You may be surprised that I like a list that has reasons to have children. In fact, there is a contrast between the two parts. The list of 20 reasons not to have children not only includes selfish reasons, but also discusses the catastrophic moral and ethical impact of deciding to create new life. But the list of 10 reasons to have children, even though heartfelt I am sure, is a perfect example of the deep selfishness and callousness of people who have children. Let me go through each of these in turn to demonstrate the point:
1. They’re cute. In fact, your own child is adorable. Every sigh, every laugh, every motion is bliss. You fall in love with them.
If you want cute things every day, go on Cute Overload. Creating new life and its associated suffering just so you can look at a cute thing is pure callousness.
2. Re-experiencing childhood. Regardless of how good your own childhood was, your child allows you to vicariously relive childhood. Usually it’s much better the second time around, when you have all the wisdom of age but can enjoy the energy of youth. Playing with a two-year-old feels like being two years old again.
If you need to vicariously re-experience childhood with a child, become a kindergarten teacher. Davenport here is explicitly admitting that people have children as a mere means to the end of feeling better. Treating people as means to an end is evil, no matter what the reason is.
3. Learning. Watching your child learn is fascinating and fun. Each new skill or idea or word learned is a little victory. If you watch carefully, you will see that something new is discovered or conquered every single day. Your child will need to learn a lot from you, as he or she starts without much knowledge at all except for perfect sense of his or her feelings. While you are busy teaching your child about practical aspects of the world, your child will be teaching you emotional sensitivity. The active teaching and learning process is rewarding and fulfilling.
You can get the same satisfaction from a pet, without having to unethically control another human life for your own personal “learning process.” Besides, I’m sure that parents watching their children die of cancer or terrible deformities would have some choice words about the “learning process” they are going through. The trouble with many of these points is that they assume a perfect scenario, while none of the negative points assume the worst scenario.
4. Reflection. Everything that you already can do probably take for granted, but your child will remind you that all those skills had to be learned. It reminds you of how far you have come in life, and shows you the sorts of difficulties you probably had when you were your child’s age. Your child will also notice things that you have long since filtered out. I didn’t realize how many birds there were outside my house until my daughter showed me.
So apparently one’s own children are to be used as case studies in child psychology as well. And once again, why can this process not be accomplished by working or volunteering around children?
5. Reincarnation. Your genetic makeup is a small part of your identity. More important are your ideas, beliefs, manners, and stories. All of these things will be taken up by your child and then changed around. Your child will never be a clone of yourself, fortunately, but instead will be a new variation of you and the other people that raise him or her. If you like yourself then this is very satisfying.
Now here we go into the more disturbing area of “the child as mini-me” or “vicariously living through your child.” I find it interesting that Davenport listed this as a good point, as if adults indoctrinating their “ideas, beliefs, manners, and stories” (one assumes religious and political bigotry is part of the “beliefs” part) on their own children, who don’t know any better, is wonderful. Trying to make other people like oneself is a psychological problem or sheer sociopathic callousness, not a benefit!
6. Socializing. Every society has a subculture for people who raise children. At every age you can find people also raising a child in a similar situation. You can make many new friends with whom you have a lot in common. The comradely and shared experiences ease some difficulties.
This is clearly not a benefit, but a compensation for difficulties, so I don’t know why it’s even listed here. Apart from that, how callous do you have to be to create new life so you can make friends?
7. Control. You must not tell other people how to raise their own children. However, if you raise your own child, you get to do it your way, which you presumably believe is the right way. People might disagree with your methods, but if you have thought at great length about it–and you should if you plan on having a child–then you probably have good reasons for all the decisions you will have to make. When you find that your methods are not perfect, which you will, you can change them appropriately.
Do I even need to say anything more here? This is sickening to a high degree. Even worse than on point 5, having unethical control over another human being is praised as a way for you to prove that you can take good decisions. This is a dictator’s rationalization for his actions, not a reasonable benefit. I hope this will not come as a surprise to anyone on an Anarchist blog, but holding power over other people’s lives is evil, not good.
8. Adoption. There are lots of children in the world without parents. Adopting a child is an excellent way to greatly improve the life of someone who would have a very hard time otherwise.
This is actually a good point, and I support it completely. Adoption is indeed socially beneficial and highly superior to making children.
9. Entertainment. Children have lots of energy and can be lots of fun. They develop imaginations, a sense of humor, and lots of excitement. Little kid laughs are infectious. Playing with children is very enjoyable.
Same answer as many of the previous points. Get a pet or work around children. Listening to a child’s laughter or playing with them is not a reason to create new life.
10. Love. You are the center of your child’s world, and as much as you may love and need your child, he or she will love you more. Children that are shown love and affection show it back many times over.
People who are starved for love and affection should not have children, for such aspirations backfire. If their children don’t love them back, or even if the children do not obey them, they will often lash back and engage in child abuse. Basically, holding another human being responsible for your need for love and affection is a recipe for disaster. It is also extremely selfish. How would you have felt as a child if you realized that you were born solely to provide love and affection to your parents?
Parents should not give love to their children because they expect love in return. If you are that selfish, you should not have children, at any cost. Children are owed your love, whether they want to give any back or not. You are responsible for their well-being, but they are not responsible for yours.
Again, as I said before, all of these reasons assume the best case scenario, while none of the negative reasons assumed the worst case scenario. So there is a severe ingrained imbalance in the way these reasons are laid out, which the author probably didn’t even realize.
Furthermore, what nine out of these ten reasons have in common is that they treat human beings as tools that the parent can use in order to unlock some higher state of happiness. Anti-natalism, on the other hand, demonstrates is that children are used as objects, as means to an end, which is always evil regardless of the end. Furthermore, these positive reasons are all based on a perfect scenario where the relationship between the child and the parent is so good that the parent can always extract these conditions of happiness that they have invested in this human being. This is highly unrealistic.
What this article proves is that the reasons to have children are utter bullshit, and that anti-natalism is the only reasonable position for any person who is not so completely collapsed into himself that he thinks other human beings exist as means to his own happiness.