Saturday, August 23, 2014

The Price of Children

While out walking, because we live in a neighbourhood where students tend to locate, I pass a long of young women. I would venture to say they are all pretty much between 19 and 24 for the most part. 

I reflect on what they wear (too short, too revealing), their body image (almost all have tattoos somewhere), their snippets of conversation and my overwhelming impression is of a group of people who are extremely self-absorbed.

Not all, one cannot paint everyone with the same brush, but there is an immaturity that seems to hover around these young women. It is very difficult to imagine them getting married and having children.

Given the stats for our society, most of them won't marry; if they do partner with someone, it will be a live-in relationship and they will likely have a succession of those. No sense in denying this; the stats show that this is so.

Lots of information at this site:

More often than not, first unions are now cohabitations rather than marriages. According to the 2001 General Social Survey, in 2001, 63% of women aged 20 to 29 in their first union lived common-law.10 Data from the Census show that common-law unions were most likely among young adults in their mid-20s (about 20%), but by age 34 only about 16% were cohabiting. The lower proportion of cohabitors in their early 30s may be because some people previously living together are now married or, given the greater instability of common-law relationships, more couples have separated.11

What strikes me most about these young people is that they have no idea how to be unselfish. It takes a great amount of selflessness to be a good parent and my husband and I were clueless when we started our family.

The interesting thing is that, if you are willing to have a family, your kids will teach you how to be unselfish. If you refuse to learn this, your family will be unhappy and likely won't stay together.

What also strikes me is that so many young people don't even care any more about this. They see their lives as a long road ahead of them in which to indulge all their dreams and aspirations. Their plans might include some vague of idea of having a family at some point, but it is seen as something that just comes to everyone if they want it. The idea that it entails some degree of self-discipline and work is unthinkable.  For many, getting married and caring for one's spouse, having children and making sacrifices to raise them well, just aren't on their to-do list. It is much easier to just live for one's self.

This is so short-sighted. Even the smallest amount of self-reflection reveals that one doesn't live for ever; in fact, each person's life is relatively short and the older you get, the quicker it seems to go. A great analogy is that the closer you get to the end of the roll of toilet paper, the faster it flies off the roll.

I want to say to these young folks "Look, you may feel wonderful now, but given ten, twenty, thirty years, how are you going to feel?  Will you still be looking forward to the Friday night party, the Saturday trip to the beach or mall, or might you just be facing so much of your life alone?" 

This realisation never seems to strike. And yet, I can see the forty-plus women in my neighbourhood who eschewed marriage and family, living in their houses or apartments alone, spending holidays alone. As one said to me, her friends are all in couples, and a single woman doesn't fit. So she has a dog and uses him as the excuse for why she stays home so much.

The real problem is selfishness. Unless we learn to think less about ourselves, we really will end up all by ourselves. Learning to become unselfish opens up a world of relationships, very rewarding ones with spouses and children.

Society has sold this generation a shoddy product. Self-fulfilment and the sense of entitlement that derives from that can only breed loneliness and despair in the end. It is hard to be unselfish; it doesn't come easily to anyone. But it is absolutely necessary for any degree of true happiness in life.

Remaining selfish will only leave one with the big fat I in the end.

1 comment:

Rebecca said...

This may be partly the case, but quite frankly I think the biggest part of the problem is that there are very very few commitment-minded, selfless men out there. As a woman in one's twenties, it is very rare to find a guy that isn't brainwashed by either porn culture (why buy the cow) or by materialism (even the guys who do marry overwhelmingly expect their wives to work in order to maintain a certain standard of living, which makes more than two children extremely financially unfeasible unless you are both MDs) or both. These ladies may be selfish, but I would bet a lot of them, deep down or maybe not so deep down, would give up their flashy lifestyles in a heartbeat for marriage to a really good guy. But they look around and there is nothing there for them, so they take what they see as the next best thing. Perhaps I see this because I have sons and I can see how real manhood has been devalued. Or maybe I can just relate to the women.

(I get that I am making a massive generalization, but I still think I am right about a decent proportion of these ladies.)