Women in their 30s are constantly being reminded about that ticking biological clock. It’s almost as if you haven’t popped something out by a certain point in your life you are less of a woman. It bugs me that we’ve all been a bit brainwashed into congrats’ing people for having kids. Really, is spreading your legs (or getting acquainted with a turkey baster) really such a great achievement? By all means, congratulate women on fighting oppression and making it to the top of their profession, high five them when they run marathon (there are far fewer people that cross the finish line than those that manage to get knocked up. Just saying!) but don’t glorify an activity that for many is just like breathing.
Anyway, I’m sure there are lots of baby mamas out there who are wanting to smash me up and say I will never understand anything till I have given the gift of life (let me go pewk in my mouth). Anyway, since everyone has me down as a hater of little people (there some truth to it – there are maybe a handful I can tolerate and sure I will love my own hypothetical children if they should appear but generally I am way more broody about puppies), I’m gonna take things up a level by talking about how the decision to procreate is ultimately selfish decision.
Let me start by not taking any credit for this genius idea. I was actually inspired by this article which was sent to me by a dear friend of mine. You should read it to get a more highbrow account of the issue. I don’t consider myself qualified to go into the deep philosophical arguments here so let me just dumb things down a bit and draw on some of my real life observations. So, let’s break things down a bit and look at some of the motivations for discarding contraception and letting the flow of life operate as god intended.
To ensure the survival of the human race and generally make the world a better place
So, some of the haters of my post about Me-ternity Leave said the reason why governments/companies in certain countries offer such great perks for those that choose to procreate because their are worried about population decline. Well, I have news for you, there is this wonderful thing called immigration. Let’s just even things out a little and import in a bit of labor from the third world. Surely, it’s not rocket science.
People may justify their decision to bring life into the world by claiming that they are doing a service to humanity by producing a little human that will go on to do great things and make a substantial contribution to society . Maybe it will be the one to discover a cure for cancer? But perhaps it’ll become a paedo or a drug dealer? There are no guarantees. It’s honestly doesn’t matter if you are the best parent in the world children don’t grow up inside a bubble . Even if your child doesn’t become a felon, it’ll still do more damage in terms of its carbon foot print than it is likely to do anything amazingly good.
YOU’re broody and it’s just the right time in life
I honestly believe that most of us (except maybe IVF babies but that’s pretty much a new fangled thing) were ‘mistakes’. In some instances, people man-up and take care of their kids and in other cases they dump them outside a church (or liquor store). But sure, there are obviously cases that differ, where two people (or one with the help of a sperm donor) consciously make a decision to bring create life. Apparently once you are married/in your 30s apparently some magical switch gets flicked and you feel the need to create a mini-me, so I am told. I think I missed the memo but fair enough if you are one of the ‘normal’ people who feel the need to give into your broodiness go forth. Just don’t be under any illusion that giving into your natural urges makes you a better person/more of women. You do it for yourself, not for anyone else.
YOU want to leave a legacy
What is the purpose of life if we are all going to end up as dust (or glitter in the case of fabulous unicorn people!)? We want to know that we are not simply spending our whole lives working simply to make ends meet. Everyone would like to be remembered, I guess. The truth is most of us won’t be immortalized for doing something spectacular. Most of us aren’t going to save a small African village or become a rock star. One way of leaving a bit of yourself behind is by carrying on the family line. Again, not necessarily doing anyone but yourSELF any favours here.
What about adopting orphans?
So I pre-empted this one and used the word PROCREATE in the title of the post rather than ‘have’ because I believe e there is one exception to my sweeping statement about baby people being intrinsically selfish – those are the people that choose to adopt. Unlike, people who choose to put pressure on the earth’s natural resources by popping out kids all over the place, there are truly selfless people out there that go out of their way to do a service to humanity by taking on a kid they themselves did not manufacture and is therefore actually not their problem at all.
