A lot of negative and positive ideas came to my mind when I think about the reasons, and sometimes, methods, people have or use when they decide to have children. Many times, an egoistic attitude causes a disadvantage in the child’s life. Other times, an egoistic attitude has a positive outcome, but for the wrong reasons. And in some cases, good intentions make everything wrong. But sometimes, good things happen, not for the sake of the parent, but for the sake of the child. I will list here what I mean:
- “Let’s make a baby” sex
Quoting T-online.de here:
Hardly any other moment in a relationship is as meaningful as the one in which you decide to have a child together. For years, you have been trying to prevent pregnancy with condoms and pills, and all of a sudden you are going for the exact opposite. The mutual wish for a child is also a declaration of love towards one another, because it means that both partners are ready to commit themselves to each other and that they are longing for a visible product of this love and a miniature version of that partner. This is why the “let’s make a baby” sex is incredibly emotional, intimate and romantic.
My opinion: The article already spoke for itself in a negative way. Pushing aside all the sentimental rubbish, what’s really left? A product and a miniature version of my own partner. When I think of these words, it sounds like things I would be proud of (product - something I produced) or that I would want for myself (a little toy version of my partner). None of these implicate anything that would show any kind of awareness that there is actually a new being involved. A human being that wants to be acknowledged for its own sake… not to be the new object to make a relationship interesting. Do you also notice that they talk about commitment towards each other but not the new family member?
The “Let’s make a baby” sex is a half-romantic, half-sexual idea that reduces creating a new life to a sentimental and biological concept. It says nothing about responsibility.
- “I want a child – no matter what”
I’m sure everyone knows a woman who has expressed this idea. Some women are so obsessed over having a child that the idea itself transforms into a static image associated with feelings. The woman does not see the child as a human being that is going to grow, change, and become independent. The only image that is seen is the image of a mother holding her baby – including a lot of pride, self-fulfillment and “mother godess”-ness. The figure of the mother is in the highest position here, and the child is only a means to an end. Therefore, the well-being of the child is not really of any concern, apart from the time when it is a baby and needs to be taken care of the way the mother wants to take care of it. No thought is invested into the idea that this baby in need will also be a toddler in need, a teenager in need, and an adult waiting to move out of the house (or not). The reasons for this attitude are biological aspects, the projection of happiness into the object “baby” and the thought that a woman on her own (with or without a partner) can’t possible become happy.
- “The state/country will support me” or “my partner will support me”
I’m not sure in how many countries this is the case, but where I live, a pregnant woman will be protected by the country in financial ways if there is no partner around. That itself is not a problem, as well as the possibility that the male partner will financially secure the mother to be. Where it becomes problematic is when the woman decides to “settle down” in this attitude and become lazy.
As an employee in the employment market sector, I know all about it. Many women with big bellies walk in and apply for unemployment benefits – knowing nobody can force them to work once the pregnancy has reached a certain level. Even years after the child was born, the mother will still be able to receive benefits while not being forced to do anything in return. No other person is able to easily receive benefits like that.
Not only the attitude towards the country is a problem, because you could argue that the mother already serves her country by providing a new generation. The real problem is when the mother just throws away everything in this situation. Many of these women I am talking about never graduated from school, nor do they have a job training under their belt (no pun intended). Becoming pregnant and being left by the male partner is nothing to be blamed for, it can happen and it’s not a good behaviour from the man’s part. But slipping into a “victim” constellation by not doing anything to protect oneself, that is stupid.
In the long run, the child suffers. Not only is the mother permanently crippled by her own inability to find a job and the fact that she is bound by her child, the child will always have to live from the state-financed benefits. Clothes won’t be good enough to compete with class mates. Food won’t be healthy enough. Field trips will become a financial risk. The disadvantages will be felt along the way. And who is poor, usually stays poor.
The “my partner will support me” mindset can backfire, too. If a woman depends totally on the partner and then that partner runs off, the woman who was too naïve will be left with a crying baby and no qualification to improve her situation.
- Self-sacrifice attitude
Every mentally sane mother has some kind of sacrifice instinct, which means she will sacrifice herself in favour of the child if that is necessary. Sometimes, though, it goes much too far. There is an irrational type of self-sacrifice. It is egoistic because it puts one’s desire to improve the child’s situation before anything else, even if more suffering is created than spared. It sounds complicated, so I will give you a simple example.
There is an episode of Dr. House where a pregnant woman has some kind of medical problem. It is not certain whether the baby will live, but for the sake of the woman, the birth of the child must be triggered immediately. There is a good chance that both will survive, but as for the baby, there is no absolute certainty. The pregnant woman completely rejects this approach and insists that she will carry the baby in herself for as long as she can. The husband is totally devastated and can’t believe she is sacrificing her own life, because not having an operation immediately will cause the woman to die soon. The baby’s chance of survival increases by only 5 to 10 per cent (or something like that). Note that the man will have to raise the child alone. Good luck.
