Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Dogs Instead of Children

As a kid, I remember driving to the beach on hot summer nights in July and August after my father came home from work. There wasn’t a lot of time before the sun went down and mosquitoes came out, but neighborhood kids would pile out of the family car (most had only one back then), drop their towels, and run to the water. I was reminded of this recently as I’ve been spending a few hot, summer evenings at a local beach in South Portland, Maine after working all day fixing up the house my wife and I recently purchased as an investment. A few young parents would bring their children down in the late afternoon and then take them home again for supper.

More numerous, however, were people who brought their dogs. They would have been young parents two generations ago but now they’re pet owners. Arriving at the edge of the sand, they’d let their dogs off leash and they’d run to the water’s edge, then back to their owners. Soon, it became evident how greatly dogs outnumbered children.

The children seemed to know each other as did the dogs; it was a neighborhood beach. They were all fairly well-behaved and had a good time, but I couldn’t help thinking about what a major cultural shift I was witnessing.

Have you noticed how many young couples are getting dogs instead of having children? They’re putting off babies, or they’ve decided they don’t want children at all. Children are a lot of work - a lot of commitment. They’re expensive. They live longer than dogs too, and they demand much more time and attention. They require self-sacrifice. But what’s to become of us all if this trend continues?I was one of eight children. That’s why they call mine the Baby Boom Generation. My wife and I had four children, but we have only four grandchildren so far. There might be one or two more to come along, but our grown children are like others of their generation: they have only one or two children - or none. They have dogs instead. Writing about the economic implications of this, columnist Mark Steyn uses Greece, Europe’s economic basket case, where their fertility rate is way below replacement level, as an example: “100 grandparents have 42 grandchildren,” he points out. “i.e., the family tree is upside down.”

Why is this happening? Talking to other aging baby boomers the conversation inevitably turns to family and I hear a similar lament. Fellow boomers are taking care of their grown children’s dogs instead of the grandchildren they’d rather care for but don’t have. When I’ve asked them why their children are not having children, I hear: They cannot afford them. They want to buy property instead. They want to travel. They don’t want to stretch out their bodies in pregnancy. They want to concentrate on their careers. They’re afraid of what is happening in the world and don’t want to bring children into it. They think the world is over-populated and don’t want to add to it. They think having children will stress the environment. They think there won’t be enough food for everyone,” et cetera, et cetera.

Fewer of the people who can afford to have children are having them, while more of the people who cannot afford them are. Government has subsidized generations of low-income, single women who bear children and yet we wonder why that demographic increases. In 1950, the rate was 2% of all births among white women and 17% among black women. During my lifetime, the rate has increased to 29% among white women and 73% among blacks! Since 1973, there have been more than 45 million abortions in the United States alone. If those babies were allowed to be born, would the above numbers be even worse? I suspect they would.So the trend is that married couples are having fewer children while low-income, single women are having more. As a teacher between 1975 and 2011, I witnessed first-hand the effects this demographic trend has had on public education and it hasn’t been good. What are the effects on American culture?

You already know, don’t you.


Anonymous said...

Currently - No wife. No Kids. No Pets. Contented.

Anonymous said...

What drivel, again.

Steve said...

"During my lifetime, the rate has increased to 29% among white women and 73% among blacks! Since 1973, there have been more than 45 million abortions in the United States alone. If those babies were allowed to be born, would the above numbers be even worse? I suspect they would."
This reads like you're making a case FOR abortion.

Tom McLaughlin said...

No Steve. There is no case for abortion and you'll never hear one here.

I'm lamenting another unfortunate result of the sexual revolution and the Great Society. The 60s weren't good for America.

No more kids said...

Hahahahahahaha hah!!!!!!!

No surprise at all. Just what we need, more half wit water head " americans" to populate the world. Not nearly enough uneducated toothless Jesus freaks running around. No, we need more. Let's build more trailer parks and ghettos!

Mr. Smith said...

