BreakPoint: The Dog Boomers

Young Americans Choosing Canines and Kitties Over Kids

For proof that our culture has gone to the dogs, look no further than the bizarrely parental ways many Americans talk about our furry friends.

If you haven’t seen a series of new commercials from the wireless company, Sprint, consider yourself fortunate. The ads feature Instagram star Topher Brophy, who—besides bearing an uncanny likeness to Warner Sallman’s painting of Jesus—has established an odd relationship with his wire-haired pooch.

“Who’s that?” asks the cameraman. “He’s my son,” replies Brophy. He and his dog, Rosenberg, get easily confused, Brophy informs us, “because there’s a resemblance.”

Welcome to 2017, when nary an ear perks up at the suggestion that animals are equivalent to children. “Fur-baby” and “pet parent” are replacing terms like “owner.” Viral social media posts like the Dog Mom Rap grace our newsfeeds, and the $11 billion pet care industry has given us such essential products as pooch strollers and canine costumes. Americans—particularly young Americans—seem doggedly determined to turn their pets into progeny.

BreakPoint senior writer Shane Morris suggests in The Federalist that this “replacement baby” phenomenon has become a kind of society-wide delusion of misdirected instincts. He draws attention to historically low birth rates in his own millennial generation, combined with statistics showing an unprecedented boom in the number of pets.

The Washington Post reported in September that three-quarters of Americans in their thirties—prime childbearing years—own dogs, and half own cats. Compare that with the population in general, only half of whom own dogs and a third of whom own cats, and the recent cascade of critters becomes obvious. To put it simply, children are in the doghouse and young Americans are replacing them with animals.

When Shane wrote his article, he knew the reaction wouldn’t be a walk in the park. But I don’t think he knew just how badly he was stepping in it. Many commenters on Facebook and Twitter called the article the most ridiculous and insulting thing they’d ever read. “Typical judgmental Christian!” they wrote. “You need psychiatric help.” “Stop trying to force your views on me,” protested others.

Many brought up the debunked idea that our planet is overpopulated and that not having children is therefore a noble cause. Some fellow millennials insisted that Shane must be jealous that he can’t live the party life with his three kids.

But amidst the howls of protest unleashed by his article, one message appeared over and over: “I don’t like kids. I like dogs better.” A few even admitted to hating children, and used obscene and degrading terms to describe babies.

No wonder Chuck Colson had a bone to pick with “pet-parents.” Back in 2009, he observed that blurring the distinction between humans and animals is more than ridiculous. It goes hand-in-paw with a culture that views babies as burdens, not blessings—burdens, I might add, which society sees fit to dispose of at will.

In other words, Shane is barking up the right tree, here.

Now let me repeat what Chuck often said: I like animals, and pets can be incredibly special. I myself have a dog. But as Christians, we believe humans are uniquely called to steward the natural world and show kindness to all of God’s creatures. But the ways we talk about our pets—not to mention the emotional roles we let them fill—matter.

If a generation of young people replaces families with fur-babies, we could be facing the same demographic crunch currently hitting Japan and parts of Europe, not to mention a culture and economy that punish parenthood, instead of rewarding it.

Pets, in other words, are great. They are! But in the midst of a culture actively turning them into little people, we’ve got to remind ourselves that the image of God has two legs, not four.


Further Reading and Information

The Dog Boomers: Young Americans Choosing Canines and Kitties Over Kids

The trend toward acquiring pets instead of having children is growing. But as Eric pointed out, it’s human children who bear the image of God, and serve as blessings for families as well as the culture.


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Pet-ernity Leave: Treating Pets as Humans
  • Chuck Colson | | July 30, 2009

Comment Policy: Commenters are welcome to argue all points of view, but they are asked to do it civilly and respectfully. Comments that call names, insult other people or groups, use profanity or obscenity, repeat the same points over and over, or make personal remarks about other commenters will be deleted. After multiple infractions, commenters may be banned.

  • Just one of many voices

    “My cat/dog is smarter than your honor student.” I always get a kick out of bumper stickers like that.

    What a sad reality we’re living in. I truly mourn & lament for my generation.

    Just watch, we’ll “evolve” into dogs, cats & other pets. Or where would that be like reverse evolution?
    Where would it fall in the ranks? Who’s smarter? A chimp, dog or cat?

    I can’t help but think we are living in a time like that described in 2 Timothy 4:3-4. May God help us to be sober-minded.

  • Phoenix1977

    The entire article has merrit, although I don’t agree with everything. For example, I too am convinced less children should be the target since our planet simply can’t host all these people because of lack of resources. But indeed, some of the things people do with their pets are downright rediculous.

    “Pets, in other words, are great. They are! But in the midst of a culture actively turning them into little people, we’ve got to remind ourselves that the image of God has two legs, not four.”

    But than this closing statement comes around. It was completely unnecessary to make the any point while at the same time it offends quite a few people. When making a closing statement like this you should not be surprised people get angry and say things like: “Typical judgmental Christian!” and “Stop trying to force your views on me”. Because you simply call for those reactions. As already discussed in a previous topic, Christians are no longer the dominant faction in society and should therefor not try to press for dominance over social issues anymore. The good arguments and issues this article addresses are made completely moot with the last sentence. And that is exactly why Christians are fighting a lost battle: they are their own worst enemies.

