A few difficult questions.

As a budding psychologist with little restraint and plenty of opportunity, I’ve found myself irritated with answers to several questions that I feel warrant more consideration than they are given when I ask.

Some people brush them off as unsettling, if harmless, ‘what if…’ type questions. Others have given me answers quick while getting progressively more angry with each one. A woman I asked got so upset that she had her husband threaten to beat me up for asking her about the ‘psycho-baby question.’

Even I’ve spent much time agonizing over all the possible meanings of the answers that people give, everyone from my mother, to some close friends, to random strangers. The conclusion I’ve reached is that people are selfish, but in a way that they aren’t accustomed to.

Think about this: Why did you have children? Barring a mandate from god, I’m willing to bet it was because you wanted to, because you wanted a family.

I’m not saying that child-rearing isn’t a noble endeavor, but it seems that the motives are less than altruistic. Be honest, do we really think our children are going to cure cancer? To decipher time travel? To answer the question of existence?

Now think about this: What if you knew with absolute certainty that your first child is going to be murdered before he or she is twenty-five. The specifics only dictate that it’s the most agonizing and excruciating death you can imagine. You don’t know where or when, only that it will occur in the future. Even if you have more than a single child, the first born will be dead. Will you still have the child?

If so, why? I’ve heard parents say they would die for their children, but would you willingly send someone into a death you wouldn’t wish on someone else?

Now consider this: Your first born child is going to grow up to be a serial murderer. Regardless of how you choose to raise the child, he or she is going to horribly kill 17 or more people before age forty. Would you still have the child?

If so, why? Would you be willing to face his or her victims in court and tell them that you knew this was going to happen, but allowed it anyway?

I’m interested to hear how you all answer.

47 thoughts on “A few difficult questions.

  1. When I was younger I never wanted to be a dad.
    I had children because my wife wanted them.

    As for your other questions, no I would not have the child.

  2. I have 6 kids, 3 are mine 2 are hers and one is ours.  My first G/F-wife got pregnant (unplanned) and I stayed with her and later we had 2 more as you say because we wanted too.
     
        On your second question, the context is too vague, if I know they will die early do I also know the wil have children of their own by this point? etc etc. So I have to say yes as the limiting fact of an early death simply isn’t enough to hinder my choice. In your mention of altruism, it isn’t a guiding infuence in the decision. Doesn’t every person hope that they themselves or their offspring will have some positive effect on their society/species as a whole?  With this mindset Q3 is obvious with certain knowledge of the outcome.

        Q3 the answer is No.  It is also easy to say, as you have no emotional attachment in this theoretical exercise to influence this question.

  3. Good questions….

    I’ve never wanted children, even when I was a little girl and my friends were playing mums and bubs, I never was interested.

    I find it easier to decide not have the child who grows up to be a murderer, if it saves 17 lives.

    I’m in two minds about the other question. I don’t want someone to die horribly, but I’d at least think about giving them the chance to have a short but happy life.

  4. I don’t know how to respond to some of the “what if” questions but I do strongly believe that not everyone should have children, this is clearly obvious to us all. And the problem with that line of thinking is also clearly obvious.

    IMHO way too many people have children for selfish reasons if they give it any real thought at all. The worst case is the “I just want to have a little baby, a little me (mini-me)”. This type of thinking is often rooted in the it will help my marriage, make my life better with little to no regard for the consequences, complications, and challenges of bringing an entire new human being (not just a cute little baby) into the world.

    Other evidence of selfishness is the “ownership” issue. Children are not anyones property. They are placed in your charge and you are responsible to/for them and to society to teach them well and raise them to be non-harm-to-others (good) members of society. If you try to relive your own life through your child you are doing them a terrible disservice, they have their own way to travel in life. I go so far as to find naming a child after yourself to be the height of pointless vanity. Let the child have their own identity, without the pet (literally – buddy, junior, butch) names.

    I have most likey not provided you with what you were looking for in way of a response. This is what your post triggered in me.

  5. Hmm…

    I have struggled with a similar problem for most of my adult life.

    I have a genetic cancer that killed my mother at 32 and nearly killed me at 25. It is more probable that the gene that causes this cancer will be passed on to any child I have than not.

    That is not to say they will GET the cancer, but they are highly likely to carry the gene, and from what I have seen about 70% of those who have the gene get the disease.

    The disease is not curable, but there are operations to cut out the disease… to me that is not a cure, but a work around.

