Great opinion article on the subject of having children and asking the question, why is it that child-free is considered empty.
This is EXACTLY my argument about why not to have kids:
"The goods of the childless life reflect something very important about the good life for everyone. Humans have the capacity to rise above the biological imperative to reproduce. That we do not place the highest value on passing on our genes is part of what makes us different and, yes, in some sense superior to our fellow animals. Yet society does not celebrate our freedom to do this."
It is a choice. That's why we are not animals.
It's a cost/benefit calculation. Children are incredibly expensive in the West, so they must be worth a LOT to parents in order for them to have them.
Contrast that to developing nations where children often cost very little, and even become 'productive assets' (to put it coldly) after a very short time.
Conversely, if you're saving all that money - probably $250k (for families where that is a lot of money, too) on average, you must be missing out on something pretty damn good.
The guardian article seems like a hollow attempt to justify the decision, and pretend that the downside is minimal. Well, everybody who makes the decision one way or the other is highly invested in it, and they're not going to want to admit that theyre wrong are they?
September 19th, 2009 2:12pm
Animals don't have the same costs we do - ones we've largely imposed upon ourselves, it has to be said.
Neither does the third world, but they're not animals either.
September 19th, 2009 2:13pm
Actually some animal mothers kill some of their young (actually so do humans, but it is hushed up), so maybe they do. They just don't have access to contraception.
September 19th, 2009 2:15pm
It's not about passing on your genes. It's about the joy of sharing your life with others; the wonder of seeing new people learn and grow; about having family to offer companionship when you are old and to stand up for you when you are infirm.
September 19th, 2009 2:34pm
> Conversely, if you're saving all that money - probably $250k (for families where that is a lot of money, too) on average, you must be missing out on something pretty damn good.
We make up for it in other ways.
September 19th, 2009 2:50pm
Brilliant comments, Colm.
September 19th, 2009 2:53pm
Whoever said it is not a choice, or that a life without is unproductive and empty? There are plenty of examples of childless people who had amazing lives.
That said, many people who have children think that it is one of the most special relatiionship possible. The emotional benefits and the way they can help you to grow and see life in another light is pretty unique. I think my kids are probably the best thing that ever happened to me.
But like many things, if you haven't experienced it, kind of hard to explain. And each to their own, whatever.
I think intellectualising it or turning it into a cost-benefit analysis kind of misses the point though.
September 19th, 2009 3:23pm
Most women have an overpowering primitive ancient urge to have children. If you have that urge, you can't imagine how anyone wouldn't want children. If you don't, then you analyze it logically as cost/benefit analysis and might come to any conclusion.
People should just accept those who have children and those who don't.
September 19th, 2009 4:31pm
"about having family to offer companionship when you are old and to stand up for you when you are infirm."
That falls apart because as the article reminds us, most kids do not have great parental relations. There's tension in quite a few of those situations (NOT ALL YOU DUMBASS NEVER SAID ALL) making it quite likely that you won't have the companions in your old age.
Better for me to spend the time cultivating relationships that will actually pan out.
Nobody does a cost/benefit analysis.
Look at all the poor Americans who have children. There's no cost benefit.
Imagine growing up with parents who "ran the numbers" and decided you should be out on the farm tossing hay all summer.
Fuck that. Just don't have kids. Have Mexicans.
Do you expect to retire at some point or are you going to work until you drop and then get humanely killed? Because that pension has to come from somewhere either from the taxes of future generations (today's kids) or from investments in their work.
If you want to have kids or don't want to have kids, that's fair enough. It's your choice and to be blunt I couldn't give a toss either way.
But to claim moral superioty? Oh do fuck off.
September 19th, 2009 6:20pm
I love how people who have kids don't feel morally superior, ever. Yeah.
They can fuck off as well.
September 19th, 2009 6:36pm
>>> Better for me to spend the time cultivating relationships that will actually pan out.
Yeah, because non-family relationships are so much more likely to last and to support you in your old age.
September 19th, 2009 7:46pm
>Nobody does a cost/benefit analysis.
Everybody does EXACTLY that.
>Look at all the poor Americans who have children. There's no
wtf? why not?
and it's a bit fucking presumptuous of you to think so. are they not smart enough to do all this "thinking" like you people in suits?
September 19th, 2009 8:32pm
Wow. Just wow. You really think poor people who have kids out of wedlock did a cost/benefit analysis?
That is like saying they are all in it for the welfare money.
I'm not saying that they're just in it for the money but it definitely plays a part.
People respond to incentives a lot more than you'd think. In odd ways, sometimes.
September 19th, 2009 9:22pm
Hormones. That's my personal experience. Those will make you do things that have nothing to do with cost/benefit.
