What Happened to All the Kids in the Big Cities?

I love to read the Atlantic. Hopefully you do too. If you’re a nerd who likes to just read random long articles that take like an hour to read, which is really, which is 10 hours in internet time. And one of my favorite journalists authors to read is Derek Thompson. He writes for the Atlantic. He also has a podcast and he’s written a couple of books. I think Hitmakers is one of his main ones. Super good, super fun, fascinating book. But he just wrote an article a little bit ago that we posted in our Five Minute Fatherhood group for some discussion that was really fascinating. And the topic is basically, What Happened To All The Kids In The Big Cities? And he went through the data, he went through the research, but then he also was just kind of having an opinion on… if cities are making it more and more difficult, right? Big cities, urban areas, urban center places for families to be there.

And we’re actually at some level structuring these places to push them out. And he then goes on to say the really at the end of it, cities are becoming nothing more than a place or a headquarters for rich white, young men and women who just kind of brunch all day and do their kind of hustle and workism, which workism is a phrase that he uses by the way in another article on kind of how that’s our new religion in America, this idolatry of work, but a fascinating article. I thought it was really, really good. Jeremy, I’d love to hear your thoughts on it. I think my favorite line was that last line.

I don’t remember the line, but it was so good, I still remember it where I think he says that he’s like, “We’ve gutted the matern… Because he basically said, “He’s moving into this condo in Washington D.C. that used to be a hospital.” And he said, “What an apt metaphor for our culture where metaphorically speaking, we’ve gutted the maternity ward and put up a condo.” And I was like, “Man, that’s so true.” Kind of this from family to individual, but yeah. What did you think?

Yeah, I wanted to, and obviously a lot of you guys, some of you may live in big mega cities, maybe a lot of you don’t, but I think one of the things that I want to sort of signal what I feel like Derek Thompson is saying as well, is that it’s important to know if you are watching any element of culture, movies, TV shows, Instagram hanging at your coffee shop and there are no children, you may be living in a singles theme park. Yeah. And that’s kind of like he uses this sort of phrase. And I think it’s actually really important for us to know, because I think that if you… And this doesn’t just happen in the cities, like I said, it happens through almost any cultural expression that removes all the children. And this happens all the time.

So he wrote, “In high density cities like San Francisco, Seattle, Washington, D.C., no group is growing faster than rich college-educated whites without children according to census analysis by the economist, Jed Kolko. By contrast, families with children older than six are on outright decline in these places. The modern American city is not a microcosm of life. It is a micro slice of it. It’s becoming an Epcot Theme Park for childless affluence where the rich can act like kids without having to actually see any.”

Listen to that line. He’s such a good writer.

Yeah, he is good. He drops little word bombs, but this is great. So I think this is the problem, you guys. The reason why this is such a problem, because if you don’t know these trends are happening, then the story that you’re telling yourself about the good life starts to subtly change.

And this is where it’s very dangerous for all of us. When you start to watch movies, TV shows, see cultural expressions, hang out in cities and you’re not seeing children and you think this is the good life, this is where people are really having the most fun, this is what I wish I had instead of thinking about going out on dates and stopping by the latest foodie restaurant without children, we’re talking about the good life is a multigenerational family around a table in a home. And so if you’re not seeing that reflected anywhere, then oftentimes it starts to shift the way that you think about where your trajectory, what the good life really is all about. And so we’ve told you guys Psalm 120, it really describes the good life, about a multigenerational family around a table. And if you’re aiming for that, then these kinds of images that are just becoming the coolest thing of our culture, can really erode your excitement about having children.

You could start to resent your kids, feel like they’re getting in the way and what’s happening, you guys is, this is not real life. This is a theme park. This is a micro slice. Like you said of life. It’s not a microcosm of life. Real life has children in it. Right? And so it’s important for us to sort of be able to notice the difference. And when you’re beginning to see whole pockets of cultural expressions without children, you know that you’re not looking at the whole of what life has to offer and what a normal life really consists of. And so there are terminal problems with these kinds of narratives that are being played out in some of these mega cities. And I think it’s just important to sort of realize they’re probably subtly influencing you, me in various ways and so just to call it out like this article does, I find very helpful.

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