PopeWatch: Birthdearth

VATICAN-POPE-AUDIENCE

 

Columnist Dennis Prager defends the Pope’s observation that many married couples are wasting their lives raising dogs and cats instead of kids:

The pope knows that Italians and other nations are slowly disappearing.

The question is: Why? Why do so many people prefer to parent pets than children?

Throughout history, there were three primary reasons people had many children: Lack of contraception, economic necessity and religion.

All three reasons are gone.

Thanks to modern contraception, couples can have all the sex they want without conceiving.

Regarding economic need, most people in welfare states no longer need children to care for them in old age because the state will do that.

And with the demise of religion in the developed world, there are no values-based reasons to have children.

What this means is that because of contraception and the welfare state, the one compelling reason to have children is that one’s values demand it.

Those values overwhelmingly come from religion. The dominant religions of the Western world, Judaism and Christianity, demand marriage and children. Consequently, the people in affluent Western countries most likely to have more than two, and certainly more than three, children are Orthodox Jews, Evangelical Protestants, religious Catholics and active Mormons.

But secularism is now dominant in the West, which ends the values-based reason to have children.

One might argue that there is a fourth reason to have children — a desire to raise and love children and have a family. But one shouldn’t put too much stock in that argument. Without religion, even those who want children almost never have more than two. And more and more secular individuals find that their desire to nurture is fulfilled by loving cats and dogs.

That was the pope’s point. 

Humanity cannot survive without love, and that was the great teaching of Christ:  love of God and love of our neighbor.  Take God out of the picture and love vanishes like water in the desert, soon  to be followed by humanity.

 

33 Responses to PopeWatch: Birthdearth

  • There was a fourth reason: children were seen as the underpinning of the future of society. People with more than a few children were seen as contributing to that positive future.

    Today few believe that the future will be positive. Movies and video games show a future that is dark, violent, polluted, and hopeless. This hopelessness began during the Cold War’s nuclear arms race and accelerated with radical environmentalism. Back in the 1950’s people thought that nuclear power was OK in part because they assumed our civilization would continue to exist in the future to guard the radioactive waste. No one thinks like that now.

    In the countervailing desire for utopia the nanny state extends its tentacles more and more into family life. Children now report their parents to the authorities over the slightest differences. Cats and dogs at least don’t call 911 should they not like something.

    Our consumerist society deliberately created a youth culture so that children could become a market for the sale of anything from Davey Crockett coon skin hats to Transformers. It taught children how to oppose and nag their parents. The nadir of this culture is Planned Parenthood, which now teaches children how to consume each other.

    Like another recent poster here, I too have always been moved by the words of Jesus concerning a society without a future: For behold, the days are coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bore, and the breasts that never nursed.’

  • The Church (or at least Her bishops) is an active promoter of the welfare state and has been for awhile. Honestly, I don’t think there has been a “social program” or “social safety net” program the Church (bishops) has not promoted. Unless I am mistaken, even Obamacare was supported, at least until the Contraceptive Mandate came into play, and even then, if that were removed, pretty sure the bishops support the overall concept, so the Church is in fact partly to blame for the birth dearth.
    .
    There is another angle which I think has not been looked at seriously–what I call “other schooling,” at least for the K-8 crowd. A lot of schooling in the younger ages is simply raising/taking care of children, and yet parents are not able to do that (well) if the children are wisked off to school for 8 to 10 hours a day (I include bus riding time). The schools feed the children and even give them medical care. You take another 8 hours out of the day for sleeping, and parents don’t have a lot of time around their young children. So why bother?

  • “What this means is that because of contraception and the welfare state, the one compelling reason to have children is that one’s values demand it. ”
    .
    If one truly loves another person, one wants more of him. Love demands offspring. God is love. Love demands evangelization.
    .
    Intimidation of parents and parenting by pseudo-intellectuals, liberal progressive professionals, read cultural tyrants, “breasts that have never nursed”, who will deny themselves offspring to be able to deny another person offspring. Those helicopter parents of Three Quick Takes, instead of helping an over worked parent choose to indict them.
    .
    It started with Paul Erlich’s Population Bomb or maybe Thomas Malthus. People as pollution. One senator actually said before Congress that “if there were more people on Guam, the island would tip over and sink.” Such scholarship.

