The Real Reason

November 26, 2005 | 41 comments
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Matt Evans and I went a few rounds at one of those other blogs over the reason behind falling LDS birthrates. Turns out we were both wrong.

This, from Robert Kirby’s 11/19/05 column, explains the real reason the Saints are stopping before their quivers are full:

Ward houses from the 50s had those special rooms in the back and above the chapel where fractious children could be taken and throttled without disturbing the congregation. Cry rooms were necessary because the average LDS ward back then consisted of 65 percent children younger than age 8. Sacrament meeting sounded like a knife fight between cats and monkeys. A long window and a speaker allowed the occupants to see and hear what was going on down in the congregation, but no noise escaped the soundproof room. It was surreal to look up and see some kid howling as if caught in a leg hold trap. The kid’s uvula could be sticking out on its stem, his face the color of an eggplant, and yet you wouldn’t hear a peep.

So there you have it. (Heck, I’d probably aim for four times four instead of just four if our ward had a cry room. ) At this point, I’m woozy with the possible directions that this post can go, so I’ll proceed choose-your-own-adventure style:

The Deep Feminist Reading
For a Church that’s so big on families, we sure don’t do much on the ground to make sure that church meetings are inviting or even appropriate for children and the (usually) women who are taking care of them. From the lack of cry rooms to the zombie-eyed parents wandering the halls with distraught children to the stinky-to-nonexistent mother’s rooms to the nursery staffed by an ever-revolving group of (usually) underqualified people, we act as if we think that the needs of children and their caretakers should take last place to every other consideration.

The ‘I Hate Correlation’ Reading
Kirby blames the disappeared cry rooms on correlation. Why not?

The ‘Endure to the End’ Reading
Taking little kids to church stinks (sometimes literally, but that’s really something for FMH or Mormon Mommy Wars to tackle . . .). So did crossing the plains on bare, bleeding feet. Get over it.

The ‘Helpful Hints from Molly Mormon’ Reading
So what do you do with your kids during sacrament meeting? My husband often takes off his wedding ring, ties it to the back part of his tie, and lets our baby suck on it. For some reason, the baby loves this. Try it! Our older kids get fruit snacks after the sacrament if they have maintained a vaguely civilized veneer up to that point in the meeting. We also bring picture books from the public library about bible stories each week. They love these. My four year old is also going through a huge pipe cleaner phase and loves to play with these (but the ends can be sharp so be careful). There’s also a book (I haven’t read it, but it comes highly recommended) called Parenting in the Pew.

The ‘Let’s Send a Letter to Salt Lake’ Reading
I want those cry rooms back. I’ll sign if you will.

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41 Responses to The Real Reason

  1. Laura W on November 26, 2005 at 1:17 am

    Ok, someone is going to have to help me out on the correlation one…

    Is the idea that “unity in the Church” means that everyone should have to listen to my 3 yr old nephew scream bloody murder after I confiscated the matchbox cars that were becoming airbone projectiles? Because, trust me, no one appreciated that last week.

    Or is it that “since some wards don’t have cry rooms, then no one should have a cry room?” In which case, I’ll be the first to sign that letter to Salt Lake.

    Or that “if family is emphasized enough, your kids will be impecibly behaved and there will be no need for a cry room?”

    And thanks for the pipe cleaner idea, Julie- much less areodynamic than matchbox cars!

  2. Eric Russell on November 26, 2005 at 7:04 am

    Julie, I like it. I admit that it may be a contributing factor.

    But before all the opinions get out again, I just want to make it clear for everyone at the outset that of all the possible reasons for the declining birthrate, materialism and selfishness are absolutely not among them.

    What is my argument for such a claim? It follows:

    1. I know a guy who had few kids, and it wasn’t because of either materialism or selfishness.
    2. Therefore, people who suggest that materialism or selfishness might be a contributing factor to the declining birthrate are insensitive and judgmental.
    3. Therefore, neither selfishness nor materialism are contributing factors in any way shape or form.

    I defy someone to crack my sound logic.

  3. John T. on November 26, 2005 at 11:58 am

    While you’re at it, request a laugh room. This should be located close to the Gospel Principals classroom, while also being near the sanctuary for those precious testimony Sunday moments.

  4. Hanna on November 26, 2005 at 12:20 pm

    At our stake conference last week, we actually did have a “cry room” set up!

