My husband wanted a baby.
Meanwhile, I literally had a whole list of reasons NOT to have a baby.
But in the interests of fairness, I interviewed and studied various parents. I came up a list of reasons why (other) people want children…along with reasons why those reasons are screwed up.
#1. RELIGION. Various religions have spent centuries insisting it’s God’s will that their congregations reproduce like rabbits. In Utah, for example, Mormon Elders are horrified when women talk about putting off marriage or childbirth. “But what about the poor souls in Heaven?” they ask. “You’re not thinking of the poor little souls just waiting for a body!”
Why, sure, Mr. Elder. And you’re not thinking about how the more your congregation procreates, the more money their progeny’s 10% tithes generate. (Fun fact: The LDS Church will actually bill their members based on their W2 forms.) And the evangelicals? Don’t get me started on how those pastors actively seek to expand their flocks and their control of their flocks by insisting on 19 kids and homeschooling.
Since I don’t believe in God or Heaven, though, I am unmoved by the supposed horror of spiritual traffic jams. Next.
#2. SECURITY (i.e., Medieval Social Security). This one is especially big in Chinese families. It’s expected that the son will take care of his aging parents, physically and financially. Even my Chinese-American husband Andy, who has a 401K, a pension, and a social security check waiting for him, has made comments about how a child would care for him in his old age.
But depending on your children is questionable. Even in a rule-following, age-respecting society like Japan’s, adult children dump their aging parents. Some grandparents even seek imprisonment to get shelter and food.
#3. SOCIETAL EXPECTATIONS That Motherhood Is the Highest Calling and All Women Shall Aspire to That Pinnacle of Womanhood. More medieval logic — the kind that coincides with keeping women away from the corridors of power and sometimes financial autonomy.
Modern women, armed with modern birth control, can pick their own pinnacles. Everyone else, shut up.
#4. LONELINESS. I know women who can’t stand being alone. They think that having a child will mean never being alone again. They have a point. A demanding child means you won’t even go to the bathroom alone for about 5 years.
Yet how entitled and repulsive to make your own child’s small presence responsible for your happiness. I suggest therapy instead.
#5. A SENSE OF PURPOSE. This was my mother. She was addicted to being pregnant and shepherding new life into the world. It’s a little (OR A LOT) like today’s conservatives, obsessed with the survival of All The Zygotes — until they leave the womb.
Once Mom’s kids were born, though, we grew up moderately feral, as she was too busy shepherding in the next new baby to get her kids to school. Or the doctor. (Notice again the parallels with the GOP’s slashing educational funding and medical insurance for children.)
#6. ENTRAPMENT. I hate, hate, HATE that I have to mention this one, because it wounds my liberated female soul, but I’ve seen it firsthand. One of my dance partners – an independently wealthy one – had a hookup deliberately get pregnant and get child support.
What a special scenario. Someday the kid asks, “Mommy, how was I made?” and she’ll get to answer, “Through greed, child.”
#7. GLORY DAYS. There are parents who’ve realized that their own dreams of greatness will never be realized. So these Sports Dads and Dance Moms live for the successes of their progeny. Sometimes, the progeny succeed. Mostly, though, these children wind up in pain or even suicidal.
#8. THEY JUST LOVE BABIES. These persons are also known as “Baby Hogs.” Loving babies is sweet, sure, but remember that babies are much like puppies: cute and squishy when small, but destined to grow into less cute, more obstinate creatures with astounding destructive powers.
I suggest puppies or kittens instead, as they at least don’t have the opposable thumbs necessary for automatic weaponry. (Thank God, right? Imagine your hungry, pissy, sociopathic cat with a Glock.)
#9. TROPHY KIDS. Nope, it’s not just for wives. There’s a whole bunch of McMansion owners who, not content with having just one kid, use a second, third, fourth, or even fifth child to proclaim their status: “Look at us! We can afford the $250,000 necessary to raise an American kid 4 times over! Suck on that, Joneses!”
#10. IMMORTALITY. People like the idea that a piece of them will live on after they’re gone. And the more kids you have, the more likely that one of them will survive to pass on your DNA. Once upon a Black Plague, this attitude was understandable.
Now that overpopulation is the greatest accelerator of climate change, a desire for immortality through multiple kids only serves to ensure that it’ll be cockroach DNA inheriting the earth — not yours.
As you can see, I found not a single noble — or even rational — reason to bring a small human into being.
On the other hand, I did think of an amazingly noble reason to raise a child.
I thought of the millions of adoptable kids around the world. Children who lost birth parents to war, poverty, or disease. Their birth mother might not have had access to birth control. She might have been raped. Maybe she struggled with addiction. Whatever the reason, when there were so many existing children who needed loving homes, I found it difficult to justify creating new ones.
Maybe, just maybe, I could get my husband on board with that.
Shout out to adoptive parents around the world
and two particular Moms in Los Angeles.:
Well done, you.
