Is having children a selfish act?

I have a few questions, and a few opinions on this.

Why do people have children? Here are my thoughts and questions regarding human breeding:

Why do people decide to have children, when it severely impacts their lives, monetarily and socially. Once you make the decision to have kids, you give up a LOT of freedom. You can’t get a decent night’s sleep, you can’t go out to the movies, rave, or whatever, without rounding up someone to watch the kid. You’re constantly having to respond to screaming poo-laden kids to change their diapers.
It completely takes your life over. And not for the better, IMHO.

The financial aspects alone would seem to discount going this route. Clothes, food, schooling, etc. Add that to the loss of freedom, and it just doesn’t make sense to me.

It’s of my opinion that having children is a selfish act… Parents are not doing it for the child, since the decision, in most cases, i hope, anyway, was made to add little dylan to the family. That decision was made to fulfill the parents’ wishes. To make them happier, i guess.
Not that there’s anything wrong with breeding to make you happier… but I think that bringing a new life onto the planet to fulfill your own happiness is pretty selfish, considering there are lots of little dylans in the world ready to be adopted, albeit not as cute and new-born as your own genetic spawn.

OK, so, i’m asking parents out there: Why did you have children? I’m really not trying to invoke a great debate, even tho i posted it here. I just really can’t balance the cost/benefit spreadsheet on this one :slight_smile:

My theory is that there is some genetic quality which makes people want to create miniature versions of themselves, of which my DNA has somehow left out.

And finally, do parents consider the act of procreation a selfish choice which is only done to make themselves happier, or do they have some other reason for doing this?

After all of the costs and penalties you named for having a child, you still think it’s selfish?
I think there are moral questions that everyone must address before bringing a child in this crazy, fucked up world.It’s still not exactly what I would consider selfish. Perhaps you could say that are genes are being selfish.
I think one child to a couple is fair enough. Heck, look at China, even they think that’s fair. If every couple had just one child our population would still be going down by half. Currently I think our population in the US is getting older. If it wasn’t for the influx of immigrants, we’d be overwhelmed by seniors and their medical expenses in 20 years.

Of course having children is a selfish act. You and your mate are creating new copies of their own genomes and no one else’s. Heck, it’s selfish for you even to be alive – eating all that food, drinking all that water, breathing all that oxygen – which could otherwise fill the bellies and the lungs of all those poor, starving, thirsty, oxygen-deprived people in Ethiopia or something.

I just don’t happen to think that selfishness is a bad thing.

A similar theme was explored a couple of months ago in Are middle-class parents ripping off the “child free”?

From high-school religion class:

There are two aspects to sex (or there should be): Procreative and unitive.

Procreative basically means you’re open to the possibility of conception.

Unitive means you’re using it as a way to be closer to eachother.

My parents expressed their desire for children as such: they wanted to share the joy/love/money etc with other people. And as they didn’t see the point in adopting adults, they had kids.

As for why they didn’t adopt: originally they wanted to have (make by sex) 8 and adopt 4. As they had kids, they discovered that 4 would be more than enough to handle.

I see it as a good thing that people are acting selfishly when they decide to have kids. If they are doing it solely for their own benefit, they would most likely be more willing to accept the responsibilities of having kids. I would honestly be quite scared of someone who had managed to delude himself into thinking that passing his genes on is a favor to society on his part.

Well every thing you do is a selfish act.

Of course it’s a selfish act. Who else would you be doing it for?

I suppose there are cases where a spouse would agree to have a child even if he/she didn’t want one. This, IMHO as a parent is a great act of un-selfishness.

A third scenario: Unplanned children. I’d have to admit that in the cases of the conceptions of my children, the ‘decision’ could best be described as an educated decision not to use birth control and accept any consequences that arose.

I now have 2 beautiful consequences. Both of whom are my life and breath. (Very proud Dad)

Chew on that. :slight_smile:

I would like to add my voice (despite my distaste for it) to those that feel that there is a natural disposition towards the propagation of the race. Instinct. I don’t like the idea, but it’s common throughout all of nature so why should we be different?

Is instinct selfish?

I seem to be talking myself out of my original POV.

I’m going to sheepishly step away from the podium now…

I think some folks think they are being very unselfish when they plan to procreate. Wrong. It’s selfish. But I find that women tend to want kids far, far more than men do. We men tend to just go along with it, or think we want kids when we are blind in love. Talk to some single guys. Majority will probably say they don’t want kids. (for all the reasons in the OP: Kids screw up your life style!).

Our first was the result of failed contraceptives. The other 2 were pumped out after we concluding our social lives were already over thanks to the first one.Was that selfish? Yup!

But the most selfish act is Abortion! Don’t kid yourself that it’s better to abort than bring a child into this screwed up world. That’s like killing homeless people and saying it’s in their best intrest.

