Thursday, February 07, 2008

More kids or more things-what do our choices say about us?

A news article came out recently that reported that Norway was considering using robots to help care for the elderly. The reason? A shortage of care workers. See

Norway, like most European countries, has had a declining birth rate for years. The only thing that has reversed the trend has been offering cash for kids. Every family who has a child receives a $3000 check, an amount which is soon set to go to $4000. In fact, all across Europe, countries are offering financial incentives to have children.

One news story says that "recent evidence from Germany suggests that women may actually want fewer children than the two so often seen as the desirable norm - indeed some are happy with none at all."

What does all of this say about us as a people? It would seem that we are trading material things for kids. This is why we have fewer children, and cash is the reason some people are being enticed to have more. To be fair, part of this is also due to strains on time. In suburbia, we live, worship, work, shop, and attend children's activities in different places. It would be hard to do all of this with the nine kids that my grandmother had and not run yourself into the ground. (In fact, the seat belt laws are biased against big families.)

How many kids will we have? I don't know. I'm thinking 2.5. That .5 kid is just about the right size. :) I do want to raise the children that we have well and have enough time to devote to each one. As a minister, there are many restraints on my time. But with the incredible joy that children bring into our lives, I wonder if our society is trading away joy for a bigger house or a new SUV or more in retirement savings. In the end, it is God and people who bring us happiness.

Why do you think people are having fewer children? Is this good or bad or neither?