The Pet-Parent Generation

Since the 2008 recession, birth rates have been steadily declining and with the global pandemic, this is only worsening. But other factors may be at play. Market Watch claims that 56% of adults surveyed said that they simply do not want kids with other minor reasons such as finances, medical reasons, relationship status, age, climate change and the state of the world. 

On the other hand, one of their columnists claims that the US is due for a baby boom of sorts but it seems as if as generations are born, there is an increasing number of people who refuse to have kids. However, recent data is merely a guess because of the pandemic and how many people decided or decided not to have kids because of the pandemic and its effects. 

Recently, the Pope has come under fire for his controversial statement calling people who do not want kids ‘selfish.’ Though we cannot know his true motives, there’s speculation that his motives may reflect growing the Catholic Church and some people have also noted that there are more prominent and older issues within the church that should be acknowledged first. 

However, selfishness can be viewed through multiple lenses regarding parenting. 

“My reasons are honestly selfish; I want to experience childhood through a different point of view,”  Senior Chaney Duskin admits. 

Whereas, Senior Colby Langley notes that his decision could probably also be seen as selfish, just on the other side.

“I see myself working in another country…secluded in a cabin in the forest just living my life,” Langley expressed.

 Then, Langley later explained that he doesn’t picture children in his future, and it probably is selfish. But that’s what he wants to do with his life and if he includes children, he wouldn’t want them to feel like an oversight. 

Then the conversation moves to a larger scale of responsibility versus ambition. We were told our entire life that we can do anything if we put our mind to it but at what point does it become our responsibility to put our dreams aside and settle down? And why is it selfish to embrace our interests that we have been encouraged to for so long?

In the Pope’s eyes, he believes that couples who choose to have pets over children express a “denial of fatherhood or motherhood.” But is it really our responsibility? This statement puts the pressure of parenting on citizens as if their “denial” of the position is easy. Many factors are not calculated or considered, specifically the cost. Childcare, medical expenses, clothes, food, furniture and more are all necessary to create a safe and stable home for their children.

 Realistically, children are not ideal for everyone and their goals. He has received backlash in this area of his statement for his occupation, by definition, in which he is not to have children and as Duskin puts it, 

“It’s wrong to shame people,” Duskin says. “It’s their own decision that they have the right to make.” 

Twitter user @danyelle_frost rejected the Pope’s statement and expressed her personal beliefs on this subject at 3:05 PM on January 6th.

While researching, I found many reactions, simply angry responses,and as usual, they were taken to Twitter. However, this one specifically caught my eye.

Others took a different approach and reflected on the pandemic, its evolving nature and its effect on the birth rate. Uncertainty about the future and job/income security certainly was a factor and led to a ‘baby bust’ as Scientific American states.

 Language arts teacher, Lydia Smoot, expressed a similar sentiment. Smoot explained that there are many factors in parenting that are not taken into account in the Pope’s statement, including being in the midst of a pandemic.

“Pandemic has definitely pushed back my timeline for having kids,” Smoot says.

Andrew Candela, another teacher in Smoot’s same department, stated that the expectation has always been to have children.

“You know you go to college, you get a good job, you meet someone, you get married and eventually settle down and have kids,” Candela expresses.

He goes on to say that he was never opposed to the idea and just felt like it was the most natural next step, as many others also believe. Candela explained what the previous tweet expressed, saying that if someone does not want to be a parent, they simply should not become one. 

While there will never be a clear-cut answer, it all comes down to personal situations and preferences. Whether or not there was a personal motive in the Pope’s statement or strictly his interpretation of the Bible. Quarrels between selfishness and ambition or dreams and the status quo begin to cloud the truth of the matter that it all comes down to personal preference. One’s decisions and own beliefs, especially about an extremely difficult topic, should not be judged and at the end of the day are specific to each and every person.