Tom, you are correct about the 1960's.
The military industrial complex lied us into Vietnam. What a tragedy. The gulf of tonkin incident never actually happened!!! as a result hundreds of thousands of Americans dead...for what???? So the CIA could run heroin? Vietnam. A complete shame and horrible era in US history. That alone qualifies the 1960's as the worst.

Oh, but you probably were thinking about all the manufactured craziness to come out of the 60's to distract from the the war? Like the fake hippie movement, etc. the stuff that the great pr machine threw out so we here at home didnt see the babies being killed or innocent villagers being murdered. Ironically, the so called hippies represented a freedom that America stood for, yet most were and are scared shitless of true freedom! You would be included in that group.

Or maybe the fact that the military gave US troop faulty guns----- knowingly!

I get it, you hate the idea of freedom yet consider yourself free. Must be a total mind f£%# for you.

And children? Whatever. Is there a more egotistical selfish and conceited act? It ain't no miracle. It's nature.

buttercup said...

Could you explain to us, Mr. McLaughlin, how the world is improved by forcing women to serve as involuntary incubators?

Tom McLaughlin said...

Thanks Buttercup. I'll just let your comment speak for you. No answer necessary.

Mr. Smith? Stop drinking coffee.

Jules H said...

Mr. McLaughlin, did you recruit these trolls to make comments that make your blogs sound even more intelligent than they already do? In any case, thanks for a great blog. I look forward to reading more.

Jules H (married for 32 years and mother of two adult sons)

P.S. I hope someone explains to buttercup how babies get inside the "involuntary incubator" - she seems not to realize that she has a role in that process.

buttercup said...

Mr. McLaughlin and Jules: both of you have failed to answer the question.

Mr. Smith said...

Stop drinking coffee? Huh....ya stumped me?
What exactly does that have to do with anything? Wait, oh I get it, you can't respond to actual facts so..........

Tigerlily said...

Wow, I thought it was a reasonable article, and true. The comments are troubling. Life is good. Children are good. Being a parent is wonderful. The world used to be a much happier place, and I would guess that the nasty-posting commenters are not very happy, really.

Unknown said...

Hi Tom..Bob Rutherford here.
Just a quick comment before work. I went through NYC integration and I was left back in 7th grade due to the black families trying to protect their misbehaved children. I had to fight the kids due to being verbally attacked and provoked to fight with them. As you stated, their bad behavior was ignored by the principal and he went for the racial equality for them after the parents screamed. "You are always favoring white people". My father pulled me and I finished High School in a private school to avoid any further problems.

Anonymous said...

I have dogs instead of children; I'd rather ruin my carpets than my life.

Unknown said...

Just 1 grown kid..and she probably won't have a kid till she's in her 30s

Anonymous said...

I'm from the UK. I have one child who is nearly 15 and my partner and I chose to get a pup rather than have a second child.
Recession we BOTH have to work to pay rent and ever increasing utility bills (100% increase in last six years)
Property that cost my Father £25,000 twenty years ago is now £250,000 for the same property. Our generation cannot afford property AND more than one child on our income. (Teachers)
Healthcare, we had one of the best state health care systems in the world. This was paid for by the tax payer and was available to EVERYONE regardless of income.
Currently our government is privatising our national treasure and leaving people afraid that private healthcare is going to be something we need to save for in the very near future.
Frankly the privatisation of our state owned utilities and our healthcare system combined with a frozen wage and on-going middle Eastern conflict has left most of us generation X too scared to have more than one child.
The future is costly, uncertain and the gulf between the average professional couple and the very rich is getting wider.
A dog gives a couple the opportunity to give something of themselves, spend cheap healthy time outdoors walking, running and enjoying nature without the burden of anxiety that the raising of a child brings in these uncertain times.
You guys got lucky, the post war generation of my father got the boom, we children have the legacy of the bust to contend with.
I guess thems the breaks, but AWARENESS and acceptance of the situation goes a long way to managing the consequences and us being able to provide for our own needs and those of the BOOMERS in their old age without adding the burden of having huge families to the load we already have to manage.