Not being a parent

From Diary Of A Disillusioned Dater

But I knew back then, even as a young twenty-something dopey kid that arguing with someone about this subject was tantamount to arguing with someone about religion or politics. The person with whom you’re arguing really isn’t interested in your opinion – they just want you to believe in theirs.

That has to be one of the best quotes I read in a while.

In life you get big pay-offs for taking on tasks that demand big sacrifices. However, you have to really want that big pay off to make taking on the big tasks work. Raising children is one of those big commitments.

The double-think involved with people who call others “selfish” because they will not have children is mind blowing. What can be more selfish than asking someone who doesn’t want to the rewards of a large task to take that task on to satisfy you?

It is true, many people don’t want the responsibilities or the rewards of being a parent. That isn’t something bad. Apart from that argument there is a very real over population problem that is growing worse.

BTW, how many elderly people do you know that have their adult children keeping them company on a regular basis?

You may know a few, but it is from being the majority. Having kids to be taken care of when you are old is not the best strategy for that problem.

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15 thoughts on “Not being a parent”

  1. honestly, people in industrialized countries having less/ no kids won’t make too big of a difference. as that graph illustrates, it’s people on developing countries we need to worry about. most of the birth rates in developed countries are declining; industrialized countries with higher than replacement birth rates (like the US) are usually due to immigrants from less developed countries (and just immigration increasing the population)

    i do care about population growth, but if i only have 1-2 kids i’m not going to do any harm. i also think it’s important that people like us (vegans, left-leaning, etc) have families- if we want to change society to be more animal, eco, etc friendly, then we need to work within society- that includes having vegan families and instilling our values in another generation.

  2. Each person born in the US consumes many times more resources than a person born to a poor family in a developing country. So in that respect, your decision whether to have children or not matters much more than the decision of any individual person in India or Africa or China.

    And I don’t buy the argument that we need to have kids to pass on our values. Veganism is not genetic. We can pass it on to people other than our biological offspring.

  3. I agree with limiting families to 1-2 kids. It is a lot easier to get people to care if you tell them to have small families rather than no families.

    However, I think first world people need to watch their populations. We use up more resources and generate more pollution than 3rd world people. It is endemic to our infrastructure so while we can improve, we can only improve a little with greener habits alone.

  4. d, while it is true that immigrants from poor countries such as Mexico and Africa are among the US’s major causes of population growth, both because they immigrate and thereby drive up the population and also b/c they tend to have more children that native-borners, it is also true that white people native to the US also have more children than Europeans & Japanese because they tend to be more religious (as you know, the US is the most religious developed country), and Americans are also more optimistic about the future, which leads to higher rates of procreation.

    And, as several others have made the point, having one child here is a far greater burden to the Earth than having one child anywhere else! So, no offense, d, but Americans who have even one child, and most certainly two (two is replacement, and we don’t need to replace, we need to lower population) IS putting a burden on the planet. If you really desire having children, please consider adoption. If you don’t mind not having a white infant, there are plenty of kids to adopt right here in America. Kids who are already here who you will be able to raise as vegan, to have compassion for humans and animals….without adding to population growth.

  5. I agree we use more resources (though I would argue that enviro-conscious vegans do several times better than omnis). I’m not so likely to agree with your statement about non-US birth rates- I majored in an env. field, and any population info I looked at for the US showed that our higher replacement rate has more to do with immigration and the birth rates of immigrant populations in the US.

    Caroline, since you obviously are still living a US life (instead of living out of a cabin with no electricity, etc, or taking your own life to save resources), I think you recognize there’s a reasonable limit to how far you can take decrease your impact on the earth.

    I would argue that having just 1 kid can be seen as a reasonable limit, and that much more of an impact can be made by supporting/ funding groups that promote smaller families, contraceptive use, etc in the third world and by living and promoting a more eco-friendly lifestyle.

  6. Another argument that I don’t buy is the old “You’re not perfect so I can do whatever I want” trick.

    And of course, you can always have zero children *and* donate to groups such as you describe. The two actions are not mutually exclusive – in fact, by not having kids, you can save yourself many tens of thousands of dollars that you can then add to your donations.

    I think most of us here believe that it is wrong to allow dogs and cats to reproduce as long as there are dogs and cats available for adoption. (Perhaps some would go further and say that it’s wrong to allow dogs and cats to reproduce under any circumstances, but let’s save that discussion for another time.) If you *don’t* feel the same way about humans, why not?

