Nov 4, 2021 4 min read

#318: Kids

#318: Kids

Happy Thursday, loyal readers. Thank you very much for being here. One of the very best people in our reading community, loyal reader Marni , just had her second child, Hazel Ruth. Congratulations! This is great news, because The Highlighter gains a new avid reader, and because our world gains a new

Happy Thursday, loyal readers. Thank you very much for being here.

One of the very best people in our reading community, loyal reader


, just had her second child, Hazel Ruth. Congratulations! This is great news, because The Highlighter gains a new avid reader, and because our world gains a new avid person.

Plus, let’s be honest: Our country needs kids.

Fewer Americans than ever are raising kids. Maybe it’s because of climate change. Or the pandemic. Or structural social and economic issues. Or maybe it’s because having kids makes women (curiously, not men!) less happy for several years – that is to say, until older age, when the kids are out of the house, when parenting is in the past.

Today’s issue focuses on children and the challenges of having them. Don’t worry: Not all the articles are downers. The last one, in particular – about the love a boy has for his grandfather – is sweet and endearing. But you’ll also read about why some young women are choosing sterilization over pregnancy. And you’ll learn why it’s getting more difficult to adopt children (and why that’s maybe a good thing).

If you have time to read just one article this week, though, make it “The U.S. Stole Generations Of Indigenous Children To Open The West,” by Nick Estes. Building on “Good Mother” in Issue #315 and “This Land” in Issue #317, the piece chronicles the U.S. government’s destruction of the Native American family through its longstanding policy to separate children and educate them in military boarding schools.

+ I’m excited to announce that this month,

Article Club

will be discussing Nicholas Casey’s “My Father Vanished When I Was 7. The Mystery Made Me Who I Am.” I welcome you to join the conversation. Find out more information here and sign up for the Nov. 21 discussion here.

Stealing Native American Children To Open The West

Stealing Native American Children To Open The West

Part of our country’s genocide of Native Americans involved taking children from their families and educating them at military boarding schools. The Carlisle Indian Industrial School was only the most infamous of hundreds of schools that promised to “kill the Indian” yet “save the man.”

Thousands of children died and were buried in campus graveyards.

Now tribal leaders are demanding that the dead be returned to native homelands. But the Department of the Army requires a certified affidavit from each child’s living descendants, an impossibility in most cases.

In this outstanding article, Nick Estes, a citizen of the Lower Brule Sioux Tribe, explains how racist and religious governmental policies not only harmed Native American families but also contributed to U.S. expansion and Manifest Destiny. Unlike other countries, the United States has not accounted for the deaths of Indigenous children at its schools. (23 min)

+ In September, Senator Elizabeth Warren introduced a bill to establish a truth and healing commission, similar to the one that exists in Canada.

America’s Baby Bust: First Comes Love. Then Comes Sterilization.

Everyone loves kids – as long as someone else is raising them. Births are way down. (So is sex.) Meanwhile, sterilizations are way, way up. A child-free generation is taking shape: raising dogs and plants, seeking early retirement, and most of all, making sure not to become a mombie. Suzy Weiss writes, “Life is already exhausting enough. And the world is broken and burning. Who would want to bring new, innocent life into a criminally unequal society situated on a planet with catastrophically rising sea levels?” Besides, as Darlene Nickell says, “My generation is very aware of the ways that our parents traumatized us.” (11 min)

VIP Peter and I recently visited Yosemite National Park, which remains majestic, despite the catastrophic effects of climate change. Appreciation to VIP Phoebe and loyal reader Alison for recommending the trip.

Adopting A Baby Is Harder Than Ever

While fewer Americans want to have biological children, the interest to adopt kids has risen. But there’s a shortage of babies: Only about 18,000 infants a year are available for adoption. In addition, international adoption has declined, the teen birth rate is low, the evangelical adoption movement has subsided, and single motherhood is less taboo. For people who want to adopt, this is a problem. On the other hand, this means babies are more often remaining with their families of origin, and more Americans are adopting older children from foster care. (11 min)

Under The Influence

This is an ode to childhood, and to the love a kid has for their grandfather, by Stephen J. Lyons. “In his prime my grandfather could hit the most beautiful fly balls. Behind his wood-frame house, on the long, narrow lot with the rusty rabbit cages and the fruit cellar where we hid from tornadoes, sat his own field of dreams. Here my grandfather was king: the empty diamond, glorious in its isolation; the clean white chalk of the foul lines; the unattainable fence; the comforting summer smell of fresh-mown sod; and the raked dirt, ground to the fine black dust that is the lifeblood of eastern Iowa.” (8 min)

Thank you

for reading this week’s issue of The Highlighter. Did you enjoy it? Let me know by clicking on “Yes” or ”No” below. I like hearing from you.

To our four new subscribers –




, Ella, and


– I hope you find the newsletter a solid addition to your email inbox. To our long-time subscribers (






!), you’re pretty great, too. Loyal reader


, thank you for sharing the newsletter and getting the word out.

If you like The Highlighter, please help it grow. I appreciate your support. Here are a few ways you can help:

On the other hand, if you no longer want to receive this newsletter, please unsubscribe. See you next Thursday at 9:10 am PT!

Join the conversation

Great! You’ve successfully signed up.
Welcome back! You've successfully signed in.
You've successfully subscribed to Big Reading.
Your link has expired.
Success! Check your email for magic link to sign-in.
Success! Your billing info has been updated.
Your billing was not updated.