Note: I was working on this miniature essay just before Katrina. I’ve only just finished now.
I fully realize that most people don’t think much about whether or not to have kids. They either know what they want and act on that instinct, or they don’t think about it at all and just do what comes naturally.
But I’ve never been like most people. In fact, one of my favorite pastimes over the years has been philosophical speculation on the implications of having children — or not, as the case may be. Over the past year, especially, my thinking on this matter has crystallized. And the crystal is perfectly opaque. I am deeply ambivalent.
There’s plenty of arguments either way: We should have a child because we’d be good parents. We should not have a child so we can spend more money on ourselves. We should have a child so someone will care about us in our old age. We should not have a child because the planet is crowded enough as it is. We should have a child because it would silence those annoying people who dismiss our opinions because of our childlessness. We should not have a child because it would interfere with sleeping late on the weekends. And on and on.
Any of these arguments can be countered quite easily. But I’m drawn to the drama of ultimate, universal, philosophical arguments which aren’t so easy to refute. And so, I am now prepared to offer two ultimate arguments for and against having kids. One pro and one con, as befits my divided psyche. I’m not even sure which to present first, as that might seem to privilege one argument over the other. Such is the delicate balance of my soul!
Whatever. Here goes. I flipped a coin, and so I’ll present the pro argument first:
- We should have a child because there would be more love in the world. I feel certain that I would love any child of mine. Xy would too. I think our mutual love for one another would only be multiplied. And the child would, presumably, love us. That’s a whole lot of love!
Mary recently had a baby and has advocated quite passionately:
Having survived the last 7 months, I too feel sorry for my friends that did not or will not have a child. It is an entire world of emotion and a reality-altering experience. Who would not wish for their friends to have lives filled with love? It’s not a love that takes away from the love they feel for their sig other or families or friends, but a brand new addition.
- The con argument:
Life is mysterious. We don’t know what it’s all about, and we can’t know, and that means we can’t answer the most basic, fundamental questions. Does existence have any meaning or purpose? We can’t answer! That’s part of the human condition. We who find ourselves thrown into the game have to play the hand we’re dealt, and make the best of it. But that doesn’t mean we have to deal anyone else in. If we can’t affirm that life is worth living, then intentional reproduction is morally ambiguous at best. Therefore we should not have a child.
And there you have it. Caught between the proverbial rock and hard place. An insoluble philosophical conundrum!