According to AP, "The Pew Research Center survey on marriage and parenting found that children had fallen to eighth out of nine on a list of factors that people associate with successful marriages..."
The survey charted other trends, like cohabitation and divorce, and grouped responses by demographic. If I can find it on the Web, I'll post the study.
AP writer David Crary goes on:
The survey also found that, by a margin of nearly 3-to-1, Americans say the main purpose of marriage is the "mutual happiness and fulfillment" of adults rather than the "bearing and raising of children."
The survey's findings buttress concerns expressed by numerous scholars and family-policy experts, among them Barbara Dafoe Whitehead of Rutgers University's National Marriage Project.
"The popular culture is increasingly oriented to fulfilling the X-rated fantasies and desires of adults," she wrote in a recent report. "Child-rearing values — sacrifice, stability, dependability, maturity — seem stale and musty by comparison."
That quote was going to stand alone as my Crotchety Observation of the Day. But then it reminded me of a question I had during my reading of Merle's Door: What if, as a man with young children, I am more inclined to treat my dog like a child? In the field, we act more like partners, but at home I admit to behaving toward Rina with the same affectionate or cross demeanor my kids receive. Right down to the nonsense baby-talk and kisses on the nose.
In contrast, Ted Kerasote's relationship with Merle seems to have been informed by a different metaphor, developing into something akin to the adult friendships common to his life as (I gather) an unmarried man without children.
I wonder: How does parenting influence behavior toward pets, dogs in particular? Without kids, are we more likely to view our dogs as equal partners? What about the cliche that suggests pets become surrogate children to the childless? Does gender weigh in somehow?
Back to the Pew survey (see?): If Americans are becoming more comfortable with the notion of childless marriages, or of not marrying at all, how is this likely to change the way we see our companion animals?
Feel free to discuss!