  • gladys1071

    I don’t have any pets, my cat died a year ago, i don’t like dogs . I don’t consider pets a replacement to children, but they are most definetly are less of a burden than children. Children are people, you have to raise them teach them and they are a lot of work and you can’t just take them to a kennel when you go on vacation.

    Having said that, I respect people that have kids or even lots of kids. My husband and I chose not have any, I do not have the aptitude or the inclination or desire to be a parent. Because children are NOT like pets that is why people should not have them unless they are committed to raising them. One should not have children just because or family pressure or societal pressure, it is a disservice to the children to be brought into this world when their parent’s did not really want to be parents. Nothing good comes from pressuring people to do or commit to something they don’t want.

    • Just one of many voices

      Thank you for voicing your respect to those who enjoy kids & may have a lot. I sometimes get DIS-respectful comments when I tell others how many kids I want. We’re only on #2, but we want 3-4. To some, that’s a lot. Others, that’s not even a drop in the bucket 🙂

      I too, can respect people who have the opposite opinion. Especially if they are like you, having at least some awareness that they “do not have the aptitude, inclination or desire to be a parent.”

      It’s my own opinion that WAY too many people have kids while being completely unaware of how much work & commitment it takes.

      • gladys1071

        i tend to be a live and let live type of person, i understand that people come with different tastes and desires, it is not a one size fits all. I have been criticized because as a Christian, married and chose to not have children, but i just cannot imagine taking on the responsibility of parenthood, i have no biological clock ticking or anything like that. I do have friend that has 3 and she loves it.

    • Carole

      Gladys…my response had nothing to do with people who don’t want dogs. I completely get that. It was in response to the criticism about people who have pets and are criticized about having them to fill the void because they can’t have children.

      • gladys1071

        oh i agree with you. I have no issue with what you said.

        • Carole

          Sorry Gladys…I responded to the wrong response. My apologies.

  • Ken Rossman

    This article has more puns per square inch than anything else I’ve ever encountered… 🙂

    Personally, I love kids (though I do not have any of my own), and I also love dogs (though again, I do not have one of my own).

  • Steve Graf

    I was involved in a discussion once about dogs and cats vs people and I stated that people love dogs more than they do people. I was challenged on that so I did the research to back up my cw. There are many factors you can look at, but I started with the abortion/adoption rate of babies/children versus the euthanasia/adoption rates of dogs, and then of cats (separately and combined). It’s the same world view that says a child is an expense and a house is an investment (forgetting of course that about every 15 years millions of average people lose most everything in their ‘sure’ investment).

  • Carole

    You know, Eric…as a devout Christian, I find your article distressing. There are some of us out there that were not able to actually have children, so we have pets instead. It’s clearly God’s plan for my life and frankly, I don’t appreciate your criticism since there is nothing I can do about it. Do I dress mine up in outfits and push them in strollers? No, I do not. But do I travel with mine? Do I take mine to the vet so they can be in good health? Yeah…I do. So let me just say that as a Christian man, you should be a little more compassionate towards people, women in particular, who for reasons, unknown to you by the way, do not have children. And for people who can have children and have chosen not to, perhaps you should consider that they may have chosen not to have kids due to family health issues, mental health issues or just a plain old desire not to have kids. Because, really…do we need more parents beating the crumbs out of kids they don’t want or abandoning them to the foster care system, subjecting them to move after move, from one foster family to the other, just to be kicked out on the street, all on their own, when they age out? I think not. Who died and left you judge? No disrespect to you as a man, but I don’t think a woman would have been insensitive enough to have written the articles that you and Shane have written. Time to grow up, boys.

    • Gina Dalfonzo

      Carole, the last part of your comment came really close to “personal remarks” territory. Please see the comment policy above, and refrain next time. Thank you.

      • Carole

        That’s a pretty sad response, Gina. Take care.

    • SF

      I am a woman & I agree with the article… so don’t lump all women in your little category please.
      How about those of us who have extreme – and I mean acute & life threatening allergies to dog dander? My rights as a human being made in the image of God trumps your right to bring your dog(s) along with you to public places like restaurants, grocery stores, general shopping trips & mass transit, especially airlines or even your job. Leave your dog at home… it’s not his job or vital need to shop, it’s your psychological need to have the dog with you! Consider those you harm and put in deadly danger when you drag your dog along with you wherever you go. Maybe a lawsuit to compensate medical cost, pain & suffering is in order. I don’t dislike dogs or other household pets… but that’s exactly what they are – pets and nothing more. If you need to get them outdoors take them out into your own yard or to a dog park.

      • Carole

        Just for the record, SF, my response has nothing to do with people who don’t want dogs or want dogs out in public places. I actually get that. My response was to the article that criticizes people for not having kids and having pets in their lives that are a replacement. And my criticism was specifically at these men writing these articles who know nothing about why some women don’t have kids, i.e. can’t have kids. Not having kids isn’t a choice for everyone. Sometimes it’s just the hand that life deals. So please, read my response a little more carefully and you will find it had nothing to do with “trying to lump all woman into your little category”.