Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Having Children?

While talking with a friend on IM the other night, she mentioned that she'd had a conversation with another woman who was hesistant to date a particular man in his 40s because he was childless. Her hesistation stemmed from her belief that anyone who did not have children by a certain age had something mentally "wrong" with them.

Oh, where to start? There are so many ways to shoot this woman down in flames.

For one thing, with rampant child abuse all over the planet, the world would be a lot better off if many people did not have children. For most people, whether or not they want to have children isn't something they give a lot of careful thought to. It's almost an automatic thing; you grow up and get married, and you naturally have children. I don't know a whole lot of people who search their souls or examine themselves to discover their actual desires on the matter or whether they've even got the aptitude to be good parents.

Indeed, many people give more thought as to what kind of a house or a car they want to buy, or what career they'll work at, than whether or not parenthood is right for them. Parenthood is usually more of a default status, and less one that is actively chosen when not having children is seen as an equally valid option.

However, many people manage to do well as parents and love their children, even when having children is more of a default thing rather than an active choice.

Nevertheless, the human race is in no danger of extinction any time soon; rather, we have the opposite problem. In light of this and the other things I've mentioned, to say that someone is mentally warped and maladjusted for choosing not to have children is shortsighted at best, not to mention naive and arrogant.

There are many reasons why people choose not to have children: knowing one's limitations for the job of raising children, be it one of aptitiude, temperament, or resources, lack of interest, devoting one's life to something else that wouldn't fit well with the responsibilities of parenthood, and so on.

Like the old saying goes, "One can love and appreciate music without feeling the need to learn to play all the instruments in the orchestra". The same is true of children.


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