Needed: More families with many children
Juho Sankamo, Seurakuntalainen
Many media in Finland have warned about the historically low birth rate in the country. Fewer children are born in Finland today than during the famine years of the 19th century. Elsewhere in the Western world, China and Russia, the same situation grows. There are fewer and fewer children and young people, while the share of elderly people grows within the population.
What are the implications of this trend? Elon Musk, the father of eight children and the owner of Tesla and Twitter, has received a lot of flak for saying that perhaps the biggest crisis of our time is related to the collapse of the birth rate.
However, I agree with Elon. The Pope has also talked about how a dark and cold "demographic winter" looms for Europe with no children and no future.
The former Prime Minister of Italy, Marion Draghi, points out the message Italy's shockingly low birth rates convene: "An Italy without children is an Italy that does not believe in itself, and that does not prepare for the future. It is Italy, which is destined to grow old and disappear slowly." Those are harsh words, but the same applies to Finland.
The previous Pope, Benedict XVI, thought that Europe's baby bust meant that we had lost the passion for life. "Europe is plagued by a strange lack of desire for the future. Children, our future, are considered a threat to the present as if they are taking something away from our lives. At least some people see children as a liability rather than a source of hope. In that sense, today's situation is comparable to the decline of the Roman Empire. In its last days, Rome still functioned as a great historical framework. Still, its vitality and energy had already been exhausted in practice."
Raising children has been made relatively easy and cheap in Finland compared to many other countries. In Finland, we have practically free childbirth, counselling, hospital treatments, nurseries, and schools from the primary level to vocational school and university. Child benefits are available. We have parental leave and care leave. Working life is quite flexible. What else could be done to stimulate people to start a family?
Personally, I think that the idea of family and career as opposing interests should be trashed. Choosing between the two options does not inspire people to start a family. That mindset should be changed. The life of an extended family is actually really chill. For example, we are leaving for a lovely holiday in Rome with our small and compact family of eight. It will surely be a memorable trip.
There is a considerable amount of forgotten and underestimated potential in families. Children keep the old young. Also, children will grow up in time to do the innovations and necessary work. As the Pope said: "Fewer children are born, and this means that everyone's future impoverishes. Italy, Europe and the West are impoverishing their own future."
In any case, I myself encourage and inspire you to start a family. We need families with children."
This article was translated by CNE.news and published earlier by Seurakuntalainen on October 29
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