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Hell on two legs - the Tiny Generation
Sydney Morning Herald ^ | 4/12/05 | Hugh Mackay

Posted on 04/12/2005 10:01:28 AM PDT by qam1

Children are the new focus between the haves and the have-nots,

Australia is producing the smallest generation of children we have ever seen, relative to total population. While we debate the implications of this for our ecology, our economy and our immigration policy, spare a thought for the children themselves.

They will be living in a world of bewildering mixed messages. Their overzealous parents will be lavishing attention on them, praising their every achievement as if they are superheroes, yet protecting them as if they are fragile and incompetent.

Meanwhile, there'll be a growing band of non-parents out there who will be indifferent to them, if not resenting their very existence.

China's one-child policy has produced, by all accounts, a generation of "little emperors" who have been hopelessly overindulged and who exhibit the characteristic confidence and self-centredness of the only child. But Australia's situation is different: while our official birthrate of 1.7 babies per woman does reflect a growing proportion of one- and two-child families, an equally significant factor is the rapid rise in the number of couples choosing to have no children at all.

As in other Western countries, our falling birthrate is tied to the rising education levels of women: more highly educated females tend to have fewer children.

But the ethos of the present generation of young adults was bound to drive the birthrate down. Australians born since the mid-1970s have grown up in the midst of our four-pronged cultural revolution (gender, economy, technology, identity). In response, they have learnt to incorporate uncertainty into their lives; to expect and even to welcome change. They are determined to keep their options open, hang loose, wait and see. Their favourite question is: "What else is there?" People who feel like that are not going to rush into marriage and parenthood.

The rampant materialism of contemporary Australia also contributes to the low birthrate by fuelling the determination of young people to maintain a comfortable, flexible lifestyle that would be seriously destabilised by children.

So we can safely assume the birthrate will stay low. The question is: how will it feel to be a member of Australia's smallest-ever generation - let's call them the Tiny Generation - of children?

The Tinies will carry some heavy burdens. Potentially the most crippling will be overparenting. Recognising that children are in short supply, parents are showing signs of becoming overprotective, oversensitive and overzealous.

This is partly the natural behaviour of concerned parents in a competitive world - especially if they only have one child. But in families where both parents are working hard, attention to the kids often comes in short, concentrated bursts because there's insufficient time and energy for more sustained parenting. It was frantically busy parents, not stay-at-home mums, who invented the concept of "quality time" when kids were expected to join in eager communication with a parent just because that parent had suddenly found a window of opportunity. (Nothing stimulates a child's enthusiasm for cello practice like the quality-time glint in a parent's eye.)

All this is likely to slow down the child's journey towards independence and increase the probability that the Tinies will turn into a generation of adolescent hellions as they strive to put some distance between them and their doting parents.

But perhaps an even greater challenge will be learning to live in a society where having children no longer seems "normal". In the next 15 years or so, more than half of all Australian couples will be opting out of parenthood, and the culture-gap between parents and non-parents is already apparent among thirtysomethings. Parents lose interest in their non-parent friends - "Their lifestyles seem so self-indulgent" - while non-parents lose interest in spending time with parents who only want to talk about their children.

To non-parents, other people's kids are about the most deeply uninteresting subject imaginable (even if some of their lack of interest is a cover for lingering uncertainty about whether they have made the right decision). Child-free restaurants will become increasingly popular as non-parents continue to complain about the presence of other people's children spoiling their fun, and it's only a matter of time before the first child-free housing estate is built.

By the time the Tinies are into their 30s, a quarter of the Australian population will be over the age of 65. The impact of that on personal taxation levels can be easily imagined: today's top marginal rates will seem like a cruel joke to this generation. In compensation, though, unemployment will be a thing of the past. When it comes to jobs, they'll be able to pick and choose, just like their grandparents did in the 1950s.

By then, the Tiny Generation will be heartily sick of being constantly compared with their polar opposites - the baby boomers. The boomers were able to attract attention whenever they opened their generational mouth. Being, proportionately, our largest-ever generation, they cut an iconoclastic swathe through our society, transforming everything.

The Tinies will need more subtle skills. What they lack in numbers and noise, they'll learn to make up for in guile, charm and the confidence of knowing - as their parents will have been constantly telling them - that they are special.


TOPICS: Australia/New Zealand; Culture/Society; Extended News
KEYWORDS: australia; deathofthewest; genx; genz; havemorebabies; soccermoms
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1 posted on 04/12/2005 10:01:32 AM PDT by qam1
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To: qam1; ItsOurTimeNow; PresbyRev; tortoise; Fraulein; StoneColdGOP; Clemenza; malakhi; m18436572; ...
Written about Australia but it mirrors the United States

Xer Ping

Ping list for the discussion of the politics and social (and sometimes nostalgic) aspects that directly effect Gen-Reagan/Generation-X (Those born from 1965-1981) including all the spending previous generations (i.e. The Baby Boomers) are doing that Gen-X and Y will end up paying for.

Freep mail me to be added or dropped. See my home page for details and previous articles.

2 posted on 04/12/2005 10:03:21 AM PDT by qam1 (There's been a huge party. All plates and the bottles are empty, all that's left is the bill to pay)
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To: qam1

Coming the the US soon. Most of Europe is already there.

I read somewhere that the average child in Europe right now is growing up without any extended family. No cousins, no uncles or aunts, and soon no parents.


3 posted on 04/12/2005 10:10:07 AM PDT by redgolum ("God is dead" -- Nietzsche. "Nietzsche is dead" -- God.)
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To: redgolum
Coming the the US soon. Most of Europe is already there.

As is Japan and Korea. And China, India and parts of the Muslim world aren't far behind.

