InvestigationWhile the Covid-19 makes it impossible to organize a wedding, a vacation or a birthday party without fear of new restrictions, hundreds of thousands of French people embarked, in 2020, on a long-term project: to become a parent . But how can you look forward to your children’s future with optimism?
With her big gray eyes, sleepy look and little white polka dot pants, Siggy seems totally oblivious to having been born in the middle of a storm. In almost four months on Earth, the boy has heard the word “Covid” dozens and dozens of times without understanding it. And without, of course, suspecting the consequences that this virus would have on its first years of life. Like Siggy, around 740,000 babies were born in France in 2020. A figure down slightly compared to the previous year, as has been the case for ten years now.
“After all, people also had children during the Inquisition or during the great wars”, Lola, a 29-year-old filmmaker, blows her baby against her breast to breastfeed. She and her boyfriend Till, a 27-year-old cinematographer, had been planning to start a family for a few months when the SARS-CoV-2 epidemic started in France. As the waves of contamination follow one another and the prospects of getting back to their former life recede, they struggle to project themselves into a bright future for their first child.
“What we hope is that the situation will have improved when Siggy is old enough to understand it. I sometimes think about it before I fall asleep: will he have to go to elementary school with a mask on his nose, will he spend his adolescence hearing about the new variants of Covid? “, worries Till, who has hugged her baby to rock him after his meal. “I’m afraid that, in fifteen years, he will reproach me for having given birth to him in such a world. “
In this young father, worry is coupled with a strong dose of guilt. “My brothers transmitted to me their interest in collapsology, this current of thought which studies the risks of collapse of our civilization. The Covid-19 crisis has only darkened my vision of the future of the planet. We tangibly feel that the climate catastrophe is coming, that the far right is at the gates of power. I have always imagined my life with children. But I’m afraid their generation will know a Mad Max-style planet and blame us for it later. “
Has humans become so harmful that they should feel guilty for wanting to reproduce? “For centuries, in various cultures, it is the opposite discourse that has dominated: the woman realized herself as a mother”, recalls Marie Gaille, philosopher and author of the book The desire for a child (PUF, 2011). “The idea that having children is a selfish act has a recent history, linked to environmental concerns. In the 1970s, thinkers of political ecology advocated limiting births, seen as the only way to preserve the human species as a whole. “
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