    Granted, it was called something else (I forget what), and there was no window into the chapel, but there was a speaker inside the room AND the Stake President made a point of mentioning it was available for FATHERS to take their children to!

  5. Kevin Barney on November 26, 2005 at 12:30 pm

    My own experience may be something of a microcosm for the ever-shrinking Mormon family. I grew up in a family with six children (seven if you count my little brother who died shortly after childbirth). The last child was born while I was on my mission and is autistic; he still lives with my mother.

    When I got married, my wife and I had a vague idea of possibly having three or four children. Five or six just seemed too overwhelming to us.

    We ended up only having two, a girl and a boy. After that, we mutualliy agreed that we were done. (Let’s just say that there is a reason that Dennis and Calvin are only children. If our bouncing-off-the-walls son had been born first, he might have been an only child. But as he grew he mellowed and blossomed into a great kid.)

    I don’t feel materialistic and selfish about it. Others may disagree, but it’s none of their business, and I don’t really care what they think, or what SLC may think, for that matter. I’m very happy with the way my family, admittedly small by historical, rural standards, but pretty much the norm by modern, urban standards, turned out.

    I don’t need a lot of children to help me work the farm.

  6. Jack on November 26, 2005 at 12:32 pm

    Eric,

    No, I can’t crack your logic. But why go through the pain of developing such a beautiful syllogism? I mean … if there really were such things as materialism and selfishness among the saints, I could understand … but…

    Julie,

    Thank goodness the days of the cry rooms are long gone. Walking a child in the halls is the perfect excuse to get away from it all.

  7. Seth Rogers on November 26, 2005 at 2:06 pm

    I just can’t get over some of the scenes that the Bishopric (and the speaker) must have be sole witnesses to. Gives me a chuckle anyway.

  8. Seth Rogers on November 26, 2005 at 2:20 pm

    While we’re at it, my wife wants a “running space” for walking babies in the RS room.

    Of course, if you, and several other young mothers are so minded, you can improvise an enclosure with padded chairs to keep the little tykes in (like cattle). That way they can run, play, steal each others toys, and stick their fingers up each others noses without encroaching on the space of the more “stylishly babyless” in the room.

    But that doesn’t really solve the noise problem …

    This isn’t really an issue in Elders Quorum. We just let them do whatever they want, as long as they don’t eat the chalk.

  9. Sarah on November 26, 2005 at 2:58 pm

    Yeah, but the Elder’s Quorum doesn’t have centerpieces that can fall on the kids’ heads, either.

  10. Silus Grok on November 26, 2005 at 5:18 pm

    I’ve long thought that “nursery” should be a stake function… and be manned (so to speak) during Sacrament by folks from other wards in the stake. There are problems with this, but not so many that it shouldn’t be looked at.

  11. Zamboola River on November 26, 2005 at 10:33 pm

    Members are having less children now because of birth control.

    Whe a couple figures that they are done, they start using birth control.

    My guess is that years ago, the parents didn’t have nearly as much say in when they were “done,” because they didn’t have the option of birth control.

  12. Derek on November 27, 2005 at 2:27 am

    Sarah wrote:
    This isn’t really an issue in Elders Quorum. We just let them do whatever they want, as long as they don’t eat the chalk.

    We let the Elders eat the chalk in my ward, although it’s strongly discouraged.

  13. lyle on November 27, 2005 at 4:44 am

    Hm…

    Raising a child in an LDS family or letting them be born elsewhere where they are more likely to work on a farm and less likely to have the gospel.

    Hm…

  14. Julie M. Smith on November 27, 2005 at 12:57 pm

    Oh no! Not farmwork! Horrors!

  15. jjohnsen on November 27, 2005 at 2:06 pm

    I don’t understand why a declining birthrate is a problem? Is there a set amount of children we are all supposed to have? Am I somehow less obediant than my parents because they had 5 and I’m stopping at two? Is it my responsibility to keep having children until my wife can’t take it anymore so we can rescue two or three more children from being born outside the covenant?

    Bring back the cryrooms, not so we’ll have more children, but so I can hear sacrament meeting.

  16. LisaB on November 27, 2005 at 5:02 pm

    Um, Lyle, don’t we believe that everyone has an opportunity of exaltation, even if they don’t hear the gospel here?

  17. sam b on November 27, 2005 at 5:16 pm

    Would be nice for religious right to have fewer children (by this I include traditional Mormonism) as then this whole war of attrition can stop tilting against Progressives. We can get back down to actual ideas and dialogue and compromise.

