What should one think of all of this information? I am actually still trying to process it all myself. What I gather is that, in the Western world, many women are pulled in two directions based on their desire for personal (and professional) success (often the two are not separate), what they have grown to believe about their role in life, society and their community (used in the most broadest sense possible here, meaning multiple communities from the micro to the macro). On the one hand women in Germany and the United States have come to believe that they can be whomever and whatever they want to be, and for some that means not having children, or if they do, having children later and later in life.
Believe me, I always thought it was a really crappy deal that women only have a ‘window’ of opportunity to bear children whereas men can make them into their 100’s. In no way do I want to have a child myself when I am 100, but to not even have the choice after a certain point in my life seems a little harsh.
For other women, that means being a mother and leading a family. For others still, perhaps the majority today, it means something in between. While society supports it also contradicts greatly, so much so that if you attempt to pay too much attention to it, your head might just spin and cause you great harm.
As I am out and about in my town, I have been seeing so many pregnant women or new mothers and when I talk to people about some of the information I have found here, some agree – but most disagree. German women are encouraged to have children and it isn’t necessarily ‘society’ or the fear of others being mean or outright rude to them that causes them to think twice about the idea. It turns out that, of the Germans I have spoken to about this, most are more than supportive of new parents socially and politically. They don’t hate babies as might be the first impression.
On a side note. The sister-in-law that is due in October shared with me the other day that she’s been feeling the cold shoulder from ‘society’ lately. Meaning that she’s noticed that strangers have not entirely been polite or friendly in public situations. As she is nearly 40 weeks pregnant, apparently women refuse to move to let her by in narrow passages or insist that she get up and move so they can sit by the window on public transportation (if you’ve ever seen a nearly 40-weeks-along pregnant woman, you know getting up and sitting down are not easy feats!).
What does all of this mean for sustaining family in the long run?
Whoa, that is a bigger question still!
It could be argued that by waiting to have children or not having children at all women (and men) are then that much more capable, able and willing to care for their families/communities (in every sense and meaning of the word) or it could mean collapse! No, I actually don’t think it would mean the latter. Only if every nation instituted a “One-Child Policy” which it turns out isn’t necessarily working all that well for China presently because it disproportionately affects females more than males (if a first-born is female it is often aborted or killed at birth) and has made social security for the elderly next to impossible because there isn’t enough young workers to help pay for the aging population. Humans procreate, even if more people choose not to, there will likely always be enough people that do that we will always have babies…unless there is a sort of “Children of Men” type situation.