  • DJ Hesselius wrote “A lot of schooling in the younger ages is simply raising/taking care of children, and yet parents are not able to do that (well)”

    Those who could afford it have always employed nursemaids to look after their children, until they were old enough to go to boarding school usually at the age of eight, where they stayed for 39 weeks out of 52 for the next ten years. After WWII, the nursemaids or nannies were replaced by au pairs.

    Little changes.

  • Those who could afford it have always employed nursemaids to look after their children, until they were old enough to go to boarding school usually at the age of eight, where they stayed for 39 weeks out of 52 for the next ten years.

    Upper class Europeans of a century ago aren’t “always,” and there’s a MASSIVE difference between nursemaids and daycare for 6 month olds with four babies to one caregiver, or 8 preschoolers to one supervisor.

  • Foxfier wrote “Upper class Europeans of a century ago…”

    That is the upbringing I received in the period 1945-1963, not exactly a century ago. Moreover, it was the urban middle class that principally employed au pairs.

    Wet-nurses have been used time of mind in all societies, who doubled as child-minders. The French word « La nourrice » is the source of our English word “nurse.” How it came to be applied to an infirmarian [« une infirmière »] I do not know.

    One shudders to think of the number of children that would have been looked after by the totally unregulated child-minders, who flourished in the 19th century mill towns, like Paisley and Lanark and fishing-ports like Peterhead. They crop up quite regularly in the Books of Adjournal in cases of Culpable Homicide, either because they were drunk, or because the pacified their charges with laudanum (tincture of opium) or gripe-water, made of industrial grade alcohol by unscrupulous apothecaries.

  • None of which addresses that it’s not “always,” nor that it is utterly different from what we have right now.

  • “Those who could afford it…” I find it hard to believe a majority of the population could afford it though.
    .
    I am not saying that this kind of thing–other schooling leading to smaller families–happens overnight. Contraception was given the nod (as far as the Church of English was concerned) about 1932 I think (and the rest of Protestantism followed pretty quickly) but that didn’t mean that people started fornicating and limiting their family size to 1.2 children within a year. The anti-child mindset creeps in over time.
    .
    I was first made aware of this possible link while reading “There is No Place Like Work” by Brian Robertson. He quoted Allan Carlson (I’m not entirely sure who he is at the moment) as saying that their appeared to be a direct correlation between fertility decline and state mandated education.

  • Other reasons for having children that I am very familiar with- because the wife and husband love life, are happy and optimistic and love children and love family. Even if contraception is available and acceptable some happy families would not choose it.
    Perhaps the demographic winter is not solely the product of the science of contraception and various economic factors, but is a result of sadness, depression, anxiety caused by the pathetic look at life that infected society in the 20th century.
    Can blame industrial/technological revolution, horrific wars, increasing global awareness of poverty and disparities around the world… even sad singers and poets and philosophers. Look at the songs and attitudes that were popular when the “great” generation were growing up in the depression– at least the ones my folks listened to- hopeful optimistic romantic. Can you imagine when the Red Red Robin Goes Bob Bob Bobbing Along today? no. Much of the music and art is terrible and ugly. Visit Barnes and Nobles children’s book department. Ugly illustrations, magic, yuck. An attack on beauty. Dystopian novels and movies.
    Yes there have always been sad situations in society.. but many today seem overwhelmed. Higher suicide rates, more
    requests for legalizing euthanasia, getting stoned.
    .
    I say married couples have babies when they are hopeful and happy, even if they know the ways to prevent it.
    When couples choose dogs instead of kids, they do love their pets, but they also know the animal is not human and their level of commitment may honorably be less than it would be if they were responsible for a child. To some extent loving a pet allows the owner to not give himself totally.

