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From time immemorial, the human race has obeyed the biological imperative. Societies traditionally channeled much of their energy into reproducing themselves. Until now. Parenthood is falling into obsolescence, to be replaced by such simulacra as dog parenthood, cat parenthood, and plant parenthood (not to be confused, of course, with Planned Parenthood). About one out of every two dating profiles features the words “dog mom,” “dog mama,” or some variant thereof. Millennials spend lavishly on dogs. They live for dogs, talk about dogs, think about dogs — everything short of worshipping them.
Why is this happening? The usual explanation takes the form of economic determinism. Raising children is costly. “Raising” a dog is less costly. Lacking money, the argument goes, Millennials “raise” dogs instead of children. This may be part of the explanation, but not the complete one. Something else is happening — something more insidious, and something likely to stand in the way of parenting even if all financial burdens were lifted by a benevolent state. No, Millennials fear a different kind of burden, I think. Here’s my theory: