Bringing Children Into the World

Teresa Roberts
6 min readMar 2, 2024

Is It the Responsible Thing to Do?

The sun is always setting on old ideas. (my photo)

Has there ever been a time that it was morally acceptable to bring a child into a world plagued by uncertainty?

The fact that we can even ask that question tells me that humans have evolved socially to some extent. Having children despite plagues, poverty, war, starvation, pestilence, and unlimited sources of trauma has largely been an instinctual reaction in a world without birth control and a knowledge of biology. With knowledge comes responsibility, however. That’s why ignorance has often been described as bliss.

Life isn’t easy but in modern times we’ve grown to expect more from life than our ancestors.

When I was very young, I noticed that the pressure to have children was strong in America. I also noticed that my parents weren’t very happy most of the time. Then I grew up, had two children of my own, and became an elementary teacher. What I witnessed as a child was reinforced.

Not many happy people in the world.

It’s a conclusion I made when I was young after observing my parents’ and grandparents’ lives. I left home thinking it was just my family but eventually realized that pain, suffering, and the drive to self-sabotage were the gold standard. In other words, that’s life in a nutshell.

We’re never more idealistic than when we’re young but life tends to knock the shit out of us over the years.

I love the idealism of youth, however. I’m always hoping that each generation will introduce a few beneficial changes to society before they become as jaded as the previous generation. I mean if we waited for the older generation to instigate change, we’d remain as stagnant as pond scum. Nothing would change because most older people are uncomfortable with change.

Maybe that’s why so many older people have nothing but disparaging remarks to make about young people.

“Kids these days” is the most common phrase preceding a long list of predictable slurs spoken by their elders. Old folks have been shaking their heads and wagging their fingers for centuries in a display of disdain for anyone under thirty.

Yet, we keep producing children, don’t we?

The need to have children is a biological instinct no different than rabbits or monkeys. All Animals are programmed to produce in order to keep the species from going extinct. The easiest thing in the world to do.

Takes almost no thought.

What’s challenging is providing a good home life and leaving behind a better world for all the children we insist on having. Once you begin to educate yourself, awareness increases, and thus the casual approach to breeding feels risky and full of consequences.

Suddenly we know and with knowledge comes responsibility.

They tell me that marriage is on the decline. That about 51% of the population is unmarried. Some have been married more than once, however, and are between the last marriage and the next one. Others have sworn off marriage after several failed attempts. There are those, however, who have never married and don’t want to get married. They have a different approach to life, one which focuses on refusing to be forced into fulfilling the social expectations of their culture.

Of course, this still isn’t the norm and thus these brave individuals often face criticism from family and friends.

They’re accused of either being selfish or pitied because they’re missing out — on what I don’t quite know. As I said before, there aren’t a lot of happy people, so apparently, marriage isn’t the magic elixir.

Yet, the push to get married and have kids continues.

I’m not sure why. I mean, I understand why it was that way in the past. Without birth control and education, big families were a natural outcome. A dozen kids per family were pretty common. It’s no big mystery. And if Ma and Pa struggled to put food on the table, well, at least they had plenty of free farm hands to help raise the crops. Or parents could send their ten-year-olds to the woolen mills or coal mines to earn some loose change which they could then contribute to the family income.

Tough times. Right?

Although I’ve heard plenty of old timers fondly speak of the good old days when children were respectful and hard working. Not like today’s kids who are ungrateful and spoiled.

That always makes me want to confiscate those old-timers’ pensions and social security checks.

Yeah but let’s tell our kids that it’s their job to give us a few grandkids. Why not? We don’t want them to have it easier than we did. Life is a gift don’t you know. Children are a blessing. Grandma is the only one in her circle of friends without grandbabies and that hurts.

Gen Zs, from what I’m reading, are having less sex and fewer children than previous generations.

More guys are getting vasectomies and more girls are building careers and waiting much later in life to have a baby if at all. Why? I’m sure there are many reasons not the least of which is that young people see the complexities of life through daily exposure to the internet and watching their parent’s many failed marriages.

Well, let’s face it. The traditional family no longer exists.

Now, the household is filled with a mishmash of siblings. Yours, mine, and ours is the rule of thumb. While mom and dad are dating more than their high schoolers. So the myth of riding off into the sunset to live happily ever after has pretty well been exposed as just that — a fairy tale.

I’m hoping that social evolution is slowly but surely producing a more thoughtful approach to reproduction.

One which encourages young people to consider reality and responsibility before jumping on the marriage track. An approach to childbearing that considers whether a person is cut out to be a parent in the first place. A society that honors the seriousness of bringing new life into a world that has never been safe or kind. A culture that allows — no, encourages — young people to at least wait until their brains are fully developed before they plunge into a lifetime commitment to a wee one of their own.

We aren’t living on the prairie in a sod house with only turnips from our gardens to eat during a cold winter as we await spring and the arrival of the train with supplies. We aren’t huddled in an inner city tenement house like Oliver Twist with seven brothers and sisters and no way out of the situation.

Life is very different today in many parts of the world.

Today, many of us have more options. We can decide certain things for ourselves that my grandparents may not have had the luxury to do. Like if and when to get pregnant and how to avoid bad marriages. We have resources at our fingertips that simply did not exist for our grandparents and great-grandparents.

What we need now is lots of education early on to help young people thrive.

Of course, there is a segment of the voting population who want to go the opposite direction, forcing young people to remain ignorant and vulnerable. That may be the most cruel and criminal act that I know of. Denying children knowledge about their bodies and refusing to let them know that they have choices and opportunities that didn’t exist for former generations.

Shame on the elders, those who want to drag us back to the dark past.

But there we have it. We must hope that young people continue to influence social evolution with new ideas that broaden the scope of possibilities for future generations. Knowledge has never been the enemy. The more we know the more responsibility we have but also the more opportunities we will enjoy.

We’ll never change the old fogies.

They’ll be standing in the way with their heels dug in and their jaws clenched trying to stop progress. But maybe we can find a detour and bypass them altogether. In the famous words of Pink Floyd.

Parents, leave your kids alone!

Teresa is an author and professional myth buster. You can find her books on Amazon.

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Teresa Roberts

Teresa is an author, world traveler, and professional myth buster. She’s also a top writer on climate change and the future.