That said, not everyone is cut out for adoption. I wouldn’t do it. There really is no reason you need to take on a problem somebody else created. You won’t necessarily get a clean slate with an adopted child. And if some day I do need to tolerate a child of my own, the narcissist in me wants a real little mini-me (i.e. a cute little chubby kid who quietly sits in the corner and reads books all day). I don’t think it’s a crime to want a biological child that shares your genes, but just admit you are doing it for selfish reasons.
So, You see what I’m getting at here. I’m not telling people to stop having children. There really is no reason why the baby making types would listen anyway. Plus, it’s their life to do with what they wish. It’s OK to want to be a parent and give into your natural urges. It’s even understandable that you’d still want a biological child despite the fact that there are lots of orphans in the world that need a home. I’m sure having children brings lots of joy (and stress) into people’s lives (just remember dogs are less likely to break your heart). However, people who opt to procreate aren’t doing the world any favours and they certainly don’t occupy the moral high ground here. The reasons for procreating are selfish but it’s not criminal because so are the motivations for a lot of the things we do.
I believe that there needs to be a shift in society’s attitude towards the people that choose not to have kids. Those that opt to avoid parenthood should not be branded as selfish narcissists who put their own lives of fabulous holidays and Jimmy Choo shoes ahead of some social and biological duty to reproduce. Because in actual fact, these are the people who are mature enough to buck social trends and choose the path that is actually better for themselves, their non-existant children and the world’s population as a whole.
Alrighty, dear Rinsers. Do you think people who have children just need to come to terms with the fact that their decision is selfish? Why does the world always hate on those that choose contraception over a screaming rugrats infiltrating their lives? Can you think of any go unselfish reasons for bringing a child into a world bossed by the likes of Donald Trump? Unleash your hate in the comments below. Please and thank you.
I don’t get what you mean by selfish??? Most of this post was explaining why people feel the need to have children but not enough to explain how they are selfish. If we were to go by what you say…you and I would not even be here so …again how are people who have children selfish?
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OK, Sorry if the post wasn’t clear. Baby people and society in general are always hating/stigmatizing women who don’t want to have kids because they are seen as career-focused, selfish, all about themselves, etc, etc. But I think the selfish ones are the people who procreate? The choice to have kids doesn’t really benefit anybody accept the parents. Bringing a child into a horrible world isn’t good for a child – in your child’s lifetime sure you’ll do you best for them but they’ll experience physical pain, heartbreak and lots of other horrible things. Is this something you’d want for someone you supposedly love? Not really. People have kids for selfish reasons – e.g. to bring themselves joy, to have a legacy, to have support them in their old age, to keep their relationship in tact – these are all selfish reasons. They don’t benefit the child (or society in general) just the parents. Even good parents who provide everything for their kids had those kids for their own selfish desires. And you have gotten my started on the rubbish parents who can’t even provide basic financial/emotional support for their kids …. Ugh I can’t even deal.
That said, I don’t think that people should stop having kids. They should do whatever they like. But they shouldn’t be critical of those that choose not to follow this path. I want kids that look like me and that I can take to Disneyland and bla bla but I’ll admit that my reasons are selfish.
I hope that is clearer for you?
I get it but something to think about…if people who have kids are as selfish as you said they are. We you and I and all your readers would not even be here.
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Being selfish isn’t a crime. We make a lot of selfish decisions in our lives. We put ourselves before other people all the time and that’s not wrong. However, I do feel that society on the whole judges woman who don’t have kids (I don’t think bachelors are judged quite as harshly) and that’s my problem. We congratulate woman who have kids like it’s some great achievement. Simply popping out a child isn’t a big deal – teenagers do it all the time. Raising a kid who turns out to be a decent, well-adjusted human being is on the other hand.
Ok let me make sure I got this …at the heart of your post you have a real issue with those who impose their feelings that if you don’t have kids you life lacks meaning or purpose. And in that there is a selfishness involved. Is that the point?
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Exactly. And that is pretty much the norm these days. People openly ask you when you plan on having kids. It’s out of line. It’s not like it would be considered appropriate to go around asking people when they plan on getting a PhD, or running a marathon or adopting a dog (all of the above can give you purpose). I think it is OK to have kids – but just be honest acknowledge your real motivations, admit that your child will exist in a horrible world and they will suffer and that increasing the population when there are children who need homes also has negative impacts on the environment too. So basically I’m saying it’s OK to be a baby maker but don’t force those ideas on others.
