Good News: More Americans Are Pro-Larger Families
The next step is to put our population where our mouth is.
Gallup recently released an analysis of past polls wherein it posed the question: What is the ideal family size? As it currently stands, 47% of Americans polled believe that one to two children is the ideal, while 45% believe that three or more children is the ideal. Only 2% of all respondents declared that zero children is the ideal. Whew!
The question of ideal family size has shifted greatly since Gallup started asking this question back in 1936. Between 1936 and 1945, the majority of Americans thought three or more children made for an ideal family size. That number started to stagnate — you guessed it — in the 1960s and ‘70s with the advent of more women in the workplace, contraception, and horrible economic stagflation. During those years, opinions trended toward the smaller family model (i.e., one or two kids). Smaller family favoritism hit its peak in 1986, then started to trend back downward, though there was a noticeable spike again during The Great Recession in 2011.
Now Americans are pretty evenly split on what constitutes a good family size, with larger families gaining more favor year after year.
Sadly, though the ideal of a large family size is good and healthy, the reality of what American families are actually doing is slightly different.
Before this author digs into the specifics, it is necessary and right to acknowledge those married couples who struggle with infertility. This piece, though it mentions childlessness in a negative light, is not aimed toward those husbands and wives who want children but are unable to have any of their own. You have our support and sympathy on this difficult path, and our prayer is that you are able to have your own family someday.
According to the Gallup findings, though the American people believe that larger families are the ideal, 31% of couples do not yet have children, 42% have one or two, and 27% have three or more. That is a vast disparity, particularly in the “no children” category. This data also points to the fact that our country is in a population death spiral, and if the birth rate continues to be so poor, it will have major economic consequences for the future.
Even some Democrats acknowledge this. Though we talk about how the Democrats celebrate a culture of death, particularly in their views on marriage and the family, it is interesting to note that there might be a shifting trend back toward the institution of marriage and family. Melissa Kearney, a leftist academic, recently wrote a book entitled The Two-Parent Privilege. Kearney is an MIT-trained economist and, according to the back cover, makes “a provocative, data-driven case for marriage by showing how the institution’s decline has led to a host of economic woes — problems that have fractured American society and rendered vulnerable populations even more vulnerable.”
She uses leftist language, but her points still stand: Marriage with a mother and a father is the best guarantor of a child’s future success. Furthermore, if our country wishes to thrive, marriage and children are the way to go.
Interestingly enough, on the conservative end of the spectrum, there is a group of “red-pilled” individuals that is uncharacteristically anti-marriage and family. The Daily Wire’s Matt Walsh calls attention to these misguided individuals in his latest article. Marriage and family, according to this group, are a rigged game against men because in a divorce the wives tend to get everything. This premise only works if it’s based on faulty statistics. Some of these individuals claim the old number that 50% of marriages end in divorce, whereas others claim that having a successful marriage is like winning the lottery (so a less than 1% chance).
What is the actual divorce rate in the U.S.? Well, it’s hard to determine an exact percentage, but according to Walsh: “Our best guess is based on U.S. Census data, which, according to the most recent figures, says that about 35% of American adults who have been married, have been divorced. 35% is high — way too high — but it’s not 50%, and it’s not 75%, and it’s not 99%.” Walsh concludes his article with this very apt thought on the whole premise:
The answer, it appears, is that an entire generation of young men — if not multiple generations — should skip marriage while we wait for the system to improve. But this is not a viable solution. It’s not a solution at all, it’s a surrender. You are asking entire generations to give up their bloodline, their legacy, their chance of finding the transcendent joy and meaning that family life can provide. You are asking them to give up on themselves, and on civilization itself. For thousands of years human beings have always understood that their most basic purpose and obligation was to form families and have children — and yet you are telling these young men to ignore this calling. And do what instead? Live for themselves, alone, wasting away in front of screens, only to die with no descendants, leaving no lasting mark on the world? Think about the kind of misery you are consigning these men to. Think about the catastrophic, probably fatal effect this would have on our country. You can’t give up on propagating the species for a few decades and then pick it back up again like nothing happened. That doesn’t work on any level — individually or societally. It is a recipe for despair and collapse.
Besides radical ideologues on both sides of the spectrum, there is still a hang-up on marriage rates and, consequently, the birth rate in the United States. Marriage and family have become devalued, and part of it has to do with the Rainbow Mafia hijacking the definition of marriage and family; part of it has to do with no-fault divorce; and part of it has to do with a distorted view of the institution and the roles of men, women, and children within that family context.
Then there is a strong leftist contingent that is very anti-family and kids. You have the climate change cultists who dehumanize children and discourage their followers from having any because kids negatively add to the “carbon footprint.” Then you have the abortion advocates’ negative influence that claims the lives of hundreds of thousands of babies each year.
For both the Left and the Right, a major contributor to the population decline is the advent of contraception — or, as Gallup puts it, the “growing acceptance of premarital sex” — which has led to the degradation of marital intimacy, helped to confuse and obscure the roles of male and female in a marital relationship, and also further cheapened the sanctity of life. Both sides are also vulnerable to the whims and caprices of economic factors. During times of economic unrest or instability, couples are less inclined to add to the population.
With all that seems stacked against marriage and family, the trend in the Gallup poll is excellent news. Many Americans believe in big families. Now the next step is for couples to start creating their ideal families, one kiddo at a time.
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