  7. Buzzard, I’m not making that argument. I’m just saying that I think the greater difference would be made by other means, and that obviously we ALL recognize there are limits to how far we can feasibly take things. For many people, having a kid or two is something they don’t want to live with out and find it a basic right.

    As far as pet overpopulation goes, we spay and neuter so that we don’t have to kill as many animals (and hopefully, get to a point where we never have to euthanize an unwanted animal). We don’t kill other humans just because our population is high or because they’re homeless. It’s different.

  8. d, you know as well as I that the problem of unwanted human children would have to be many, many times worse than the problem of unwanted pets currently is before we as a society would even consider killing human children as an alternative to placing them in foster care, no matter how inadequate or abusive the foster carers. The difference you refer to in how the two problems are approached exists in large part due to speciesism. Surely you’re not suggesting that it’s appropriate to appeal to existing speciesism as a justification for our own actions?

  9. Yeesh, I can this commentary going back to the inspiration for this quote that inspired the thread

    From Diary Of A Disillusioned Dater

    But I knew back then, even as a young twenty-something dopey kid that arguing with someone about this subject was tantamount to arguing with someone about religion or politics. The person with whom you’re arguing really isn’t interested in your opinion – they just want you to believe in theirs.

  10. So if you hear an opposing opinion and decide that you disagree with it, does that mean that you really weren’t interested in it to begin with? I don’t think it necessarily does. I’m interested in what d has to say, even though she hasn’t (yet) persuaded me to change my mind about anything.

  11. Actually, d, I’ve taken over the Unibomber’s little wooden shack with no electricity or running water, and only venture out to the library once or twice a week to bitch and grouch on various blogs…therefore, I AM qualified to state that it is preferable for Americans to have zero biological children. As far as taking my own life to save additional resources, yes, if I could do so but still get my weekly grouch/bitch session in, I would, but alas, haven’t figured out how to blog posthumously yet. I’m working on it though…stay tuned.

  12. Buzzard, it’s more because the two problems, while both population problems, are different in a few key ways.

    Most importantly, humans don’t have litters (usually, anyway). A human reproducing once won’t increase the population anywhere near the way a cat reproducing once will. A couple having one or two kids will only replace themselves, while two cats having one litter will keep increasing the population. That’s why the best solution, for now, to pet overpopulation is to keep pets from having any offspring.

    This isn’t speciesism, it just has to do with the nature of the problem. Cats, dogs, etc can’t choose to have just one or two kids because of how they reproduce. Humans can.

    Another concern with developing countries is that while their children currently have a smaller impact on the environment, those countries are becoming more and more resource intensive every day. Look at China and India- if they keep growing at the rate they are, and if many people in India are able to purchase and drive that cheap $2k car, that’s a huge negative impact on the environment. Sure, it’s probably still less than per capita in the US, but as far as totals go, it could be greater (and that’s not to say that the US shouldn’t work on reducing our individual impact).

    I think it’s great some people are deciding to go childfree, but I think don’t think there’s anything wrong with having 1, 2 kids tops while trying to live more sustainably– the more immediate problem is birth rates in developing nations.
    BW- you should be glad you’re getting this much activity in your blog comments.

  13. Also I think many people who have children don’t really give much thought to whether they want them or not. This was true of my parents. They thought you just reached a certain age and started having kids. It was after this that they found they didn’t really like children or want the responsibility. Nearly all of my friends have kids and spend a lot of time complaining about how much work it is and how ungrateful and unappreciative their kids are. Duh, that’s how kids are. But our culture is so saturated in this idea that the minute you hold your baby you are transformed into a new, selfless, perfect parent… Well it’s ridiculous. Not everyone is meant to be a parent. People who are good at parenting can only really parent maybe 1-2 kids well, beyond that they typically force the older kids to sacrifice education in order to raise their younger siblings.

    Also D, you can’t do anything about birth rates in developing nations, the only birth rate you can actually control is your own, so it does no good to procreate while complaining about those people over there procreating too much.

  14. Lyda, I’ve had that thought many times, ever since I was a child. Many people become parents without ever thinking if they should or not, want to or not.

  15. I agree with limiting the kids for 1 – 2 only. so will have the best life you can offer for both of them. You can save a lot of money and save for their future. But I agree more if I will have 3 kids, they can play along and will be happy with each other. Otherwise, it depends on your budget if you can take care of more kids.


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