The baby boom generation
But there is a distinction to be made here, because large families were not uncommon, they were just uncommon with families like mine, white middle-class. Please let me explain.
Protestants, like my family, don't have the same attitude of embracing large families as Catholics do. For whatever reason, my ancestors were less inclined to take it as a given that having lots of babies in the twentieth century was a good thing. And for people who are concerned about the future of a race or a religion, that is cause for alarm. No, there was no birth control in the early twentieth century, but my ancestors were finding ways to limit the size of their families. Quality of life was becoming more important than quantity of life. And so the rising number of babies being born in my demographic was big news.
In the 1950s, America entered its most prosperous era ever. My penny-pinching ancestors suddenly saw that they could have lots of money, and lots of kids. And because of this prosperity, the number of babies born to white, middle-class families rose quickly. And America started going through a lot of the changes that we see today to accommodate larger families in comfort. Houses and cars became bigger. My ancestors didn't want large families crowded into small places. The baby boomers may have had more siblings that their parents, but they had more rooms, more bathrooms, and more space.
The baby boomers took this type of living for granted. They may have shared a room with one sibling, but their goal was to dedicate a room for each of their children. The next generation, called generation X, just kept taking this to higher and higher levels. All you have to do is look at the square footage of houses, and SUVs, which have become taken for granted. The baby boomers were the first generation that saw space as part of their freedom. They didn't want to be squeezed into high-density housing, or high-density public transportation. The baby boomers grew up in a world that they didn't need to share and passed along their xenophobia to the next generation.
Look at the world around you that has been created since the 1970s. From urban sprawl to *stranger danger*, it has been created by the baby boomers. If you like this world, well fine. If not, remember that it hasn't always been this way, and the world can be changed by any generation, including yours.
Posted by Brad Hall