Time Essay: Wondering If Children Are Necessary

In the Leave It to Beaver suburban world of the American '50s, the family and the child were enveloped in a cherishing mythology. Americans, it was even said, had grown obsessively kiddified; they were child-worshipers who sentimentalized their offspring in a complacent land of Little League and Disney. Toward the end of the Eisenhower years, the literary critic Leslie Fiedler wrote a lively diatribe about the "cult of the child," which he denounced as "this most maudlin of primitivisms."

Today some Americans worry that in the last decade or so the U.S. has...

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