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Mar 4·edited Mar 4Liked by Alex Kaschuta

It's a great subject for discussion.

Our society's framing and emphasis on a single, momentous decision to 'have a family' is historically strange and inherently biases against having children.

No one is really ever ready to make that decision. There's too much wrapped up in it. What should be natural and instinctual becomes self-conscious and calculated.

My wife and I had children young, which was very atypical in our social group. It wasn't the result of a single decision, which we never would have made. We weren't 'old enough', 'financially ready', and my wife didn't feel she had achieved the intangible and elusive 'career success' that most modern are conditioned to desire.

Instead the children came from the natural progression of us taking our Catholic faith more seriously. Lots of smaller decisions organically led to children. No sex before marriage meant we had to get married quickly; no contraception meant children came quickly; children coming quickly meant we had to prepare ourselves financially and mentally as best we could.

They're beautiful, and their coming has forced us to mature quickly. Now we're 'ready to have more' while our friends who are more 'financially secure' and have had time to work on their careers etc. still think it's totally unfeasible.

As soon as it becomes calculated and unnatural it becomes near impossible.

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I haven’t married or had children yet, but I’m already want a family very acutely. For myself, that desire actually *grew* very quickly over the last couple years as I began thinking more about the negative direction society was headed in, and as I looked at what actually mattered to me in a life that might not be as “fun” as my immature teenage brain thought it would be. For me the things that actually matter, it turns out, are church, family relationships, and the future hope of intimately loving people outside of and yet a part of myself—a wife and kids.

In essence, as the world darkens, my interest in career and travel and “personal” pursuits is waning in contrast to an elevated to desire to love and invest in others.

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I was barely pushed to have a family, let alone a relationship. After delving into the darkest depths of the internet I found that salve of how to live a good life.

I found a lovely woman who sees my strong moral backbone and opinions endearing, only having her grandfather to compare for such a thing.

We quickly had a child, just before covid struck. It has been a struggle since then to find an affordable place with enough room. We just settled on making an in-law suite out the back of my parent's garage because there is NO cheaper alternative in this half of the state. Maine had the misfortune of being a prime destination for home-office refugees from New York to Boston. I recall one small apartment had 200+ applicants, less than 10 from in state.

We had planned on spacing the kids 3 years apart, but now its going to be 5-6. Life henceforth must be frugal to accommodate one more child, let alone two.

All the while I am surrounded by befuddled looks by coworkers and family who grew up in the 80s and can not understand why or how it is so much more difficult compared to their time. Likewise out of everyone I know, only my own parents have a stable marriage and are both still living, but my father wasn't planning on children. Learning that explained my lack of siblings and his emotional awkwardness. The amount of people I can talk to about 'all' of this is painfully slim.

From a historical perspective my wife and I are the only normal people I know. I'd join a church but all the ones close by wave the pride flag larger than the cross.

Thank you for having this thread so I could get this off my chest a bit.

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Mar 4Liked by Alex Kaschuta

My mindset shifted when I spent time around children (I was teaching). Something kicked in and suddenly I wanted kids of my own. Sometimes the kids (very young) would do assignments where they talked about their families, and they would show how much they liked then, and enjoyed being with their parents and siblings. Also, meeting my then girlfriend's family, and seeing how happy and how nice to each other they were, and realising that that is what a family is supposed to be--and then wanting that for me.

So I think an impediment now is that this mindset does not develop, because young adults are separated and segregated from children by going off to university or work in a different city or country, where they're only around other young singles, so they don't get the necessary exposure and understanding. Especially those of us from unhappy families, where we assume childhood is essentially a bad thing.

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Mar 4Liked by Alex Kaschuta

Its interesting comparing our current society to the old "oppressive" structure that existed prior to its deconstruction. The old system consisted of:

1. No birth control

2. No premeditated abortion

3. No sex prior to marriage

4. In the case of unexpected pregnancy, marriage was expected

5. Marrying early

6. Divorce not normalized

Children is the biological result of sex, obviously. Because of this, women were selective of their mate, ie. sex will likely result in a long term commitment of raising children, so you better make damn sure your partner is worthy.

Men naturally have the instinct to breed as many mates as possible. The men dont necisarily want or care about the children at an instictual level, they just want the sex. The institution of marriage contains this instinct and encourages commitment to partner, thereby protecting and supporting woman and child.

