As I age, I reflect on the things I want and wonder if at some point the way our capitalistic society works is working against us? Recently, in my vicinity a lot of people are pregnant or giving birth to babies, it makes me question if I will ever have the chance myself. While it pains me it made me think about how society has changed and what affects it might have on us psychologically.
With the advent of birth control and more women pursuing an education and career the age at which a woman has her first child is increasing. Which means women have greater opportunities to bring more to the table in terms of economic stability, as well as, personal development and achievement. I am completely for equality, however, I wonder if slowly we are destroying the bonds that join us.
As we become older when we have our first child, we begin to limit ourselves to how many more we can physically bear. This may or may not be relevant to our economic circumstances, but it does create smaller families than say at the turn of the century. Today, the average household in the USA has a little over 2 children. In many countries around the world the average is now just hovering over 1 child per household. What does this say about the future? I was thinking about it and as much as my sisters and I fought when we grew up as we age we will also have each other to fall back on. There is a sense of unity. We have our parents and grandparents and thankfully mine are both young enough that I am lucky to have them still around at my age. I have a collection of aunts and uncles on either side and some cousins sprinkled about, even if we aren’t close.
But what happens when you have a child later in life? Maybe I see it as a loss of time. The child has lost time with their grandparents and parents through various phases of their later life. Some people may say don’t dwell on the future, but throughout time immemorial we have relied on the knowledge and support of those before us to help us out through the tough times. As our families shrink so does our natural support network. Yes, of course friends can be added as a support network, but it isn’t the same as having that safety net to return to. As we look forward to society and we see that people are only children marrying other only children at some point the children have no aunts and uncles (the roles are reserved for close friends) and if that couple themselves only has one child then the child grows up only knowing the children of friends. The circle of support has drastically decreased to the point should both their grandparents and parents pass early in life there is no one left to remember the good times or to talk about their loved ones.
I know I may seem strange for thinking like this, but there are many advantages to having bigger families though I do believe we could do with population management for the sake of our natural resources. I wonder to myself with the financial burdens of raising a child today, was the old system of extended family better? Many cultures still continue the practice of extended family living together, which as much as I think we all need to try to make it on our own there are clear benefits.
There is an easement of the financial strain which can be evenly distributed among family members. If someone falls ill there is no shortage of caretakers under one roof to assist that family member with their health. This is also true of child rearing where the young parents can receive assistance in educating and disciplining their children. Childcare is practically built-in that it would be less of a burden and maybe it would create stronger bonds to our family through shared meals and stories. I often wonder as our families shrink how much of our ability to bond with various types of people disappears, because we are exposed to a smaller and smaller pool of them.
In a 100 years will we look back and say maybe we shouldn’t have been having children so late in life even if it is possible? What detriment does it have on a person’s mental well-being as they age and their natural built-in-support network shrinks? Not that everyone is born in to great families, but I wonder if in some ways as free of a society we have become we have lost some of the more important aspects of life such as the skill of bonding with others to create long-lasting relationships.