    Now… being that there is a good chance that this gene will propogate to my offspring, so do I father any children? Espeically knowing what I went through to get well?

    I have not answered it yet. It is not something I think anyone who is not in the position I am, or similar, can answer – which is why I find mental masturbation such as the questions here pitiful.

    You can say that you think you know the answer, but you really don’t until the trigger is pulled.

    As for me? As I do not know if I should have a child (with out genetic counciling and some help/input from a geneticist) I am going to pass on the questions… just wanted to point out that mental masturbation is fine to a point, but really do not show any reality because they are intellectual and devoid of the emotion of the situation if it were real.

    Anyway… back to the hairy palms of the mind wink

  6. I had children because I thought I was supposed to. (before anyone starts cracking wise – MrsDOF bore the children of course but we both raised them.)

    Luckily none of us can know what will happen to our children.  We speed into the future greatly overdriving our headlights!  When I got married, I did not know:

    – That I, a Christian minister, would come to disbelieve in God
    – That family life would be such a struggle
    – That I would have many jobs as a Bible major in college isn’t much use if you aren’t a minister
    – That one of my kids would become a chemist, one a mathematician, and one a musician
    – That I would wind up living in a town called “Normal”
    – How hard it is to ‘let go’ as your kids grow up and how badly you can screw things up not letting go

    Bog, I could write a looooong list of stuff I didn’t know.  Suffice it to say having kids made me realize what a complete dumbass I am and how fortunate it is when anything goes right.

    So I really can’t do much with hypothetical questions.  Hope that helps.

  7. Maybe it has to do with the NEED to have children.
    My girlfriend had a mental and physical need to have children. AS for me , I wasn’t ready, therefore I did not have that inborn need to be a father at that time. But we now have a 2 year old boy and It is good to be a father. I sacrificed my teenage attitude of freedom for… Actually not much has changed since I am a father, I just have an extra friend around.
    Bachalon, I don’t see any true answer to the questions regarding death or murder or even trying to figure out the future for our kids. I think it is good to avoid living in a world of fantasy but too much reality can also be damaging. Everybody has questions like the ones you mentionned but not everybody want to put them on the table.
    Maybe it has to do with superstition.

  8. Assuming (big assumption) a solid and irrefutable foreknowledge of this sort—no, to both questios.  My desire to spew forth my genes (and memes), and my vast enjoyment of my child, do not relieve me of that long-term responsibility.

  9. I find it easier to decide not have the child who grows up to be a murderer, if it saves 17 lives.

    But… what of those 17 lives? Would those all be “worthy” lives or could one or more be a serial killer?

  10. This is something I have pondered on myself for many years. I have never had any children, not because I knew they’d be axe murderers, but because I am very aware that I have more to offer the world than more children.

    After all it’s not like there’s a shortage of people on the planet. I have also always looked at children as a reponsibility, not an accessory to my family. Plus I had a pretty diabolical childhood myself, and I’d hate to pass that on to another person.

    It makes me mad when I see parents who have the attitude of, ‘it’s my child, I’ll bring them up how I want to!’

    Oh and no I’d not have any children if I knew their futures were mapped out for them, for good or bad.

  11. I like what Serai has just said.

    Just to add something to this subject.
    In quebec, not 30 years ago a good portion of the population went to church often, immigrants were not as visibleas today. Most were catholic.
    Not 70 years ago it was common to see families of 10 or 12 kids.
    A 100 years ago every priest had the obligation of ENCOURAGING families to have more and more children. In the name of…..
    Not that I want to talk about religion, I mean we are conditionned to want to have kids. This had being going on for 300 years + in this corner of the world.
    An other example: Does anyone live in a town or city that does not want to increase its population.
    More people, more services, more taxes.

    Not having any kids will become a good thing onr day and even a necessity.(which will surely play a role in some social issues like the definition of marriage and….

  12. I didn’t feel the need for children for a long time, and then one day I really started feeling that biological urge, such that I felt my life would not be complete without raising a child.  And I felt a need to have a child because I love my husband so much that I wanted little copies of HIM running around.  (Sure enough, both our girls look just like him. wink

    But in answer to your questions, no—if I KNEW that would happen, I would not have had them.

    John, it’s amazing that you’ve survived a cancer like that, and you must be very brave and tough to have done so.  I wouldn’t want to be in your shoes knowing that I had a specific gene for a specific cancer.  I wish you luck.