This set of items in the old structure encouraged family, children, and long term commitments. Better stated, these structures were instituted to best handle the consequence of sex, the children.

The flow of the old structure was something like this, humans want biologicaly want sex because it feels good -> find and marry partner to have sex -> children -> commitment to marriage and family.

Abortion and birth control remove the "consequence" of sex, its no surprise that the structures required to handle the consequence disappear when the consequence disappears. There is an obvious chain from the normalization of abortion and birth control to degenerate behaviors of OnlyFans, porn, many partners, etc.

If you want to revive these structures, fix the birthrate decline, etc., its honestly pretty simple. Get rid of normalized birth control and abortion. Reintroduce the consequence of our biological desire.

As others have stated, families aren't planned, they are the spontaneous consequence of finding a worthy partner.

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Mar 4Liked by Alex Kaschuta

Anglo Individualism has been a disaster for the West.

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Mar 4·edited Mar 4Liked by Alex Kaschuta

My wife says she had no interest in having children until she met me. This is in part flattery and retcon, but I think until then she didn't imagine a stable enough partner and future to consider children. I had no strong desire for children but I liked her, so, why not? And turns out I'm quite fond of them now as well, so that worked out.

As another commenter said, being around and taking care of kids is a gateway drug to having children for women. Though my girls are unimpressed and often disgusted by the available suitors, they were the neighbourhood babysitters, have had jobs where they took care of under-10 kids and find their shenanigans endearing. I still have hope for grandchildren.

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Mar 4Liked by Alex Kaschuta

The life path piece is this is the biggest, I believe. Family is not even offered up as a desirable option by the larger society UNLESS the family structure is viewed as progressive, as in same-sex or some other marker that gives the unit status outside the traditional norm. Having children, especially young, is very low status. Careers are high status and the only option presented to young people as a worthy life path. The things you desire as a twenty year old will not be what matters as a forty year old, and become existential as a seventy year old, especially as the social security apparatus crumbles under crushing debt as time goes on. Children may once again become a necessity to survival and not just an accessory to life.

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When I was a young man (in the 1970s) I think 'having a family' was basically an assumption rather than a subject you deliberated on. What I wanted was a woman (the prettiest I could get to want to marry me). I didn't really think about children one way or the other till they came along.....but I was blown over by them when they did! And like you, money didn't come into it....one was young and there was just a vague assumption the future would sort itself out somehow or other. I think in my rock-music-centred world, having anything like a 'life plan' would have seemed a bit uncool. God!....long time ago!

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Mar 4·edited Mar 4Liked by Alex Kaschuta

I never got married and I think two things were behind it:

1. I was too weak-willed and easily led astray by the anti-marriage messages around me in films, TV, songs and just the general vibe.

2. I wasn't interested in marrying any of the women who might have been interested in marrying me, and those that I would gladly have married weren't interested in me.

I now feel I made a big mistake and regret being so picky when I was in no position to be (I'm neither Tom Cruise nor David Mitchell). Having said that, even now I can't imagine myself living with someone, day-in day-out, perhaps because living alone has become second nature to me. It's not that I cherish my freedom. It's more that so many things get on my nerves.

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Mar 4·edited Mar 4Liked by Alex Kaschuta

Alex –

The instinct to have a family appears to be largely hereditary. People from large families, who grow up around large families, tend to have large families. We are comfortable having other humans around us, crawling on us, begging to be carried around on our shoulders, nagging us to be read to.

I'm giving you a bibliography as I go. Best one for this would be Ed Dutton Breeding the Human Herd.

A part of it comes from our surroundings. Per Judith Rich Harris (The Nurture Assumption, No Two Alike) children are highly influenced by their peers and by the people around them. If all the other little girls are talking about their careers, your little girl will also think she should have a career. Hell, per Abigail Scheier (Irreversible Damage) if all the other little girls are talking about carving their bodies up to become boys, they will all do that!

My two daughters by my first marriage to a career woman in career-oriented Bethesda Maryland grew up thinking they didn't need men. And they didn't. One of them is a reclusive feminist man hater. The other, after marriages to two losers, numerous trysts via Tinder, and bouts of alcoholism died last year of the Covid vaccine. Neither is something any parent would wish.

My two young daughters in Ukraine are happy just to be girls. Their mother is happy to be a wife and mother. The other little girls in school and the neighborhood want to be pretty, want to sing and dance, and tease and flirt with the boys just as they ought.