  • Michael Paterson-Seymour: “One shudders to think of the number of children that would have been looked after by the totally unregulated child-minders, who flourished in the 19th century mill towns, like Paisley and Lanark and fishing-ports like Peterhead. They crop up quite regularly in the Books of Adjournal in cases of Culpable Homicide, either because they were drunk, or because the pacified their charges with laudanum (tincture of opium) or gripe-water, made of industrial grade alcohol by unscrupulous apothecaries. ”
    .
    Here we have teachers who diagnose hyperactivity and prescribe Ritalin. Another drug given children is risperdal(sp) that causes female breast tissue to grow on young boys. Imprisoning youngsters to sit paying attention for hours and hours is torture. Maria Montessori used the outdoors to teach the hard to teach and was successful.
    .
    Anzlyne: “I say married couples have babies when they are hopeful and happy, even if they know the ways to prevent it. When couples choose dogs instead of kids, they do love their pets, but they also know the animal is not human and their level of commitment may honorably be less than it would be if they were responsible for a child. To some extent loving a pet allows the owner to not give himself totally.”
    .
    “’til death do us part”, once meant death of the husband and/or wife. Since sociologists have taken the helm of the culture, “’til death do us part” has become to mean the death of the marriage, the relationship and the death of the will to remain in the marriage. Therefore, marriage no longer has any stability at all, ever. Sociologists have redefined marriage and the human being, living and dead. Now, the sociologists have redefined “stability” to mean the exact opposite, instability. Make work for sociologists and destruction of the coming generations.

  • H J Hesselius: “I was first made aware of this possible link while reading “There is No Place Like Work” by Brian Robertson. He quoted Allan Carlson (I’m not entirely sure who he is at the moment) as saying that their appeared to be a direct correlation between fertility decline and state mandated education.”
    .
    Carl Rogers, a prominent 20 century psychologist believed that humans have one basic motive, that is, the tendency to self-actualize – i.e. to fulfill one’s potential.

  • I would note that a parent is a totally [governmentally] unregulated child-minder, except for the laws that protect the born child.
    .
    MPS, maybe they pacified their charges with laudanum (tincture of opium) or gripe-water, made of industrial grade alcohol by unscrupulous apothecaries because they couldn’t afford claret. By the way, what is claret? Were you pacified with it? What did your nanny use on you?
    .
    I like my kids, and I would never employ a nursemaid to take care of them as long as I am able.
    .
    MPS, who has raised your children?

  • “married couples have babies when they are hopeful and happy, even if they know the ways to prevent it.”

    That was probably the biggest reason for the Baby Boom of the 50s and early 60s: the war was over and people were at home, at peace, fully employed and making good money for the first time in almost two decades (since the start of the Depression). Factories were humming along and millions of veterans took advantage of benefits like the GI Bill to better themselves. Yes, there was still the specter of the Cold War and nuclear annihilation but there was also still a sense that it could be prevented or survived; otherwise why bother with the “duck and cover” drills?

    There’s also the fact that birth rates inevitably go down as standards of living and educational expectations go up. In agricultural societies where most people work at manual labor or trades and children don’t need extensive, or expensive, schooling in order to make a living as adults, large families are more viable. Not to mention that as infant/child mortality decreases, the replacement level birth rate drops with it. One no longer has to have at least 4 or 5 children to be reasonably certain of 2 or 3 living long enough to care for you in your old age.

    I have to admit, as I have done before, that ironically, it is some (not all) traditionalist/conservative Catholics who are most insistent about the evils of contraception and the need to be open to life, who also seem to provide lots of reasons NOT to do so. If society is going to hell in a handbasket, the American Dream is dead, the Church itself has lost its way, and you and your children likely face a future of persecution, ostracism, poverty, mass apostasy, natural disaster, divine chastisement, etc., with no place to hide from it (where are we going to emigrate to if things get bad?), why would you want to bring children into that?

  • “Wet-nurses have been used time of mind in all societies, who doubled as child-minders”

    Historically, women who hired wet nurses also ended up having more babies, since they did not experience the natural child-spacing that extended breastfeeding provides. Noble or wealthy families might have 12, 15 or more children (not all of whom would survive long, of course) because the wife could potentially concieve every 12-18 months or so. Demographic studies of 17th and 18th century census data and of women in societies that do not practice any form of birth limitation (e.g. Hutterites in Canada) indicate that, on average, a woman who marries at age 20, breastfeeds every child for 18-24 months and practices no other form of birth spacing will have 7 or 8 children in her lifetime. I cannot help but wonder if, with the decline of breastfeeding in the 20th century in favor of the more “scientific” practice of bottle-feeding, it became more common for women to have closely spaced births — say, 4 children in the first 5 years of marriage — and this, in turn, caused women to presume that only artificial contraception could keep them from ending up like The Old Woman Who Lived In A Shoe?