  13. I’m no psychologist, or more to the point, an evolutionary anthropologist, but I’ve come to believe that everything we do is dictated by a measure of selfishness. Even the noblest of deeds can be broken down to “I did it because it makes ME feel good.” But really, is any action selfless? I’ve read testimony of men in combat who jump on grenades or who run through gunfire to save a comrade and its hard to argue how these acts could be anything but selfless. It leaves one with two options. One, the act was commited to truly help another and that the brain of that individual overpowered instinct for a brief moment to allow him/her to do something entirely selfless. The other side of the coin is that this act was possibly commited in order to portray the individual as a hero or that they did it in order to gain a sense of self accomplishment.

    As to the issue of bearing children, 20/20 aired a piece last night which spoke of how humans invariably have the “four year itch” and are designed to have a child every four years, each time with a seperate partner to allow variations in the gene pool. In short, humans will have children no matter what. My sister Kimberly suffered from Cystic Fibrosis, Diabetes, severe Scoliosis, and an Aspergillus infection which eventually lead to her death. Given the choice, I doubt my mother would have given birth to such a sick child, but then comes the question why? Was she motivated by her instincts as a mother and that she should not let her daughter suffer, or was she motivated by the consequences she faced as a mother of a daughter who would never grow to become a woman? I know I speak harshly of my sister, but that’s not my intent, and I know I will probably get flamed for taking such a cold, rational look at an issue so close to home, but still the question begs to be answered. Granted, I loved my sister very much and I cannot be sure if I would want to know the truth, but I have to admit I’m curious.

  14. On a side note, if you think you could possibly be a carrier of the Cystic Fibrosis gene, get tested. It could be one of the most important things you’ll ever do.

  15. My wife took something seriously that was poked at her in fun. Then she did it again. They tried to tell me where those rug-rats were coming from, but I didn’t want to believe them. Then she did it again, and as anybody with a rational mind knows, three is too many, so we divorced. Then I married a woman who had three of her own = the Brady Bunch. To quote a very wise man, “What the fuck are you people doing?” Five of the six have developed pretty good lives, all in different dirctions. One is still adrift, looking for the meaning in life (which is obviously to breed!) Suffering and joy are both facts of life and all of us will die some time. The key is to enjoy both suffering and joy and not take life too seriously. After all, you will not get out of it alive, anyway. IMPoe hit the “serial killer” senerio on the head (would all 17 lives be “worthy”?) and much of our greatest human achievements have come from people who suffered from one affliction or another. It seems that to become a great person you don’t need great friends, but great evil to overcome, in other words a great enemy. So, yes, I would probably procreate under both circumstances. Besides, like Scott Peterson, I’ve been a “horny bastard” since I was old enough to become horny. cheese

  16. Sorry for the mis-quote. It should have been, “What the fuck is wrong with you people?” sick

  17. I’ll bite.

    First, I don’t have any children…yet. But when the day comes, yes I’d like to have one/some.  Why?  Curiosity mostly.  I have enjoyed my life so far, both its great moments and its really sucky, why did I get out of bed this morning moments.  I’m curious to see what my possible future offspring will make of their turn. Who knows? They might actually find the cure for cancer, decipher time travel, or find the question for the answer of existance just prior to the Vogons demollishing Earth for an intergalactic highway.  Even if they don’t they still have their shot of accomplishing something, even if it is insignificant.

    Second Question:  Yes, based on the argument that does one bad (ok REALLY bad) moment in one’s lifetime completely overshadow the sum of the remainder (see also first answer)?  I do have one major problem with this hypothetical as it presumes an universal predestiny.  Basically, through an infinite possible number of situations, only one predefined outcome is possible.  Making the predestined outcome dependent on the bolean of having a child or not seems antithetical to the question in general. As to the second part of this question, We all die.  Would I want someone to suffer? No.  But the question fails to account for the quality of the life in question or its impact on other’s lives.  Say this 25 year old prior to his/her escrutiating demise had saved, let’s say, 17 other lives from a horribly escrutiating death, do we condemn those 17 for the peace of mind that a possible offspring did not have to suffer do to nonexistence?  In the end, this question is too vague and has too many variables to provide a complete informed honest answer.