To me it is a question of a total surrounding. I of course propagandize them shamelessly. But more importantly, her mother and I hug and kiss and talk nicely to each other all the time, providing a model of what we think it ought to be.

In conclusion, I think that by the time the kid enters his or her teens there isn't too much chance of turning them around. The best bet to have healthy adults is to raise them around healthy adults and shield them from unhealthy influences in their younger years.

I'm going to be reading Abigail Scheier's "Bad Therapy" next. My feeling has always been that parents know better than outsiders. I expect she will support this position.

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Mar 4Liked by Alex Kaschuta

I've always wanted children but I have only one son. Mostly this is due to meeting my husband later in life, when we were both in our mid-thirties. I'm so grateful that we were able to conceive without any problems, and my son is the light of my world, but I'm past 40 now and I feel I'm no longer in the right season to have a baby.

I wish I had met my husband sooner. I also wish I hadn't wasted my twenties in a relationship with a man who always said we could have children "later" and why not just enjoy life, travel and party. It wasn't just him, though, it was all of society telling me that having children young was absurd, that taking the pill was good, that once you have kids your life is over. I had a solid family model at home, but my parents, bless their hearts, were too left-leaning and lenient to hit me with hard truths. One of these truths is that the longer you live with your partner without projecting to have children, the harder it is to actually take that step because you get stuck in a childless, pill-induced comfort zone, and in the end I had to pack my bags and leave at 31 years old because I knew if I stayed it would never happen for me.

I live in France and society is growing increasingly hostile towards children and motherhood. Anyone who's been following the news knows what's been happening here. I hate to feel like I'm part of the problem. The best I can do now is try to fight against the current, though it's hard to be optimistic.

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I always assumed children would sort of come along. My life was focused on what many modern women are told to focus on; career, casual relationships, my social life. However when I moved out on my own and realized I knew nothing about homemaking and also that homemaking was clearly very important and also naturally a full-time job, my aspirations shifted.

Like many young women who are raised to be feminists, it simply didn’t occur to me to think at all about when I would have children.

However it did make me feel very angry and betrayed to realize that homemaking was important, not just an antiquated career option for less intelligent and ambitious girls.

By the time I met my husband, who was a new Christian at the time, I was so open minded to everything other than what I had been taught growing up.

Once we had children did I realize how much the experience matures you. I think this is why so many millennials experience delayed adolescence. They’re not growing up and they’re not expected to grow up. Having children makes an adult out of you; I never would have experienced this otherwise.

My husband and I have spent the last 12 solely focused on raising our children, our lives are theirs now. You just don’t realize how much the presence of children in a home triggers a parental instinct to fortify that home, build stability, think about the future, plan ahead.

Many people my age (37) are still living a very similar lifestyle to what I was when I was 21. We think of adulting as having a job and paying bills but this isn’t what makes you a grown up.

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Mar 5Liked by Alex Kaschuta

As cliche as it is to say, it really is a cultural thing. Yes there are conditions that create impediments and the ability to simply harness hormones to block the reproductive process definitely have an impact but it's the cultural zeitgeist that such inventions produce that is at play. I think the Collins are really good on this and they hit the nail on the head is that there is a collective action problem of ppl (women specifically) not having previous cultural technologies like shame or group pressures because those were old fashioned and novelty is so highly worshipped. It really is a sad state of affairs and the well lets just throw money at it excuse isn't reversing this trend (Hungary, Sweden, etc). It's going to take some serious dare I say, authority, to overcome this wave of entropy.

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Mar 4Liked by Alex Kaschuta

I’ve been thinking about this lately when I look at my family of origin. My parents, while still together and going strong, were in many ways a great example to me and my 3 siblings of what not to do: financial incompetence due to poor decisions, lies, constant fighting. That said, me and two of my siblings are married, and the fourth and youngest is in a healthy relationship headed towards marriage. Two of us have children, the other two want to have children. We seem like anomalies for sure. So what happened?

1) I think maybe coming from a large family makes you more likely to want kids, and as my parents had us fairly spaced out (as the oldest I was 13 when #4 came along) I got to be hands on with babies from a young age.

2) despite not being a religious household, we went to Catholic school where larger families weren’t unusual.

