"Now that 'children no longer provide any economic benefit to their parents, but are rather costly impediments to material success, people well adapted to this new environment will tend not to reproduce,' Longman writes. 'And many others who are not so successful will imitate them, and for good reason.' Families might choose to have only one child so they can afford to splurge on one while maintaining their own comforts of living (um, that would be me)."
The problem, experts say, is that U.S. lawmakers and corporations aren't addressing many of the challenges facing families. Longman points to the continuing culture wars between work and family: "Everyone who wants to may join the paid labor force, but almost no one gets a family wage or enough help from government to defray the costs of raising children." He figures the critical moment will emerge during the next decade, "as millions of Baby Boomers start crashing past the boundaries of old age, and as today's teenagers find themselves saddled with massive student loans, rising taxes, and growing frustration over the difficulty of forming or affording a family."
The hope is that some savior will invent policies to ease parents' financial pain. "We need somebody somewhere to think of a new vision of what families can be," Skolnick says."People want to get past the family value wars."
Until then, as Longman puts it bluntly: "Child rearing is fast becoming a sucker's game. Though the psychic rewards remain, the economic returns to individual parents have largely disappeared, while the cost of parenthood is soaring."
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