Procreation and Selfishness


Let’s get something straight right from the start: I love kids. I’m good with kids. I’m not afraid or embarassed to say that I’m great with kids. People tell me that all the time, and if I’m at a party with kids and adults, I’m always the one entertaining the children. At picnics, when my wife can’t find me, she just looks for the biggest crowd of kids, and there I am in the middle. (one of my favorite lines from my life was when my wife looked out the window of the church at her faimly reunion and exclaimed with mild irritation: “is that MY HUSBAND on the merry-go-round!”) I specify this not to boast, but because when most people hear what I’m about to say next, their automatic reaction is to assume I don’t like kids.

I refuse to have children; I will not procreate. I love children, and that’s why I refuse to bring them into this world. I’ve had people tell me many times that I’m selfish for not wanting kids, and that’s why I’m writing this rant. My point is simple, though revolutionary in our culture: Having children is SELFISH!

Why do people have children? Some people try to argue that it’s because of our innate drive to procreate, an evolutionary mechanism to insure we continue as a species (interestingly, many people who espouse this view are the same people who claim to be against evolution for religous reasons). But that’s not a valid point. If it were an innate drive we could not control, then women would continue producing children till they reached menopause; they wouldn’t be able to just stop breeding after one or two or three children. Most other reasons given are simply selfish. This is true whether the statement is obviously egotistical (example: “I want to pass on MY family name” or “I don’t want MY lineage to die out”) or more subtly self-abosrbed (example: “I want to give my parents grandchildren” or “I want to give a child the joy of life that I’ve had”).

“I want to pass on my family name” is quite obviously selfish, as is “I want something to love,” or, “My husband and I want a physical manifestation of our love” (sounds sweet and romantic, yes…but it’s still selfish). So, how about “my parents want grandchildren,” or “I want to pass on the joy of life”? These statements are still grounded in gratification of the SELF. The person who wants to give her parents grandchildren is still trying to gain parental approval for HERSELF. As for passing on the joy of life, why must it be YOUR child? An unselfish person who truly wanted to bring joy to a child would adopt one of the millions of impoverished (by that I mean emotionally and spiritually even moreso than financially) children already in the world. Bringing another child into the world just so the joy you pass on stays in YOUR lineage is pure selfishness. There is simply no argument FOR having children that could not also be satisfied by adopting a child, other than pure self-centeredness.

The truth of the matter is, however, that most people who procreate don’t think about the matter at all. The idea that there’s a choice involved is completely alien to most people; they’ve been molded into automotons of procreation by the time they’re teenagers. People in our culture, especially women, are inculcated from day one with the message that they MUST have children, that they are incomplete and invalid human beings if they don’t. Throughout their lives, people say “WHEN you have children” rather than “if”. In fact, saying “IF you have children” is considered rude and insulting by many people; this is simply a testiment to how laiden with pro-natal propoganda our culture is. And people pass it right along to their children with talk of “grandkids” long beforer their own children are even considering parenthood.

With the state of the world today, and with the harm that overpopulation is bringing to this world—and hence, to US—bringing a child into this world is tantamount to booking your child a room on the Titanic. All the trials and tribulations we face today because of our culture’s abuse of the world (unclean water, unclean air, ozone depleation leading to more skin cancer, overcrowded schools, traffic, crime, poverty, mental illness, etc.) will increase exponentially throughout our lives and our children’s lives. According to the most touted source on population, there are just over six BILLION people on Earth today (but that’s a very conservative estimate, since it does not take into account homeless people at all, and many countries in the world have even more homeless people than the USA…there could easily be another billion uncounted people out there); at the turn of this century there were less than two billion people. What kind of life will your children have when they’re living with TWELVE to TWENTY BILLION people swarming around them?

I love children. That’s why I’m not having any. I’m childfree by choice. Because I don’t have dependant mouths to feed, I’m not tied to a job I hate, and I can use my free time and energy making the world better for ALL children, not just my own progeny. The best thing anyone can do for all the children (and all people in general) is to NOT bring anymore children into the world.


For some good opinions on this theme and various ways it relates to current issues, check out Jerry's Musings. Jerry is the "Founding non-father" of NoKidding. He very cogently expresses his dissappointment and anger at the tyranny of the fecund over the nulliparous. Check it out.
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See a similar piece I wrote that was featured on the Society for the Prevention of Childbirth's letters page. It was in response to a particularly harsh piece of hatemail the site received. Since then, the Society's site was shut down. Too bad. (br> Also, check out my "Why I won't have kids" cheatsheet here.