Hmm, that’s funny…we childless-by-choice people often have the argument thrust at us that we are “selfish” to decide not to have kids, whatever our reasons. “You don’t want to give up the lifestyle and relationship you and hubby now enjoy? Well, that’s selfish. You don’t want to find yourself financially strapped again? That’s selfish. You find life stressful enough without the responsibility of kids? That’s selfish.”

I can’t leave this alone. It also aggravates me that the people who consider childless-by-choice people selfish for choosing as they did are family members who want us to have grandchildren/nieces or nephews/whatever for them to enjoy, not that they are planning on actually taking the responsibility or financial burden of these children. They just want the pleasure of it. I know this is slightly off topic, and I’m sorry.

On topic, every choice we make can be considered selfish if someone doesn’t know our motives. I like what iampunha said:

That is the LEAST selfish reason for having kids I can come up with. That doesn’t mean I think that the selfishness of choosing to have children is wrong, as long as the parents can feed/clothe/care for those children. That’s good selfishness. If they can’t, then I think it’s pretty much the epitome of BAD selfishness.

As I said in another thread, I think having kids is the whole reason we exist. Humans, along with all other life, are the end product of billions of years of evolution, always with the purpose to “have kids.” And while that is a global concept and doesn’t speak to why individuals choose to have or not have kids, every aspect of every individual is a tool to make sure your genes get into the next generation. No matter what you conciously choose to do, your body is constantly urging you to reproduce. Your emotions, desires, instincts, etc. are all there because they have helped past generations reproduce, and they will help you, too. And without making a value judgement about choosing to remain childless (how I envy you, when the crying wakes me at 2:00 AM and I stumble back to bed an hour later smelling of vomit,) it is * unnatural *, in a grand sense, to choose not to have kids.

Creating and raising a child is high art, by which all other arts pale, and are but flimsy representations.

Love, selfishness, obsession, generosity, a little bit of everything that you are goes into your child as you raise it. If you have wrought well, than it was not a selfish act, because the world is now a better place for what you have brought into it.

If you have not wrought well, than woe unto you (feeling biblical,) for what you create is a reflection of yourself.
BTW I am fully confident that I will be hailed throughout history for being the father of my daughter. She’s that good.

Let’s for a moment assume that the decision to have children is selfish.

What of it. I am of the belief that everything we do is selfish. Even when we give to charity, we do so to give ourselves a good feeling.

Keeping the children, I believe is the one exception. As noted above, there is the financial strain, emotional strain and things like: “the crying wakes me at 2:00 AM and I stumble back to bed an hour later smelling of vomit”.

Becoming a parent may bea selfish act, being a parent is about the most unselfish act possible.

Where are the posters who were disagreeing about the people in Wisconsin with me? I think this little gem should have a gold star next to it to illustrate my point.

I believe it’s selfish to have children, especially if you can’t support them or take care of them. I also noticed that (even on this board) there are many posters that hate their parents. For the record, I don’t think I should have been born and I can name friends and relatives that should not have had children.

Before you all start jumping down my throat, I’m just going to say that I don’t think I’m the authority on who can and can’t have children - I just wish people actually thought about becoming pregnant or tried to prevent pregnancy unless they were absolutely sure they could commit to parenthood.

YEAH! so what’s wrong with being selfish?

actually you make it sound like it’s selfish whether you have children or not. damned if you do, damned if you don’t. more damned if you do.

                                             Dal Timgar

Yup, it’s often selfish to have children. But in some cases, it’s selfless. I, for one, am looking forward to the birth of my child, simply because I know that the conjunction of my and my SO’s superior genes coupled with the child’s being raised in the best of environments by the best of parents will result in a shining and superior human being who will be a paragon of virtue, justice, intelligence and beauty. In short, my child will be a boon to all humanity.

You’re welcome.

I am going through in vitro tomorrow at 6:30. I am spending $15k before THe egg gets fertilized. I am pretty damn gratefull to be on this planet. I think that it was a prettty nice gift from dear old mom. I look to return the favor.

HOWEVER, we can afford a child. It will not be a burden on anyone but us. Were that not the case, it would be selfish.

Wish us luck if you are so inclined.

Much luck Mr. Z.

Someone can tell me in what quality of having a child is selfish that does not apply to every other human action and decision. A category which includes alll is meaningless as a descriptor.

So far, the argument seems to be:
having children costs alot of money
having children reduces the freedom of the parents
[insert subject here] don’t understand why someone would want children
therefore, having children must be selfish

Corrolary support:
some parents WANT children
some parents make conscious decisions to have children
sometimes people have children even when they are not emotionally or financially prepared for the obligation

I see nothing even approaching a good support for the proposition, “having children is a selfish act.”