Having Children and Growing the Population: Then vs. Now

Throughout time, having children has been the thing to do for a variety of reasons ranging from survival and financial stability to familial pressure and maturity. These days though, having children is less of a necessity and many are against the idea.

Jacqueline Garget, coordinator of the Strategic Research Initiative in Global Food Security, published an article at Cambridge University discussing the influences that come with having children.   

[Many rushing to start families are] brought up with views about what good families look like. They’re influenced by their religious upbringing, or ideas about their career, or what stage they’re at in life.”

In the 1700s, less wealthy people had as many kids as possible to take advantage of the money families received per kid from the government.  When these payments were no longer given out, the average number of children born dropped as marriage rates rose. 

Going into the 1930s through the 1940s, often known as the “Baby Boom,” 76 million children were born compared to approximately 4 million born on average in the U.S. today, according to Investopedia. It is speculated that the reason for the abnormal number of babies born during that time is from people missing out on starting families during World War II and The Great Depression. It was believed that now that they had the opportunity to start families safely and without fearing bankruptcy, the next few decades would be more robust, which became true.

Having children is a huge responsibility that some over-glorify. WakeMed outlined some reasons people choose to have children are to keep the interest of your partner, meet others’ expectations, be cared for in your old age, or because that is what you’ve always thought you are supposed to do. 

Hayden Smith, Sister of DVC; Reporter, age 3

However, there are serious things to consider when it comes to creating life, namely financial stability. This includes housing, clothing, food, healthcare, transportation, childcare, education and other miscellaneous expenses. Each year one manages to keep their offspring alive the budget for this gets higher. According to a DVC sophomore who wished to remain anonymous, one of the reasons they are hesitant to consider children is due to the economy. 

It’s way harder to get housing now…Terrible, way harder to actually have kids monetarily-wise, but otherwise, like society has gotten a lot better for different types of children.”

With children, parents get less free time, less sleep, and have to shift their mindset from focusing on personal survival to thinking of their children first. One has to consider what support system they have in place and if their career or hobbies align with caring for a child. Many parents give up on their education, career or other goals in order to care for their children. 

However, it’s not a total nightmare. While the benefits of having children today differ quite a bit from previous eras, there are quite a few advantages related to mental health, according to Psychreg

First, there is the obvious benefit of becoming more aware of the impact your actions have and leaving more selfish behaviors behind. Having a child is a big responsibility and  a parent has to teach them to have morals. Multiple  studies show children pick up behaviors from their parents in their formative years, meaning practicing good behavior is most important for parents hoping to impart their values on their growing child. 

 Second, children are good for one’s  mental stability and blood pressure. While kids are thought to drive their parents crazy, a study that interviewed seniors with kinds and without kids found different conclusions. 

“…seniors with no children scored 6.4 points lower on a mental health questionnaire than seniors with children,” the Psychreg article reported.

The study’s results showed that people who have children are happier, more satisfied, and have a higher emotional well-being than those that are childless. DVC Senior Crows Galarza supplied insight as to why this may be by explaining their views on parenthood. 

“[Having children] is like the culmination of everything in their life so far, like they [find] a new type of love looking at their child’s eyes. And while I don’t think I’ll understand that, specifically, it’s something a lot of people like. I understand why a lot of people will try to search for that,” he said. “That’s your family. Like, you bring that into the world”

Christopher Ramierez, a junior at DVC, believes that having children is very important, and shared why he values it so much.