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why have kids regret having kidsBack when I was trying-to-conceive my first child, I was regularly active on a women’s TTC message board. On it, we usually talked about things like fertility charting or celebrity pregnancy news. But one day, someone posed this serious question: 

Why Do You Want To Have Kids? Really?

I didn’t respond to the thread at the time, realizing that I didn’t really have a well fleshed out answer for myself. Why *did* I want kids? Though I felt and knew that I should have kids if I were able – I couldn’t help but wonder if there was something more that influenced my desire for them. 

This wasn’t the first time I’d ever pondered my responsibility toward genetic offspring for future generations though. The first time the question struck me was in 2006, very early into marriage, after having watched two movies that had just come out: Idiocracy and Children of Men.


Idiocracy
is a comedy about a dystopian future in which humanity has bred itself into stupidity through generations of couples with higher-intelligence not having kids, and couples with lower-intelligence having many kids. 

 


Children of Men
is a science fiction thriller about another dystopian future where, for unknown reasons, human fertility has completely stopped. A baby hasn’t been born for almost two decades, and humanity has begun to age itself out of existence. 

 

Though the movies had completely different tones, I found their comparison to have a rather profound affect on my understanding of what fertility and human reproduction meant in terms of the larger picture of humanity. They instilled in me the concept that the ability to conceive and raise children was not just a precious gift bestowed upon us, but also a heavy responsibility. A responsibility that I, a  capable adult human, may or may not have an obligation to participate in. After all, I was a healthy, intelligent, likely fertile woman – why shouldn’t I contribute to our future humanity in such a way if I could?

But I didn’t know if defaulting to movies was an appropriate way to answer the message board question though, so I didn’t say anything.


TL;DR:
When asked before I had kids why I wanted them, I could only understand the importance of human reproduction by relating it to movies I’d seen.


Years later, I was eventually and thankfully privileged to experience the conception, gestation, and then birth of my own children. Without getting too metaphysical here, I found the experience of pregnancy, childbirth, and parenting to be transformative. KP and I have created, and are now sustaining, life. The actual lives of individual people separate from ourselves. This is no small feat and I find it bewildering that so many are able to brush off our capability to reproduce as at best the means to a desired life accessory, and at worst, an undesirable inconvenience that must be regulated and restricted. 

But… if you’ve read my blog before, you know that I tend to think about things waaay more than it seems most do, lol – so I’ve long ago accepted that many people don’t ponder the complexities of life as I do. Oh well, they just miss out on all the fun. 🙂


TL;DR:
I’ve now have some kids. 
And a long winded new perspective.


As you may know, I’m currently pregnant with my third child. And oddly, I find myself questioning my motive for this pregnancy much more than I did with either of my first two children. I’ve been stumbling into articles about “why have kids?” or about the anti-natalism or childfree movements – and it seems there’s a lot of belief out there that parenthood, and especially motherhood, not only holds one back from a more ‘significant’ and ‘productive’ potential, but also leaves a person in denial of their regret over the loss of that once-childfree-potential. Instead, parenthood is consumed by the mind-numbing-ness of dirty diapers, tantruming toddlers, never-ending carpools, bratty preteens, and rebellious teenagers…when you know, they could actually be doing something meaningful with their lives otherwise. Many use this as a reason to remain childfree, a choice that they believe will allow them to lead better, happier, more fulfilling lives than if they had chosen to reproduce. 

This is not to say that I don’t think that women (or men) that don’t have kids are incapable of leading happy and productive lives, on the contrary, I think that we ALL have our place in the world and can contribute in equally meaningful ways to humanity regardless whether or not we produce or raise offspring. But I also think that there’s a lot of misconceptions out there about what parenthood is really like, and a lot of shortsighted perspective – and not enough honest contemplation

So here we go. I’m once again asking myself the question posed on that message board, this time determined to answer: Why do I want kids? Really? Am I crazy? Brainwashed? Ignorant of my own selfishness? As someone who likes asking the hard questions in life and someone who’s not afraid of my own honest confrontations – let’s confront these questions head on:

Why did I want to have kids?
Why have I kept having children?
Am I selfish for procreating; is three kids too many? 

