Do You Want Children?

Essay by KayshaUniversity, Master'sA+, February 2004

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There is much speculation about the relative importance of factors contributing to the fall in child conception since access to effective contraception became readily available. Considerable attention has been given to life course trends in society, financial and non-financial costs of having children, and beliefs, attitudes or values that may discourage childbearing. Researchers such as Jessie Bernard, J.E. Veevers and Ken Kiser have discovered plausible methods of fertility decision-making found among contemporary American couples. Understanding these models and looking at a few examples of American couples allows us to comprehend why some may choose to only have one child while others may choose to stay childless permanently. As crazy as it may sound, this is occurring at an increasing rate and I intend to explain why in the contents of this essay.

Jessie Bernard has come up with a model including eight career patterns:

A. 3-1-2-4 ------------------------------------------- Early Interrupted PatternB.

3-4-1-2-4 ------------------------------------------- Late Interrupted PatternC. 3-1-4-2-4 ------------------------------------------- " " "D. 1-3-4-2-4 ------------------------------------------- " " "E. 1-3-2-4 ------------------------------------------- " " "F. 1-2-3-4 ------------------------------------------- Uninterrupted PatternG. 1- - -3-4 ------------------------------------------- " "H. - - - -3-4 ------------------------------------------- " "* 1=Marriage 2=Motherhood 3=Education/Career Prep. 4=Career

This model is a great way to look at fertility decision-making, but it is lacking in a few areas. First of all, it is sort of a "luxury model." It assumes that women have the choice to drop in and out of work. In many households, work is not an option, so planning on having children is somewhat based on the flexibility offered in the male and female's career (depending mostly on the female). Secondly, the part of this model is appealing to women is part B through E (otherwise known as Late Interrupted Patterns). Studies have shown that women have a large "say-so" in the childbearing...