    From a family of 7, I think the main reason that we’re not having more kids is that parenthood requires a lot more than it used to, and my wife is not a nanny. My sibs and I were raised via benign neglect and had limited interactions with our parents. That model doesn’t seem to apply as well, and when both parents have lives outside the home, we feel that it makes more sense to focus on the two children we have and love deeply rather than have another child we would end up neglecting. My wife and I both feel that we are better parents when we have a full experience of life, and giving careful attention to seven children while also maintaining some personal emotional balance seems sufficiently unrealistic that we have not thought to undertake it.

    And just to have it out, it’s not the fear of $2,000,000/childhood (or the fear that a child’s education would compete with a cookie-cutter home theater system which seem to be rampant in mid-range homes in SLC now) so much as it’s the awareness that there is a finite amount of time each day and there’s a certain fixed amount of time required to give each child real attention and ultimately there just is no more time.

    I remember reading in some LDS book a decade or so ago about a man who had a PPI (not “proton-pump inhibitor” but Personal Priesthood Interview) with each of his children every quarter or some such. The implication was that such formal interactions could replace sustained attention. I reject that vision of fatherhood.

  18. Ivan Wolfe on November 27, 2005 at 5:42 pm

    Lisa B -

    to do a reductio ad absurdum:

    Then why have children at all? Or proselyte?

  19. Chance on November 27, 2005 at 5:51 pm

    Could the rising cost of housing and/or the ‘need’ for personal space have anything to do with it? Growing up, it was not uncommon for 3 to 4 boys to share a single bedroom. Whereas today that is not socially accepted. Even my MIL keeps telling me how our 4 y/o needs his own bedroom (currently sharing with his younger brother). My response is all the toys can stay in the family room. Bedrooms are for sleeping, and if we have another boy he’s going in their with the two of them.

  20. Seth Rogers on November 27, 2005 at 5:52 pm

    jjohnsen,

    I think we’re supposed to have enough kids so that their tax money can pay for our retirement. Our American system kinda broke down there.

    All those hordes of 1960′s baby boomers, suddenly got liberated and selfish, lost sight of their patriotic duty to increase the tax base, and now younger folks like me will have to pay increased taxes and lose all our social benefits to pay for their sorry retired keisters!

  21. Julie M. Smith on November 27, 2005 at 6:34 pm

    All–

    I don’t have the energy for another go-round on the issue of the falling LDS birthrate, so I’ll just remind everyone that, per the General Handbook of Instructions, if you judge another person for their decisions then you are in violation of the counsel on family size decisions because in the same breath that the GHI says that these decisions are to be made between the husband, the wife, and the Lord, it states that members should not judge each other in this matter.

  22. Ivan Wolfe on November 27, 2005 at 9:01 pm

    Go Julie!

    Anyway – another reason for decling birth rates:

    Car restraint laws.

    Heck, growing up in Alaska, I recall everyone just being tossed in the back of the truck or station wagon. Now, we have to have individual child seats for kids. A good thing, IMHO, but not one that lends to easily having large families, especially with the size of “family sedans” nowadays.

  23. Chance on November 27, 2005 at 11:30 pm

    Who said anything about judging? Some like big some like small. I think folks are just looking for an explanation as to why a large portion of the bigs are switching over to smalls. Can we find a direct correlation between dieting fads and the shrinking of LDS families?

  24. Julie M. Smith on November 27, 2005 at 11:42 pm

    Chance,

    My comment was mostly preemptive as I’ve seen too many discussions on this topic veer off into judging, but there have been several comments (on both sides of the issue) that have gotten close to judging the morality and consequences of family sizes.

    Just play nice, kids, this was meant to be a lighthearted post!

  25. Gina on November 28, 2005 at 12:08 am

    I think that our current perception of what a parent is responsible to provide for a child is an important limiting factor. It is seen as irresponsible to have more children than you can hope to provide with plenty of enriching activities, quality one-on-one time, adequate personal space, a college education, et cetera, most of which was completely unexpected one hundred years ago. Incidentally, most of those things seem reasonably positive to me, so I don’t know that it is necessarily a bad trend. While clearly none could be classified as the “necessities of life,” I think it is a burden on a child to provide them with *much less* than other children in their society.

