My Mommy War
The reader said she didn't want children. I urged her to reconsider. Here's what happened next.
Some of the people who wrote to me said it was irresponsible to bring a child into such a lousy world. Making that same point was a letter to the editor in the Washington Post in response to Robert Samuelson's column on declining population. In the letter, the writer said that after reading Paul Ehrlich's The Population Bomb 35 years ago he decided not to have children, a decision he encouraged others to make because it "may be one of the best ways to say yes to the future." This man didn't have children because of a book that turned out to be wrong! Even Paul Ehrlich, who predicted that by the 1970s the world would be in the grip of catastrophic famine, had a child!
I am one of four siblings, and I come from a hash of an unhappy family. Not passing on more unhappiness was one of the reasons I wasn't going to have children. But we all somehow ended up in solid marriages, and together we have produced four children. The oldest is a midshipman at the U.S. Naval Academy, the youngest is the world's most delightful 1-year-old. They are a better way of saying yes.
Emily Yoffe is a regular Slate contributor. She writes the Dear Prudence and Human Guinea Pig columns. You can send Dear Prudence questions for publication to firstname.lastname@example.org. (Questions may be edited.) Subscribe to Emily Yoffe's Facebook page.
Photograph of baby on Slate's home page courtesy Photodisc.