Have you wondered if your hormones might not dictate your behavior a little more than other people's do?
I'm just sayin'. Sometimes it's easier to tell if you're on the rag than if my girlfriend is, and I've never even met you.
September 19th, 2009 9:28pm
I think this discussion could be civil. It is interesting. Hormones dictate in great part who/what/when we have sex.
Having children, for the middle-class, is simply an extension of self. Nothing more, nothing less. There is no cost "benefit" to having children. It is a financial loss. The only gain is a perception of immortality.
People won't admit this for some reason.
C'mon, you thikn they don't enjoy raising the little monsters?
It's not like they do it out of some god complex.
September 19th, 2009 9:37pm
You must be kidding. Raising kids is a pain in the ass.
People romanticize it and then realize they are trapped after the reality sets in.
Yeah, it's a pain in the ass but how many times have you heard a none too bright mother sigh and go "but it's all worth it when i see his cherubic little eyes fall asleep".
Children have a powerful hormonal effect upon their mothers. Probably more than sexual partners do.
September 19th, 2009 9:41pm
I feel that way about my cats.
My kids drive me nuts at times, I will freely admit. At the same time, seeing them learn is great, and they are often very sweet. They love to play, and throw themselves into fun with total abandon. Helping them understand the world as best I can is nice.
It's about loving someone, and being loved in return.
September 19th, 2009 10:16pm
>>> Raising kids is a pain in the ass.
So is any good friendship. If there's never any friction, the other person is a sycophant, not a friend.
Having kids is an extremely intense relationship. When they're young, they really are an extension of you. They pick up on so much of what you do and you pick up on what they're doing and feeling.
It's more than just "oh, they're so cute," although that's part of it. There's a chunk of re-discovering the world with them - seeing old things through new eyes. I'm pretty sure you can't share the experience of a rainbow ("and look, there's another, fainter one!") or seeing a bear or a skunk in your yard with a cat. If I'd seen the bear by myself, that would still be cool and I'd tell my friends about it, but it's way more fun that she can tell her friends about it too.
September 19th, 2009 11:48pm
Ward, I am child-like. Most days, I find wonder.
> "That we do not place the highest value on passing on our genes is part of what makes us different and, yes, in some sense superior to our fellow animals"
What nonsense. That is just rationalizing and defending your own choice. You made that choice and more power to you. I'm not going to criticize it, but that choice is not a illustration of your superiority over others, animal or human. It just tells that you live in a situation where you do not depend on offspring or family in general to survive.
In fact it is illustrative to your need to show yourself to be independent. All good and valid but by no means superior.
September 20th, 2009 10:00am
You've never heard of the concept of timshel.
All you Bible-thumpers should love that.
From East of Eden (John Steinbeck):
“The American Standard translation orders men to triumph over sin, and you can call sin ignorance. The King James translation makes a promise in ‘Thou shalt,’ meaning that men will surely triumph over sin. But the Hebrew word, the word timshel—‘Thou mayest’— that gives a choice. It might be the most important word in the world. That says the way is open. That throws it right back on a man. For if ‘Thou mayest’—it is also true that ‘Thou mayest not.’”
Animals run on instinct. We have the option to use our intellect to make a choice. I choose to ignore instinct and use my intellect, something animals cannot choose to do. Superior or not? That's something to debate. I don't know.
But it definitely separates me from my cats. You can't argue that. If you do, you're stupid.
Sounds like you run on instinct and just post rationalize it later.
September 20th, 2009 10:42am
Isn't that what everyone does?
("post" and "later" are redundant.)
September 20th, 2009 12:30pm
I don't even like cock much, Colm.
What's your excuse.
>> Sounds like you run on instinct and just post rationalize it later. <<
I think this could more fairly be said about the vast majority of parents.
For non-rich Americans, having children is an insane economic gamble.
People can fantasize all they want about how their kids will take care of them in their old age, the reality is you'll be a hell of a lot better off if you don't have kids and bank the extra savings.
People are compelled to have kids by a mix of instinct and peer pressure from people who already have kids and want to validate their own decision.
September 20th, 2009 3:12pm
>I think this could more fairly be said about the vast majority of parents.
Right, I was trying to say that regular parents and sharky weren't all that different.
September 20th, 2009 4:07pm
It's a choice. My choice happens to prove that I'm above my instinct, the exact opposite of your claim.
Choice doesn't mean it's not an instinct.
September 20th, 2009 5:50pm
Or combination of instincts.
September 20th, 2009 5:51pm
Just say what you really want to - that people who have kids are dumb breeders who can't overcome their instincts and peer pressure.
September 21st, 2009 4:36pm