Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Is it Selfish Not to Have Kids? A Parent’s Perspective

Kudos to Trent Hamm, a parent who tacked the prickly question “Is it selfish not to have kids?” in a blog post on Christian Science Monitor.com.

It was so refreshing to read a post from a parent who was willing to acknowledge that although he knew going in that kids were going to be expensive and that being a parent would be a challenge he chose to have children because he “deeply want[ed]” the experience of being a parent.

I love this guy because he took ownership of his “want” and didn’t wear his parent role as a cloak of martyrdom or as a way to be holier than thou. For him parenthood was simply a personal goal, something he was drawn to and wanted to succeed at.

“For me, the price of being a parent is one I’m willing to pay, because being a parent is something I’m intrinsically driven to do.” He has also noticed that “other people don’t have that drive.”

I found myself nodding in agreement as Hamm summed up his beliefs:

My belief is that if you don’t wish to have children, don’t have children. If you think that children are more trouble than they’re worth, you probably should not have children.

I also believe that if you feel driven to have a child, you should do everything you can to prepare to be the best parent you can be. This means spending the time to really figure out who you are, how to control your emotions, how to teach, and most mportantly, how to be patient.

The world needs both parents and non-parents. There is a lot of societal value in a wide range of skills, abilities, and thoughts. I absolutely feel that being a parent is a noble choice, but that does not imply that DINKs are not making a noble choice. They’re making a different one in line with their values, goals, and talents.

Very Cool.

Flickr Photo by RealEstateZebra


Unknown said...

I would add that anyone who chooses to be a parent should realize that they are up for at least "twenty years of hard labor" and maybe even longer, depending on when that child "leaves the nest." Be willing to put other personal desires on hold, indefinitely, if not forever. The desire to be a parent overrides everything else. If, after knowing that you are basically giving up your own life in many ways for the life of another, and you are still passionate to do it, then do it. But society doesn't need any more unwanted, unloved children. Far too many of those as it is.

Courtney Mroch said...

What a well-balanced insight he lent. This was refreshing. I'm always amazed by the people who view being childless as selfish. It's just as selfish to want a child. And don't even get me started on the people who undergo infertility treatments or adoption. They want to be parents so bad they're willing to do anything. That's selfish too. Yet for some reason that's a good selfish? But me choosing not to have kids is a bad selfish? Perplexing.

Dana said...

From a Darwinian perspective, having a child is just about the most selfish thing you could possibly do. One the other hand, it is those whom choose not to have children whom are sacrificing their genetic legacy.

Laura S. Scott said...

Dana--Personally I'm Okay with sacrificing my genetic legacy. I don't hold that as a primary value in my life, but that's just me.

Temujin said...

Refreshing perspective, though he never really addressed the question of selfishness. I don't think being childfree is selfish, but let's just say for the sake of argument that it is. If I'm childfree for selfish reasons, who am I hurting?

From what I keep hearing from evangelical pronatalists, I'll regret not having children. So, the person I'm hurting most is myself. How can it be selfish to choose to make my life worse? You can't have it both ways -- if having children is so wonderful, how could being childfree be selfish? If I'm selfish for being childfree, that must mean that there's great individual enjoyment from being childfree. yes, my point exactly.

Laura S. Scott said...

Temujin: I love your comment. Yes you can't have it both ways!