On another level, when it comes to IVF – I am like why are we as a society so invested in artificially creating more life. Surely those resources could be better utilised by finding cures for diseases, etc and improving the quality of life for those that are already here rather than exacerbating issues by bringing more people into the mix.
You say a lot to get to your point which is why it’s hard to follow you at times. IVF is an option for those whose circumstances may push them in that direction. Not knowing all their situation it’s hard to sit in judgment.
I’m not judging ppl for having IVF or children at all. But I’m questioning why having biological children is treated like a right of passage, so much so that we invest money developing technology to increase population. I think if society glorified woman that achieved more substantial things the same way way we glorify mothers (not all of whom are even good ones!) then the world would be a better place. The option to remain childless should be presented more positively so that not people don’t feel like the need to be parents and know that there are other (possibly more suitable) life paths open to them.
So why not write about the women who acheive…you have a platform to do just that. You are a part of society . Why question everything be a solution
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I agree with a lot of what you’ve said. I don’t know why women are so horrible to one another and make others feel not good enough because they don’t have a partner or kids. I think being in a happy relationship makes a person’s life better but I’m not so sure about motherhood. I’m reading this book by an evolutionary psychologist now and he says that people always come up with seemingly reasonable explanations of their behaviors. There was an experiment in which people were given a few pairs of stockings that were exactly the same and were asked to say why did they choose the one they did. As we have a tendency to choose things placed on the right, people would choose the most right pair of stockings and then say that it was softer, nicer or whatever else. They always had a reason for it, though even though as we knows the reason was made up because all the pairs were the same. I feel like it’s the same thing with motherhood. We’re biologically driven to want to reproduce. No one will tell you, though “it’s just my evolutionary drive”. They come up with all these intellectual reasons: it’s good for the world, it’s selfless, it’s the right thing to do. All these reasons are BS, though that’s trying to cover up we’re actually just another species of animals.
Re the blank slate you’re mentioning: there’s no such thing. Your kids are not only affected by your genes but also by genes of your ancestors and the traumas they’ve experienced (there’s a whole new branch of genetics about it). We think that our genes are good but we don’t really know what’s in them and what it will cause in our offsprings. There are weird diseases that appear only every few generations or only with certain mixture of genes so depending on the partner you’ll choose. Sure, I get the mini mi argument (logically, on emotional level I can’t relate to it) but I don’t think it’s safer to have a biological child in this respect.
Anyway, honestly, people can do whatever the fuck they want but I don’t understand why they’re trying to make don’t have/don’t want to have/wants to opt for adoption people worse? Susan Heyden (a blogger and a mother of two) claims that what mommies can’t stand are our intact vaginas.
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I understand there is no such thing as a blank slate. You may get an amazing adopted child that turns out to be better than any biological child you could have ever created. That said, from a purely selfish point of view, I think it might be easier for me to deal with the problems of a child I created than one that I didn’t. I am horrible person, I know…but I think this is probably a major reason that more people don’t adopt. Also, there is always a risk that kids that aren’t biologically yours will go in search of their sperm/egg donor parents – and I don’t think I would personally be able to handle that kind of heartbreak. Still, we all disappoint our parents in some way or another and whatever kids we have they are will make us sad sometimes too….so it’s swings and roundabouts really.
I am lolling regarding the intact vaginas.
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I think the want to adopt is not dissimilar to the want to have your own child, in that way that it is not logical. I always felt that way. I don’t know why and I don’t think that such decisions are made logically. If at any point I’ll go into “I want to be pregnant” mood I’ll go with this feeling but I won’t start talking about it as the obvious choice or about my previous thoughts as silly. I think a lot of your points in the post are related to this one thing: People have children because they want them. Full stop. Not to save the planet, not because it’s the most selfless thing you can do. In our world NOT having children is the logical thing to do. Why not just admit that it’s our want or lack thereof?