    Question three:  I’ve already mentioned my grievance with this line of hypotheticals (see second answer).  My answer is yes, and here’s why.  First, to allow for the unknown time between birth and the impending rampage to pass.  Since there is no mention of the quality of this person’s life prior to killing of 17 people, it is unclear of what possible positive effects this person’s life may have had.  Second, the person inquestion supposedly always has a choice, I would inform this person of my knowledge and evidence.  Then, I would suggest that when the time comes to give fate the middle finger and try to avoid that outcome.  If they pull it off, yeah.  But according to the question they won’t be able to avoid it, so my counter question is whose fault would it be then.  The obvious answer would be me since I had the choice to not procreate.  But since we are dealing with predestiniation, how would I know that I really had a choice?  As far as facing the loved ones of those that would be murdered, not a problem.  1) If they truly believed that I possessed foreknowledge of what would happen, then they’d have to conscede that we have no control over our lives and take their aggression out on who does.  2) If the don’t believe that I had foreknowledge, then I would hope they understand that I, in no way, condone my child’s action and ask them which is worse, to have lost a loved one, or to have one who has caused so much misery in others.

    In the end, this is how I would like to answer, but the cold dead fish of reason slapped against my face makes me contend that I would not truely know unless the situation really accured.  Though while we are on the topic of brain teasers, how about asking your questions again to all those who say “no”, but with a small modification.  Instead of would they concieve the child after the knowledge, set it up where conception has already taken place.  Then the question would be, “Would you allow the child to be born?”.  I wonder if they would still say no.

    Question three:

  18. Wow. Thanks for all the brilliant responses. I didn’t think anyone would actually take something like this seriously.

    As per the variables, I left them vague for vagueness’ sake; if you were to consider everything what would your answer be. Now I now.

    And now to be honest: I hadn’t considered the predestination factor that much.

    Better luck next time, Bach…

  19. I’m pretty amoral about all of this. I accept it to be (whether I am correct or not) that I am an inherently selfish person. I don’t see myself as better or worse than anyone else in the value of my actions except where my desires are concerned, and since I rarely am concerned with my morality, well…

    I have one specific neural disorder, but a family history of medical complications of everything from cancer to alzheimers. If I were to have children, I acknowledge two rationalizations – the concept of free will and choice, on a surface level, or raw chemistry, which we’d end up making some excuse for later. It doesn’t really matter what the rationale is, because it doesn’t reflect anything more than the observer experience. When I make my decisions, by rationale, I don’t try to be any better than Hitler or worse than Christ. It just doesn’t matter. Thoughts, anyone?

  20. I don’t think you’re going to be a very good psychologist.
    That misses out a bit, being that this person (gender wasn’t really paid due attention on my part – I’ll call it ‘he’ for simplicity’s sake) wasn’t interviewing patients of any kind. It’s applying the logic outside the circumstance. It may be that ‘his’ empathy but incomplete knowledge of the subjects at hand jarred very sensitive areas of said person’s development and awareness of self. That may be a sign of particular talent, which if honed, could see a very productive psychologist.

    Personally, I find it very easy to offend people by revealing realities to them they do not have the cognitive structures (rationale or whatever else you want to throw in here) to accept or adapt to. The truth, selectively viewed, is a dangerous thing, and knowing how and where to use it requires empathy. If ‘he’ can get everyone’s boyfriends trying to beat the crap outta ‘him’, I’d say ‘he’‘s onto something. I don’t really encourage playing people’s mental strings (if only to cover my ass in saying so), but I don’t have a problem noting it as a way of pointing out this person’s potential.

  21. You may think that but I’d like to point a few things out. First, I’ve been reading textbooks for fun since 15. Second, I’ve sat in on a few classes at a university not to far and from my leasiure reading know more than third year students. And third, I don’t give two tugs of a dead dog’s cock what you think.

  22. I remember reading a story years ago by Paul Harvey in his book, The Rest Of The Story. Each little vignette pulled you into the story and the last paragraph was always a paradigm shifting zinger.

    This one particular story was about 2 pregnant women. Both were pregnant out of wedlock at a time when it brought major shame and untold difficulties to their families. Both considered abortions even though in their day not only was it illegal but highly dangerous. Both chose to continue their pregnancies.

    One woman was the mother of Leonardo DaVinci and the other was the mother of Adolph Hitler.

    In the immortal words of Forest Gump… Life is like a box of chocolates… You never know what yer gonna get…

  23. And third, I donユt give two tugs of a dead dogユs cock what you think.

    That’s exactly the right attitude. Anyone who is disuaded from their dream because of someone else’s opinions isn’t likely to make it in the first place, in my not-so-humble opinion.

