Children after SHTF: Liability or Responsibility

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How many times have you heard the question, “Who would want to bring a child into this world”? I can remember hearing this saying many times throughout my life both in my personal interactions with other people, usually after some disastrous or tragic event, and in popular culture like movies and TV. The implied rationale behind the question was that life was too hard, too messed up for us to foist that evil upon a poor defenseless child. Who are we to bring a new life into this world that seems so quick to devalue life? Why would you risk raising a child who would almost certainly die in some horrific way?

It is a deep question if you think about it but it shows the inner thoughts of the person asking this question pretty plainly. I have heard this question from people with children of their own who somehow had managed to live to adulthood. These parents of children who “survived” generally have become jaded about the world and can’t overcome the sense of fear for the future.

I have also heard this question posed, maybe rhetorically from single friends who use this as their excuse for not wanting kids. Not that everyone needs to have children; I certainly believe that many adults simply shouldn’t be parents, and if you know enough about yourself to recognize that fact, more power to you. Don’t get pregnant.

I don’t believe that the fear of raising children after SHTF should prevent you from considering the subject though and that is what I wanted to discuss today. I was recently asked a question by one of the readers of the Prepper Journal about children in a SHTF scenario. Donald asked the following:

Hello, I recently had an argument with a close friend about children in SHTF scenarios. He is against it because we were talking about a child in his family and saying they will be too loud and crying too much, I am for it because psychologically speaking they are better it for it than we are because they are young enough they can adapt to virtually anything. Any thoughts on this topic?

Why would you bring kids into a world like this?

The world we are living in now (today) has enough fear and dread in it to fill a million lifetimes, but generally speaking we are pretty darn well off. In the arc of civilizations on this planet we have conveniences and technology unknown to any of our ancestors. Would you want to bring a child into the world today? Why not? Assuming of course that you genuinely do want children and you are able and willing and responsible (both in maturity and fiscally) enough to care for them, children are a blessing. I know that I love all of my children and couldn’t imagine my life without them.

But what about a SHFT scenario where the world could be much darker, deadlier and unkind? What if the societal safety nets, however illusory they are that we have, were jerked away and we were all plunged back into the days of no electricity? What if our living conditions were much unhealthier and access to trained physicians was nowhere near the current levels?

According to the CDC, in some U.S. cities up to 30% of infants died before reaching their first birthday. At the beginning of the 20th century, for every 1000 live births, six to nine women in the United States died of pregnancy-related complications. There were many causes for this and the reduction in deaths from both Mother and child has been contributed in some part to efforts to have cleaner living conditions (clean water, waste removal), improvements in education, and antimicrobial agents. Technology and science helped us out along the way, but would you still want children if all of those advances we have had in the last 100 years were taken away?

In a SHTF scenario, you might not have access to baby formula, medicine, diapers or doctors who will see your child anytime they run a fever or have a runny nose. I think it is fair to say that in that potential world many children will die through normal means. They will get sick and there will be no medicine to help them. They will starve when there is no food and mothers will die during childbirth too. It happens today but we see so little of that because each woman is usually in a hospital with round the clock monitoring by trained professionals there to save her life if anything goes wrong.

You don’t need a doctor

I know I am not telling you anything you don’t know but women don’t need hospitals, doctors and round the clock monitoring to have perfectly healthy babies. They don’t even need baby formula, cereal and medicines. Women have been doing this largely without any help since the beginning of time. Yes, sometimes there are deaths, but the absence of medical care wouldn’t seem to be a reason to avoid childbirth at all.

I will freely concede that medical advances do improve the chances of some to survive. I am not suggesting that medical treatment is unnecessary, but without it there will still be healthy babies born. There always have been.

Assuming your baby and their mother is perfectly healthy; there are a lot of other considerations that could impact your decision. In the SHTF scenario you might be forced to be extremely mobile. You could find yourself needing to hide and a crying baby could in some situations be a huge liability like Donald’s friend mentioned above. As soon as I read that question I was reminded of the last episode of M*A*S*H.

For those who don’t know what I am talking about the main character, Hawkeye had suffered a breakdown and was being treated in a mental hospital near the end of the Korean War. Through the help of a psychiatrist he is able to remember memories that he had repressed. These memories were of a refugee woman and her baby when they were all trying to remain quiet and hide from an enemy patrol. I have included the snippet below for some context.

The world can’t end when the world ends

That emotional image aside, I don’t think we can rule out children in our future simply because we are worried about the risks that their inclusion in our lives could bring. Maybe you don’t try to get pregnant if you are living in the woods running from bands of marauders. That is one reason to stock up on condoms if you foresee that in your future, but there will be a time for childbirth. There has to be or else we disappear.

Even with the worst imaginable SHTF scenario, we need to have children to continue where we leave off. Our children and grandchildren will be the ones who finish what we start and they will be responsible for leading as they grow older and we go back to the ground. Life is a cycle of birth and death and we as a society shouldn’t fear that process continuing in the face of adversity. Will life be hard? I imagine it will be but I could never imagine life without children around in some capacity.

That to me would be like death.

What do you think? Do you think we should have children in a SHTF scenario?