    On the other hand, re 19 – how much personal space we must provide our children – I almost fell off my chair when the mother of a terrific family of six children aged 18 to 2 in our ward told me their home had *two bedrooms* – one for her and her husband, and one for the kids. All of them. This is a very “normal” family both in terms of “normal middle class Americans” and “normal active faithful Mormons”. I was inspired that they would choose to have the large family they felt directed to have despite not being able to provide each with what our society deems appropriate. They seem to be turning out just fine.

  26. Ian M. Cook on November 28, 2005 at 1:49 am

    There are many cultures where large familys live in small homes. I don’t see a problem with it. I think it’s great, children not only learn to play nice with their siblings (or kill each other) but they learn to have a room mate (for their mission and college years possibly.)

    Here is an interesting point of view, perhaps since these are the last days, the number of spirits that need to come down are dwindling and the trend to have less children is through influence from heavenly father. Perhaps it’s part of the plan. Just a thought.

  27. Chance on November 28, 2005 at 2:32 am

    Meant to include this quote earlier, but couldn’t find it:

    The adversary has long cultivated this overemphasis on personal autonomy, and now he feverishly exploits it. Our deepest God-given instinct is to run to the arms of those who need us and sustain us. But he drives us away from each other today with wedges of distrust and suspicion. He exaggerates the need for having space, getting out, and being left alone. Some people believe him—and then they wonder why they feel left alone.

    Elder Hafen of the Seventy, Oct. 1996 Conference

    In the home, the family is to be together, not seperated by rooms. It’s ok to have a big family in a small house, yet more and more people would rather have the opposite. The home is to be a symbol of the family, not a symbol of worldy status. What good is a mansion if it is devoid of others to share it with?

    At any rate, parenting is and always has been difficult. Some people can carry a larger load, while others are sufficiently burdened by a single spirit. It is ultimately a combination of the guidance a couple receives mixed with divine intervention that dictates the size and distribution of that burden. Me, I choose not to be alone and seperated. I choose children, and hopefully lots through both birth and adoption. These little ones need us, and I for one cannot deny that need.

  28. Mandy on November 28, 2005 at 2:40 am

    Another reason to have big families–it’s against the marriage covenant to curtail the birth of children unless the parents are in poor health (according to this GA):

    “April 1995 General Conference

    “Thus we see that in marriage, a husband and wife enter into an order of the priesthood called the new and everlasting covenant of marriage. This covenant includes a willingness to have children and to teach them the gospel. Many problems of the world today are brought about when parents do not accept the responsibilities of this covenant. It is contradictory to this covenant to prevent the birth of children if the parents are in good health.

    Thirty-five years ago when I first started practicing medicine, it was a rare thing for a married woman to seek advice about how she could keep from having babies. When I finished practicing medicine, it was a rare thing, except for some faithful Latter-day Saint women, for a married woman to want to have more than one or two children, and some did not want any children. We in the Church must not be caught up in the false doctrines of the world that would cause us to break sacred temple covenants.” (The Temple Is a Family Affair)”

  29. Brenda on November 28, 2005 at 2:54 am

    According to Elder J. Ballard Washburn in one of the 1995 General Conferences, it is contrary to the marriage covenant to use birth control if both parents are healthy. This is another reason to have big families.

    Of course, if we don’t like what we hear in Conference, it’s “advice”. If we like it, it’s “doctrine.”

  30. LisaB on November 28, 2005 at 10:37 am

    Ivan–Because we’re commanded to do both if we are in a position to do so. But the old argument about get as many as we can into LDS homes doesn’t hold for me given how many Spirits God sends to non-LDS homes. Obviously there is great value to earth-life experience regardless of the circumstances of ones’ birth.

    If we’re going to pick and choose conference statements on this, my favorite is Elder Oaks (who has a relatively small family by Mormon standards). He includes not just physical health, but also ability to provide for children’s spiritual, emotional, and physical needs. I’ll see if I can round up the quote.

  31. Ivan Wolfe on November 28, 2005 at 10:51 am

    My GA quote can beat up your GA quote!

    (not really).

    Again – #29 is spot on. We tend to like and use the quotes we agree with, and write off the ones we don’t like. Many of us seem to be working backwards from our own familial preferences, rather than forwards from pondering, praying and searching (not pointing at anyone in particularm, since I may be wrong in any specific case).

