If you are a mother, imagine having an infant in America in the present.
It’s the first step to deciding how to feed it. Ideally, you are able to breastfeed, as the nation’s supply of infant formula is becoming more severe and families are driving thousands of miles, or spending thousands of dollars just to provide their children with the nutrients they require.
It is then your responsibility to ensure that you take care of it you’ll have to be successful with this, as it is the case that the US is the one rich nation in the world that does not offer the right to parental leave. Also, child care costs more than college in many states, if you can even find a provider — more than 50% of Americans are in child care centers in which there are over three kids per space at daycare.
When your child turns 5years old it’s still a good idea to attend schools … in which case they must endure “active shooter drills” in the event that what happened at Uvalde and Sandy Hook or Parkland is happening in their school too.
It’s not even taking into account the constant Covid-19 epidemic and the constant danger caused by climate change and the escalating maternal mortality epidemic that has seen the Black or Indigenous Americans die preventable deaths trying to bear a child.
If this all makes you nervous You’re not alone. While raising children in America isn’t simple, especially for minorities, it’s beginning to seem impossible. Many prospective parents and those who aren’t sure are wondering how they are supposed to have and raise children in a nation where people seem to despise children as well as parents.
“A lot of people are afraid of what it means to be alive at this time, what it means to actually bring children into the world,” said Latham Thomas, the founder of the maternal health and educational platform MamaGlow.
The present, Thomas and other reproductive justice advocates claim they are calling for two options. One is to acknowledge that not having children is a perfectly legitimate choice and is worthy of respect; this recognition will be even more crucial, they say in the event that it is the case that Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade and will make the decision to live to have a child-free lifestyle more challenging.
Another is to address the root issues that have made American society so unfriendly towards children and parents. This is a task that’s not impossible however it’s difficult and no single person or family member can accomplish it all on their own. “Raising children and caring for people is a social responsibility,” said Angela Garbes, author of the book Essential Labor motherhood as social Change. “We need each other.”
It’s been a tense year for parents and those who might become parents.
In the first quarter of 2022 parents as well as future parents were exposed to an incredible array of frightening information.
In February the month of February, one Abbott infant formula factory was forced to shut down, sending the nation into its most severe shortage of formula and one that’s still raging four years after the fact. Over half of all babies drink three months of the formula of age. And the formula is essential for many families. “This is basic stuff: to be able to feed and care for your family,” Garbes explained. Parents are now being pressured “to go to extreme measures to track these issues down as the last thing people who are financially strapped or who are working many jobs, have time for. This is so cruel.”
Parents struggled with a lack of children’s food — a situation which has put many children in hospitals and many in the hospital confronted with the report that a shooter took the lives of 19 students and two teachers at Robb Elementary in Uvalde, Texas. The shooting was terrifying and shockingly similar to the massacre at which it was previously reported – this was the 27th mass shooting in the school in the year 2022.
These crimes, as well as the congressional lack of action on gun control, seem like an act of betrayal for many parents since public education is “one of the beautiful things that we have in this country — that you can send your child to school for free,” as Garbes said. “Now people are confronting that our children aren’t even safe there.”
All of this takes place amid the current Covid-19 pandemic which has seen many restrictions on public health lifted, but children who are younger than five are not yet vaccination-free for
Covid-19. Parents of children who are the youngest with endless quarantines and worries about illnesses and all the while feeling a bit lost by a society that has often appeared to have “moved on” from Covid. “I want to scream,” Jaime Green wrote on Slate. “The pandemic is not fucking over, because children under 5 cannot get fucking vaccinated.” This was back in January.
However, the issues for parents before the outbreak are still present and, in many cases, the situation has gotten more difficult. Finding childcare, for example, is more challenging than ever before, with the cost for families increasing at an average rate of 41% between the years 2018 and 2020 because of the increased costs of securing children during a deadly pandemic. Costs have increased even more in the past few years, with the cost of child care exceeding inflation. Many child childcare centers have been shut completely due to the outbreak, which has made the shortage of child care more of an issue than they were prior.
The US continues to be in comparison to other nations when it comes to birth outcomes. In 2018 the US came in last in maternal mortality among the same group of wealthy nations. This risk is particularly significant for Black mothers who are between three and four higher risk of dying during the birthing process than white mothers.
The pandemic exacerbated the situation particularly in the beginning, with doulas as well as other professionals and other support people whose presence has been proven to increase the chances of a successful birth and are often ineligible to be allowed into delivery rooms due to of Covid guidelines. The media’s focus on maternal mortality has led Americans, particularly in Black communities conscious of this issue and more frightened of how it may affect the women in their communities. “Thinking that this could happen to you will prevent some people from maybe even considering having children,” Thomas stated.
And then there’s the fear of racialized violence, as well as police brutality which begins as the children are born, and will never end. Thomas the mother of an 18-year-old son, tells it was during Covid-19 that “my nervous system was the most relaxed it’s ever been, knowing that he was home.” She’s heard similar stories from other Black mothers. “It’s really every life stage,” she added. “We deserve to watch our kids grow in a safe space.”