3) me and my siblings are incredibly close and truly cherish time together. Our entire family (including our remaining grandparent, cousins, aunts and uncles) lives in the same city. We have huge get togethers several times a year.

Based on these points, family was always presented to us as something important, desirable, and enjoyable even if messy at times.

I was that girl who asked guys on the second date if they were interested in marriage and children and I had no interest in wasting my time with someone who didn’t want those things. On top of that I was lucky enough to meet my husband when we were still teenagers, and I didn’t have my head up my ass when it came to the biological reality of having children. Still should have started sooner and gotten that 4th kid in.

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Mar 4Liked by Alex Kaschuta

I came from a family of 3 siblings, and my parents were always very clear about how much they loved having us, so I always knew I wanted kids, 3 being the perfect amount. That said I felt a lot of push from everywhere not to have them- my parents weren’t as “urgent” for me to marry and start as I now think they should have been, and there was this expectation that if you’re smart you should have a stellar career, and living in nyc was distracting and not exactly full of large families. I would hear a lot of disparaging remarks about parents and children, combined with “you have plenty of time!!!” I wasn’t friends with many people that settled down or even wanted to (my own fault).

When my husband and I started dating, I knew he also wanted children, more than 1, so we started soon after we got married. We have 3 and are probably done, but if I could do it over, I would have told myself to get serious about it early and start as soon as possible (in my perfect do-over world I would also still have the same husband 😄). I homeschool and am around much bigger families now, I love having 3 but now kind of wish we had 4 or 5. If there’s anyone young on here reading this, just do it, even at my somewhat later age for starting (early 30’s), we still didn’t feel “prepared”- you never are, it’s never the right time, just do it.

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Mar 4·edited Mar 4Liked by Alex Kaschuta

Alex, I just want to say I enjoy reading you because your perspective is usually very different to mine

It is so interesting that depending on where we are located in the world the criteria we take into consideration is very different, but despite impediments; in 3rd world countries people take the risk of having a family. In these places having a family is engraved in the minds of the individuals since they are born. They are taught that the ultimate happiness is experienced by the commitment and service to another human being and in my years travelling the world I see this is the big difference with 1st world countries where we always think of many factors that at the end we cannot control, but we allow them to weigh in such decisions that are extremely important.

In my case these were my considerations

1- Career: I love the career I chose and I wanted to make sure to be to be successful and also to meet the financial needs of a family considering there is always economic factors impacting the finances. I had kids in my 30s and now they are grown up I think I should have had them in my 20s because of biological reasons only.

2- I met my ex-husband when we were very young and in our culture the normal step is finish college and get married. It was expected of us and if our families and the society would have not expected it that might have changed the course of my life.

3- I'm very appreciative that my culture put the meaning of family above everything else because I can say it is the aspect in my life that has brought the biggest happiness.

4- All of the impediments you mention above have always existed where I was born so that was my normal and the only consideration that my ex husband and I had to make when we decided to have kids was making sure to make more money every day so we can provide them with the basics and a home full of love.

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Mar 4Liked by Alex Kaschuta

I come from a Leave-it-to-Beaver happy suburban family so surface level conservative family values were imbedded in me.

I got married at 23 but mostly because I was in the military and the culture and incentives encourage early family formation. If I had entered the real workforce after college I likely would have moved to a big city and avoided making big personal life decisions.

Taking life more seriously as a dad is what has lead me to this forum. The American middle class millennial track of college to big city white collar job to "try to keep your raises up with inflation" strongly discourages family formation. Frankly, even many church going older folks in my life weren't great encouragement for family formation. Many are uncomfortable with early marriages (but not so uncomfortable with cohabitation) and seem mostly focused on moving to FL, TX, or AZ when they retire. I've managed to carve out a comfortable (but somewhat Spartan) family life on a single income but I'm lucky.

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Mar 4·edited Mar 5Liked by Alex Kaschuta

Love the topics you pick, Alex!

I grew up in a normie family for my context – moderate Christians living in rural USA. The attitude toward having children was closer to “one and you’re done” or “two and you’re through” than anything else but my parents ended up with six children because they lived their fertile years out before The Pill was widely available and didn’t have access to any other kind of reproductive limiting technologies (because of poverty mostly). I was born in the late 60s and was the last of their children, a surprise baby.