  • “why would you want to bring children into that?”

    Because the ultimate victory is God’s and we need to play a part in it. Besides, life is the greatest of adventures. Sometimes hard and dangerous, but always an adventure. This poem about Jefferson by Stephen Vincent Benet is how I view life:

    Thomas Jefferson,
    What do you say
    Under the gravestone
    Hidden away?

    “I was a giver,
    I was a molder,
    I was a builder
    With a strong shoulder.”

    Six feet and over,
    Large-boned and ruddy,
    The eyes grey-hazel
    But bright with study.

    The big hands clever
    With pen and fiddle
    And ready, ever,
    For any riddle.

    From buying empires
    To planting ‘taters,
    From Declarations
    To trick dumb-waiters.

    “I liked the people,
    The sweat and crowd of them,
    Trusted them always
    And spoke aloud for them.

    “I liked all learning
    And wished to share it
    Abroad like pollen
    For all who merit.

    “I liked fine houses
    With Greek pilasters,
    And built them surely,
    My touch a master’s.

    “I liked queer gadgets
    And secret shelves,
    And helping nations
    To rule themselves.

    “Jealous of others?
    Not always candid?
    But huge of vision
    And open-handed.

    “A wild-goose-chaser?
    Now and again,
    Build Monticello,
    You little men!

    “Design my plow, sirs,
    They use it still,
    Or found my college
    At Charlottesville.

    “And still go questing
    New things and thinkers,
    And keep as busy
    As twenty tinkers.

    “While always guarding
    The people’s freedom
    You need more hands, sir?
    I didn’t need ‘em.

    “They call you rascal?
    They called me worse.
    You’d do grand things, sir,
    But lack the purse?

    “I got no riches.
    I died a debtor.
    I died free-hearted
    And that was better.

    “For life was freakish
    But life was fervent,
    And I was always
    Life’s willing servant.

    “Life, life’s too weighty?
    Too long a haul, sir?
    I lived past eighty.
    I liked it all, sir.”

  • The total fertility rates of the seven most populous European countries currently varies between 1.3 (for Poland) and 2.01 (for France). There’s got to be more vectors working there than he’s named. (For one thing, the most religious of the seven has the lowest current rate and the most secular the highest).

  • That is the upbringing I received in the period 1945-1963, not exactly a century ago. Moreover, it was the urban middle class that principally employed au pairs.

    Fourteen weeks of hat-tipping, filthy food, and Mr. Chipping. Britain ain’t the world. Even among the patriciate in this country, boarding school ‘ere age 13 was a rarity. I suspect you’d find boarding schools are not thriving in our own time in spite of general affluence, the improved relative position of the more flush strata, and the messy character of people’s domestic life.

  • Art – I’ve heard that if you remove “immigrant birth rate” it becomes much lower; all the info I can find in a quick search is trumpeting how that gap is “shrinking drastically”– foreign born women are only having half again as many kids as native born, rather than two thirds as many.

    Of course, that’s total fertility, and thus includes women who immigrated during the first burst are now past the age of having kids, plus there’s been more dependent parents immigrating, so that’s kinda gameable…..

  • “most people in welfare states no longer need children to care for them in old age because the state will do that.”

    The problem, of course, is that the state can’t “do that” indefinitely where there are not enough children growing up and becoming taxpayers to fund the system in the future; to some extent, therefore, Social Security and similar retirement systems are sowing the seeds of their own destruction.

  • The population of France rose from 29.3 m in 1801 to 40.6 m in 1901, an increase of about one-third over three/four generations. Over the same period, the UK population rose from 10.5 m to 30.5 m, in other words, it trebled.

    Over the next 100 years, the population of France rose to 58.5 m and that of the UK to 59.1 m. In other words, the French population rose by roughly a half and the UK population roughly doubled.

    In other words, population growth accelerated in France in the 20th century and slowed in the UK.

    Innumerable attempts have been made to account for these trends, but those are the facts that have to be explained.

