Where you Choose to Live Impacts Your Family

So it’s important if your ambition or your desire calling is to build a large family, that could really impact where you choose to live. One of things we’ve talked about before, but I thought I was reading an article in Christianity Today with Grace Olmstead. And she said some things that I wanted your take on, Jeff. She said, “Throughout our nation’s history, people with tenuous financial situations still choose to get married and have a lot of babies.” So money doesn’t explain everything. Instead, Stone writes, “Our culture and its underlying ideals most determines people’s childbearing decisions.” Put simply, he writes, “There is robust empirical evidence that people learn fertility ideals from their parents and immediate communities.”

So our first point is that a lot of times, people today are saying fertility rates are going down because people are worried about money, and whether or not they have enough money to raise children. Her point though, is that if you compare that analysis with other cultures, that doesn’t really bear out, that culture and parents and communities have a much bigger impact on people’s decisions than finances. She goes on to talk about this idea of community. The difference was not financial, but it was the presence of a supportive multigenerational community. “Even in the United States,” she writes, “today, many communities that maintain strong family societal norms have this kind of modern village parenting style, whether it’s immigrant communities in big cities or Mormons out West.”

Stone wrote for the Institute for Family Studies last year, “Unsurprisingly, these groups tend to have higher fertility rates, perhaps in part because parents and especially women have more volunteer help on hand to assist them.” And so guys, one of the things that we want you just to think about is if you have a desire to build a larger family, it could be really important to think about where you live, and that what community you choose to invest in, and whether or not there’s multigenerational support or community support is going to have a big impact on whether or not that decision actually plays out well for you and your family. Yeah. Jeff, what do you think about that?

Yeah. I love that. And I think too, one thing I like about that is that seems to just reframe the conversation. Because I want to be careful here, because I agree that there’s cultural pressure. So it’s the macro micro, where I think it’s okay to go hard on this conversation on the macro, but be sensitive on the micro. And to me, there’s a lot of cultural pressure, and there is a lot of people that are in debt and strapped and trying to get their life in order. And so the last thing, then they think of kids in their young twenties and in medical school, all different things. And the cost is the thing. That is the hurdle. And it just scares them and there’s fear and there’s terror almost. Totally understand that I think that’s valid at some sense, but I would probably push back on that too, in a longer deeper conversation.

I think me and Alyssa have done a podcast on that. You can go find on Real Life podcast. But at the macro, I love this because I think it totally reshapes… The data seems pretty obvious that actually, it’s the opposite. Basically, the richer you actually get sometimes, the wealthier you get in the Western world, actually the less kids you have. So that actually is it totally inverts it. And then you go to communities that maybe are, what I would call almost second world, not third world countries where they’re living in huts at some level, even then, that probably plays out there as well. But where they still have their basic needs and some infrastructure and stuff like that, but they’re still very communal and tribal, for lack of a better term, have a lot of kids.

And maybe they’re living there. And then you look at their actual income and it’s not comparing to what anyone in the US is making. So that just blows that out of the water, which I love that because I think that’s obvious. That’s obvious. So it’s more about, at the macro, this weird Western idolatry of how much we think we need to make and how much we go above what we actually make living in our means. So you can have plenty of kids on $10 if you only make eight bucks. I mean, or reverse that. But you know what I mean though? And so it’s just living within your means.

So I love that. And then secondly, I just agree. It’s more complex than just that it’s everything. And like you said, one thing I would encourage people too is don’t let that be the only framework you’re thinking through. Push into trust of God and say, “Do I really trust Him? Now, still within wisdom, but do I trust Him?” And there’s so many other ways of capital. There’s neighborhood capital, there’s family capital, there’s city capital. What I mean by that is you can live in a place that you don’t maybe need a ton of money to raise kids, but you’re rich in other ways. You’re rich in support. You’re rich in the job you took that actually doesn’t make that much, but sets you up for leading your family beyond belief. You can go on and on. So think about all the ways of capital besides just the green pieces of paper and how that capital supports your family. And that’s the difference.

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