Do I secretly regret motherhood?
Why would I want to force a new life, unable to consent, into a world full of suffering?


TL;DR:
The big bolded questions directly above. 


Let’s start with REGRET.
In the articles I’ve read, it seems to be a common acceptance that surely most highly intelligent women regret motherhood in someway, having had to “lower” themselves to the tedium of raising children and the loss of productive time contributing to a career, academics, philanthropy, society, etc.  

It’s worth noting here that regret is a very heavy word and a somewhat useless concept. Because you can only regret something in the past that can no longer be changed, the only productive quality of regret is to convince another to choose a different future path for themselves…you can’t change your own past. Yet, because regret is a fleeting emotion, adaptable over time and dependent on one’s limited perspective, it is not always a reliable enough emotion for another person to base their own life decisions on. 

With that note, let me be brutally honest. Motherhood has been a challenge that I -even in all my years of education, and being a comp counselor, and working with kids beforehand- was not prepared for. Motherhood has changed me. Completely. I am not the same person I used to be. I will never be that same person I was before. That person is gone. It’s not even the changes in my physical body (which really, for all the stress people place on it, have not been a significant issue for me and not something to worry about), but also how what I previously thought as mental, psychological, and physical needs have drastically adjusted. 

Yes, parenthood will change your life. It’s ok to be scared of that change. But this change is NOT a bad thing.

Do I sometimes miss the freedom of pre-kid life? Do I miss those days where the house was calm and I could do things -actually *think* about things- without half my mind constantly distracted? Do I miss the days of quiet before the seeming incessant noise of whining and needing my attention and immediate solution to every single little problem that comes up that my kids can’t yet solve on their own? Do I end many days feeling like I’ve gone just slightly crazy but I pretend that I’m totally fine because the only way I can maintain my sanity is if I tell myself this is surely normal for all parents, right? 

Yes. Yes. And Yes. And another Yes. 

But truthfully, I ALSO sometimes miss the excitement of being single, just as I sometimes miss still being in my mid-20s with a more youthful appearance and more energy and more of my life ahead of me to dream about.

It’s normal to miss things from our past that we can never have back again. This isn’t regret. This is part of the human experience. 

There’s no guarantee that life will bring you what you want no matter which direction you take. Your perfectly emotionally and physically compatible new spouse could become paralyzed soon after the wedding and become an invalid you must care for. Your carefully preimplantation genetically-tested child could suffer a later disability that affects their -and your- quality of life forever. You could choose to remain unencumbered, single, and childless, and still find yourself stricken with a horrible and incurable -and socially alienating- disease. Or maybe none of that will happen. Life is a roll of the dice no matter what. Opening ourselves up to the unknowns of the future is not easy to do. But we cannot set ourselves up to regret something that has not yet happened either.


TL;DR:
Has having children changed who I am? Yes. Do I regret having had children? No.
Regret is dependent on one’s perspective.


Next, let’s tackle the big ethical anti-natalist question:
Is it wrong to bring children into the world WITHOUT THEIR CONSENT? No one chooses to be born, life has been forced upon on us all. Why force life onto someone who might not want it? 

Like the issue of regret, we need to first note that this is a somewhat useless argument. It’s unanswerable. A paradox. Regardless whether or not we “should” force others into life without their consent, no one is able to consent before they’ve been forced into life. Therefore the conclusion that we should not force one to be born without their consent cannot logically follow.

Anti-natalism takes the following stance, which logically speaking, is valid. HOWEVER, because their main premise is flawed and the resulting paradox impossible to be proven true, their argument can never be sound.
(quick logic lesson: a sound argument and a valid argument are two totally different things. A valid argument is an argument that ‘follows logically’ yet could still contain false premises – but a sound argument is one that is both valid AND all premises are true. Sound arguments are best.) 

Pardon me while I get all math-y and logic-y here for a moment. This stuff is fun for me, lol, but you can just skip over it if it confuses your brain too much (though it never hurts to learn something new either…just sayin’… 🙂 )

As a perhaps easier-to-understand example: there are plenty of instances in the world where it is considered good that we SHOULD force an action on another (B) without first obtaining consent (~A).