34 thoughts on “Top 10 Reasons To Have Babies…Refuted (#204)”
They do seem like an awful lot of work.
They are. And you can’t throw them back.
You forgot one that was big in my generation. It will hold the marriage together. It didn’t and it doesn’t. Just complicates things. I never had kids without fur. It wasn’t really a conscious decision. Not a good relationship during my healthy egg days. I’m ok about it. Have wonderful nieces and nephews that I share. I don’t have anyone to change my diaper when that comes but I remember a woman I worked with who took her Dad out of his nursing home for a day. She raced him back because there was no way she was cleaning him up. There are a lot of wonderful parents out there and some who need major work. Intrigued to see where you ended.
Oh, that’s right! Holding a marriage together. I dunno, I think sometimes kids are the earthquake that rips parents apart. I see more and more articles on women who divorced because they realized that it sucked to take care of a husband AND children.
You’re right, there are many children out there who need a good home. Whichever way you go, the love you put into it will make it all worthwhile. In a way, raising children is like any project you put a lot of effort into. You can’t help caring for them (or the project.)
I was lucky. My children were easy to raise; my husband was supportive. We didn’t have any complicated reasons for having them. But I enjoyed everything about having them except the birth process itself, and that didn’t last long.
I think you have less baggage than I do, Nicki, because sometimes I really hate the projects I work on! They make me quite cross.
Just because humans are able to reason, do they need to find a reason in everything? Do other beings reason about it? Can’t we just accept some of our side of simple living beings? Most animals do their best to care for their offspring, even if it’s just spawning them in the right place before taking off. But they can’t guarantee that their young will make it, nobody really can. However, the need to have a child of your own goes beyond rationalizing. Even if people may come up with some reasons, it doesn’t mean that they’ve covered all bases. And while I agree that children shouldn’t be brought up into the world by parents who can’t care for them, the reality is that we are asking a lot from this species, which is so young on the evolution scale, the only species that has the THINK about whether or not they can provide for their offspring, impact other beings around, save Earth and so on. I somehow trust that nature would take care of things and when my office mates leave the lights on at the end of the day, I console myself with the thoughts that 99% of all species that have inhabited Earth are extinct and the sun will eventually explode. Overpopulation: as the rest of the population around the globe grows out of subsistence, the growth rate will diminish. It already has. For the first time in recent history, it has taken longer to add 1 billion than the last billion. And the fertility of half the population around the globe is below the replacement rate. Those who have lots of children make the news, which is proof that it is a rare event.
Where am I going with this? I don’t know exactly. Somehow I feel that if one partner has that irrational need to have a biological child, it’s hard to rationalize against it. I also think that mixed race humans will help bring and keep peace on earth. And they are so darn cute!
Wow, Maple, your are even more pessimistic than I am, what with the end of human life on earth and the earth itself.
But you’re right in that there’s probably a biological urge that makes some people simply WANT a baby. Perhaps it’s related to the same urge that makes me want to eat all the cheese and chocolate, because a famine might be coming and fat & sugar will help my DNA survive.
But I think that urge should be examined and checked. Unlike my ancestors, I don’t have to build up fat to survive the winter. I live in a world where exercise and less sugar will help my DNA survive longer. So why wouldn’t we — and shouldn’t wee — try and check that urge to procreate, too? It’s better for the planet and the ultimate survival of humanity.
But you’re right, it’s hard to argue with some biological urges. Just ask Andy if he gets between me and my chocolate.
Thinking of the exploding sun helps me to cope with the indifference of my peers. I have also noticed that those who have 3+ children are the least careful about turning off the lights, for example. One would think that those with many children care more about how they influence this planet, their children’s future. But I guess, that care should have started with the number of offspring. If it wasn’t there before…
That’s a good point. If the environment was of concern, they wouldn’t have 3 kids and a giant, fossil-fueled Chevy Suburban to haul them around.
Momzilla would disapprove this post haha 🙂
I should take that as a compliment?
Nothing from Momzilla should be treated like a compliment
But if she wouldn’t like my post, isn’t that kind of a compliment?
Excellent post. About time someone spoke up this blunt for those who are thinking twice about having kids. A very rational way of looking at it. You are correct in saying that in Chinese culture having a kid is about security, and also status – but certainly not guaranteed, and you can’t predict how the offspring will turn out. Very interested to see if you’ll go down that adoption route.
Thanks, Mabel. I think it is a little too rational for some people, but maybe if will help those women who feel pushed into motherhood push back before they have a kid. Also, while one can’t ignore one’s wants, one can certainly examine them. I know guys who spend more time researching a car than childrearing.
Autumn, so love this post! I’ll have to show this to someone next time they start asking me why I don’t have kids.
Thank you! Glad to be of service.