If you’re thinking about having children with children in America, “all the baseline fears and stressors are still there,” said Diana Morelen, a psychology professor at East Tennessee State University who is studying the children’s and parents’ mental health. Since the pandemic started, “we’ve only added to the level of stress and fear and, really, adversity facing folks in their childbearing years.”
Some people are making the decision to have fewer children
The added stress has caused many Americans to delay having kids or avoid it completely. The US birth rate dropped by approximately 4 percent between the years 2019 to 2020, which is
among the largest declines over the past decade, CNN reported. Although birth rates increased slightly in 2021 they were lower than the levels in 2019.
The people who decide not to reproduce comprise many who are in the grip of climate change, for instance, One Morgan Stanley analysis found that the decision “to not have children owing to fears over climate change is growing and impacting fertility rates quicker than any preceding trend in the field of fertility decline.”
Parents are making the decision not to get more children regardless of whether they would have liked a larger family. One mother, who was forced to leave her position in the year 2020 in order to take care of her daughter who was just a toddler, said to Emily Gould in the New York Times that the spread of the disease and its aftermath made her and her husband decide to limit their children’s number: “The new realization of just how little society values kids and parents — especially mothers — in any way beyond lip service was a major deterrent.”
Certain Black parents have decided to only have just one or two kids due to the fear of medical racism and the potential for deadly results during the birthing process as well as those who suffered difficulties or discrimination in the past. Thomas who is the MamaGlow co-founder has received remarks from clients such as “I had a really challenging experience before and I’m not willing to try it again,” she stated.
But, not all people have the choice of when and if they’d like to become a mother. For a long time, abortion restrictions in the South and Midwest have made termination of a pregnancy costly and difficult especially in the case of Black, Indigenous, and other Americans of color, as well as for those with low incomes Americans as they tend to not be able to afford the expenses required to travel to a state for an abortion. In the coming months, having an abortion in a lot of states is likely to be made illegal in the event that they prepare to appeal the Supreme Court appears poised to reverse Roe Wade. Wade, the important 1973 decision which established American’s rights to access the procedure.
Because a decision to overturn the Roe decision could impact some methods that control birth and a lot of Americans will soon be faced with the decision to have a child removed from them at a time when being a parent is more frightening than ever. Due to the shortage of formula for a single instance “we now can’t feed these children that people are being forced to have,” Garbes who is one of the authors of Essential Labor author, stated.
The interlocking issues that are affecting American families are currently creating a strain on the health and well-being of those who have children. Women of color specifically were at a higher risk of experiencing mental health problems during the postpartum and pregnancy period prior to the time when the pandemic started, Morelia, the psychologist explained. “Now we’re seeing those rates just go up exponentially.”
The rates of depression, anxiety, and use of drugs are on the rise among fathers as well as other co-parents too, Morelen said, as families confront the fact that “the breadth and the depth
of real traumatic events happening to kids, to people of color, to communities, has only been going up.”
Aiding families and children in 2022 requires embracing the community
It’s a grim picture, however, giving up isn’t an alternative, not least since many millions of Americans are already involved in their daily work of guiding kids through the uncertain times. There are solutions to policies that are accepted elsewhere around the globe, that can help children and their parents live better lives. Garbe highlights paid time off as well as universal health coverage and a greater minimum wage as a base for instance. Certain policies that were introduced during the epidemic, such as those that introduced the Child Tax Credit has shown to improve the lives of children. “We’ve come closer in the last two years,” Garbes stated.
However, Congress allowed that credit to expire, and a program from the pandemic era that allowed schools to provide meals to children is scheduled to be the same. Other wealthy nations such as Australia and Norway invest 2 or 3.5% of their gross domestic product on programs to help families according to the US is spending just 0.6 percent. The way Garbes stated in a blunt manner, “this country hates children.”
In spite of that grim backdrop, However, positive change could be made. Brooklyn Mayor Antonio Reynoso, for example, recently announced plans to tackle maternal mortality through the construction of birth centers at hospitals that are public in the borough in addition to forming an advisory committee on maternal health with doulas and midwives as its focus, Thomas noted. Local initiatives, she added are a way to “moving toward a future that we are creating for ourselves, not waiting for the country to catch up.”
Families, as well are able to come together to ease the burden on one another. “Marginalized communities and communities of color have always survived by making community and taking care of each other,” Garbes stated. This has been happening through the entire pandemic as well, with the mutual aid organizations helping neighbors with food items and other necessities and families coming together to look after children during times when daycares and schools were shut down. Garbes’s family grew close to neighbors, who also have two young daughters. the two families developed a friendship that extended far beyond sharing child-care to dinners at potlucks, swaps of clothes, and visits while one of them recuperating from surgery.
These relationships don’t substitute for structural changes needed to create America more secure and more inviting for parents and children, however, establishing a more unified perspective on family life could reduce the anxiety that exists. It’s possible to start small — for some, it could be a few minutes with a friend during school pickup time so that you can organize an evening of play, Garbes said. “It’s a slow process,” she said, but “you reap benefits that you’re just not even able to maybe imagine at this moment.”
A system of values that is more social could also recognize it is possible to find avenues to provide and receive care that isn’t related to parental responsibility. “I’ve been hearing from people who are just thinking about ways that they want to be caring members of a community,”