The Straight Dope

Go Back   Straight Dope Message Board > Main > Mundane Pointless Stuff I Must Share (MPSIMS)

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 02-06-2010, 07:59 AM
Septima Septima is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Why is it "selfish" to not want kids?

I was wasting time in The Strangers website (I read Savage Love, and sometimes the rest of the stuff is fun, even if I've never been within half a planet of Seattle) and I stumbled upon this question/answer.


http://questionland.thestranger.com/...m-i-bad-person

It completely baffled me. Where on earth is this person coming from? Why on earth would it be "selfish" to adopt instead of trying for a bio-kid?The only other place I've encountered a similar attitude is a throwaway line in the web comic "Something Positive", and I just figured that particular character was insane.

To me (and anyone I've ever met) having a child is a deeply selfish act in and of itself, in the sense that you're only doing it for yourself,and no-body else. Nobody has children to serve some greater good. What possible difference does it make to the world at large whether or not one more person has a bio-kid? So where does this thought that *not* having bio-children is selfish come from? Does some random person having bio-children have a tangible benefit to everyone else?

I've sometimes heard it said that wasting tons of money and time to get a bio-child instead of adopting an already born child is selfish, since your contributing to over-population while there are children already needing homes. I don't agree with this, but at least it makes some sort of logical sense.

This opposite view? I can't make heads or tails of it. Is it an American thing? Exactly why is this person supposed to feel selfish?
Reply With Quote
Advertisements  
  #2  
Old 02-06-2010, 08:33 AM
Jman Jman is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jun 2000
I agree with you entirely that adopting a kid is one of the least selfish things one can do. As the parent of a bio kid, I can say that there is some bit of selfishness in the decision to have children, as the motivation is to have the experience of being a parent, more or less. The interesting part of that decision, of course, is that being a parent, whether a bio-kid or via adoption, requires you to be extremely unselfish during the raising of that child...at least for me, the whole purpose of my life changed from furthering my own goals to more or less living my life to make my daughter's life better. Not that I don't still have personal ambitions...just that the motivation for a lot of that has changed. I now want an improved career both to have more nice things for myself, but primarily to provide security and options for her.

Most people, I think, would heartily agree that adoption is very unselfish, I think the poser of the question is just having conflicting feelings.

Last edited by Jman; 02-06-2010 at 08:36 AM..
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 02-06-2010, 10:09 AM
kimera kimera is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Nov 2002
My mom is the type of person who thinks it is selfish to not want kids and, from what I gather, her reasoning is that people without kids spend their time and money on themselves.
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 02-06-2010, 10:14 AM
otternell otternell is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Sep 2009
Quote:
Originally Posted by kimera View Post
My mom is the type of person who thinks it is selfish to not want kids and, from what I gather, her reasoning is that people without kids spend their time and money on themselves.
And we do! Woo hoo!
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 02-06-2010, 10:19 AM
nikonikosuru nikonikosuru is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Wouldn't it be more selfish to have a kid? I'm looking at this more in a resource-point of view; the kid(s) you choose to have will take up resources in the world, as we all do as humans, as opposed to not having a kid at all.
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 02-06-2010, 10:20 AM
Harriet the Spry Harriet the Spry is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
People can have children for both selfish and unselfish reasons and they can refrain from having children for both selfish and unselfish reasons. I would even go so far to say that people can adopt children for both selfish and unselfish reasons. Trying to attribute a motive by only observing the outcome is logically flawed.

ETA: Even further, people can do all of those things for a mix of selfish and unselfish reasons. And regardless of their initial motivation, their actions after having the child can also be a mixture of selfishness and unselfishness.

Last edited by Harriet the Spry; 02-06-2010 at 10:21 AM..
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 02-06-2010, 10:24 AM
dangermom dangermom is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2000
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jman View Post
I agree with you entirely that adopting a kid is one of the least selfish things one can do. ...

Most people, I think, would heartily agree that adoption is very unselfish, I think the poser of the question is just having conflicting feelings.
I think that's a debatable point, really. For the most part people adopt for the same reasons that they have bio-children--because they want children. And I think claiming that adoption is so much more unselfish than biology is a bit patronizing; adoptive parents are not saviors. Adoption is a complex thing with a lot of emotion involved, and it can be painful on both sides as well as happy. That doesn't mean I disapprove of adoption, but it's not a simple thing.