Looking at the second Venn diagram above, the blue shaded area contains all the following instances and more: paramedics saving an unconscious victim, a parent securing an unhappy child into a carseat who doesn’t want to wear their seatbelt, a witness jumping in to stop the impending physical assault of another, a stranger running into the street to push someone out of the way of an oncoming car, a neighbor taking an elderly person’s arm to help them across a street, etc. Even if someone did not consent to being conceived (~A) it is still reasonable that they should be given life (B). 


TL;DR:
The premise of non-consent in an argument against procreation is not a strong defense and imho, not worth serious consideration. 


Another anti-natalist issue against having children is that of suffering:
Why should we bring children into a world full of SUFFERING and pain? Why encourage the continuation of humankind and all the destruction that comes with our existence? 

To be fair, the issue of human suffering is one that I’m currently immersing myself in. This past year especially I’ve contemplated and internalized the tragedy of death unlike ever before. I’ve thrown myself into the personal stories of people’s friends, loved ones, spouses, and children dying. I’ve cried many, many, many tears over people I’ll never meet, said vicarious goodbyes to people who don’t know me. I’ve allowed myself to feel and soak tragedy in, trying, somehow, to better understand its purpose.

Though I don’t claim to know it all yet (who does?), I am inclined to believe that life is made up of both suffering and joy, unfortunately doled out to each of us in unequal portions. Some lead lives of privilege, others endure lives of hardship. But we all experience suffering at some point, some more, some less. We all will die. Some sooner, some later. Life is not fair. But I don’t believe this makes non-existence preferable. 

(I realize that any antinatalists reading will likely jump in here stating that I’ve fallen prey to “optimism bias” or self-delusion…or as some may call it: HOPE. To which I unashamedly admit and embrace. Hope is a common theme in this blog of mine, as well as a concept I believe necessary to human survival. Without hope, it is probably easier to assume the position of antinatalism in the first place.) 

What I think it boils down to is the acceptance of two things:
1) That we do not have ultimate control over everything that happens to us, and
2) That suffering does not equal wrongness/evil.
On the contrary, I believe that without the experience of unhappiness one can never know happiness, just as without the experience of suffering one can never know joy. 

Yes, there is great, and unfair, suffering in the world. Yes, I have been privileged to be born into a life that set me up to likely live relatively free from some of the worst sufferings. Perhaps I would be having a different conversation if I were in a place where I felt that the children I brought into the world would ONLY ever know agony. But even in the worst circumstances, even when life is short-lived, even when life seems nothing but misery in comparison to another’s – I truly believe that some beauty, some joy, some good, still exists. And I don’t feel that I am qualified to judge the quantity of my possible future child’s suffering against their potential value for beauty, joy, and good, to the point where I refuse their existence on the lone reason of avoiding suffering. 


TL;DR:
No one is immune to suffering or to death.
But this doesn’t mean life is not worth living. 


You might now be saying: Ok, ok, ok Ronni – we get it. You’ve defended yourself against some of the reasons people choose NOT to have kids…but you still haven’t answered the main question:

Why exactly did you want to have kids?

There’s this idea of “selfishness” that gets thrown about on both sides of the to-have-children-or-not-to-have-children debate. It’s said that it’s “selfish” to have children and it’s said that it’s “selfish” not to have them. 

And you know what? It’s selfish both ways.

I have children because I want to have children.

  • Because I believe I can make a good parent.
  • Because I want to contribute to the next generation -and to humanity as a whole- in a hopefully positive way.
  • Because creating and sustaining life has opened my eyes to understanding life in a completely new way.
  • Because even in the midst of all the frustrations that parenthood brings, parenthood also brings deep joys that can’t be experienced the same elsewhere.

  • Because living every day with a young and growing life right in front of my face forces me to see and appreciate life in all its different stages. Makes me recognize the beauty and joy in the wonder of life itself. Who are we? How do we learn? How do we develop from tiny, helpless newborn – to creative and independent child – to questioning and exploring teen – to establishing ourselves as young adults – and then to becoming contributing members of society…just as the stage *I *am in now. The challenges and joys of parenthood have helped me understand myself more fully.

