Each morning is a new adventure at my sister-in-law’s place. One particular morning, she told me over the phone that she was seeing red because my six-year-old niece, who is incredibly finicky, didn’t like anything she tried on. My one-year-old niece was also up and being fussy. My sister-in-law ended up late for work after dealing with her children (while my brother was snoring in bed soundly after working late). Parenting is tough.
On my Facebook feed, I sometimes see statuses from sad statuses from parents:
“I am soooo tired but have to take little Jimmy to the doctor. I have been up off and on since 2:30 am wiping up his vomit.”
“Just got a call from the school because John bit another student — again.”
“I miss being able to take long showers.”
I assume most parents are willing to sacrifice sleep, shower time and money for their little creations. And I have a lot of respect for those who choose to become parents and do it as best they can. But it’s not something I want to do myself — knowing the sacrifices.
So I get a little frustrated with society’s emphasis on everyone becoming parents. Today, at least in the U.S., we have access to medicine and science that allows us to choose when and if we become parents. Choice is always a good thing. It allows us to opt out of possible choices that are bad for us (and, potentially, the children we bring into this world).
The influence libertarianism, but especially individualism, has on the world includes the idea that people are free to do as they please — whatever makes them happy and doesn’t conflict with other’s individual rights. That extends to parenting.
The idea that people have an obligation to become parents, to me, goes against the very grain of individualism. Examples are the expectations and burdens set on one person, or a couple, to provide their parents grandchildren or to provide a country future workers.
Having and raising children is not something that should ever be taken lightly, and those who opt out because the responsibility is more than they can, or want to, handle should be left alone for making a responsible decision. Having children is a personal choice.
On a larger scale, you have countries with low birth rates bribing their citizens and telling them about the joys of larger families. Many developed countries, including the U.S., have falling birth rates, so of course the governments will be worried about not having enough future workers and thus spend taxpayer money convincing people to have babies.
It always made more sense to me, though, to look at immigration and allow those willing to work in a country to stay in that country than to bribe women or couples into having more children they may not want or be able to take care of. It’s not always about money or a recession — you couldn’t bribe me with money to have and raise children. Some of us simply don’t want them or realize it’s a a lot of work and there are other things we’d rather do with our lives.
When it comes down to it — it’s not what someone else wants. Just because we have the biology to carry on future generations, doesn’t make it a moral imperative to do so. If there was only one man and one woman left on earth it’s still their choice to have children or not — the human species be damned.