The adoption industry is not all rainbows and kittens. I don't know much about it myself, but there is a dark side as well. Now I think that on the whole the good that happens is more than the bad--but there is bad, and that shouldn't get ignored.
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 02-06-2010, 10:27 AM
kathmandu kathmandu is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jul 1999
Quote:
Originally Posted by Harriet the Spry View Post
People can have children for both selfish and unselfish reasons and they can refrain from having children for both selfish and unselfish reasons. I would even go so far to say that people can adopt children for both selfish and unselfish reasons. Trying to attribute a motive by only observing the outcome is logically flawed.

ETA: Even further, people can do all of those things for a mix of selfish and unselfish reasons. And regardless of their initial motivation, their actions after having the child can also be a mixture of selfishness and unselfishness.
Agreed. In fact, anything anyone does probably has, at least in part, a "selfish" reason behind it. Avoiding pain, pursuing happiness, helping because of the good feeling you get from altruism - these are all selfish things in that they result in a benefit to you. Certainly people who have, or don't have, or adopt children are doing it at least partly because they think that choice will add something to their lives. That's selfish, but it doesn't make it wrong.
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 02-06-2010, 10:52 AM
Harvey The Heavy Harvey The Heavy is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 1999
It's been my experience, as a childless 40 year old, that the people who think I'm selfish for not having kids are usually the ones who got married young because they "had to", and are just bitter about it.
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 02-06-2010, 11:24 AM
Chicagojeff Chicagojeff is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Dec 2009
i concur Harvey.. thats why i support gay marriage..nothing annoys me more than two adults together gettin to spend their money on what they want lol...
I have two bio kids and to tell you the truth i didn't put a lot of thought into having them. As i got older i realized what an impact overpopulation has and other issues.. I look at people with 5,6,7,8 kids and I wonder why? I wonder what farm are they workin?? I just don't think that I can be the same kind of father to 7 as i am to my 2..

I do think with Griswold and the advent of birth control that people need to really think about these issues prior to having children.. to some ...Children are less thought out than a big screen teevee..
Another reason why i'm happy that MY president has support the UN attempts to allow poor countries to do family planning.. When you can get ahold of your population is when u can plan and better serve the needs of the people..
Reply With Quote
  #11  
Old 02-06-2010, 11:38 AM
Broomstick Broomstick is online now
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: NW Indiana
Posts: 19,309
Quote:
Originally Posted by kimera View Post
My mom is the type of person who thinks it is selfish to not want kids and, from what I gather, her reasoning is that people without kids spend their time and money on themselves.
I definitely have gotten that reaction out of people!

On the other hand, because I don't have kids I have been the child who can put my life on hold for months at a time to care for ill parent(s) so my sisters who do have children can spend their time with their kids. That's hardly putting myself first now is it?

Yes, because I never had kids I have time, energy and money I could spend on myself... but I don't always choose to do that.

I think there is also a bit of jealousy going on there, it seems there is an assumption that because I don't' have the expense of kids I'm somehow wealthy. (Looks at food stamp card) Nope, I'm not. At least, not at the moment. 'Cause, you know, taking months out of your life to take care of ill relatives can really screw up your career track.

Last edited by Broomstick; 02-06-2010 at 11:40 AM..
Reply With Quote
  #12  
Old 02-06-2010, 11:48 AM
Katriona Katriona is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 2002
Quote:
Originally Posted by kimera View Post
My mom is the type of person who thinks it is selfish to not want kids and, from what I gather, her reasoning is that people without kids spend their time and money on themselves.
Which I would call only self-interested, which everyone, parent or not, is.

Using this definition of Selfish from Merriam Webster (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/selfish), especially the last part.


1 : concerned excessively or exclusively with oneself : seeking or concentrating on one's own advantage, pleasure, or well-being without regard for others.

WITHOUT REGARD FOR OTHERS. Who, exactly, is being harmed by someone else's decision to eschew reproduction, or adopt, or whatever?

I think it largely comes from people who need to see their own choices validated and are afraid their fragile little minds will explode if they come in contact with someone who challenges their assumptions.

Speaking from my own experiences with such Nosy Parkers.

Last edited by Katriona; 02-06-2010 at 11:51 AM.. Reason: Typing around a dog wearing the Cone of Shame is hard!
Reply With Quote
Reply



Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 09:04 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: cecil@chicagoreader.com

Send comments about this website to: webmaster@straightdope.com

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Publishers - interested in subscribing to the Straight Dope?
Write to: sdsubscriptions@chicagoreader.com.

Copyright 2013 Sun-Times Media, LLC.