When it comes to talking about the future with the person you’re dating, the topic of a future family should come up as you discern marriage together.
But if you tuned into the news for just a couple of minutes today, you’re well aware of the current state of today’s culture. Natural disasters strike on a regular basis, political rivalries rears their ugly head; and that’s not even to mention the environmental issues facing our generation and the generations to come.
You hear it all the time. Is now really the best time to be thinking about bringing a baby into the world?
Don’t worry; you’re not the only person asking that question. A widely-read 2016 article on Rooster.com interviewed millennials and asked them their reasons for not having children and worries about what the world looks like right now were at the top of their list.
If you (or your significant other) are worried about a future family in light of today’s world, check out the Catholic response to common concerns about families given the world’s messiness.
It can appear the world kinda sucks right now
“Have you watched the news lately? That’s exactly why I don’t want kids.” – Taylor, 23
The world is indeed a crazy place. Political turmoil, international conflict, and natural disasters seem to be around every corner, lurking to jump out on us when least expected.
Between the 16th to 19th centuries, the Atlantic slave trade trafficked between 9 and 11 million Africans. From 1940-1945, 1 million people were killed in the Auschwitz death camp alone. In 1999, 12 students and 1 teacher were slaughtered at Columbine. Human beings are not the greatest at being cool, calm and collected.
Failing environment and overpopulation make life miserable for the people that already exist
“I have to say my commitment to the environment is greater than my commitment to humanity. Without an environment, there can be no humanity.” – Heather, 24
A 2015 report from the United States Geological Survey discovered that the hormones from women on birth control, flushed into the water system and our drinking water, are impacting the fertility of fish–up to three generations after the initial exposure.
In the study, the fertility of the fish was reduced by 30% and their offspring had a lower chance of survival; not to mention that humans are consuming these hormones through drinking water unknowingly.
This study is one of many that proves that contraceptive chemicals from human products are causing damage to wildlife, the environment, and the reproductive systems of animals.
But these days, people have kids for selfish reasons
“People say it’s selfish not to have kids, but I think it’s selfish to have them. Think of all the overcrowding and disease and depleted resources we’re already facing. To bring them into the world just so you can see what the hybrid of you and your partner would look like is so dumb.” – Fiona, 24
Today’s society looks at children as a burden, not as a contribution. But when has this world been a calm and pristine place to bring a child into? We are part of an incredibly messy humanity, and thanks to concupiscence and original sin, it’s not going to look too pretty until the end of time thanks to Adam and Eve.
For there will be a posterity for you…
However, this assumption could not be further from the truth. Treating children like food-sucking parasites is short-sighted idiocy even from a secular perspective. The children of today have potential to become tomorrow’s innovators.
Julian Simon, author of The Ultimate Resource, writes:
“If we also consider the non-material aspects of children—their meaning for parents and for others who enjoy a flourishing of humanity—then the case for adding children to our world becomes even stronger. And if we also keep in mind that most of the costs of children are borne by their parents rather than by the community during the child’s early years, whereas the community (especially in developed countries) gets the lion’s share of the benefits later on, the essential differences between children and other investments tend to improve rather than weaken the social economics of children.”
When we say ‘no’ to children forever on our own choosing, we’re never leaving the realm of our own desires. The desires to travel, own our own house, or to pay off the college debt are great. But those desires are not encouraging us to magnanimity or to sacrifice ourselves for the good of another. They’re offering us an environment of comfort where we don’t have to push ourselves or grow.
In terms of the supposed overpopulation the world is experiencing, if we wanted to squeeze super-close to each other, the entire population of the world could have a 10-meter by 10-meter room in the state of Texas.
“In a world often marked by egoism, a large family is a school of solidarity and of mission that’s of benefit to the entire society,” says Pope Francis. So do not be afraid by the myths of overpopulation. Instead, become a member of the beautifully large family that is the Catholic Church, and if God is calling you to it, a domestic church of your own as well.
Pope Francis isn’t the first pope to talk about overpopulation and environment issues, either. Back in 1958, Pope Pius XII said:
“So overpopulation is not a valid reason for spreading illicit birth control practices. It is simply a pretext used by those who would justify avarice and selfishness — by those nations, for instance, who fear that the expansion of others will pose a danger to their own political position and cause a lowering of the general standard of living, or by individuals, especially those who are better off, who prefer the greatest possible enjoyment of earthly goods to the praise and merit of bringing new lives into existence. The final result is that they break the fixed and certain laws of the Creator under the pretext of correcting supposed errors on the part of His Providence.”[i]
People are messy, but what a beautiful ability we have through parenting to bring about positive, creative change. Are people rude and out for their own good? What an incredible opportunity to strive raise a child who is gentle, humble and selfless. Amazingly, through childbearing, a couple has the potential to become the change in society.
[i] Address to the Association of Large Families in Rome and Italy, January 20, 1958