  24. No, I absolutely wouldn’t have children, and no I didn’t have children myself though I’ve helped raise my stepsons.

    I don’t believe that people have a selfish gene exactly, but there certainly is a reproductive imperative that is extraordinarily difficult to ignore.

    In other words, I believe that the species has several built-in mechanisms that encourage us to reproduce despite all logical considerations. The world (and the worlds of all of us who said that we purposefully chose not to have children) would likely have been a very different place if we did not have very good birth control technology.

    I’ll apologise for derailing your question a little Bachalon, but you’ve raised an interesting side question when you aked what you might do if your child would become a serial killer. So, let me ask you a couple of questions that are somewhat related to both this and your selfishness issue:

    Psychologists have a pretty good handle on the anit-social personality disorder—there is a pattern of early behaviours that have surprisingly good predictive power. Though only a small percentage of anti-socials actually kill, I’d say that nearly all serial killers are anti-socials. Regardless of whether they kill, however, all are entirely without basic conscience, and all do horrific damage throughout their lives to nearly everyone who has the misfortune to interact with them for any period of time.

    Keep in mind, that anti-socials cannot be redeemed or “fixed”, but that they can be trained to fake conscience (which usually ends up making them yet more dangerous). 

    Should psychologists share this kind of information with parents?

    What would you do if a psychologist told you that your child has an anti-social personality disorder?

    As a society, what (if anything) should we do with anti-social children? Anti-social adult? Anti-social criminals?

  25. I could give myself a headache with the infinite possibilities.

    I have three; the first and last unplanned. But I gave birth to all three because I wanted them, and because I felt given this opportunity I could put three good people into a world in need of them.

    But the questions you ask have infinite possibilities. What if I knew my child would die the horrible death, but that death would turn out to be the one with enough evidence to stop the murderer who killed 13 before and otherwise bound to kill 25 after in the same horrible way? Before I had any one of them, I might have thought I would still choose to have them. But now that I see their faces and know what their little arms feel like around me, I’d have to say screw you guys, save yourselves!

    What if I knew one would be a serial killer? Well, who would that child now grown kill? Would s/he kill innocent people, or would s/he take a liking to killing child molestors? Some of the possibilities would sway my decision.

    When I was young, I befriended some kids others would look at and feel sorry for because they had to live the way they did. But you know what? Every one of them were happy to be alive.

    Another thought I have is this: If in the future some catastrophic event occurs that wipes out 5.5 billion people, then people like me will be heros, as we will have ensured the number required for the survival of the human race. Heh.  cool smirk

    Most importantly, a person who throws out a post like this is obviously curious about what is in the minds of people—and regarding a pretty tough subject. I think that is an excellent psychologist in the making.

  26. This is a “breeder” specific bunch of questions so I feel a little out of place even commenting, but I will. Though I’ll probably never have one myself (though if GeekMom wasn’t kidding…), I have to live with the ones you guys have.

    Don’t have a child if you believe you have the inalienable right or extreme inclination to mold him or her to your exact vision of a successful entity. When you try too hard, the results you get are too often anathematic.

    Serial killers and anti-socialistic types are made not born and any disease/defect potentially can be conquered.

  27. First of all, I do not have any kids so these comments may seem uninformed to you.  I really think that the first question about having them die at at 25, that I would have a child if there is a possibility that they could help someone even in the most minute manner, even if I knew they were going to be killed, cause really if they end up bad they wont live that long, poetic justice happens everyday.  I think that if I knew that the child would kill a whole bunch of people I would not have the kid because in my little nieve world I would not have kids just because I wanted them there is the thought of our children thriving in something they do or humanity benefiting from their existence. Do not forget that people have children for all the wrong reasons in some cases but most have them with good intentions.

  28. Couple of comments:
    yeah I am also going to faf out on the debate and say that if it’s predestined that your first child will do X, isn’t it also predetermined that you will have a first child?  I’m just saying.  Oedipus, anyone?