Just as contemplating death gives me more meaning to life, so does contemplating my children’s lives and how they process and grow and develop into eventual adult human beings. 

Right now, I’m watching my 5 year old daughter. She’s sitting at the kitchen table, supposed to be practicing handwriting the letter D. But instead she’s just sitting there, playing quietly with a plane, a dinosaur, and a My Little Pony toy, probably hoping I don’t notice and make her go back to her writing.

The stories in her head right now I can’t even begin to imagine. The stories she has yet to create in all the years ahead of her are even more impossible for me to envision. 

I’m sure my parents thought the same of me once, when I was a little girl. Wondering where I would go, what I would do with my life, what my mind would one day create. And here I am now, writing a blog online (which I’m sure they never foresaw, lol), living my own parenthood adventure each day, experiencing my own joys and struggles watching my own children grow, making sense of my own life. Just as I once grew from nonsensical stories in my head into the coherence of my own adulthood, my daughter is currently on this same journey for herself

I have no idea what the future holds for either her or I. Suffering or joy. Happiness or pain. No, she did not consent to being born into this world. Neither did I. 

But I’m glad I’m here right now. I’m glad that my daughter’s here and that my son’s here and that my soon-to-be-born child is here inside me moving around. And I hope that my children one day too will be thankful to be given their opportunity at making their own lives for themselves just as I am using the opportunity of my own life. 

If this is considered selfish, then I accept the label of selfishness.

So why do I have children?

Because I believe that, for all life may bring, for all that one experiences through it, for all its’ suffering and pain and joy and happiness – that life and having had life is good. 

And I want to be part of what’s good in this world.

 

 

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5 comments on “Do I Regret Having Kids? Here’s Why I Had Children.”

  1. Keep telling yourself “it’s not regret” when you have a bunch of annoying tasks to deal with that you brought upon yourself. First, Children of Men is one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen. Horribly mediocre film, basically breeder propaganda. Second, for you to say that you think more deeply about things than most people is a JOKE! You couldn’t even come up with a good reason for having kids, you just “FELT” like you should have them. By definition, people who don’t have kids are a lot more thoughtful people because there’s no logical reason to have kids on a personal level. It’s the triumph of genes over brains, which is anti-intellectualism at its best. You didn’t think the decision through, you just let your emotions and your body control your brain, which is nothing to be celebrated. Also, if you’re married, no, it isn’t normal to fantasize about being single again. I have been with my GF for more than 5 years and I don’t ever think I wish I could go back to being single. You’re obviously not a very happy person, but keep convincing yourself your little brats are the greatest snowflakes and you made such a smart decision to burden yourself with snot-nosed crotch droppings.

    • Hi Jebedus – first, I’m kind of honored/amused that you found my post and took the time to comment. So thanks. I always fully welcome challenges to my thoughts. I really do mull things over in my head a lot and don’t mind opposite views as they help me question and better define my own.

      I’m not sure how you found my post, however it appears that you came in with pre-assumptions about child bearing that you felt passionate about “proving” or defending, rather than being open-minded to discussion or opposite perspective on. Incidentally, I also blog a bit about communication and perspective and how we must be willing to acknowledge other’s views if we ever want to influence others. I usually write about this under the context of marriage, though it can and does apply to other human relationships as well.

      I assume your comment is meant to elicit an emotional response from me (and that you are quite likely a “troll”), however, I’m going to try to respond seriously instead. Because I’m weird like that, and like to think that even when people are argumentative with others, that deep down somewhere, they actually wish they understood them. So I’m going to assume the best from you and your comment, and try to help you understand more about my perspective.

      1) In the post, I commented on the possibility that I choose to view the world with “optimism bias”, or hope, because I believe that is the only way one can live. You can say that I am self-deluding myself by saying that I don’t regret having had kids, but a) I don’t deny this possibility and b) please see my thoughts about “regret”. Regret is a subjective idea, dependent on perspective. If I state that have do regrets, there is no way for you to state otherwise. When all is said and done, I do not regret having had kids.

