Monday, January 19, 2015
Why aren't Italians having babies?
Time for the Family 1/19/2015 Contraception , Dignity of the human person , Family , Fruitfulness , KVidmar , Love
I recently came across a startling fact: If present trends continue, by the year 2050 roughly 60% of Italians will no longer have the experience of having a brother, sister, aunt, uncle, or cousin. How can this be? Like many countries in Europe, the birth rate is well below the replacement rate. And when couples are having children, they are only having one. Fast forward to the next generation – if I’m an only child and I marry an only child, then neither of us know what it means to have a sibling. And it follows that our children will not have aunts, uncles, or first cousins.
|Dennis Jarvis, "Italy-2516-Taormina" is licensed under CC by 2.0|
Why aren’t Italians having babies? Is it true that their cultural and civilizational morale is truly so low, their hope for the future truly so bleak that they do not have the collective desire to raise up a new generation? Following St. John Paul II’s line of thought, how is it possible that an entire culture can come to view children as a threat rather than a gift?
To find an answer, I need look no further than my own heart.
When my daughter was 11 months old, my husband and I conceived again. Mary Claire, my beloved little girl, was still so dependent on her mama. Due to medical problems early on, she was just beginning to catch up developmentally. Anticipating the demands made on a mother by an infant, I admit that several times throughout the early weeks of my second pregnancy I found myself thinking things like this:
“Mary Claire’s not showing any signs of walking soon – what on earth will I do if I have to carry two babies around wherever I go?”
“Poor Mary Claire! With another baby around, I won’t be able to respond as quickly as I am now when she needs me. What if she’s crying and I can’t comfort her?”
Though it is truly insane, I admit that the notion that this new child was somehow a threat to me, but moreover, a threat to my firstborn, was very real. Gratefully, through the life of grace, a wonderful husband, and good friends, I was able to recognize these passing thoughts for what they were and ask Jesus to send them back to hell where they belong.
Thank God for the experience. It affirms for me the answer to this question: How do the “structures of sin” John Paul II spoke about become embedded in a culture? Always and only and evermore through individual acts of spiritual decision – through the human heart. Hearts like yours, and hearts like mine.
After loving my husband, a sibling is the greatest gift I can give my daughter. By God’s grace, I’ll be able to introduce her to her brother or sister in the next few weeks, and her education in the little “school of love” that is our family will begin a new chapter.