Feminism among the elites plus widespread consumerism and materialism are taking their toll on Mexican marriages and families, as our correspondents report.
REGINA: Are young Mexicans marrying and having children?
Maria Albers: Sadly, as time passes, less and less people believe in the institution of marriage in Mexico, either not seeing the need to get married in the first place, or resorting to divorce at the first indication of trouble in the marriage. People in small towns still tend to get married young, but it would be somewhat different in bigger towns or cities, where women have higher possibilities of getting an education and jobs, therefore putting off getting married nowadays until they’re into their late twenties or early thirties.
Maria Albers: They feel that doing so gives them more options and makes them independent, which there’s nothing wrong with. The problem, however, comes when they believe that they ‘don’t need a man’ to achieve their goals, including raising children, or want to live together first to ‘test the waters’, becoming comfortable with this arrangement and putting off marriage indefinitely.
Derik Castillo Guajardo: Young generations are marrying and having children, but the rates of single mothers or couples in cohabitation are also high.
Fr. Jonathan Romanoski: On Saturdays one can witness many marriage ceremonies in a row in many churches, so there are still many young people marrying and forming families. However during our mission at a smaller town and a new housing development, a startling percentage were just living together in sin, and many didn´t even understand the importance of having their union sacramentally ratified and blessed. A general ignorance is prevailing.
Fr. Jonathan Romanoski: Nonetheless they naturally love kids and so they are seen everywhere, different from many European countries. Yet the drop off is quite drastic as the older generation was generally of families of 8 to 10 kids, or however many God sent them, whereas the younger generation has much less confidence in God’s providence and are afraid to have many children.
Fr. Jonathan Romanoski: The use of contraceptives is widespread and seen as normal. Unfortunately even in the hospitals the doctors abuse their trusted authority to insist that after the second or third child the women have their tubes tied, practically forcing or coercing them to do so.
Matthew Cullinan Hoffman: Sadly, the Mexican government embraced the population control agenda of the Nixon administration and Rockefeller foundation and other international organizations in the 1960s and 70s and began to actively promote the use of contraception in Mexico at that time. As a result, the fertility rate declined from about seven children per family to what it is today, an abysmal 2.2 children per family. It’s still above replacement level, but just barely.
Marriage is still a very strong institution in Mexico, however. Mexicans tend to have lower divorce rates and to take their family obligations more seriously than the ultra-individualist citizens of Anglophone countries. Most couples with children are married. However, a high rate of merely civil marriage or, even more often, free unions, exist in Mexico City.
Ricardo Lara and Nathaly Robles: The educated youth are marrying, but not having children. They are more interested in good-living, travel, having money; paradoxically the people without university degrees, with low-salary jobs are more interested in having children.
Frank and Irene Denke: The Church has been teaching young couples who have babies, and their god-parents, pre-baptismal classes, but these classes have produced problems. For example, a Church marriage can easily cost about $5000 pesos – a month’s salary for many, plus the cost of a new dress, fiesta, etc. While we meet older people that come from large families, most of the younger couples we know have only two or three children.
There is a large number of those we meet who are not married – both old and young. During past generations, the mothers left it to God to determine the size of their family. With the advent of medicines, hospitals, etc., now these costs plays a role that it did not play in years past in making decisions regarding family size.