top of page
  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

Mamma mia! Is raising kids too hard?

I was born at the peak of the baby boom, the second of four children. (Today is my birthday.) Most of us weren't planned, but we were welcomed.


The U.S. fertility rate was 2.1 in 2007, considered the minimum needed to balance births with deaths, writes Timothy P. Carney, whose first child was born during the "baby boomlet" of 2006. Fertility -- the number of children the average woman will have in her lifetime -- fell to 1.7 in 2019, and may be a bit lower now.


The Great Recession kicked off the decline in baby-making, but birth rates didn't recover with the economy. In his new book, Family Unfriendly: How Our Culture Made Raising Kids Much Harder Than it Needs to Be, Carney, now the father of six children, blames changes in American culture.


Modern parenting requires "more 'enrichment,' more hovering, more helicoptering of our children, as paranoia of stranger danger creates a rule that good parents are constantly afraid," he writes. Parents no longer say, "Go out and play. Be home for dinner."


In addition, most Americans are "less connected to our neighbors and our communities, turning children into an individual burden rather than a community responsibility," Carney writes. Parents pay for their children to be constantly under an adult's eye.


Some educated women are choosing large families, writes Catherine Ruth Pakaluk in Hannah’s Children. Herself the mother of eight children, Pakaluk interviewed educated women with five or more children.


"The book unflinchingly illustrates a point that many pro-natalists prefer to downplay, writes Rachel Lu in a review on Law & Liberty. Raising kids is expensive and hard.


While most of the women in the study were religious believers, they "hadn’t spent their youthful years ironing and dreaming of babies, nor did they necessarily find deep fulfillment in quilting, cooking, and spreading pretty tablecloths," writes Lu.


Basically, these are women who really like children. They are willing to sacrifice to raise them.


"Some mothers faced medical crises, while others teetered on the edge of bankruptcy," writes Lu. "They gave up businesses and careers that they loved. They worked insane hours to keep the wheels on, financially and domestically."


For career women especially, having a baby has high opportunity costs, writes Lu. Some mothers Pakaluk interviewed decided to get a good return on that investment by having more kids. In a sense, they decided to “go big or go home.”


Pakaluk doesn't believe that public policy, such as child benefits or free child care, will do much to persuade women to have more children. In essence, telling women that having children won't be a costly burden is dishonest.

"Parenthood is an epic adventure," writes Lu. "To persuade more people to do it, we need to convince them that raising a family is honorable, aspirational, and worthy of sacrifice. We can do hard things!"


An associate editor at Law & Liberty and a contributing writer at America Magazine, Lu left an academic career teaching moral philosophy to raise her five sons.

7 Comments


m_t_anderson
Apr 07

Momma, don't let your daughters grow up to be faux-boys....

Like
Joanne Jacobs
Joanne Jacobs
Apr 07
Replying to

😀

Like

buy
Apr 01

With the goal of reducing teen pregnancy, we have built whole classes in our high schools which push how completely onerous it is to have a kid. How much of a burden they are. Here, carry around a 10lb bag of sugar for a week, or this egg, or this needy tamagotchi toy. See how horrible it is!


They never talk about the joys of it, the fulfillment, the laughter and the tears of having a kid. Of course, our kids are scared off of becoming parents.


Ann in L.A.

Like

Darren Miller
Darren Miller
Apr 01

Happy late birthday :-)

Like

superdestroyer
Mar 31

Some of the things that Tim Carney does not discuss while not being aware that he is focusing his attention on upper middle class whites:


  1. Assortative Mating. Men capable of having a SAHM and multiple children marry women who are just as educated and just as successful.

  2. Immigration. High levels of immigration have made major changes to the way people live.

  3. Diversity. Tim Carney discusses how much community Rexburg, Id has and how high ther fertility rate is but ignores that Rexburg is over 90% non-Hispanic white and almost all Mormon. It is easy to have stronger communities when there is little diversity.

  4. Credential creep. Tim Carney only has a bachelor's degree from St John's College. The degrees given o…

Like

JK Brown
JK Brown
Mar 31

Today, children cause the adult to lose most of their civil rights as the government will enter their home at will, take their children for having disfavored opinions, or remove their right to self defense on accusation without adjudication (Red Flag laws). This is what the society wanted and now society whines when men and women choose to remain free instead of becoming subjects of the social welfare agencies.


"As Malthus argued, the only force strong enough to stand against the biological desire to mate and have children, was the even stronger social desire to live comfortably and avoid poverty." --Invention of the Modern World

The ‘modern’ pattern is one where it is lowered fertility which keeps population in check,…

Like
bottom of page