the world entirely in terms of caricatures and stereotypes?

21 thoughts on “Burdened

  1. The interesting thing is that the greatest form of birth control appears to be wealth. As various groups become increasingly wealthy their birth rate falls.

  2. It’s always the middle of the story with these people. They describe the predicament and demand my help to get out of it, but never talk about how they got in the predicament or how they’ll avoid it in the future.

    It’s too expensive to have children Where She Lives. Move to South Dakota.

    Grandma can’t watch the baby so Mom can return to work because Grandma is still working herself. Quit your job, stay home, watch your own baby.

    Pregnancy and childbirth are bloody, messy, flesh-tearing endeavors . . . yes, and only in America. Everywhere else, new babies come gift-wrapped from Amazon, right?

    She’s right about one thing: I got through the entire column and decided the problem was women like her. She wants to have her cake and eat it too, without any expense or inconvenience or mess. She’s angry I won’t pay for it through higher taxes to fund more social programs or higher prices to fund nicer employer policies.

    I won’t, because it’s not my problem. She decided where to live. She decided on her career. She decided whether to get pregnant, and when. She made her bed, she laid in it, she got pregnant in it, she kept the baby, I had nothing to do with it at all.

    I don’t feel the least bit sorry for her, pampered princess. I feel sorry for her baby, about to be handed off to strangers so Mommy can go back to work writing about how horrible it is to live in the richest, freest nation on Earth.

  3. I do not understand the career obsession of so many people. It is a job. If you are a guy, it is part of your identity. Earning a living is a big part of your self image and it is often how you measure your status against others. Goes back to cave man days, I suppose.
    But women? What do they see in a job? At the end of the day, that’s all it is. something you do for money and for status among people you probably don’t like very much and who probably don’t like you very much, either.

  4. I’ve seen a lot of people like this, and I once even got in trouble at work because when I was asked where my wife worked, I quipped that with five kids, she could be a patent lawyer and still be money behind after paying for daycare. The odd thing is that if a feminist woman had said the exact same thing, she’d be a hero, but evidently being male and saying the obvious was somehow wrong.

  5. The Iron Law Of Birth Rates: The higher the education level of women, the fewer children.
    Any other factors are fringe factors.

  6. Rita Rudner: “Envy the kangaroo. That pouch setup is extraordinary; the baby crawls out of the womb when it is about two inches long, gets into the pouch, and proceeds to mature. I’d have a baby if it would develop in my handbag.”

  7. She’s going to be canceled for referring to herself as someone “about to become a mother” instead of being a “birthing person”.

    Some advice for birthing persons: Don’t put anything down in writing when under the influence of pregnancy hormones, especially the week before giving birth.

  8. Where are *all* the female SiTD readers? I for one would like to get their perspective….

  9. Female here. These complaints from upper middle class married women get so tiresome, and that’s really the only class of women I hear complain. Everyone else figures out how to have and raise a family, or they have kids and don’t worry about them. (Not endorsing not caring for your kids, but we all know parents like that).

    Agree with JD- any of these issues are not just US problems.

  10. Working in a detail-oriented field, I bristle at the accidental or intentional misrepresentation of something like paid parental leave: My employer offers up to 4 weeks of paid paternity leave and I believe 12 weeks paid paternity leave. They do this to attract and retain quality employees. What the author of the WaPo piece is criticizing is that the U.S. is the only industrialized nation that isn’t forcing employers to pay their employees for work that isn’t getting done when they’re having children. I’ve attempted to explain this to a few people who are big on this bandwagon and just get blank or hateful stares: The employer hires the employee to produce a good or service that is of value to the company. Paid parental leave is a benefit. Treat it as a requirement, and employers will tighten their hiring policies to avoid becoming unwitting sponsors to baby factories.

    As low as the American birth rate is, the European one has been negative for years if not decades. The elitists in European government have been running the numbers for their cradle-to-grave entitlements and likely realizing that unless something’s done, the bill for their Ponzi schemes will be coming due. Choices are reduce or stop paying generous benefits to those leaving the workforce (a suggestion that usually results in strikes or riots, e.g. France) or increase the size of the entry-level workforce. To get more young workers, there are two choices: Young people in the citizenry start reproducing like rabbits, or the government keeps relaxing immigration controls to import more young workers. But some of the young would-be workers are less interested in contributing to the top-heavy entitlement structure than to killing infidels. So the “ideal” is the native-born citizens without murder in their hearts are more encouraged to become parents if the State foots the bill. I say “ideal” because European leaders have the problem today, and the ideal solution still takes at least 18 years to remedy the situation, which in the meantime is only getting worse.

  11. Agree with mjb: Everyone’s situation is different, but I have to ask if the issue is that these would-be parents have yet to change expectations to meet reality. Fewer fancy meals, more cooking at home. Buying clothes, especially for the kids growing like weeds, from garage sales rather than department stores. Working the job that pays well enough for you to provide a comfortable life for your family, even if it’s not the ideal.

  12. From the article: “No free Finnish baby boxes containing all necessary baby gear. No free British midwives, dropping by your home to check on the mental and physical well-being of the new parents. No free Swedish lactation consultants, no German hebammen. No mandated paid maternity leave as exists throughout Europe and in other countries like South Korea, Israel, Mexico, Chile.”