  32. LisaB on November 28, 2005 at 11:07 am

    Well, for what it’s worth, here’s the quote from Elder Oaks Oct 93 conference:

    “How many children should a couple have? All they can care for! Of course, to care for children means more than simply giving them life. Children must be loved, nurtured, taught, fed, clothed, housed, and well started in their capacities to be good parents themselves. Exercising faith in God’s promises to bless them when they are keeping his commandments, many LDS parents have large families. Others seek but are not blessed with children or with the number of children they desire. In a matter as intimate as this, we should not judge one another.”

    This was his concluding paragraph after criticizing the general cultural trend towards fewer or no children, and quoting Pres. Kimball re: the responsibilities to multiply and replenish the earth.

  33. jjohnsen on November 28, 2005 at 11:42 am

    “Heck, growing up in Alaska, I recall everyone just being tossed in the back of the truck or station wagon. Now, we have to have individual child seats for kids. A good thing, IMHO, but not one that lends to easily having large families, especially with the size of “family sedansâ€? nowadays.”

    Aaah, one of my fondest memories of being a child was laying in the back of my parents station wagon, watching the stars as we drove home from my grandparents one night. My parents would never think of letting my daughter ride without a seatbelt now, but at the time nobody gave it a second thought.

    “According to Elder J. Ballard Washburn in one of the 1995 General Conferences, it is contrary to the marriage covenant to use birth control if both parents are healthy. This is another reason to have big families.

    Of course, if we don’t like what we hear in Conference, it’s “adviceâ€?. If we like it, it’s “doctrine.â€? ”

    Interesting, but didn’t President Hinckley say people should only have children they can take care of, or am I remembering one of his talks wrong?

    I value the amount of time I can spend with my daughter. I have hours that I can devout to her education, both spiritual and kindergarten. I can watch her learn and grow. We are having one more child next year, then we are done. After prayerfully consideration and talking about this quality time we choose to spend with our children, can you tell me it is Satan that wants me to have less children? Satan wants me to have more time for each child while God would prefer I spend more time working so I can pay for eduaction and medicine for my family? God would rather I have time for a PPI once a quarter instead of time each night for each child? It doesn’t make sense to me.

    My father, who has five children, says his biggest regret is not being able to spend more time with me and my siblings. Why did he not have enough time? He was always at work, not so we could have 5 cars or a huge house, but so we could buy food to eat and have other basic necessities.

  34. B Bell on November 28, 2005 at 12:32 pm

    Lots of reasons behind the drop in the LDS birthrate. (Full disclosure I have 4 sons and plan on have one more child)

    My general opinion is that the World in general in industrialized countries has dropped to a very low birth rate. We as LDS are not immune to these cultural trends. Our Birthrate is still much higher that most but it has dropped a lot.

    I am of the opinion that many LDS are not having as many children as they could handle. (note I am not talking about 10 kids) Its wrong to judge a particular family for few children but its not wrong to preach against general anti child rearing/birthing, anti family trends both in the church and outside the church. In my parents stake the stake President is on the offensive on this issue and is asking the families to consider additional children in Stake Conference.

    I am anticipating that GA’s and articles in the Ensign are forthcoming that will contain a more strident tone against the the lower birthrates in the world in general and in the LDS community in particular in the next few years. The birthrate is especcially bad in Europe now to the point where L Tom Perry alluded to it in conference.

  35. Bonjo on November 28, 2005 at 1:05 pm

    An interesting by-product of the lower birthrate among Church members: A member of the Presidency of the Seventy recently mentioned at our stake conference that the Church has fewer missionaries today than it has in the past. Why? Not because the bar was raised, not because young men aren’t choosing to serve missions, but because there are fewer 19 year old boys throughout the church.

  36. queuno on November 28, 2005 at 4:11 pm

    My parents wanted 12 children. They got 8. Dad was a college professor specifically so that he could have his summers off to spend long vacations with his children. Dad also taught a 7am class so that he could be home by 3:30 (and attend the track meets with 4:30 start times). He also was home every Friday (no class). Dad didn’t publish once he made associate prof and had the desired tenure.

    Since Dad didn’t publish, he never was promoted to full, and never made more than 1%-2% raises (although, people rave about his teaching methods and philosophy and volume — which is another sad indictment on our university system). We never had money that we didn’t get from the paper route we had (although, we did learn a good work ethic). He also was very handy, and built an entire edition on his house, almost completely on his own (oh yes, and with the help of his early-teen and younger children).