On a different note, you may not have created the child but if you choose to take care of it, it doesn’t matter anymore. It’s your child then. I’m not concerned about the child wanting to find their biological parents in terms of my own heartbreak but in terms of theirs. Some parents are bad people and their not wanting the child has nothing to do with the child itself. And yet, the child will struggle like children of parents who didn’t abandon them and still didn’t give them love and support. My husband is telling me to stop worrying about the future psychological problems of children we haven’t adopted yet, though 😉 We can’t predict the future, we can only do what feels like the best decision at a particular point in our lives.
Haven’t you read this excellent post?
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It’s great that this article is coming from the perspective from someone who has actually had kids (because unlike with me she can’t be accused of being insecure about my own lack of children).
One thing I did disagree with though is that she referred to being a mother as being a job. It isn’t a job, at least not a legit one. At best, it can be seen as project you’ve chosen to pursue. The same way training for a marathon or deciding to take up French lessons is a project. I personally have an issue with this housewives/stay-at-home moms referring to themselves ‘home executives’, because there are people out there that manage to do everything they do and still go out a do days work. So, this whole ‘home exec’ idea is just glorifying these people’s inability to balance both worlds or simply their wish not to do a normal job. Maybe now I’ll be accused of being insecure because I don’t have a man that will financially support while I pop out babies and cook/clean for him. But I’m just saying it as it is …and I have the same issue with people who rent out a room in their home and call themselves an Air BnB manager. It’s not a job, it’s a side project dumbass. Anyway this is a story for another post entirely.
I still stand by what I said about people who adopt being more selfless than people who choose to have bio kids. There must be fewer advantages to it (well unless you are really really attached to your intact vagina) otherwise I think we’d see more people doing it. Also they are actually doing the world a favour a problem that already exists and trying to make the most out of it rather than creating new problems.
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I guess but reading her other articles I’m sure she’s been accused of being insecure anyway. She’s a raging person.
I don’t know. The feminist in me thinks that people should not just have kids as a full time occupation. It’s not good for kids to have a mother who has nothing else to focus on. I think well-rounded individuals would sooner die than spend all their time just focusing on housework and little people. I think as socially has different requirement for men and women, many women walk the earth completely empty, with no real passions or ambitions. Once a man appears in such a woman’s life she focuses solely on him and the same thing happens with a baby. We should create the world for women to be able to have both career and children. It’s sad that many have to completely forget about time for themselves as men are still little involved in child care. Anyway, yet again it’s a topic for another post. I don’t think having children is a job. It’s just a part of life, you can opt for or not.
I don’t think there are fewer advantages. I just think that many people go mindlessly through their lives, just following whatever other people do. If having biological kids is a mainstream thing, they think it’s “a thing to be done” and do it without thinking much about “should I do it? Do I want it? Would I like something else instead?”. Better living has a lot to do with thinking twice before we follow our evolutionary instincts or the rest of the herd (which is by the way another evolutionary mechanism)
You make som great points in your post. I think everyone is going to have different ways of seeing things when it comes to babies. I, for example, if I wouldn’t have had my one kids when I was young I would not chose to have babies. I never planned to get knocked up at 18,19, and 20…lol…the first two were intentional…but the last one was the Oops baby. I knew I was done at 20 so I tied my tubes. Now what made me get knocked up so young, Love! He wanted to have kids, he was four years older than me and he wanted babies so I was in love and I gave in. Now I was still a young adult so I was not mature yet. If I would have waited until maybe 25 ( when my brain finally fully developed) I would have maybe never have kids…ha ha! Now I think pressure of society makes people think they should have kids. There are some people that shouldn’t but it’s is what is. I agree with you on having your own biological kids before you even think of adopting. All these in the foster system are spoiled brats especially if they have been in it for so long. It’s not fair to have to deal with someone else’s problems. But to be honest, I think love makes people want to have babies. If you choose to have kids without love, you are putting yourself to disaster.
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I agree that love is important when you choose to make kids. But I still don’t think it’s enough of a motivation. It is possible to love someone but know that they wouldn’t make a good mother or father… so then again it can be seen as a selfish decision. There are lots of logistical issues and practicalities to consider too.