    No 60-70% income tax.

    Once I listened to a close friend cry in pain for several days after giving birth, declining to call a doctor because her relatives kept cheerfully clucking, “The sacrifice is just part of being a woman!”

    I’m sorry your friend is part of a family of religious fundamentalists who eschew modern medicine. Their ideals are a tiny fraction of a tiny minority in this country. That has nothing to do with any perceived patriarchy or pro-capitalist/anti-humanist condition. Don’t cast aspersions where they are not applicable.

    Women are not having children because they know if something went alarmingly wrong with the pregnancy, they would have to go to an abortion clinic while strangers lined the building and called them murderers on what was already the worst day of their lives.

    Women are not having children because they know the same people who insisted they cared about what happened to their fetuses would not care much at all about what happened to their children. Because nobody makes signs and marches in support of postnatal extended hospital stays (the average duration of postnatal hospital care has halved since the 1970s). Because there is no powerful, righteous bloc of single-issue voters in America who are threatening to make or break politicians over their support of universal preschool.

    Only women who are militaristically pro-infanticide consider the first paragraph. Only political activists consider the second paragraph.

    The reasons I have heard from the women I know who didn’t or don’t want children: I couldn’t be a good mother. Too much physical pain. I can’t afford it.

    Millions and millions of women still had kids when life circumstances were not in the right place for them to have kids. For the vast majority, things turned out good, great, or fine.

    The author of this article is in the upper bourgeoise of the liberal urban privilege crowd.

  13. Where are *all* the female SiTD readers?
  14. The friend of the blog who sent the question is a woman. Feel free to ask.


  15. Bill C.

    I can relate to your comment about women not wanting to have children because they wouldn’t be good mothers. My daughter just turned 36 and informed us that we would not be getting any grandchildren from her, for that very reason. IMO, women that know themselves well enough to come to that conclusion, should be applauded. There is already enough child abuse and abandonment now. Add that the border crisis where thousands of children are being brought here illegally, courtesy of our feckless administration and their media allies, the country has a perfect storm.

  16. She says that she made 35k-45k a year until a recent career boost. She may have upper middle class expectations, but her budget is middle class at best.

  17. Per what MO commented at 4:10, it strikes me that the writer is a poster lady for what I’m telling my kids about working at school; if you don’t get marketable skills, you will tend to fail to get liveable wages. I shudder to think of the prospect of living around DC with that wage!

    Another thought is that it’s very interesting that where they do have laws mandating paid family leave,free lactation consultants, the birth rate is even more abyssmal than it is here.

    One possibility is that those policies are actually helpful, and the situation would be even worse if they were not in place. Another possibility is that when the government “helps” so much, it actually ends up infantilizing people to expect help with every little thing–and quietly conditions them to not do adult behaviors like childbearing because there is always something they would have to do for themselves.

    I’m leaning towards the latter. It is perhaps good, as bosshoss notes, that those who are “adult children” do not have children that they will not take care of well. However, I think that most adults who fall into this category might well be challenged to become a bit more mature. As millions in nursing homes discovered last year, life sucks when you’re all alone with no descendants to visit you.

  18. “As millions in nursing homes discovered last year, life sucks when you’re all alone with no descendants to visit you.”

    I had a coworker that had boasted to other coworkers how he would never have children because it would interfere with his goals. I was told that he made sure his wife understood this even though she had warned that her biological timer was ticking down. After several years and the wife’s timer having reached 00:00 his mother passed. With the sorrow of the loss, the reality of his heirless situation hit him hard. He lamented that all his accumulated wealth and prized possessions would benefit no one he loved. There were no nieces or nephews he explained to me with tears. All of his relatives were his age or older. I can only imagine his and his wife’s sorrow when they approach their twilight years.

    Another coworker was very militant about his and his wife’s decision to never have children and was mildly scornful of those who did. After one of these conversations I responded by saying “just think, one day you will be in a wheel chair and one of my kids may be pushing it for you”

    I thank God for my kids. And as I tell my kids about my grandkids, if I had known they were this much fun, I would have had them first!

  19. There is no guarantee that having kids means avoiding dying alone. The US has so many social problems, that many famiies get estranged or avoid helping elder parents. It’s also a selfish reason to have kids. One should want them for the intrinsic value of raising and nuturing a new life, not for the expectation of a deathbed reward.

    Also, some people shouldn’t have kids. I think the worst thing in the world is to bring a child into this world unwanted.

  20. Emery; no guarantee, yes, but it at least puts someone a generation younger than you who might care. And keep in mind that the challenge is not simply to make a baby–“Vater werden ist nicht schwer, Vater sein, sehr” (it’s not difficult to become a father, but to BE one…very)–but rather to become more mature. In other words, to become worthy of being a parent.

  21. zdad.

    Those are great points.

    My mother was diagnosed with dementia in late 2014. I can’t imagine what would have happened had there not been the six of us around for her. Thankfully, she learned about protecting assets and making sure that she had her legal and financial affairs in pretty good order before she was too far gone. My dad died, unexpectedly, at the age of 44 and mom never remarried. She focused on raising my youngest brother and three sisters on her own. She told us that she never wanted us to have to go through what she did. As the executor of her estate, I appreciated it, too.

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