    Secondly,
    Of course it’s a selfish decision.  I think it damn well oughta be.  I am waiting to have kids until I want to spend all the time and effort it takes instead of popping one out because my dad thinks it’s my duty.  My life is my time and I’ll be damned if I’ll give that time up unless I really want to.  IMO, this prevents me from having a kid for the wrong reasons: they are cute, I have a biological alarm that goes off every time I see a kid, etc etc. and it prevents me, to some extent, from messing up my potential kids’ lives by not being ready to be a mom. 
    If you have kids for altruism’s sake, what does that mean?  That you’re doing it for the good of the future child, even if you don’t want a child?  Then you’re likely to get into the sort of situation where you give give give and never receive and you end up unhappy and unsatisfied because you’ve given all of your time to someone else.  If you don’t have that resentment, then you must not have felt that strongly about it.  18 years is a long bout of selflessness.
    If you’re doing it for the good of the future child and you want a child anyway, then is it really altruism?  Does altruism cease to exist once volition is expressed?

    Personally, I really want to stick around for the next 1000 years or so to see what happens.  Sadly, I cannot.  My kids will go on to do great things and see amazing things and that is as close as I can get.  Selfish?  Maybe.  But that’s the psychology of propogation of the species.  We’ve built a big cultural mess on top of plain biological need.

  29. Even I’ve spent much time agonizing over all the possible meanings of the answers that people give, everyone from my mother, to some close friends, to random strangers. The conclusion I’ve reached is that people are selfish, but in a way that they aren’t accustomed to.

    As someone else has already pointed out it could be argued that every action you undertake could be considered to have an element of selfishness to it no matter how altruistic it might appear on the surface. I consider myself a pretty decent fellow and I’ve been known to go out of my way to help others, but given a few moments thought I can provide you with several reasons why I did these things that could be considered selfish on my part.

    The real question is: Is being at least somewhat selfish always a bad thing? Selfishness has gotten a bad rap for a long time, but the truth is that we all need to take time every now and then to devote to ourselves in some fashion be it just some peace and quiet off on our own to going out and buying a little something something just because we want to. People who never think of themselves and always try to put everyone else first often seem to be some of the most miserable people I’ve ever met.

    Now, with regards to the other questions you ask:

    Think about this: Why did you have children? Barring a mandate from god, I’m willing to bet it was because you wanted to, because you wanted a family.

    I had never intended to have children as I didn’t think I would turn out to be a particularly good father, but, through a series of events too lengthy to go into at the moment, I ended up becoming a father anyway despite my intentions. For the first 8 years of her life she lived with her mother until her mother got herself into trouble and went to prison, then Courtney came to live with me. Since she first came into my life some 14 years ago I’ve been fortunate to learn that sometimes the things we think we don’t want end up being the things that matter the most in our lives and I’m not half as bad a father as I imagined I would be.

    I’m not saying that child-rearing isn’t a noble endeavor, but it seems that the motives are less than altruistic. Be honest, do we really think our children are going to cure cancer? To decipher time travel? To answer the question of existence?

    As I said I never wanted to have kids myself and I admit that part of the reasons I didn’t want to have kids were entirely selfish on my part.

    Still, even if I wanted to have kids I don’t think I would be foolish enough to think they would be destined for greatness simply because they carried half my genes in their DNA. The truth is I have no idea what the future holds, but if they can grow up to be halfway decent people who lead generally happy lives that would be more than enough to make me feel it was worthwhile. If they were to end up curing cancer along the way, well that’s just icing on the cake.

    Now think about this: What if you knew with absolute certainty that your first child is going to be murdered before he or she is twenty-five. The specifics only dictate that it’s the most agonizing and excruciating death you can imagine. You don’t know where or when, only that it will occur in the future. Even if you have more than a single child, the first born will be dead. Will you still have the child?

    If so, why? I’ve heard parents say they would die for their children, but would you willingly send someone into a death you wouldn’t wish on someone else?

    The reason this question upsets so many people is because it’s a bit vague. Other than knowing that they’ll die in some unimaginably horrible fashion at the hands of another at the age of 25 you provide us no background on how we know this will certainly happen or how much other info we have about our child’s future. I could sit here and rationalize all manner of reasons for both possible answers depending on what other information I do or don’t have about my child’s future life. Even if the only thing I would know for certain is that they’d die horribly I could still rationalize a good reason for both going and ahead and not going ahead with the having the child.

    In short, without actually going through that sort of situation where I’d have a better idea of what the circumstances are I can’t begin to give you a proper answer because I don’t know how I’d decide. There are too many other variables unaccounted for.

    Now consider this: Your first born child is going to grow up to be a serial murderer. Regardless of how you choose to raise the child, he or she is going to horribly kill 17 or more people before age forty. Would you still have the child?

    If so, why? Would you be willing to face his or her victims in court and tell them that you knew this was going to happen, but allowed it anyway?

