In October I reviewed explanations for the clearly-maladaptive demographic transition, whereby societies consistently have fewer kids as they get rich. I leaned toward:
Lower … acceptance of childbearing and motherhood as measures of the status of women.
Mothering can be time consuming, but, relative to career success, succeeding at mothering isn’t seen to signal good abilities much besides a kind heart and willingness to work hard. Very successful career women are far more respected than than very successful mothers. So women who want to look good focus on a career, and hope to have kids later once they’ve succeeded there. Apparently once-adaptive status cues now induce a maladaptive obsession with status markers that only careers can bring.
Bryan Caplan wants to encourage more folks to have kids, via convincing them that parenting needn’t be as hard as we think:
When parents falsely believe that they have to break their backs to raise decent human beings, though, the private cost is quite high.
Alas I fear this may have the opposite affect, lowering even further the status to be gained for a successful parent. Maybe what we instead need is some form of extreme parenting, i.e., a parenting style that, when done successfully, says great things about parent abilities. A parenting style that requires not just time or cash, but also great intelligence, social savvy, artistic taste, and so on. One where a successful mom could look as good or better than a successful author, actor, or businesswoman.
Home-schooling seems a step in the right direction; is this why home-schooling is so popular? Could we at least start by more visibly celebrating moms who have done a fantastic job, such as via a better funded and higher profile greatest mom of the year award?