Children after SHTF: Liability or Responsibility


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.

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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.

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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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One thought on “Children after SHTF: Liability or Responsibility

  1. Of course we will need to have children! Yes, life in the SHTF world will be hard, maybe unbearable to many. But it would be selfish not to have them. I’ll tell you what, the enemies of the world will be having them. If you want to be completely wiped from existence, then yes, don’t have kids. But those who say they would never have kids are only thinking about themselves. This was a great article BTW and very thought provoking.

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