      2) Children of Men may be one of the worst movies you feel you’ve ever seen. As this is a subjective opinion, I cannot deny this for you. However, just because you believe it to be one of your worst movies does not make it one of mine, nor others. I do not claim that it is one of the best movies of all time either – I only claim that it made me think deeply about an issue I had not previously.

      3) Whether or not I think more than others is also subjective. This is my blog, and it’s an opinion of mine I have subjected here. This is not a joke.

      4) I fully explored in this post why I felt I should have kids. Explaining why I felt that having children was good IS the same as my reason for having them. Please re-read my post and give me your reasons you struggle to understand, and I will be happy to dive down deeper and try to explain better.

      5) I am unaware of any definition that states that people who don’t have kids are more thoughtful than those who do. Please provide this source for me, and if so, I will admit my shortcoming and my lack of forethought in not being previously aware of this.

      6) I am intrigued by your statement that having children is a “triumph of genes over brains, which is anti-intellectualism at its best”. What you are missing here is the acknowledgment that one’s choice to procreate can in fact be an intellectual and philosophical endeavor. Raising and shaping the next generation of humanity is a heavy responsibility. While there probably are many people out there who never really think about that great responsibility when they reproduce – there are many parents who feel that their dedication to producing and raising children to be good people is the best thing they can contribute to humanity as a whole…it is their intellect and rational thinking that lead them accept the responsibility of bringing forth the next generation. To unilaterally claim that those who have children did not think the decision though beforehand, instead that they behaved as a mere slave to their sexual and emotional desires is an unfounded assumption.

      However, if this is what you truly believe, I welcome your further (rational, non-emotional, non-attacking) thoughts. Perhaps you have an insight that I have not yet previously considered?

      7) You mentioned your GF, so I assumed that you are not married. Therefore, I find it odd for you to speak about what is or is not considered normal in marriage. However, since I think you’re meaning to relate the idea of marriage to your long-term relationship, I’m glad(?) that you’ve never considered the memory of your previous single life. I’m not sure if this is what you are claiming, or if you are instead claiming that you’d never truly wish to be single again. In which case, we are in agreement – while I honestly stated that I sometimes miss the excitement of being single, I do not truly wish to ever be single again. If I have missed a point you were trying to make here, please clarify for me.

      8) I am not sure how to respond to your last sentence as a) I encourage you to read more of my posts in order for you to better ascertain my presumed level of happiness, and b) referring to my children as “brats” and “snot-nosed crotch droppings” (which to be honest, I’m not even sure what that means?) is not a conducive way to enter conversation with a stranger. I assume you meant to offend me with this, however, rather than offense, it came across as desperation to incite an emotional reaction from me instead of actually welcoming conversation. If you would like to have an intellectual conversation about why someone should have kids, then I would love to do and encourage a conversation free from emotional attacks.

  2. “Do I sometimes miss the freedom of pre-kid life? Do I miss those days where the house was calm and I could do things -actually *think* about things- without half my mind constantly distracted? Do I miss the days of quiet before the seeming incessant noise of whining and needing my attention and immediate solution to every single little problem that comes up that my kids can’t yet solve on their own? Do I end many days feeling like I’ve gone just slightly crazy but I pretend that I’m totally fine because the only way I can maintain my sanity is if I tell myself this is surely normal for all parents, right?

    “Yes. Yes. And Yes. And another Yes.”

    Then yes, you do regret motherhood (or at least part of it). Others, then, can learn from what happened to you, and choose a path that does not result in this regret.

    Of course, they may end up regretting not having children instead…

    “But truthfully, I ALSO sometimes miss the excitement of being single”

    That’s perfectly understandable, but realize that others may not. That depends on what exactly they want in life. If it doesn’t involve casual dating and/or sex, then what good is there in being single?

    “just as I sometimes miss still being in my mid-20s with a more youthful appearance and more energy and more of my life ahead of me to dream about.”

    That’s a flawed comparison. Age is unavoidable; parenthood is not.

