Why Having Babies Is Controversial in 2021
How the church can have a better conversation about the falling fertility rate and society’s changing expectations for mothers.
Last year, the US birthrate experienced its largest single-year drop in nearly 50 years. For years, America’s 2.1 fertility rate made it an outlier to other developed countries. But for the last decade, the number had begun trending downwards, plummeting to last year’s figure of 1.6 children per woman.
These numbers entered the news the same week the New York Times published an essay by columnist Elizabeth Bruenig, “I Became a Mother at 25, and I’m Not Sorry I Didn’t Wait.” Many warmly received and shared the piece, which explores the author’s experience of learning she was pregnant and the many factors that have caused millennial women to delay children including economic concerns, higher education, race, and geography. But for others, it struck a nerve.
One NYT commenter wrote, “There are few things more irresponsible than bringing a child into the world in 2021. I know it’s difficult to reject the incredible social and cultural pressure that encourages us to reproduce. The easiest thing to do will always be to have children. But a good rule of thumb is that the easiest option– the one our current paradigm encourages– generally causes the most damage and suffering.”
On Twitter, Jill Filipovic wrote, “I would really love to read more essays and op/eds from women (and men, too) who regret having children as early as they did, regret having as many as they did, or regret having children at all. There’s not much about motherhood that remains publicly unexplored, but that does.”
Rebecca McLaughlin is the author of Confronting Christianity, named Christianity Today’s 2020 Beautiful Orthodoxy Book of the Year, and it’s follow-up edition for youth, …
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June 18, 2021