Having Children

Never mind that the question of who has who in the relationship between kids and their parents — i.e. who’s in control here, anyways? — I want to explore the decision to have kids.

Disregarding extenuating circumstances, why do folks make a life? The list of reasons could fill an entire series of books by itself, and exploring the details of even one of those items on the list could probably fill another book at least. But despite the enormity of the question, I think it’s an important one to consider.

In the easiest of cases, the decision to have a child is one that’s completely under the control of the parents. The less easy cases are certainly worth considering too, but I’m not sure a single blog post gives enough space to do those justice. So, we’ll stick to the simplest of the simple questions, and complicate the matter as necessary.

A few months back, I read a couple interesting books on the subject, while I was trying to get traction on the question of whether to have kids. The books that I’d recommend (in order) are Why Have Children by Christine Overall and Better Never to Have Been David Benatar. There are articles referenced in these books that are also worth reading, if you’re the type of person who needs to read lots of pages of other folks’ writing in order to make a decision — I am certainly one of them. Benatar’s book is extreme in its conclusion, and while I think his conclusion is incorrect, reading his book helped me get a better handle on several issues surrounding human life, including child conception, birth, and rearing. Overall’s book is much more moderate — she doesn’t think that humans ought to go extinct — but her conclusion doesn’t seem to follow from her premises, which as a philosopher (both her and me), I find a difficult plot twist to take from an ethicist. Regardless of my philosophical hang-ups, her book also helped me come to a decision. In essence, if you think the reason at the end of this article is compelling, you ought to consider having kids; if you think the 100 reasons preceding that article are compelling, you ought to stay childless, enjoy your life more, and do us all a favor by keeping your unborn child from melting-down in the cereal aisle of the grocery store.

This article may have just turned into the shortest thesis on child rearing, as well as the shortest dual book review, ever. However, I think it suffices for my purposes tonight. Hopefully, you take a look at those books. If you’ve read them, drop us a comment and tell us what you thought.

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