The other day, while working around the house, I heard children screaming in the neighborhood. I idly thought to myself, “Why do people have children?” Then I thought a little more and got more serious about it. Why do people have children? They say that the people who decide not to have and raise children in their lifetime are being selfish, but when I got thinking about it, it seems the opposite is true. With a little brainstorming, these are some reasons I came up with:
- To continue the human race
- For the experience of raising a child
- Because your parents want grandchildren
- Because you need help working your farm/business
- You need a male child to continue your family name
- You grew up in a big household and want to have the same experience
- Babies are beautiful
- It’s the thing to do/all your friends have babies
- You’re getting old and having babies when you’re older is risky
- Your spouse wants a baby
- You don’t have a spouse and don’t want to be alone
- Your spouse is going to war and you want something to remember him by
- It just kinda happened
Of this entire list, the only reason that is not selfish is the first one, and I haven’t heard anyone use that one before. The last reason is irresponsible, but that’s a different post.
The typical rationalization of parents is “You’ll never understand the feeling of unconditional love,” which is false if you’ve ever owned a pet. Another common statement is regarding the wonder of watching a child grow and learn. Yeah, anyone can get that anywhere from any child. “But it’s different when it’s your own.” Hear that? “…your own.” When coming from a parent, it’s a statement of “Look what I made.”
Obviously, parenting is filled with pride – selfish, dangerous pride. When you have a child, you give up your own identity and start projecting through your children. To be fair, this isn’t always the case, but the parents who don’t do this are classified as poor parents or uninvolved parents. Then, it is recommended you live through your child.
But, isn’t that the proof that child-raising isn’t selfish? Despite the initial reason for having the child, you have to be selfless and sacrifice everything to raise the child? Quite the opposite, because by doing just that, you are burdening the child with creating your happiness as well as their own happiness, your success with their success. Their problems are amplified because they become yours, too. This is why so many parents (mothers, usually) have extreme separation anxiety at college-time, because suddenly they’re alone with no life.
If people would ask “why?” before having kids, and really look at the reasons and be honest with themselves, maybe we could manage this population crisis. After all, the first listed reason is well taken care of.