I didn’t mean to imply that all foster kids are brats. I have a lot of respect for people who are selfless enough to adopt and invest financially/emotionally in kids who aren’t their own, especially when you look around and see bio parents who couldn’t care less if their 2 yr old was busy shooting up in its crib. Fostering is a more temporary situation, but it’s still a difficult situation that a lot of people would shy away from and rather have their own kid.
I also don’t think you necessarily need to have your own kids before adopting. Some people are mature enough to understand the challenges that come with adopting and are brave enough to take it on. That’s just not me. But props to those that do.
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I came across the New Yorker article you linked at the beginning as well and found it very interesting. I have been reflecting about this topic for a while, and – in spite of the fact that I am currently expecting my first child – I do agree with you, and to some extent with the New Yorker article.
My main concern about having kids is that the world really doesn’t need any more people, especially in our social class which uses most of the resources. But then – maybe that’s what happens when intelligent life masters nature and medicine (thus deviating from natural selection). It’s an inevitable result of the evolution of the homo sapiens. (Though I still think that there is a little chance that technology may save us. I work in the biotechnology field, and you can do pretty much anything you like with technologies: grow food, turn waste into fuel, turn CO2 into plastics. You just need the money to scale it, which will come in time).
Adopting? Well, it is not as easy as one thinks to be able to love someone unconditionally (‘like a mother’) if you are not the mother. I am not saying it is impossible, and my hats goes off to all those who have the courage to do it – this probably a definition of pure altruism. Many of those people are, however, generally unable to conceive, or in same-gender relationships. It is not common that couples who can naturally conceive choose adoption.
A biological child is also the product of your genes and those of the mating partner that you have carefully selected among thousands of people. There is a reason why, when people go the sperm-donor route, they choose certain semen profiles over others. You’d rather use the semen of someone who has a PHD in biology and a healthy family history, rather than someone that is uneducated and with a history of heroin addiction. Don’t get me wrong: the son of the PHD genes may become a serial rapist, and the other win a Nobel prize in chemistry. Yet still, we try increase our chances through a somewhat carefully selected biological route.
And – right to your point – all of the above is indeed selfish. I am having kids because I want a family, and because I think that the social fabric of a family is one of the most important structures in the life of a human being (Yes, friends are like a family too – but not quite). Experience shows me that you are better off with a good family structure than without.
I am not entirely convinced by the New Yorker article thesis that it is better to not being born because life is, ultimately, about suffering. I am a nihilist myself, believing that nothing matters and that there is no loving god that makes things right. Yet life is good and fun, even if pointless. Maybe I’ve been lucky, or maybe our natural survival instinct makes it impossible to think that we wish we were never born even when things go sour. It is nonetheless a very interesting philosophical question that I am going to be thinking about for quite some time.
To conclude, I quote my partner who said ‘I don’t understand why everyone congratulates us. We did nothing special at all. They should rather congratulate us once we have raised a decent human being’.
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I like the way your partner thinks! I also blindly congratulate people who are having kids but it’s just part of this brainwashing that society has done to us.
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I can’t even imagine what the stigma was like in, for example, the 1950’s for people who didn’t want/have kids.
True that. I mean whether or not you like it – people these days are pushing the boundaries when it comes to childbearing – sperm donors, surrogates, IVF, genetically modified super babies, two dads, two mums, cougarlicious grandmothers pretending to mums, the list goes on. I guess being a childless 30 something isn’t regarded as being all that bad in the grand scheme of things.
I was thinking the other day that I myself fall into that trap. When I look at older woman who have no kids/husband and never followed the traditional path – they never seem all that ‘cool’ to me, in fact they seem kinda sad. I look around at the older generation and think there was something wrong with those woman. They didn’t get the hubby/kids because they couldn’t – it doesn’t look to me like much of a lif
estyle choice to me. But nowadays we have options – we just need to work on making it somewhat more acceptable I guess.
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For me, I know people are who happy to be single.
I don’t want kids because I’m too lazy. haha
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