I have more mixed feelings about this. My wife and I have two kids (in case little thunder goat would have been the first child then there would have been not a second one…) but the reason why we wanted kids do not match any of your points mentioned above. Ofcourse some parts of them fit but we do not fit into any particular category.
Honestly it never crossed our mind to adopt a child. I believe it would have happened in case we would not be able to have children but that is just a big “if”.
Growing up some of my friends were adopted, especially one guy comes to my mind who was adopted from Colombia ( still got nightmares because he was in fact a real asshole but that was due to his new German family who spoilt him and his sister, also adopted, just too much and ruined their social development)
I think there can be multiple reasons to want to have a child. Having multiple reasons is probably healthier than a single obsessive reason.
I do think all reasons are worth examining, whatever they may be. Maybe you have dreams of your child being a superstar swimmer, for example (not that YOU do, of course, this is a hypothetical, less mentally healthy Timo). It’s not necessarily wrong to want the best for your kid, but is a desire for a superstar a good reason to put a kid on this earth? Is it worth years of sleep deprivation and being covered in bodily fluids? Plus, your kid’s penultimate desire could be a sanitation engineer and then the hypothetical, less healthy you in this scenario might not accept that.
My point is that I’m for thoughtful, conscious family planning. I feel like just having kids because “that’s what people do” or “I’m over 30 and married” or “A baby is going to be so much fun and will make me happy!” often leads to miserable kids and parents.
Because once you have a kid, it’s too late to say, “Wait. Shit. This isn’t what I wanted or thought it would be AT ALL!”
We planned back in the day when about we wanted our first child. We did not plan everything 100% as things change, especially in our situation as during the pregnancy we planned to stay in Finland and whosh few months before Nathan was born we decided to move to Germany.
Anyhow perhaps I should force Nathan to join the local swimming club where I also started and managed to compete on National level :D:D:D (for now we will just take him to Tae Kwon Do though…)
Nathan will have to practice his Tae Kwon Do so he can toss his father in the pool if he becomes The Obsessive Swim Dad. One of the worst things ever overheard at a swim meet: “You took THREE breaths on that last 50. No dinner.”
Haha I remember such parents too well from my early years at bigger swimming competitions. Some of them were really extreme…
Looking forward to the next post and Andy’s answer, and especially… your in-laws reaction! (If they were even notified about possible adoption plans). Based on what I see and hear in China, adoption is a last resort only considered if you cannot have your own children, because “they are not really yours”.
I see you can guess how things are going to go. 🙂
Given how much of a big deal having a #1 son of the #1 son is, I suppose it will take ages for adoption to become as accepted in China as it is elsewhere, I suppose.
Love your article! I felt like I’ve found my female soulmate after reading your blog although I’m no lesbian. I absolutely loath women who projected their resentment on others just because they think they’re entitled especially when exhausted from babysitting. Also, some conniving bitches were very defensive about teacher’s method or negative feedback although the one truly at fault was poor upbringing. No one pointed a gun on their head when it comes to popping out kids. So many sick people out there!
I am so glad you liked it. It’s definitely not for everyone (as has been pointed out to me in numerous private messages).
Childcare is damned exhausting, no doubt. I think it would be less exhausting if men helped out more. It’s 24-7, no vacations unless you’re lucky enough to be able to afford a nanny or have a mom close by or enlist your older children as slave labor. Which is why I think everyone — but women especially — should think long and hard about a) whether they really WANT a baby, b) whether they will have a partner who also really wants a baby, and c) their reasons for wanting a baby hold up to scrutiny (or therapy).
Actually, I guess I wish people would just think harder about any decision that has such an impact on others. Maybe then we wouldn’t have an Orange Pustule as President.
Hahaha…. so true about child labor, “therapy” and Orange Pustule. Excellent points 😉
Why thank you. As a graduate of the school of unpaid babysitting, I’m not a fan. Helping out around the house, mowing the lawn, cleaning — yes, all kids should have to do chores. But being turned into a nanny? No.
Although it does serve as a form of birth control later.
Hit the right spot again! Dealing with people around me alone is adequate to serve as a VERY effective form of birth control 😉
And you’re right, there are many, many parents that are either too tired or too unwilling to put down their iPhones and do the work that creates a little person who is a joy in the classroom.
Hats off to all the parents that do, though.
Really well articulated.
Awesome post. I always used to think *I* was selfish for not wanting to have a child, but your post has fully convinced me that I’m not selfish at all–it’s everyone else! Haha. This post is quite timely, since my aunt just gave me an hour long talk about why I need to have a child ASAP and how my life is empty without one. Sigh.
Again, like Marta mentioned above, I can’t wait to hear about the next chapter of this story. You’re killing me with suspense!
Want me to talk to your aunt? I am SURE it will go as well as my talks with Andy’s parents.
I really, really wish people would stop trying to convince women that baby-making is The One True Reason Why Women Exist. It’s like the friend who joined a cult — or crossfire — and is trying to recruit.