Dennis Prager’s column of course hit close to home today: “Pope Francis: Pets Can’t Replace Children“:
Pope Francis said something so important last week that it will either be widely ignored or widely disparaged.
The pope criticized “these marriages, in which the spouses do not want children, in which the spouses want to remain without fertility. This culture of well-being … convinced us: It’s better not to have children! It’s better! You can go explore the world, go on holiday, you can have a villa in the countryside; you can be carefree. It might be better — more comfortable — to have a dog, two cats, and the love goes to the two cats and the dog.”
He is right. More than ever before, young men and women in most affluent Western countries (and Russia) have decided not to have children. Instead, many shower love and attention on dogs and cats. Ask many young women — married or single — if they have any children, and if they do not, you are likely to be told, “I have two cats” or “I have two dogs.” There are authors whose book jacket photo shows them with their dog or cat.
In much of the West, animals are the new children.
My wife and I are of course guilty as charged. But there’s another way to look at it too.
Not that pets have to necessarily be a permanent substitute for children, but rather, a kind of kids-training wheels. My friend and colleague Rhonda Robinson suggested this to me years ago when we were first beginning our collaborations. Rhonda’s a super-mom with 10 (it’s 10, right, Rhonda?) kids and I don’t recall how many grand-kids so far and she’s just full of wisdom and life observations.
And she very much got it right, here. Our Siberian Husky Maura turned five this year (easy to remember since she’s the same age as our marriage.) Over the years Maura has been a strong factor in shifting me from the “kind of maybe want to be a parent” to the “YES. Need to be a dad” mindset.
I just don’t think there’s a rush. Better to wait until after the war is won before starting a family. Today is akin to 1938 and I’d rather wait until 1951 or so and would be more than content to adopt…
P.S. Life expectancy is going to have some big changes in the coming decades…