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Its obvious that having children must be a positive biological function that prior generations somehow wanted to do, or we wouldn't be here. Any species that doesn't breed goes extinct. So I believe these factors are the root cause of why children suddenly seem like such a "problem":

1. Lack of support network -- many people living as just a couple or alone (and the strain on couple is so high that likely they will be alone soon).

2. Social emphasis on individualism rather than self-sacrifice or community focus.

3. Breakdown of community and trust -- so watching and keeping kids safe is full time job. Must be driven to and from everything, no playing by themselves after school.

4. Increased education -- older parents with more debt and pressure, working in more demanding and/or rewarding jobs.

5. Children need more -- expense of having child keeps increasing. The cost of all goods rising relative to wages, but also the cost of school, daycare, extra-curriculars, etc. Basically having a child is a huge cost, the medical bill just to have the child can be $20K in some hospitals. In most of the world that would mean no one could have a child in a hospital.




Great list, but there's a couple of important missing pieces:

6. Changing norms have greatly increased what is expected of a parent raising a child. Ignoring external cost increases, this has profoundly increased the cost and time investment to having a child.

7. Economic changes (e.g. 30 years of wage stagnation) all but force a family with both parents working, meaning parents have to work, and then thanks to #6, also do more at home.

So parents are expected to do far more with far less, with no support from family, community, or society.


There were definitely large swaths of history where having kids was a net economic gain (they could work the fields, help with chores, etc).


Great points! There's also something about the isolation most modern adults feel. Look around at all primitive humans and apes, not a lot of singles and couples raising children. Think it would be a lot easier if it was less "you vs the world, oh and raise these kids" feeling to it.


There used to be a saying, "it takes a village to raise a child." This was a very real phenomenon where kids would run around an entire town, and everyone felt responsible for them.

This structure has fallen apart in the last 100-150 years or so as wealth, individuality, and other factors you note have dominated western, especially American, life, although the same thing has happened widely in Europe.

Thus the burden, instead of being born by many and therefore not being "so bad", is instead entirely born by 2 or 1 and it is of course that multiple more work. If 25 people would have shared the burden before, you, alone, are now doing all of it, along with the burdens of increased costs, expectations, responsibilities, etc. It's no wonder that raising kids is such a non-starter for many.

The solution, from my point of view, is not to not have kids. That just promotes losing our humanity. For me it is to change those structures that make family so hard.

If we lose what makes us human... wtf is the point of all the things we build.


I absolutely agree. Something natural, like having children, has become complicated and this is problematic. Knowing that there's single parents struggling to care for their children because they're alone, without support network or community, is heart breaking.


That's an interesting line of thought about the artificial complexity/problematic aspects overlaid on something so natural. A society that can reduce any friction about so necessary a behavior should enjoy a strong long term competitive advantage. The barren lifestyle can only proceed as long as generation+0 then another will inherit it by default. There's some funny quote I heard once, "the future belongs to those who show up". We need people to show up, how can we make it not so complicated?


Raising children has become complex because living in our modern society is complex. We are far from the times in which men went to hunt and women worked on the field or made various objects in the village and the elderly cared for the children.

Now we work 40h+ per week, not including the daily commute, the various appointments, the kids soccer game/karate lessons, helping them with their homework, doing various chores around the house, preparing meals, etc...

We have more comfort, luxury and product selection than ever, but there's a price to pay in terms of energy, time and money.


It's a product of straight greed. Look at any business that is making large profits but still won't give paternity or even maternity leave because they don't want to pay for their employees choices. Many people and companies viee themselves as individuals who are extracting value from society instead of members of a community who are adding value to their society.

Until that becomes a rare viewpoint, or at least one with no power, we will have these problems


These are great points. My wife and I realized being isolated in the city we moved to for work was a big component of our unhappiness. The "go it alone" nature of American society is not how humans were built to live.


Your notes on "trust" and "support network" are very, very interesting and good points. I can imagine in smaller towns or old villages, you would be more or less okay with your children playing by themselves. Maybe you could even trust your neighbor and local granny to watch over them. But now, there's so much fear of crime and kidnapping. What a horrible situation!


While I agree with most of your points, I'd like to point out that it's not necessarily true that prior generations wanted/enjoyed having children. People didn't have much in terms of birth control for most of human history, so having sex would often lead to children whether the parents wanted them or not.


Great points. We live 1000 miles from family and it has made it much more difficult on us




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