A demographic crash is on the horizon.

4 posted on 04/12/2005 10:12:58 AM PDT by Modernman ("I'm in favor of limited government unless it limits what I want government to do."- dirtboy)
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To: qam1
more highly educated self-centered females tend to have fewer children

There, fixed that.

5 posted on 04/12/2005 10:14:21 AM PDT by MEGoody (Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.)
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To: MEGoody

Folks should not have kids if they don't want them.


6 posted on 04/12/2005 10:15:37 AM PDT by k2blader (Immorality bites.)
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To: qam1
The impact of that on personal taxation levels can be easily imagined: today's top marginal rates will seem like a cruel joke to this generation. In compensation, though, unemployment will be a thing of the past. When it comes to jobs, they'll be able to pick and choose, just like their grandparents did in the 1950s.

Au contraire, I submit that unemployment will be very high. The tax structure needed to support the retirees will be punitive, and will drive a lot of Australian business operations offshore.

7 posted on 04/12/2005 10:18:40 AM PDT by Mr. Jeeves ("Violence never settles anything." Genghis Khan, 1162-1227)
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To: qam1

I got a thing from Smith Barney yesterday. It made me ill. All it talked about was the boomers this and the boomers that ... what the boomers do and don't do is, according to whichever analyst wrote it, THE key to the mastery of future investments. Look I realize that the boomers have a lot of pull in numbers, but (broad brushstroke on) they are also the largest per capita carriers of debt, undertakers of divorce, and, in general, the most financially lame generation ever to exist. (/broad brush stroke). To underestimate the economic impacts of smaller, but per capita, more fiscally healthy, generations, is, IMHO, a major screw up.


8 posted on 04/12/2005 10:20:57 AM PDT by GOP_1900AD (Stomping on "PC," destroying the Left, and smoking out faux "conservatives" - Take Back The GOP!)
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To: Modernman
Actually, it is logical to expect slowing of Earth population at some point of civilization's development. It might turn to be painful for our children and grandchildren to get over that point in history, but on the global scale the current exponential grows of population is even scarier.
9 posted on 04/12/2005 10:21:17 AM PDT by Neocon Shavuz
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To: Neocon Shavuz
Actually, it is logical to expect slowing of Earth population

Slowing has been going on for some time. What we're looking at now is shrinkage. If people aren't going to vote for the continuation of their civilization by making babies, their civilization will not continue. A new one will take its place.

If you want to write a letter to your great-great-great-grandchildren, you should probably plan in writing it in Spanish. They will probably live in a Latin American country, even though they never set foot south of the Rio Grande.

10 posted on 04/12/2005 10:34:21 AM PDT by Campion
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To: Modernman
No! No! No! Overpopulation is the problem!

Stop staring at my leisure suit.

There are too many children in the world! This Paul Ehrlich cat knows what's going down! Let me lay this on you . . .

Hey . . . can you stop rifling through my 8-tracks and listen for a second?

11 posted on 04/12/2005 10:35:22 AM PDT by wideawake (God bless our brave soldiers and their Commander in Chief)
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To: qam1
"Child-free restaurants will become increasingly popular as non-parents continue to complain about the presence of other people's children spoiling their fun"
Very true. Some years ago my friends (a family with a child) invited me to a restaurant - there were other patrons with a baby operating at 150+db level. When the waiter finally came for orders, I requested the noisy tot, "well done". It took quite a time for the joke to sink, and the look on the waiter's face was priceless.
12 posted on 04/12/2005 10:37:23 AM PDT by GSlob
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To: qam1

A society that does not reproduce itself is a society with low self esteem.

The entire West seems to have low cultural self esteem.


13 posted on 04/12/2005 10:38:50 AM PDT by NeoCaveman (The DUmmie ants are watching us watching them watching us watching them)
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To: GSlob
"Child-free restaurants will become increasingly popular as non-parents continue to complain about the presence of other people's children spoiling their fun"

I have nothing against well-behaved children in even the fanciest restuarants. However, many parents seem unable or unwilling to control their kids.

14 posted on 04/12/2005 10:48:34 AM PDT by Modernman ("I'm in favor of limited government unless it limits what I want government to do."- dirtboy)
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To: qam1

I'm willing to help some aussie women with, uh, child bearing issues.


15 posted on 04/12/2005 11:01:29 AM PDT by Crazieman (UESR: Union of European Socialist Republics)
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To: Campion
I would like to look beyond my cultural or linguistic preferences. Most of today's World willingly or not lives by the heritage of Ancient societies of Greece, Rome, Judea, etc. who's original languages we don't use anymore. The values, knowledge and freedom only meter. If my grandkids will speak Spanish - fine with me as soon as they don't leave in socialist or even worse, communist, society.
My concern is not to let another Dark Ages happen. That would be truly a set back for civilization.
16 posted on 04/12/2005 11:02:16 AM PDT by Neocon Shavuz
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ping to self....


17 posted on 04/12/2005 11:06:29 AM PDT by little jeremiah (Resisting evil is our duty or we are as responsible as those promoting it.)
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To: k2blader

That almost makes sense doesn't it?


18 posted on 04/12/2005 11:11:19 AM PDT by ├čudda├čudd (7 days - 7 ways (but you must follow the instructions carefully))
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To: MEGoody

"'more highly educated self-centered females tend to have fewer children'
There, fixed that."


Oh, come now. Making babies makes you selfless? Welfare queens, any1?


19 posted on 04/12/2005 11:25:14 AM PDT by the OlLine Rebel (Common sense is an uncommon virtue.)
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To: redgolum

Not in my area...average is about 4 children per household...


20 posted on 04/12/2005 11:32:25 AM PDT by MD_Willington_1976
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