    “Life is a roll of the dice no matter what. Opening ourselves up to the unknowns of the future is not easy to do. But we cannot set ourselves up to regret something that has not yet happened either.”

    That is quite true. We can, however, improve our odds by avoiding risks that aren’t worth the reward.

    Of course, whether the risk of parenthood is worth the reward depends on who you ask. I see no reward in parenthood at all, so my answer is no. You seem to see plenty of it, so your answer is yes. Same risk analysis, but very different results.

    Note, however, that this only applies to the risks to *you*. As I’ll explain below, the risks to your children are another story.

    “Like the issue of regret, we need to first note that this is a somewhat useless argument. It’s unanswerable. A paradox. Regardless whether or not we “should” force others into life without their consent, no one is able to consent before they’ve been forced into life. Therefore the conclusion that we should not force one to be born without their consent cannot logically follow.”

    Of course it can. Because they do not exist, they cannot consent. Consent is negative by default. Therefore, we must assume non-consent. Therefore, it is always unethical to have children. This is the logic underlying statutory-rape laws, and it is equally applicable here.

    It isn’t wrong, either, and I know it firsthand. Even my relatively-privileged life (middle-class American), even with its occasional moments of joy, has been hell overall. Were I somehow able to consent prior to my own existence, fully aware of just how miserable and brutal this world is, and were the alternative a simple, peaceful nonexistence, my answer would be a firm “no”.

    “paramedics saving an unconscious victim, a parent securing an unhappy child into a carseat who doesn’t want to wear their seatbelt, a witness jumping in to stop the impending physical assault of another, a stranger running into the street to push someone out of the way of an oncoming car, a neighbor taking an elderly person’s arm to help them across a street, etc. Even if someone did not consent to being conceived (~A) it is still reasonable that they should be given life (B).”

    Not only is *your* premise flawed (see above), but your implied conclusion—that my life was inflicted on me for my own good—is downright infuriating. By presuming such a thing, you insult me and trivialize all of the misery I have endured.

    When my mother decided to keep me (as opposed to aborting me), she had never even considered the possibility that I would come to regret living, let alone fully thinking it through. If she had, I wouldn’t be here to say this.

    “Life is not fair. But I don’t believe this makes non-existence preferable.”

    Easy for you to say; your life *has* been fair. Those less fortunate than you may disagree. I know I do.

    “I realize that any antinatalists reading will likely jump in here stating that I’ve fallen prey to “optimism bias” or self-delusion…or as some may call it: HOPE. To which I unashamedly admit and embrace.”

    I noticed. My mother also embraced hope, just like you did, presumably for the same reason. The result of this mistake was utterly disastrous.

    This applies to your children, too. Their lives may not be hellish like mine—for their sakes I certainly hope not—but you have still made the same mistake. By giving them life, you have also given them the ability to suffer. Before that, they could not; now, they can and will.

    Know this: every single drop of pain and misery your children ever feel is indirectly your fault.

    “Hope is a common theme in this blog of mine, as well as a concept I believe necessary to human survival.”

    The problem with this line of thinking is that human survival is itself unnecessary. We exist purely because we, collectively, want to. If we stopped wanting to (or, as in Children of Man, we lost the ability to), the rest of the universe would carry on just fine.

    “I believe that without the experience of unhappiness one can never know happiness, just as without the experience of suffering one can never know joy.”

    You are quite correct, but that doesn’t mean the suffering is worth it. It’s only worth it if the joy is greater than the suffering. The human condition being as it is, that is almost never the case.

    “I believe I can make a good parent.”

    That is not possible. Even the best parent ever is still powerless to protect its children from the horrors of life on Earth.

    “Because I want to contribute to the next generation -and to humanity as a whole- in a hopefully positive way.”

    Then you’ve already failed. Every human alive burdens the natural resources of this world—the capacity of its atmosphere for carbon dioxide, the capacity of its oceans to sustain life, the capacity of its forests and algae to generate oxygen, the capacity of crops and livestock to feed us, and so on. Every human born makes the environmental situation worse, not better. Every human born further depletes these resources that everyone else (not to mention the rest of life on Earth) depends on.

    “Because creating and sustaining life has opened my eyes to understanding life in a completely new way.”