A wife who left me in my early 20s and a raging sex addiction (cause and effect there are murky) didn’t help me on my way to forming a stable family – I ended my 20s jaded about marriage and with no desire for children. Women were playthings. Children scared me and being around them was exhausting.

The trajectory changed with conversion (or return) to Christianity. I leapfrogged over my parent’s moderate Christianity and landed on something more radical which I’m still trying to unpack. One of the attractive things I discovered in some streams of Christian tradition was an attitude toward women and children that felt liberating and ennobling. I wanted to be a better man. I did a U-turn on how I thought about women and within a few years the idea of children started to enchant me as well. I was rediscovering what my generation had lost to the sexual devolution – I was finding a sane and satisfying way of life. My conversion gradually transformed my girlfriend from plaything to treasure and I married her. We deepened together, put down our roots in God together, a sweet rebirth.

Soon my wife and I started to question what we had absorbed from family/friends/culture about having children. She got off The Pill after we researched the health consequences and we never really found an alternative – other than self-control.

Our convictions overcame the disincentives to having children. When we began our family, we were laughably broke. I had law school debt that ran into the six figures and a mess of stupid consumer debt. My wife had debt from her college. I was unemployed and she was teaching in public school (barely earning above the poverty line). Having children was not “financially responsible” at that time.

We had the advantage of both being from frugal families. We were happy to make do with few amenities and that is what we did – drove an old car, lived with her parents for years, rarely ate out at restaurants, bought used clothes, lived simply and we started having babies. About every two years. For twenty years. Do the math and you might calculate that we have 10 children now. Please don't judge us : )

Over the years we gradually formed pro-natalist convictions rooted in Christianity. These convictions get challenged after every baby but (so far) the single biggest incentive for family for us has been those convictions. They are our North Star. They are rooted in something ancient and strong and give us a mission that is deeply satisfying and connect our story to the distant past and future. We are never lonely and never without family projects/excitement/joy/struggle/belonging/pain/heartache (and all the other magnifiers that describe the tilt-a-whirl that is life in a family).

I strongly dislike large families that shame on small (or no) families. Shaming of that sort is toxic and low life. My message will never be “You need to be like us.” We still are trying to work all this out - have not arrived at full understanding at all.

I would say not everyone should have an obscenely large # of children but having a large # of children is hardly the besetting vice of our time. Since we are plagued by the other extreme, I encourage others to be open to one child. And if they have one, maybe consider a second. And then perhaps another? Don’t do anything permanent to take away fertility – one never knows what one's future self may wish. Stay free, stay open to new life. Order other choices around an “open to new life" paradigm, however that shakes out for your family. The fertility window closes quickly and then one is forever done. Enjoy those superpowers while they last.

Money is a huge disincentive to having children but I can’t speak much to it because after starting out dirt poor, I no longer am. The law practice soared and providing for 10 children is not financially challenging for us. But I don't think that disqualifies me from having any thoughts whatsoever about finances and children.

I think there are times when people need to stop/delay/space having children because of poverty (there are other good reasons but I’m focusing on the “I can’t afford kids” line of reasoning at the moment). No one else can judge when that point of poverty is present – that is a personal decision others ought to support. I do think, however, most children need far less than they are given (in the typical Western context). In our experience, babies come with bread (the means to support them) and while it is hard, it’s never impossible. It’s the kind of hard from which epics are formed. There are copious resources available to help children financially, if a family is unable to shoulder the whole burden alone. And there is no shame in accepting help, especially when the alternative is not having that little one at all.

Far more detail than Alex was hoping for from any one reader, I am sure : )

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If you haven't read "The Parenthood Dilemma: Procreation in the Age of Uncertainty" by Gina Rushton, you must! Gina's commentary on the question of whether or not to have children is well-researched and deeply personal. She has a clear talent for writing and passion for reproductive justice. Cried many times while reading with my book club.

Personally, as a 22-year-old whose mother already had two children by my age, it's always been a "well of course one day!" I really appreciated the more intentional thoughts Gina's writing prompted. I still have the time (and privilege) to contemplate that decision.