    So my parents had as many children as they could, and earned just enough money to pay for them. We never really wanted for material things, although I know that we suffered “socially” as children (some of us siblings have never really recovered from the rejection for being less materially blessed). Intellectually, I think my Dad did it right. On the other hand, it would have been nice to have more money, and I always wondered why he didn’t split the difference — why didn’t he work during 50% of his summers and 50% of his Fridays to publish more articles, and thus make, perhaps, an additional $15K a year.

    My wife and I have been blessed with 2.92 children – #3 is due any day now. Would we have wanted more? It’s hard to answer. We never talked about a “number”. We went several years waiting for #3 and told outselves that we were “happy” with the two we had.

  37. Mark B. on November 28, 2005 at 4:29 pm

    “Aaah, one of my fondest memories of being a child was laying in the back of my parents station wagon . . .”

    The secret for the falling birthrate is hidden in this clause. Since we don’t know the difference anymore between transitive and intransitive verbs (esp. lay and lie) and their conjugations, we don’t know which form to use in our conjugal relations, and voila, the birthrate plummets.

  38. Mark IV on November 28, 2005 at 5:01 pm

    Good one, Mark.

    But I dunno. Whatever it is that is going on in the back seats of cars – laying, lying, lei-ing – would seem to have the opposite effect of what you suggest.

  39. CS Eric on November 28, 2005 at 6:18 pm

    One of the girls I dated before I got married came from a large LDS family. The house just fit them–every time a new kid was born, he or she was either added to an already-existing bedroom, or some other room was remodeled to make room. Not much privacy, even for the teenagers.

    The parents knew that they would have a hard time giving each child a lot of attention, so they timed their kids so two would be relatively close together (i.e., less than a year apart), and then wait another year or two before starting another set. That way, each child would grow up with a ready-made buddy.

    It worked for them.

  40. Stephen Hardy on November 29, 2005 at 3:16 pm

    re: “It worked for them.”

    In re: to #39: “It worked for them.”

    That seems to be the point… it worked FOR THEM.

    Recently my sister-in-law attended a singles ward near-by. The speaker was an “area authority.” It seemed that he wanted to encourage the students there, mostly in their younger 20s, to go ahead and get married and not wait until later. He used his own life as an example, and described his “poor student days” when he and his wife really struggled to get by. He remembers those day with real happiness and he believes that the many decisions that they made then set a pattern for them that has resulted in great success in life and family since then.

    I am sure that it is was a good sermon. It was also a profoundly painful sermon for certain members of that congregation who can no longer live the life that he lived. They are older, and done with college and working and saving, and are active in their callings… but they aren’t married. If they marry, they will marry into a more comfortable life, and will likely have a small family. Is their life-experience less valid? Will they be less spiritual?

    I wondered why he counldn’t say: “These decisions worked for us. We had challenges, and they made us stronger. All of you will doubtless experience other challenges, but they will make you and your families stronger.” Instead, he seemed to endorse only one pathway through life, and indirectly insulted the experience of others.

    I think of the experience of Ezra Taft Benson, who had a highly ambitious and successfull career. His family was a close one through the force of his own personality and through the strength of his wife. But NOT through his long-lasting and frequent evenings at home with the kids. It worked for him. It would not have worked for me.

    The same goes for children. My father had eight kids. A big family. And it worked for a number of reasons. My wife and I have three. I think that it is working… for a number of reasons. This “it works for me” extends to alot of other areas… home schooling, savings programs, taking the train to work, scripture study methods, “dating” your spouse, having kids in pairs, journaling methods, missionary efforts. We believe so strongly in the straight and narrow way, and in absolute truth that we seem to want to dictate our styles to others, and to conclude that our character was defined by those decisions. Just because my dad had eight children doesn’t mean that everyone should.

    Am I running on?

  41. Sage on December 1, 2005 at 12:20 am

    One idea that doesn’t seem to be addressed is the seeming increase in the occurrence of infertility. Many of my friends, my sister and I have struggled with infertility at one point in our marriages, even if we do have some children.

    My husband and I both felt like we wanted at least four children, and maybe as many as six. The reality is we have three wonderful children, but if I want a fourth I will have to take fertility medicine—and then that part about the health comes in as I have hard pregnancies.

    I also appreciate what has been said about giving more attention to our children being a reason for the decline in birth rates. I was number six of eight children. I frequently tell the story of how I used to hide to see if anyone would notice. Sometimes they would notice by dinner time. I see that for me, choosing not to take fertility medicine and have more children will allow me to focus on the needs of my children that I have.

    Thanks for the thought provoking comments on this subject.