  • Tasmin325

    You asked “What is claret?” – the French know it as Bordeaux Rouge. Saint-Émillon is one of the most famous. Château Talbot and Château Mouton-Rothschild (a good year) are my personal favourites.

    “Were you pacified with it?” – No, far too expensive. “What did your nanny use on you?” – I shudder to think

    “MPS, who has raised your children?” – I am a bachelor.

  • Why don’t we want children? Selfishness = it’s all about me; fear of not getting and doing what you want; career; not wanting to sacrifice self and time to serve; societal pressure of not being cool and downright ignorant and irresponsible; “population bomb” propaganda; fears of finance, future, failure, health; a disordered understanding of sexuality, marriage and relationship; the anti-life mentality; a rejection of God’s plan for us in place of Satan’s lies. That about sums it up for me.

  • Art – I’ve heard that if you remove “immigrant birth rate”

    The ‘immigrants’ are arriving from (a) other EU countries with fertility problems, (b) the Near East and North Africa (where the mean tfr is 2.75 overall and lower in the main feeder countries). Stop and do the math. The tfr for Europe and certain adjacent areas (Central Asia) is currently 1.72. The native Muslim states therein comprehend ~13% of the total population of the continent and have a mean fertility rate just above replacement, so we figure the tfr of the remainder is 1.64. France has a tfr of 2.01 and the Pew surveys put its resident Muslim population at 6% of the total. If you care to attribute France’s enhanced fertility to its Muslim minority (and Mark Steyn did), you are implicitly arguing the tfr of the Muslim population of France is 7.83, or 4x the tfr in Algeria and higher than any Muslim country in the world. I don’t think so. Since the rest of Europe has an immigrant Muslim population as well, you’d actually have to attribute the difference to the additional increment of Muslims to be found in France vis a vis an ordinary European country (which is to say that you figure French Muslims have 30 kids a piece).

  • “most people in welfare states no longer need children to care for them in old age because the state will do that.”

    The person who said that has never been through an eldercare mangle.

  • I find this whole discussion fascinating because the whole premise revolves around the basic premise of loving children at least as much as yourself, which in our modern secular world is apparently too much for some. In full disclosure as has been noted here and in my other writing, this is very personal to my wife and me. We struggled with infertility and after becoming involved in Natural Family Planning realized adoption was our best hope. We have subsequently been blessed with children via adoption.

    An expert on the subject told my wife and me that before Roe v Wade there existed a natural give and take in those who wanted to have children and couldn’t and those who didn’t believe they could adequately care for children. After legalized abortion the cost for adoption went through the roof with the average cost now in the tens of thousands of dollars.

    Another changed took place in the mindset of those who felt children were a burden. In the past they kept quiet and wouldn’t discuss why they had no children because love of children was so basic to the Christian world’s view of love that to argue otherwise would have been deemed bizarre. Love of children was hardly a complex theological construct.

    Before we were blessed with children, my wife and me were peppered with comments from some who wondered why we wanted to have children? In their mind it was hard work and hindered one from seeing the beautiful places of this world such as the peaks of the Himalayas, the mists of New Zealand, or the utter refinement of the south of France.

    It got me to think that in 1982 when I graduated from my small Catholic high school in a Midwestern working class town, one third of my classmates had three or four siblings. The parents of my friends hardly had the education and income that many parents had today, and yet they lovingly raised their children, many of whom went on to accomplish great things and have a lifestyle their parents couldn’t have imagined.

    Pope Francis isn’t saying everyone needs to have the number of children that once were the norm, he is simply saying wanting children is a basic Christian concept. If that is going to be disputed what other basic Christian premises are going to be disputed?

    The Holy Father has really touched a nerve with his comments, especially on secular left wing websites, though some secular conservative websites don’t like his comments either. This basic takeaway for me is this would have been unthinkable fifty years ago. It seems in the last few years some folks have no qualms openly questioning the most fundamental teachings of any religion; be fruitful and multiply.

    While one could argue over theological precepts, it seemed fifty years ago almost everyone could agree that what God wanted of me was the best option. Now we are seeing some folks basically saying what God wants for them is immaterial. Well Jesus certainly warned us about picking the wrong master to serve.

