This excerpt came from an article sent to me by a friend last week:
Brad and Michelle aren’t the only young parents who are finding that
they can’t afford to have as many children as they would like. Across
the country millions of other young parents are reaching similar
conclusions. Without much in the way of comment or debate, Canada has
become a country where small families are the norm — and those small
families are shaping a demographic crisis that is going to hurt all of
us over the decades ahead, whether we have children or not.
understand why, consider the amazing shrinkage of the Canadian family.
As recently as the 1960s, families used to span an average of four
kids; today, the typical family includes a mere 1.5 children. Since
today’s parents aren’t having enough kids to replace themselves,
Canada’s population growth has slowed to only 1% a year. Two-thirds of
that meagre increase comes from immigration rather than new babies.
Soon we will rely completely on immigration to keep Canada’s population
The tug of war between the generations has already begun. Over the
past three decades, governments have consistently funded and enriched
programs for seniors. Meanwhile, young families are finding it
increasingly difficult to make ends meet. As a result, they’re reducing
their number of kids — which has the effect of ensuring the problem
will grow even worse in years to come.
You can’t blame young
couples for their decision to have fewer children than their own
parents. Over the past three decades, total family incomes in real
terms — that is, adjusted for inflation — have actually gone down.
Statistics Canada says the median family income in 1980 was $58,000.
Twenty-seven years later, it’s $57,700. (Both figures are expressed in
2005 dollars to remove the effects of inflation.)But stagnant incomes
are not the worst problem. A generation ago, it took just one working
parent to generate that median household income. These days it takes
Read the entire article here.
I know this reality all too well. We live it every day. The constant struggle of trying to make ends meet and provide for a family on a single income, when you live in a dual income world.
For us, there is no other option, no other consideration. We choose to continue to work hard to live frugally and carefully in order to keep me at home, raising our children, and have decided to trust God with our family size and the financial consequences that may bring. Some declare us foolhardy. Others say we’ll change our minds. Some may think that we won’t be able to provide our children with everything that they "need".
We choose to believe instead that children are a blessing, regardless of our income, our house size, what we drive, the state of our wardrobe or how much our kid’s RESPs are worth. We choose to view children as an asset, and not a liability.
However, the struggle remains. I found myself nodding my head over and over again as I read the article, agreeing with many of it’s points–yes, young families are overtaxed, can barely make ends meet, feel pressured to have the mother working. Yes, that our country is in trouble, that children are our future, and that we have lost sight of their value.
I disagreed with the conclusions of the article, regarding higher pay for maternity leave and improved daycare systems and subsidies. Farming our children out to be raised by others is not the answer. Personally, I think a return to valuing the traditional family and seeking to support it through tax breaks and other means would be a step in the right direction.
What do you think about this issue? Do you relate to the financial struggles described in the article (and where do you live)? What do you think should be the response of the government to declining birth rates and the financial challenges faced by young families in today’s economy?