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Mar 4·edited Mar 4Liked by Alex Kaschuta

Very interesting topic! I think about this ALL the time. All around me are young people NOT forming families and I can't help to think what a catastrophe for the individual as well as society. The older I get - I'm 53 - the more I'm grateful for my husband, children and extended family. There are so many barriers to marriage and family formation today, but I suppose they can be summed up as "extreme individualism". A family that forms and stays together requires that the adults focus less on themselves and more on what's good for the group. Obviously a direct refute to individualism. I am getting more outspoken. One of my employees just told me she and her fiance weren't going to have kids. I told her that I thought having a family was very important and please re-consider. I would not have said so a few years ago....I guess I'm getting braver and my convictions stronger. When I turned 28 I was newly married and that baby urge hit hard. It came out of the blue really. So glad it did. When people say money is the reason, I always suspect there is a deeper underlying reason that is less socially unacceptable. Alex, I'm so glad you escaped the cancer that is is feminism!!

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All my kids have just happened. When you start planning a family you’re already too intentional about it. The best way is to get married, young if possible, and just be fruitful and multiply like the Bible says.

Now with that said, there are financial impediments in to family formation now more than ever, but if you have a decent support system/family that is involved in your life, a lot of that can be mitigated. What’s far more of an impediment is the social engineering that has poisoned everyone. The precursor to having a family (marriage) seems less and less possible with every passing year because a huge percentage of people are just incapable of a healthy and functional relationship. If you find someone that actually is capable that, and who shares your values.. count yourself lucky and go ahead and marry them YESTERDAY.

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For me it was ChoosINg INcompatible collaborators (from a place of relational trauma) which disabled my FemININe Desire, design and DestINy to BEcome and BE a MotHER.

I AM so Grateful to God that I waited.

YOU CAN CHOOSE YOUR HUSBAND — but your Children cannot Choose their FatHER. 

The Man you Choose to BE your Husband and the FatHER of your Children — Will BE the example your Son follows, and the example your Daughter marry’s.

The Choice should not BE made Lightly or casually.

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Mar 5Liked by Alex Kaschuta

I was surprised at how strong the impulse to provide mine and my partner's parents with grandkids was. Only 1 other out if 6 kids collectively had any so I guess my instincts were right.

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Mar 5Liked by Alex Kaschuta

I believe the incentives to have a family just weren't there. And yes, for me, it was primarily cultural, not material considerations that led to a delay in having children. My parents had four kids but never emphasized the importance of having kids of one's own. I think they assumed that would just come on its own, without any direction from them. A good education and career, however, were strongly emphasized. It became an unspoken competition between one's siblings and cousins who would have the most impressive degree and career. Not going to college was verboten. And I ended up respecting my college educated and working father a lot more than my homemaker mother, I believe because of this cultural messaging. In my teenage and young adult mind, I did not want to end up not being respected for only being a mother, naive as it sounds now. Consequently, I told my mother I did not want children in my early twenties and stuck to that stance until I hit thirty and really started to examine why I chose that. Plus, being introduced to Jordon Peterson around that time and examining what the decades of life after 30 would look like. I realized living only for myself with an emphasis on working the rest of my life would make me feel miserable and meaningless. Although realizing I did want a family was still a slow process that took a couple years.

After getting married and having a son in my mid thirties, I'm scratching and clawing to have one more as I approach 38, having just had a miscarriage. One more is all I can reasonably hope to achieve, due to my age and objections from the husband, who has also been subjected to heavy cultural narcissistic messaging about children bogging down one's freedom. Even my own mother, who had four kids, is trying to persuade me not to have more kids because they will limit my freedom (the cultural messaging is strong here). Side note, my mother in law who had three kids also occasionally bemoans her lack of standing in the world since being retired (the meaning is placed on her career, not being a grandmother, which I find so sad). Hindsight being 20/20 and all, if I could do the last 15 years again, I would have had at least 3 kids of my own starting in my twenties with a very family-oriented man. But all I can do moving forward is work with what I have, pour love into my family, and emphasize the importance of family and having kids to my own kids.

I think in the age of reproductive control, the culture has operated under the assumption that family just, poof, magically happens... Which is true in a pre-birth control world. But I think family values have to be explicitly valued and taught, with more intergenerational support, if we want young people to choose to have families.

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Mar 5Liked by Alex Kaschuta

We’re having our first kid this year, despite getting married relatively young seven years ago. The main problems really were affording a house in a big city with good work opportunities, which we spent 6 years on, and saving up some reserves to ensure the child’s future, which she felt was necessary. I really do think the primary problem for people is economic, and the lesser secondary problem is solving the dating puzzle, which i was fortunate enough to more or less sidestep.