- Living your life through your child
Many parents live with regrets. They are much older and wiser now, so they wish they could go back and “seize the day” to achieve all the things they never had the courage, chance or ability to do. This wish is perverted when parents try to re-live their lives through their children. Suddenly, the child has to become the musician or race driver that the parents never managed to become. I myself remember a situation when my dad literally kicked my ass into a go-cart violently so that I would drive it and become the next Michael Schumacher. From one second to the next, what was first and offer I was not sure to accept became an order I was forced to follow. I didn’t enjoy the ride and felt humiliated and angry.
Indoctrination can ruin a child’s life more than any other attitude listed here. The indoctrination doesn’t just end when the child has become an adult. Most people are not able to free themselves from the religious ideas they were taught. Like a child that was never told that Santa Claus isn’t real, they keep believing the exact same things their parents taught them.
I am not totally against religion in general. It’s a personal thing. But you should be honest: Most parents who are religious don’t give their children a realistic choice of finding out what they themselves want to believe. What to believe and what not to believe is basically predetermined from the craddle.
I don’t mind if people put positive implications into their children’s heads, like the “love everyone” aspect of christianity or the “desire hurts” aspect of buddhism, but many times I notice that religion is used to put pressure on people. Then it’s always about not being good enough, not praying enough, not following the rules enough, or going to hell. It creates enemies, builds walls between people, and spreads hate that can affect nations. Indoctrination is often egoistic, especially when people believe they must pass on religion to their children in order to make it to heaven. And even if the intentions are good, you are putting chains on your children if you threaten them with hell and the judgement of our angry, full-of-rage heavenly Father who is at the same time so lovely and forgiving.
To see Thee more clearly, to feel Thee more nearly….
- Mental and physical health from day one
I recently read that the obesity (or lack thereof) of a pregnant mother determines the number of fat cells a baby will have. And once the fat cells are there, you can’t change their number.
Vice versa, caring about the health of a child is one of the least egoistic things you can do. As a parent, you don’t directly benefit from it. You won’t necessarily see the health. You won’t be able to live long enough to see how old the child can get. And it will also not be so convenient protecting your child from all the sugar and fat that all the other children get from their parents. This little peace of mind you get in return doesn’t make up for the efforts you have to go through. But that’s what makes it so good. Finally, you get to do something that does not feed your ego or bring you an advantage, but the child. There are enough books about healthy living, and it’s best to start early. Who do you think is responsible for what happens at the dentist’s?
- Passing on wealth
You could argue that a “low motive” is present here: The survival of your offspring. Of course the generation after you has a better chance of survival if you have some money to give to them before you bite the dust. On the other hand, spending that money all for yourself would be even more egoistic. Therefore, passing on wealth is more of a selfless behaviour. Note: Paying for education is absolutely useful.
- Equality of siblings
There is always some instinct that tells you to treat this or that child better than the other child. When there are three children, the eldest and youngest will have different advantages and disadvantages while the middle one will usually feel ignored.
It takes a lot of effort to treat your children equally. But it’s important to be fair. Otherwise you will raise children who always want to be right, hold a grudge against society or feel overly privileged. Just be fair. It’s for the sake of the children.
- Supporting the improvement of abilities
Not just a musical instrument or a new language, also the basic abilities are important. Even nowadays, it is still expected of a man to be handy and of a woman to be a good cook. We can’t kill these expectations, but it doesn’t hurt to prepare children for all these things. When they are young, they can learn so easily and with fun. I don’t know why, but my dad never told me that we’re going to repair something, and I was never good at handiness. I learned a couple of things, but could have learned a lot more, without having my childhood taken away from me. Again, it would be so much easier for parents to just sit back and relax, don’t pay for classes and courses and never show children anything new… but yeah… get off your ass and do something.
- Making the child a tolerable part of society
It doesn’t help our society, nor does it help the parents or the child if the child grows up without any rules, or if the child is dominated into submission with tons of rules. On both extremes of the spectrum, you see behaviour that the society will have to carry on its shoulders later. On one end, you see a rebel grown up that just can’t get used to getting up in the morning and following orders from his boss, on the other end you see an insecure creature that can’t make his own decisions. Not only are these products of education a pain in the ass for everyone who was raised well enough, they also cost us money and we have to bear with them… knowing we can’t act the same way or we will go back to the stone age.
You can but don’t have to put in all the effort, but it certainly helps everyone else.
- Conveying true values
As opposed to indoctrination, there are some values you can teach a child which will have a positive effect on the later life of that person. This is not about threatening or intimidating. It’s about enhancing the value of life. There are many ways to do this. Teach connectedness with nature, appreciate the goods that our modern age offers, display gratitude for all the food that is available, show the child how other people in this world live (Africa). The goal is to give your child something it can always go back to before it gets too spoilt. It won’t always have to strive for more and it won’t become so annoyed easily. Of course, you don’t have to show your child the true meaning of humility, and you can’t buy anything for it. But just do something non-egoistic once in a while. Please. If you have kids.