    And yet you have completely failed to understand it, and in particular, why creating more of it is a terrible idea. How you can be so introspective and observant, yet simultaneously so blind to what’s going on around you, I cannot fathom.

    • Wow. First, thanks for taking the time to write such a lengthy response. What I wrote must have affected you strongly enough to feel the need to respond so thoroughly. I’ll respond to the points I feel warrant a response or clarification in bold.

      “just as I sometimes miss still being in my mid-20s with a more youthful appearance and more energy and more of my life ahead of me to dream about.”

      That’s a flawed comparison. Age is unavoidable; parenthood is not.
      I am not comparing the unavoidableness of age to the choice of parenthood. I am comparing, from a present perspective, a past that cannot be changed to another past that cannot be changed.

      “Like the issue of regret, we need to first note that this is a somewhat useless argument. It’s unanswerable. A paradox. Regardless whether or not we “should” force others into life without their consent, no one is able to consent before they’ve been forced into life. Therefore the conclusion that we should not force one to be born without their consent cannot logically follow.”

      Of course it can. Because they do not exist, they cannot consent. Consent is negative by default. Therefore, we must assume non-consent. Therefore, it is always unethical to have children. This is the logic underlying statutory-rape laws, and it is equally applicable here.

      It isn’t wrong, either, and I know it firsthand. Even my relatively-privileged life (middle-class American), even with its occasional moments of joy, has been hell overall. Were I somehow able to consent prior to my own existence, fully aware of just how miserable and brutal this world is, and were the alternative a simple, peaceful nonexistence, my answer would be a firm “no”.

      “paramedics saving an unconscious victim, a parent securing an unhappy child into a carseat who doesn’t want to wear their seatbelt, a witness jumping in to stop the impending physical assault of another, a stranger running into the street to push someone out of the way of an oncoming car, a neighbor taking an elderly person’s arm to help them across a street, etc. Even if someone did not consent to being conceived (~A) it is still reasonable that they should be given life (B).”

      Not only is *your* premise flawed (see above), but your implied conclusion—that my life was inflicted on me for my own good—is downright infuriating. By presuming such a thing, you insult me and trivialize all of the misery I have endured.

      When my mother decided to keep me (as opposed to aborting me), she had never even considered the possibility that I would come to regret living, let alone fully thinking it through. If she had, I wouldn’t be here to say this.

      Hmm…there’s a lot to unpack here:

      a) You claim that “consent is negative by default”. However, I do not agree with this premise’s validity. We would need to argue this point before I could accept it as a premise in your conclusion that “we must assume non-consent”.

      b) I do not accept “consent is negative by default” as a valid premise for the reasons that I stated in my paragraph that you quoted, i.e. paramedics saving an unconscious victim, etc. I believe that non-consent does not necessarily, nor ethically, require non-action for all circumstances. I believe that it is possible for a circumstance to exist where action, even in the face of non-consent, is ethically superior to non-action.

      c) No disrespect was intended to you personally, as your existence was unknown to me at the time I wrote this post. Additionally, I very clearly stated that I have written to post to explain why *I* have children, not why your mother had you. I cannot answer that question for her. You above acknowledged that life is a roll of the dice; your mother could have had a child that was thankful to have been given life, just as she could have had a child who did not wish to be given life. Either way, she gave life an opportunity to exist (and decide for itself how it wanted to view its own existence).

      “I realize that any antinatalists reading will likely jump in here stating that I’ve fallen prey to “optimism bias” or self-delusion…or as some may call it: HOPE. To which I unashamedly admit and embrace.”

      I noticed. My mother also embraced hope, just like you did, presumably for the same reason. The result of this mistake was utterly disastrous.

      This applies to your children, too. Their lives may not be hellish like mine—for their sakes I certainly hope not—but you have still made the same mistake. By giving them life, you have also given them the ability to suffer. Before that, they could not; now, they can and will.

