July 8, 2010

Pew And The 'Unplanned Pregnancy'

The sociologists are right to wonder why, if half of pregnancies are unplanned, only 37% of the respondents in the Pew Research Center's recent survey, "The New Demography of American Motherhood," when asked why they "decided to have children," said, "It wasn't a decision, it just happened."

The study seems to indicate the answer to the question, "To whom do children 'just happen'?" is "teenagers, the poor, and the less educated." But Prof. Lisa Wade speculates these folks are really just less constrained by "the ideology of near-perfect control of reproduction" to admit it.

Let's hold off on coming up with a catchier term than "the ideology of near-perfect control of reproduction" until we figure out what the hell Pew was aiming for with this actual survey question:

"I'm going to read a list of reasons why some people have children. For each one, please tell me how important this factor was for YOU in deciding to have your first child:

  • Having financial resources to raise a child

  • Wanting to have someone to take care of you when you're old

  • The joy of having children

  • Feeling pressure from parents or other family members to have a baby

  • Your spouse or partner really wanted to have a baby

  • It wasn't a decision; it just happened

Given the mismatched choices and the ambiguous wording--and the absence of "We already got a dog," "to bring me beers in a couple of years," and "because Bristol Palin had one"--I'm frankly surprised everyone without an IVF pipette didn't say "it just happened."

To Whom Do Children "Just Happen"? [sociological images]
The New Demography of American Motherhood [pewsocialtrends.org, PDF]


G)I always wanted a little person to hide the remote on me.

sociologists...wonder why, if half of pregnancies are unplanned, only 37%...when asked why they "decided to have children," said, "It wasn't a decision, it just happened."


Just because the pregnancy was unplanned doesn't mean there wasn't a decision to have children somewhere along the line. For example:

1) A couple can decide in theory they're going to have kids at some point in the future, and then be surprised by the timing of a pregnancy.

2) A couple who already has kids that were planned can be surprised by an additional pregnancy.

3) A couple who hasn't even thought about having kids can find themselves pregnant and still make a conscious decision to "have children" (i.e., keep the baby) as opposed to abortion or adoption.

About 8 months ago i found out my wife was pregnant. It was a surprise! We had spoken about wanting kids and my wife had been asking me to make the decision, but i wasn't sure. It truly was an accident but I'm less than 7 weeks away from becoming a dad and i feel great! After the news settled in I really started seeing that the grass on the other side of the fence really is greener. I've been writing about it for a few weeks. Check it out, i hope some of you guys can benefit from my experience.


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