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Mar 5Liked by Alex Kaschuta

For me it was the age that woke me up. Although I couldn't articulate it at the time, it was getting clear to me that all the high-status games in my world, like travelling, self-exploring and romantic adventures, had an expiration date roughly around the ripe age of 35. It's not like you can't keep doing it all but the glamour wears off very quickly.

The culture I (and I guess most non-conservative people) was in, was designed for maximising the amount of experience a person can get out of their twenties and had absolutely nothing to offer for the life after. Apart from trying to repeat your 20s - a truly depressing proposition, there's a blank screen. "Just be yourself. Good luck."

The realisation that "life after" is likely to be 40-50 years -- by far the absolute majority of a person adult life-span, was the major paradigm shift for me.

The brutal truth though is that waking up to the reality in your 30s coincides with the tail end of the fertility window. I got lucky and met a younger partner and it all worked out well enough so far (10+ years and kids) but I know so many men and especially women who weren't so lucky, despite having similar realisations in their 30s. It's almost like doing it in your 30s is a tad too late for most people.

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Mar 5Liked by Alex Kaschuta

I wanted to have a family from as far back as I can recall. It was not uncommon for my generation. I put if off for many years, putting my career first (10 years post secondary school and another 5 years as a postdoc). I was 35 before having a permanent position. Luckily for me I found the perfect mate before the clock ran out... I did get quite close to marriage in my mid 20s but I wasn't ready to settle down. Just today, cleaning out the garage I found an old tattered box with a bunch of decaying cards and letters... love letters from 45 years ago from a path not taken. I've kept those letters all these years and can't quite bring myself to toss them out....

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Mar 5·edited Mar 5Liked by Alex Kaschuta

Your own bullet points in effect make my argument, Alex.

We ran for three generations after the introduction of effective birth control on inertia in our customs and assumptions and habits of thought about our life patterns. Friction is now overcoming that inertia and replacing old ideas with new.

The main impediment to family is culture. To change the trajectory of TFR in credentialist countries and groups (OECD plus East Asia non OECD, and elite urban populations elsewhere), we need to start making motherhood very high status--the highest--and providing massive cultural support for it. (And fatherhood as well, ofc.)

That, of course, is well outside the Overton Window in 2024. But by 2124 or perhaps even 2074. (Look at gay marriage. I well remember the 1970s.) I note that other comments in this thread talk about taking away women's agency in a direct and personal way. I am not happy about that *at all*. We can and must do much better than that.

(Credentialism is the doctrine that the way to success, social prestige, starts with getting a good qualification from a good university. It seems to have run its course - paging Peter Turchin and Elite Overproduction... We desperately need a replacement for credentialism.)

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Mar 4Liked by Alex Kaschuta

This is a great topic for discussion. Among many factors mentioned in the comments above, I think the intersection of biological reality (female fertility decline in 30s-40s) and “the paradox of choice” is a key barrier. The reality that when choosing a marriage partner and having children, one’s other options are permanently closed, but that postponing marriage/children inevitably leads to fewer marriages/children.

I got married at 34 and now have five kids, but I easily could have missed my window to have kids (or so many kids). My wife is 9 years younger and we didn’t struggle to conceive, but I was basically unaware how much fertility declines for women through their 30s.

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Mar 4Liked by Alex Kaschuta

Alex, what were 'the problems in my family of origin' that initially made you wary of starting a family? Just ignore this if it's too personal.

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Mar 4Liked by Alex Kaschuta

Wow, five children yet mum (above) still looks, and dresses, like a Valley High schoolgirl!

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Alex, apart from the second point, your reasons above are almost identical to mine. With me, I just felt/assumed that I was never going to have kids, was not mother material etc.. Even after I got married! It hit me some years later, out of the blue, that I was finally ready and wanted a child. RIGHT NOW! The feeling was incredibly powerful and I had never felt so certain about anything else in my life! I ended up having three, and if it hadn't been for the fact I was already in my thirties when my first child was born, I definitely would have had more. I sometimes wonder why I waited so long. Maybe it was lack of trust, maybe it was seeing negative examples of family life. Or maybe I was just a late bloomer. Also, being a bit of a freedom-loving nomad meant I was never truly settled anywhere. But when I was ready, I was 100% ready, and it was the best decision I ever made.

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