      Know this: every single drop of pain and misery your children ever feel is indirectly your fault.
      I admit that I chuckled a bit when I read this last line. I understand that you are upset with your existence and I cannot change how you feel, however logically, this is an appeal to emotion that does not give validity to the statement. Yes, part of me becoming a parent is accepting that everything bad that happens to my children is “my fault”. However, conversely, everything GOOD that happens to them is also “my fault”. As I’ve stated, I choose the perspective of focusing on the good that can possibly come out of their lives rather than the bad. This is called hope. Which I embrace.

      “Hope is a common theme in this blog of mine, as well as a concept I believe necessary to human survival.”

      The problem with this line of thinking is that human survival is itself unnecessary. We exist purely because we, collectively, want to. If we stopped wanting to (or, as in Children of Man, we lost the ability to), the rest of the universe would carry on just fine.
      Humanity may be unnecessary to the survival of the universe, however this does not mean humanity should not exist. Similarly, there are many (most?) species of animals and plants that are also not necessary to the survival of the universe either. Non-necessity does not require non-existence.

      “Because I want to contribute to the next generation -and to humanity as a whole- in a hopefully positive way.”

      Then you’ve already failed. Every human alive burdens the natural resources of this world—the capacity of its atmosphere for carbon dioxide, the capacity of its oceans to sustain life, the capacity of its forests and algae to generate oxygen, the capacity of crops and livestock to feed us, and so on. Every human born makes the environmental situation worse, not better. Every human born further depletes these resources that everyone else (not to mention the rest of life on Earth) depends on.
      Again, I choose the perspective of hope. I HOPE that I can contribute children to the world who can help make changes to our present environmental situation so that the future of humanity can exist in a better balance with our universe. I choose hope.

      “Because creating and sustaining life has opened my eyes to understanding life in a completely new way.”

      And yet you have completely failed to understand it, and in particular, why creating more of it is a terrible idea. How you can be so introspective and observant, yet simultaneously so blind to what’s going on around you, I cannot fathom.
      You also seem introspective and observant, though I do not believe you are blind to the truth…nor am I. What I presume that you are struggling to fathom is the concept of HOPE. The willingness to believe and trust in something that we cannot KNOW.

      If you’re interested, I’ve written another post the touches some on the idea of choosing hope, even though seemingly irrational. Scroll down to the second part, where I talk about why most people choose life over death & Camus: https://www.screenwriterswife.com/i-want-it-all-and-i-want-it-now-where-am-i-going-with-all-this-again.html

      Thanks for taking the time to read and consider my writings!

  3. Okay, first off, the original post here is very thought-provoking and intriguing as a young newlywed who is feeling torn over having or not having children. It’s something I’ve been considering with both a rational, intellectual lens as well as an irrational, emotional lens for well over a year. For all of my childhood, I assumed I would never ever want children and it was not the right choice for me. As an adult, I definitely felt a switch in the emotional desire for children, but intellectually I’m stuck somewhere in the middle. All that to say, I appreciate other people who contemplate things like this on the internet for the rest of us to consider as well.

    Secondly, holy buckets the comments on this baby (pun intended)! It’s rather ironic how many of the supposedly-intellectual points that support childfree lifestyles are quite flawed themselves and include lots of assumptions. My favorite assumption is made in the second comment here, that someone who had a more difficult life (how are we rating difficulty of life, objectively?) than the writer would surely be more skeptical about having children.

    I’d like to volunteer myself as someone who lived through long-term childhood trauma, various forms of abuse, poverty, struggles with depression & social anxiety, struggles with immigration, yada yada yada, I could go on. Life is hard. Buddy, do I get it.

    Sometimes, I do wonder, on the bad days – why WOULD I want to bring a child into a life of suffering? Sometimes I don’t have an answer. Sometimes it’s because I want to teach them to manage their emotions like no one was capable of teaching me, or perhaps some of the commenters here. Sometimes it’s because when I drive home after a really hard night at work with tears and heartache in my chest, the thought that comforts me is having a daughter experiencing the same emotions for typical childhood heartaches, but she has someone there to show her it’s okay to cry it out. And after you’re doing crying it out, put on your favorite music and dance it out and focus on all the things you’re grateful for to remind you that life is not defined by suffering.

    Loving your blog, by the way.

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