    This question is too unrealistic to glean anything from the answer. As someone has already pointed out: Serial killers aren’t born, they’re raised. The idea of there being nothing one can do in how they raise the child to avoid them becoming a serial killer has no basis in reality. Being that it’s unrealistic the most obvious answer would be that I wouldn’t have the child, but that doesn’t really tell you anything about me. You may have well asked me if I would have had the child if I knew ahead of time that he would sprout wings from his back and go on to form a cult that takes over the world.

    Impossible questions are easy to answer, but they don’t say much about us.

  30. if i had that knowledge ahead of time, i can’t say what i would do. 

    i believe a major reason people have children is for insurance…so that when they’re old and no longer able to care for themselves, they might have someone to care for them.  long after all of their friends have long been dead, they will have their children and their children’s children to keep them from becoming lonely.

  31. Fantastic! I broke thirty comments. Too bad I feel like an idiot now that I’ve had my ass handed to me on a silver platter.

    Brock, I hear ya, I’ve thought about these questions even though both my boyfriend and I (yes, I’m gay) don’t even care for children. The reason being that I felt I couldn’t ask them without taking the time first to think about my answers.

  32. I think everyone has had a few good points, there are positives in being selfish (as Les pointed out) and it is true that it gets a bad rep, but it is not about being selfish and you should have a biological alarm go off in your head when you see a child because really it is your duty to reproduce why would you not, could anyone inform me on a different reason we dwell on this planet so damn long?

    THere was a discussion in my philosophy class on a similar topic.  I have never seen so many inraged college students, reproduction is a touchy subject. I believe if the circumstances are right there should be a yearning to complete the proverbial “circle of life”.

    And insurance is just a perk of having a kid (though not guranteed) because even if you do not our lovely government is set up to take care of any needs that you may have, it is now their resoponsibility.  How many daughters/sons do you know that do not take care of their parents I know quite a few.

  33. Bachalon, I don’t think anyone meant to make you feel one-upped.  Besides ZB’s unfounded comment, most people seemed to enjoy addressing this question from many aspects.  I think sometimes the best discussions can start from these sorts of questions…in fact, I think we have a pretty interesting discussion here…

    Azzy, if you think that’s all we’re up to, you’re missing out on a lot.  Repro may be the proximate reason, but it says nothing of the ultimate reasons we are here…

    Even though we have that insurance in the form of social sec, it sucks ass, quite frankly.

  34.   Besides ZBユs unfounded comment, most people seemed to enjoy addressing this question from many aspects.

    I guess Shana is right. I was feeling particularly like an a**hole when I posted that. Then again, if you can’t make posts like that on a forum called SEB, where can you?

  35. It never crossed my mind to expect that my children would take care of me in my old age.  Some cultures still work that way, but certainly not ours.  And besides, once you become a parent you realize that the most unpredictable force in your LIFE is your children.  You can’t force them to do or be anything, and you certainly can’t expect them to be around 30 or 40 years later.

    (Full disclosure:  I *did* move my family back to my home town a few years ago to help take care of my aging parents.  But they never asked it of me.)

  36. Bachalon, try not to take the responses too personally. One thing I’ve learned about blogging is that you need to have a decently thick skin. As much as many people agree with me, there are just as many who tell me what a dumbass I am for thinking the way I do. And it’s not like I haven’t had my regulars hand my ass to me when I said something particularly uncool. I’m thinking of my last entry about Tammy Faye Baker as an example. grin

    I thought your post was good enough to let loose unto the world and you’ll note it took me several days of thinking it over before I responded to it. That’s a good thing. Means you really had me chewing it over in my head.

  37. no kidding.  very radical.

    Azzy -yeah, most people don’t take care of their parents when they get too old, but still maintain contact.  for the most part i’m sure that they don’t just lock them away in the old folks home and wait for them to die.  this gives them some much needed social contact (besides the nurses and other old people).  when their lives are basically over, they still have something to talk about.  how many times have you tried to have a convo with a really old person and it ended up being one-way because all they will talk about is their grandkids?  anyway, my point is that old age is lonely and children and grandchildren provide some degree of comfort.  so as bachalon suggested, i believe having children is selfish.

  38. Here’s a question for you, and the non-breeders can join in on the fun.

    If you know a child is certain to die a horrible death, etc., as first postulated, but that child has already been born, and is an orphan, and you have the opportunity to adopt (assuming no financial obstacles), would you?

