Workplace Conflicts Up, Birth Rates Down, More Holiday Survival Tips

Today’s post is a shiny gift bag full of interesting events and posts in the childless community.

1) On the Childless by Marriage Facebook page, I recently shared a post that riled some readers. Let’s see what you think.

“This Mom Ran Out Of Vacation Days, Asked Her Kid-Free Coworker To Give Her Some, And Now The Co-Worker Is Asking If She’s An A**hole For Saying No”

Before you go crazy, you should know that the mom used up her paid time off dealing with her brother’s death and her daughter’s illness. I don’t know why the company didn’t offer some kind of bereavement leave. I mean, she lost her brother. But should she expect a co-worker to give up her paid time off because she doesn’t have children and presumably doesn’t need those days as much as someone with kids? If you read past the annoying ads to the end of the story, you’ll see that her co-workers came up with a pretty good solution.

But what do you think? Have you ever been asked to sacrifice your time off because a co-worker with kids needed a break? What is or would be your reaction? Does your employer have policies to deal with these situations? All of us have times when we need to take off to deal with family emergencies or our own needs, not to mention needing a vacation now and then. How can companies make it fair?

2) A recent Pew Survey found that 44% of Americans between the ages of 18 and 49 who aren’t parents say it is not too likely or not at all likely that they will have children—an increase of 7 percentage points from 2018. That’s a big percentage. You might want to read this axios piece for the details, but here are some highlights.

  • 19.6 percent of Americans between 55 and 64 reported being childless, compared to 15.9 percent of those 65-74 and 10.98 percent of those over 75.
  • There are more dogs than children in San Francisco.
  • Fears about the environment and the general state of the world are seriously impacting fertility rates.

A related article, “Poll: More Americans Don’t Plan on Having Kids,” looks at the reasons people stated for not having children. A surprising 56 percent said they “just didn’t want to.” Here are their other reasons:

  • Medical reasons: 19%
  • Financial reasons: 17%
  • Don’t have a partner: 15%
  • Age or partner’s age: 10%
  • State of the world: 9%
  • Environmental reasons: 5%
  • Partner doesn’t want kids: 2%

What would you or your partner say to this question?

3) I heard a great podcast last week. “Single, Childless, and/or Struggling? 10 Tips for Surviving the Holidays,” offered at the Sara Avant Stover podcast, gives some great suggestions. It’s only 20 minutes. Give it a listen.

Have I given you too much this week? Maybe I have. It’s almost Christmas. I’m feeling generous. As always, I welcome your comments. Feel free to be as opinionated as you please. And if you want to write something longer than a paragraph, how about submitting a guest post for the blog?

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Book predicts decreasing birth rate will lead to disaster

What to Expect When No One’s Expecting: America’s Coming Demographic Disaster by Jonathan V. Last, Encounter Books, 2013. 

After years of hearing that we have too many people on this planet and that we have to decrease our population, here comes Jonathan V. Last to tell us that if we don’t start having more children, we’re in trouble. We’ll have a population of old people with no young ones to support them. Other authors tell us the exact opposite. Whom should we believe? This book is a slow read, a scholarly compilation of statistics that show the birth rate going down below replacement level in most first-world countries. Last blames it on many factors of modern life, including the cost of raising children, women going to college and having careers instead of babies, the decline of marriage and religion and the general belief that having children will take all the fun out of life. He details the efforts, mostly unsuccessful, that have been made to encourage people to have more children and makes suggestions for how to encourage more births. Last has a strong conservative bias and occasionally laces this footnote-fest with sarcasm, but there’s a lot of interesting information here, and it certainly provides food for thought. 

There’s no doubt the birth rate has been going down. In some countries, such as Germany and Japan, the population is shrinking at a rapid rate. The question is whether this is a problem. I had this book with me at the doctor’s office a couple days ago. When I showed my doctor the cover, she exclaimed that a smaller population is a good thing, that this world has too many people in it. That’s what most people think. Just visit any large American city at rush hour. Wouldn’t fewer people and more open space be good? Yes, we’d have to work out how to manage things like Social Security with fewer workers contributing to it, but wouldn’t it even out in time? 

And how does this affect our individual decisions on whether or not to have children? Certainly overpopulation is often cited by the childfree crowd as a good reason not to have kids. If we’re to believe Jonathan V. Last, anyone who has more than two children should be rewarded with tax breaks and other incentives. But Laura Carroll maintains in The Baby Matrix, reviewed here in February, that couples should be given tax breaks for NOT having children. 

So what’s the answer? I think if you want to have children, you should have them, and if you don’t want them, don’t have them. The population will sort itself out. 

What do you think?