Here’s my foreseeable future: go to college, get an undergraduate degree in English/Psychology/Philosophy, go to graduate school, solidify a successful career, get married, have kids. Sounds like a plan, especially after throwing in a mother with anger issues and the fact that I don’t know how to drive yet. As you can see, I’ve thought about my future a lot.
But here’s something I haven’t thought of yet: why do I want kids? I’m a seventeen-year-old male who has years of work to do and fun to have before settling down and forming a family. I feel like society forces this belief upon us – that we should grow up to have children. When we see two married adults our first thought isn’t usually “wow, they have kids!”, rather, it’s “hm, I wonder why they don’t have kids yet.” Then the judgments flow in. Perhaps they are having trouble reproducing naturally, maybe they’re late starters, or maybe they’re just selfish.
Here’s a thought that might make you pause: having your own babies is selfish. Isn’t it? Common reasons to have children include the personal experience of raising kids, the pleasure of parental competence and responsibility, the status and extension of the family name, etc. Some sources say that overpopulation is rapidly taking its toll on the environment and that we may be the last generation that doesn’t extensively budget its resources. Add to the list all of the other horrible things that could go wrong in a child’s life, and you start to wonder why exactly we think having babies is a good (or at least moral/logical) idea.
Despite all of this there’s a part of me that still desires children. After talking to a few of my teachers and obtaining their perspectives, I’ve gathered that a mix of biological (continuing the human race/legacy), psychological (the pleasure/societal impact), and spiritual (some people’s religions, I suppose) factors contribute to the urge. Maybe I am simply selfish. Maybe I want to raise a child who will care for me when I’m old and decrepit, teach a child SAT vocabulary by the time he or she is three, and rear a child well to make up for my mother’s mistakes. Or could it be that I want to raise a child who can positively affect society and give hope to future generations?
While I wouldn’t mind adopting – which seems less selfish from a philosophical standpoint – there’s still a strange urge inside of me to pass down my own genes. I guess I’ll have discuss this with my partner later on. For now, I will continue to consume novels and write random blog posts instead.