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Embracing New Life: Having Children in 2024

Numerous studies in recent times have shown that adults have never been more afraid of having children and the reason is not as simple as not wanting them, it is because they fear the world that their kids will have to grow up in. There are grim things in life – pain, suffering, death – but what weighs on people more is global circumstances and the guilty thoughts that having children and “making” them grow up in society as we know it is a selfish, bad idea with where the world is today.

First, it’s about figuring out the costs of raising a child. In a suffering economy, there are concerns about the very basic needs such as groceries and rent. Adding baby formula, diapers and other kids’ items creates financial concern for many Canadians. Concerns about having to take parental leave with lower income but more expenses, and the very significant cost of childcare when you must return to work – and that’s if you can find childcare in the first place.

Then your kid turns 5, and at least they can go to school… now there are concerns about safety, what your kids must learn about the threats and risks they face in the world, and what they must endure with lockdowns and drills to combat those threats. And all of this does not even account for more global situations like the COVID-19 pandemic, the daily threat of climate change, or maybe the worsening maternal mortality crisis that means all too many people die preventable deaths trying to have a baby.

If these things terrify you, you’re not alone. While having and raising a child has never been easy, many Canadians feel that it’s starting to feel impossible. More prospective parents than ever, and those on the fence, are wondering how exactly they are supposed to bring new life into a country that is seemingly unable to support and afford it, with a world that has such grave issues beyond control.

For those who have chosen not to have children primarily due to financial concerns, unprecedented times, and the issues in our world, how can one respond to the argument that addressing these challenges collectively, through societal changes and personal choices, could create a more sustainable and supportive environment for raising a family?

There’s hope, and maybe things aren’t so bad.

The first step to finding the real solution to these problems is to identify and tackle issues with deep roots that make Canadian society seem so hostile to children and parents. This work is possible, but difficult, and it takes searching for the good things that our world has to offer. Concerns about having and raising children have united people and created more awareness than ever around possible solutions, and this awareness can make a real difference. In the words of Angela Garbes, author of the book Essential Labor: Mothering as Social Change, “Raising children and caring for people is a social responsibility, we need each other.”

Over the last few years, more than ever before, parents and prospective parents have been exposed to terrifying news and global events. With that said, global events have existed since the beginning of time, but today’s scale of media coverage and one-sided perspectives have not – this is the root of the problem. Understanding that the world has always had problems and the greatest difference now is the world’s ability to broadcast and put the spotlight on problems and issues instead of recognizing good is a sobering picture, but it is also the reason why the concept of having children is not worth giving up on.

Financial resources are available to Canadians with children, and they are worth looking into. Between the Canada child benefit, government subsidies, childcare subsidies, and countless province-specific resources in each region, there is funding available to aid in the increasing costs of raising children.

Research emphasizes that it’s also very possible to care for kids, and history proves that it’s been done repeatedly in times of great uncertainty. Kids are extremely resilient, and families have historically bounced back from pandemics, wars, famines, floods, and other disasters long before this – time and time again. To be strong in times likes this does not mean that parents cannot be afraid, but it is important for them to not feel alone and helpless, but rather have faith in themselves and see the positive side of our world, especially with the privilege of living in Canada.

The most important thing that children need is safety, love, and stability with a family that is bigger, kinder, wiser, and stronger. It is not selfish to want and have children, it’s a gift to society to do your best and raise them well.