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Silent Earth
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Silent Earth

YES we should have children PROVIDING we can FEED them, HOUSE them, TREAT them, CLOTHE them, EDUCATE them, SHELTER them, TEACH them and hopefully THEY will inherit a better world than the bombed out polluted utterly corrupt, wealth obsessed, religion dominated failed system we live in. But if you think OTHER people have an obligation or duty to be taxed or leaned in order to subsidise your children then NO you should not breed. Personally and I don’t intend to be insulting but the EU/UK/ US/Aus/ Canuck cultures are insanely flawed and corrupt and often just WRONG, not as bad… Read more »

Super Steve
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Super Steve

Assuming your baby and their mother is perfectly healthy; there are a lot of other considerations that could impact your decision. In the SHTF scenario you might be forced to be extremely mobile. Erm Pat for the first 80,000 years after we came down from the trees we were NOMADIC hunter gatherers and bloody successful, look at those fabulous tribes that inhabited the US before Whitey arrived . Whats wrong with moving with the seasons to better pastures like Snowbirds? its staying in one spot shitting in your own nest until its unliveable that is unnatural. If you are a… Read more »

Pat Henry
Guest

Oh, I totally agree with you Steve that we used to get around without any means of locomotion besides our feet. I was just using that as the negative side of my argument to set the tone. My overall point is that this (childbirth without modern conveniences) is very natural and doable.

BigGaySteve
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BigGaySteve

The cities listed have high child mortality rates because of crack. Even higher than the child mortality rate of whites during the bubonic plague

Super Steve
Guest
Super Steve

When my little boy was born we moved house inside the city to a nice neighbourhood, close to a good supermarket, near to a large but brand new primary school, we had a fair amount of free cash available to buy him the nice things in life. BUT I was getting more miserable, and I realised my wife was getting more miserable and our son was NOT thriving and flourishing not doing well at school. He was almost timid, he was not advancing in this huge great new school, he did not like to play out and no matter which… Read more »

Mike Lashewitz
Guest
Mike Lashewitz

Of course the answer is both but we will do what we have to do and DO NOT fall for the fisherwoman with the “starving child” who only needs a little to survive because she may be casing your place.

Susan White
Guest
Susan White

“Who would want to bring a child into this world”? Yes, the world is a dangerous place. Sometimes bad shit happens. People die. It’s called LIFE. Open your eyes and get one! Do they think our ancestors had it easy, sitting back in their recliners, drinking beer, eating tv dinners and watching football? Uh..Noooo. They had to fight for every scrap of food, every step they took was a risk. And if they’d had this attitude, YOU WOULDN’T BE HERE! If you don’t want kids, fine. Don’t have them. But to avoid having them just because you think the world… Read more »

laura m.
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laura m.

More and more adults choose to be child free (now more couples than ever) because of the high cost and risks (hubby was in Viet nam and friends wound up cannon fodder, ditto mid east wars) There are no guarantees that everything turns out ideal and kids won’t have problems with drugs or other bad stuff as I have seen this happen in the best of families. No guarantees of a marriage lasting a lifetime either (I have seen so called ideal marriages fail even in my parent’s generation.) In these strange times as America is being trashed at a… Read more »

Susan White
Guest
Susan White

There’s no guarantee I’m not going to be hit by a bus while crossing the street today, leaving my kids without a parent. Does that mean I shouldn’t have them even if I want them?
Choosing not to have kids because you don’t want to be a parent, or
because you can’t afford them (or for other practical factors) is
understandable, and I don’t disagree with that.
I’m only saying, if you don’t have kids for the single reason you “don’t like the idea of them living in a SHTF world”, that is ignorant because the world is already shit. You’ve proven my point.

BigGaySteve
Guest
BigGaySteve

Asians and whites are the only ones that think that way. Latrina is happy to squat out 28 crack babies and live in a one bedroom apartment with them at taxpayers expense.

MrApple
Guest
MrApple

Children are a MASSIVE liability but without them there really isn’t much of a point to life in general.

BobW
Guest
BobW

Children are certainly a responsibility, and at times, a liability, but critical to any long-term survival plan. Who is going to pull the plow through the fields 12-years from now? Your back isn’t going to be up for it, but the fields need to be plowed if crops are to sprout. From the macro viewpoint, who is going to build what comes after the after? If that is not a consideration, then why are you prepping to survive the after? Survive just to go into extinction? Devolve into hunter/gatherers? No, that isn’t the plan. While it may be enough to… Read more »

Solomon
Guest
Solomon

A world without children would also soon be a world without sex. Condoms were briefly mentioned in the article, but the eventual lack of birth control would would undoubtedly lead to a baby boom wanted or not. Unless they’re already 90, folks will eventually fall prey to natures call. Or is it just me… 😉

Meranda Devan
Guest
Meranda Devan

I wrestled with this myself, as it is something that many of us think about. My husband and I are well aware of what the future may bring. I watched the mash video and started crying! That would be any mothers worst nightmare…and of course, I think I would die before strangling my own child. What we are going to face in the US and around the world is worse than we can ever imagine. You are never going to be prepared for everything that is going to be thrown at us. Sooner or later, we all will run out… Read more »

Pat Henry
Guest

Amen Meranda!

Anubis
Guest
Anubis

There is a moral obligation to care for children that are already there…as their circumstance is the decision/s of others outside their control or ability. What exactly would the point of surviving be if the tree had no branches? Additionally, the mere presence of children in your group forces the adults to make considerations for others and to lead by example when little eyes look at you that have experienced horrors little eyes should have been shielded from. Plus, if your group does manage some longevity, the kids will grow where they’re planted and have both skills and a mindset… Read more »