Changes During Parenthood


Factors That Influence Decisions About Parenthood

Canadian Social Trends magazine published a report on a survey by Dave Dupuis in 1997 on the factors that influence someone's decision on whether or not to have children, when to have them and how many to have. The four biggest factors were marital status, family values, religious beliefs and practices, and education level.

The first factor, marriage, is obvious; marriage tends to lead up to having children. Although common-law marriage is increasing in Canada, two-thirds of childbirths are to married couples. Also, the birthrate among married women is almost double that of a woman in a common-law relationship for their entire reproductive life.

The second factor is family values. Generally, children take on their parents' attitudes towards childbirth, so people who come from large families tend to have many children themselves. It is interesting to note that children's attitudes about family and marriage do not change if their parents have been divorced.

The third factor, religion, plays a big role because according to Dupuis, religious families view marriage and family as very important to their happiness. Young adults who report having no religion have, on average, 1.7 children, while non-Christians have an average of 2.8 children. Families in their thirties who do not attend any religious services have at least 0.5 less children.

The fourth factor, and the most important according to Dupuis, is education level. Women who have a university degree generally have less children than uneducated women, presumably because women must undergo pregnancy and childbirth and are still considered primary caregivers, and having children would interrupt a career. On the other hand, men with a university degree tend to have more children. Dupuis believes this is because men with better careers can support a family and afford to take care of children, and it causes less of a strain on career than it does on a woman.