    It’s a little different now, isn’t it?

  39. Thank God the rest of you have debunked the whole premise.  Children are rarely planned yet thanks especially to contraception, always chosen (inadvertently or otherwise.)

    I’m the 1stborn of parents who never could have even been friends but for several unknown reasons have never divorced & likely the only human reason for my existence is my mom’s “selfish” lonliness. I have no kids myself, but I’m young, & I’ve determined that by the time I’ve found someone I can’t live without & I get around to considering kids, I will only be half of the decision & the so many things will have changed anyway, so why bother?

    Granted my approach to life is likely entirely different than many of you: I trust God is revealing more of Him/Herself to me as I am willing to take the effort to search.  But having babysat at infinetum & volunteered for 2 children’s organizations throughout college & being a teacher for the past few years, I’ve chosen to see that children are the funny x-factor in life, no matter what the human reasons they were conceived.

    Kids bring people to God, push others away, & generally they are ALWAYS what proves we can’t control others: even when we try to manipulate, we often get the opposite of what we hoped for. Our worst hypocracies are revealed, yet we sporadically truly experience unconditional love.  Thank God Les has (likely) contributed another thinking female to this earth.

    For those who are interested, “Leo” was a great movie on the effect of the cinrcumstances of conception on children.  I’ve learned through searching Scripture & contemplating my experiences, that I generally ignore/deny guilt as a REALITY, yet I generally feed guilt as a FEELING to give myself a false sense of control & focus on what I perceive to be the REAL guilt of others.  I’ve considered how devastating guilty FEELINGS can be if I didn’t identify them as false & move on to accepting forgiveness for what I’m REALLY guilty of.  I just actually hadn’t even thought much about guilt or blame in about 10 years.

  40. For everyone’s info, Azzy is me, Nicki, but I never claimed to be a pro w/ computers…

    Shana- I do think that my comment on the reproduction situation was a bit harsh.  There is more to life than that, but it is exhausting trying to come up with some higher cause that all of us are a part of in which we were put on this planet for.
    Grey- I never claimed that the social security we have in this country is the preferred fiscal escape when you get old.  But if your kids do not step up to take the responsibility of you getting old there is always something that gurantees you not freezing/starving to death when you get senile and really old.

    That is something that I am not facing now because I am only twenty so I am giving you the best ideas I can without experiencing the seemingly perplexing circumstance.  But it really frightens me and I am not looking forward to getting old…

  41. Getting old isn’t so bad.

    Oh who the hell am I kidding, it sucks in many ways.

    But it’s not anything to be frightened of.

  42. Azzy/Nicki—sorry if I made you feel attacked.  I wasn’t going for that.  I’m just not a fan of biological determinism…I think it sucks the color out of life smile 
    Obviously it is not my place to tell you what to think but I wanted to express my response.  Sometimes I end up sounding self-righteous without intending to…gotta work on that.  Things I would say in a conversation with a smile don’t always sound the same in type…even with the bust pudding gal smiling by proxy.

  43. Shana I completely understand. If you can say what you think you are a whole step ahead of a lot of people out there and as long as you do not just disregard the opposing comments, you can learn as well as educate others, you obviously made me think twice about what I had rashly commented on. Gotta go to bed I got class to early for this… See y’all cheese
    Oh and Les, thanks for the reassurance about gettin old, but I’m pretty sure I am not going to enjoy it?.

  44. ellie, I don’t want it to seem that I’m attacking you purely for sport, but considering what I’m going to say; it may seem that way.

    I’m surprised to learn that you are a teacher and find myself wondering what you teach. Not because you claim belief in a god, but because your points are often murky to me and your sentences structures can confuse me. You’re interesting to me, to be sure, but I often feel that I’ve misunderstood you.

    Occasionally, it is an impossible challenge to decipher the thoughts and meanings behind what some write here, so I guess I’m disappointed that a teacher would present what I consider some of the poorer comment examples.

    Just for an example; when you say something like “Kids bring people to God”, go ahead and explain why you think that is a truism. Help me to understand why you consider children shepherds of your faith.

    Again, I’m not trying to discourage you. I simply think teachers should demonstrate higher standards of communication.

    All in all, I’m always glad we hear from a wide range of thinkers and positions. I simply need to understand better what you’re actually saying.

    And Bachalon, good thread subject. Don’t take my “I feel a little out of place” comment too seriously. I really only said it to fortify the suspicion that these are questions anyone can justify considering.

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