I think I would be a good father. I even like the idea. Adam and Amelia are the imaginary names for my imaginary children. I naturally assumed that I would become a father, and never stopped to think if I actually wanted that. It turns out, I don’t really.
It’s understandable that many people will find this post offensive. Becoming a parent often becomes part of your core identity. I’m not saying no one should have kids, I’m saying people shouldn’t if they don’t really want to.
In evolutionary terms, If I do not have children, I would be “broken”. I would be the first to break the trend in my lineage, spanning all the way back to single-celled organisms (hundreds of millions of generations!). That’s why it’s assumed I’ll have kids.
Find a girl, settle down, if you want to you can marry, and then have kids. It’s just what you do.
A different way of looking at it:
A colleague who was about to have their second child, once told me that people who want children never have children for the child’s sake. It’s always because they want it. Obviously there are other situations involving pregnancy, but I’m only talking about children coming from healthy relationships.
This is an interesting way to look at it. Often in pro-life debates, “what if the child would have grown up to become the president, or change the world in some great way?!” comes up. It’s from the view of the child, and future society. It’s true that there is the potential for greatness, but barring statistical anomalies, most children are going to be average, and live average lives, and if a child falls outside the norms then they have about as likely a chance of going to the dark side as they have for being some sort of great and mighty person.
The village wants you to have a kid:
There is a lot of societal pressure to have children. The parent that wanted to have you, would probably also want to have the benefits of having grandchildren too. As much as I loved my grandmother (she was a BAMF), I’m not going to have children so other people can have a relationship. I would rather just get them a rescue dog. Oh on that note: adopt, don’t shop, folks!
The question of having children is usually not if, but when? Added to that there’s not only pressure from society, genetics, and spouses, but there is also a ticking clock that lets you know that it’s a limited time offer only. It’s pretty much the same cognitive biases at work that make Black Fridays so crazy. Black Friday remorse is a real thing. But it’s much easier being annoyed at yourself for spending a little money on something you could sell, than something you will spend the next 20 years paying for that cannot be returned.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying having a child is a mistake. I’m saying that people don’t often count the actual cost of having a kid, not just financially, but emotionally, socially, and almost anything else that ends with “ally”.
Those good feelings work for a reason:
To give you an idea of how difficult having a child can be consider the rush of hormones that flood your body when you have a child. People say they love that child more than they ever thought they could possibly love anything, ever.
That’s really beautiful, it really is, and I’m really full of joy when people I know get to experience this. But, why do we get drenched in these hormones? Evolutionarily, people that survive passed on traits. So these good feelings help keep the kid alive and safe. Anything less than those intense feelings probably ended badly, because that trait didn’t get passed on.
Anything that probably won’t survive unless you love it to an unbelievable extent, sounds like a pretty massive investment, and for an investment that big I want certainty of greatness, but statistically I will get something average.
There are enough people in the world:
In population ecology they talk about a J-shaped curve, where if resources are plentiful, the population will shoot up (and the graph looks like a “J”… sorta). This is also generally what happens with some animals, where they have lots of offspring because they know that many of them will probably die. Think rabbits, fish, or insects. Even though humans have far fewer children on average than rabbits, it’s fair to say we don’t have any natural predators. Sure, some tourists get attacked on safari, or bitten by a shark, but when was the last time you feared for your life while walking to work with your morning latte in hand?
But Luke, what about countries where fewer kids are born?
Well, it’s true that in many countries population growth has slowed and even demonstrating negative growth rates. This is a problem for their economies as they usually have an elderly group that can no longer work. With a shrinking working cohort that probably won’t be able to take care of the elderly if the trend persists. This is only a problem in a few countries, and on average earth’s population is going to start reaching the upper sustainable limits.
Besides the actual cost of having and raising a child, the cost to my marriage is the one I think of first. Neither of us want children. So, of all the options, me going in for a quick snip is the best. Vasectomy is by far the simplest, most effective, and least disruptive form of birth control for us.
I can adopt:
There are so many children needing homes. I understand that having a child with your genetic material is a part of you, but speaking to anyone who has adopted you’ll quickly see that their children (adopted or not) are their children.
Here’s a great video by a friend that adopted:
So, by having a vasectomy I am stopping my direct lineage, but I could still raise a child.
So all in all:
People should have kids if they want. It can be a wonderful experience. It’s just not something I want.