  • Art-
    the TFR of immigrants home country is not a good stand-in for that of all foreign born women in France; it was 3.2 and then went to 2.7 in most of the search returns.

    “Doing the math” does not help if the assumptions are wrong; the facts show that your assumption that a country’s fertility rate will be reflected by the immigrants from it does not stand up.

    As I pointed out– the immigrants at the start were reproductive age, and the Muslim ones are being openly taught to bring in multiple wives and install them into the social support network. Until those women age up to where they’re not having kids, they’re going to have a LOT of kids– and that’s going to raise the birth average for those who are from other EU countries and who aren’t having kids.

    Eight kids per woman is not that extreme if you are actively trying to have kids.

  • Art-the TFR of immigrants home country is not a good stand-in for that of all foreign born women in France; it was 3.2 and then went to 2.7 in most of the search returns.

    Recent immigrants are going to be a smaller minority than the total population of communal minorities.

    There’s just no way this works to explain the variation in fertility rates across Europe. Again, you’d have to look at the difference in the dimensions of extra-European immigration stock and flow across the continent in order to find an explanation for the differences in total fertility rate. Again, if 8% of France’s population consists of extra-regional immigrants and 6% of Germany’s so consists, to attribute the differences in tfr to same would posit immense fertility to that 2% increment.

  • Eight kids per woman is not that extreme if you are actively trying to have kids.

    The total fertility rate of Quebec prior to 1960 was about 4.0. The tfr for Tropical and Southern Africa is 5.11 as we speak. Afghanistan’s about the same at 5.14. Yemen and the West Bank and Gaza clock in there at about 4.1. The champions are the Sahelian states at about 6.4. I’ll put at least a four figure sum on the table that people are not producing broods of 8 kids as a matter of routine in Parisian housing projects.

  • Art, please notice that I was not talking about “minorities.” They actually measured the birth rates for foreign born women. They were not trying to estimate what it should be based on assuming the populations are identical, they checked….

    I hate wikipedia, but I don’t speak French and this appears to be a direct cut and paste translation:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_France
    The national birth rate, after continuing to drop for a time, began to rebound in the 1990s and currently the country’s fertility rate is close to the replacement level. According to an INSEE 2006 study, “The natural increase is close to 300,000 persons, a level that has not been reached in more than thirty years.”[5]

    Among the 802,000 newborns in metropolitan France in 2010, 80.1% had two French parents, 13.3% had one French parent, and 6.6% had two non French parents.[6][7] For the same year, 27.3% of newborn in metropolitan France had at least one foreign-born parent and 23.9% had at least one parent born outside of Europe (parents born in overseas territories are considered as born in France).[6][8] Between 2006 and 2008, about 40% of newborns in France had one foreign-born grandparent (11% born in another European country, 16% born in Maghreb and 12% born in another region of the world).[9]

  • BTW, I’m done arguing with you about it, since you’re very unlikely to stop trying to use second-hand estimates as more valid than direct ones.

  • I’m using the World Bank figures. I’m done with you too.

  • According to the INED (Institut national d’études démographiques) Figures, the TFR of immigrant women living in France is
    Turkey 3.21 (2.16)
    Morocco 2.97 (3.28)
    Tunisian 2.90 (2.73)
    Other Africa 2.86 (5.89)
    Algeria 2.57 (1.76) Excludes Maghrebi Jews & Pied-noirs, French by birth
    America & Oceania 2.00 (Not known)
    Portugal 1.96 (1.49)
    Asia (mostly China) 1.77 (2.85)
    Italy 1.60 (1.24)
    Other European 1.68 (1.44)
    Spain 1.52 (1.23)

    The figures in brackets are TFR in the country of origin.

    The figures for Algeria excludes Maghrebi Jews and Pied-noirs (European settlers) who already held French citizenship in Algeria

    All except Moroccan, Asian and Other African women have a higher TFR in France than in their country of origin.

    The figures for women born in Overseas France (départements et territoires d’outre-mer) is 1.86 and for Metropolitan France it is 1.70.

  • I think I need a glass of claret.

Follow TAC by Clicking on the Buttons Below
Bookmark and Share
Subscribe by eMail

Enter your email:

Recent Comments
Archives
Our Visitors. . .
Our Subscribers. . .