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Do You Have Children?

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Do you have children? How young?  

214 members have voted

  1. 1. Do you have children? How young?

    • My youngest is 3 or less
      20
    • My youngest is between 4 and 5
      10
    • My youngest is between 6 and 8
      7
    • My youngest is between 9 and 10
      1
    • My youngest is between 11 and 13
      2
    • My youngest is between 14 and 18
      6
    • My youngest is over 18
      8
    • Married, no kids
      16
    • If pets count, count me in!
      42
    • None of the above
      68


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Just because something is wanted doesn't mean that it is justified. You can't say, "A LOT of people want cocaine and a lot of people want it as evidenced by the prices they are willing to pay."
Actually, I CAN say that a lot of people want cocaine as evidenced by economic data and that is empirical fact. Supply and demand are part of economic models that DO explain what products are valued and what ones aren't. More importantly, I never said that just because something is wanted that it is justified. I'm an Objectivist, not a hedonist or a collectivist. Chill out.

So there are no reasons for wanting children? Or some people just don't have reasons? The don't have a choice? They simply must reproduce?

X is a variable. It means you can substitute in various reasons in place of the variable. In this case the point I was making is that for YOU to assume that people want children for any reason in particular is silly.

There are a variety of potential reasons for wanting children. For you to assume that people want children for X reason and X reason ONLY is ignoring reality. You are ignoring the many potential contexts and reasons that could possibly exist. The reason why I say you are making an assumption here is that you assume that having a child and following your self interest is mutually exclusive.

In fact...you say:

if you are an Objectivist, it seems to follow that, 1.) having children is an altruistic act to further the human race,

You are leaping to conclusions without justifying how you got there (in other words, you are making an assumption). For something to be considered an act of altruism, a personal sacrifice has to be made that is incompatible with your self interest.

To say that from an Objectivist viewpoint having children is considered a sacrifice committed at a personal loss for the benefit of the human race is something that you have the burden to prove. What in Objectivism suggests that having children is done for anyone's benefit other than the couple that decides to have the child? Why would an Objectivist equate child rearing with "furthering the human race?" That sounds more like collectivist tripe than anything else.

If I were to have a kid, it sure as hell wouldn't be so I could benefit anyone but me. I wouldn't take on a massive responsibility like child rearing as a charity act for my girlfriend or so the human race can continue. I'm not obligated to serve as a reproductive slave to anyone and I sure as heck don't believe that the only possible way to view childrearing is as an action done on someone ELSE'S behalf.

By blurring that distinction, you are leaving us no criteria to separate a surrogate mother (a person who agrees to have an infertile couple's child) who allows herself to get pregnant for religious/altruistic reasons (to further the human race) and a couple that wants a child because such a child would bring them personal happiness. The fact that you are blurring the distinctions between those two examples is wrong because a person can want a child for personal happiness based on objective reasons in a sense that is distinct and different from wanting something hedonistic like cocaine use (to use your example).

Ok, so those who want children for purely selfish reasons... what are their selfish reasons? To create someone in their likeness? To spread their seed? To bring joy into their life? If it's to bring joy into their life, how will that child bring joy? By acting like them? By their subordination? By creating life? By making parents proud? By having someone to take care of them when they get older? What could those parents have done if they didn't have the responsibility of children? Tahiti every year for 2 weeks? Traveling across the world? Doing whatever the hell they wanted? Writing a novel? Chasing their own, selfish dreams? .
First off...What creates children? Sex, obviously. To Objectivists, sex is a profoundly selfish and moral endeavor between couples that love each other deeply. It is a response to the most deeply held values that both partners possess that allow for such intimacy. A lot of trust is required to be naked in both body and soul before another person. Such trust isn't paid for cheaply unless you have no personal standards. The price of trust is value. When such trust is paid for, sex is a natural step that allows trusting partners to experience physical and emotional ecstasy from each other's bodies.

Keep that context in mind and I will go through all the possibilities you list.

1) Having a child to create a living individual in your own likeness and the likeness of their spouse is definitely a purely selfish reason. For an egoist who values their own image (physically and morally) and the image of their spouse, there can be no more selfish of an act than creating a unique individual that possesses elements of the two most important people in the world (yourself and your partner). Children are a byproduct of such a joyous act (sex) and are created by a merging of the essential building blocks of our physical identities (dna). Children are biological/physical extensions of the couples that had sex.. It is selfish to want to be able to look into the eyes of your little boy (or little girl) and see personal and physical elements of both you and your spouse.

2) To spread their seed? No, that is not a purely selfish reason if by "spreading their seed" you mean having sex for no other reason than continuing the human race. Having a child to continue the human race is an altruistic/collectivist proposition. It places the human race (tribe) above any individual motives or values. The human race as a whole has NO inherent objective value. Individuals are the only unit of human being that possess objective value or lack of value.

3) To bring joy into a parent's life is definitely a legitimate selfish reason to have children.

I will now go through all the potential ways a child can bring a parent joy that YOU listed and I will analyze each one of them.

-by acting like the parents a child can bring joy

Sure. If you value your life and the way you act because you know that it is the product of a life loving moral philosophy, then if your child acts in the same manner, it will bring you joy as long as your child understands what is truly important: the philosophy that makes acts of valuing and life on earth possible (Objectivism). That stage of development (moral/intellectual) doesn't generally occur until later maturity, though.

-By subordination a child can bring joy to parents.

I'm not sure what you mean here. Explain.

-By creating life, children bring joy to parents.

If you mean that children bring joy to parents in the form of grandkids...then that has potential to be joyous or a disaster, lol. If you mean that the simple act of creating life (sex) and bringing life into the world is joyous, then the answer is yes. Children are born with a clean slate (or as Peikoff would say, tabula rasa). This fact means they represent the utmost of human potential. They ARE the faces without pain, fear, or guilt. Such faces can be shown what life is and what it means to love life. Children ARE alive. They grow and can be taught what values are and if they are taught correctly...they can end up being a source of joy, pride, accomplishment, love, and fun for parents. I can imagine an Objectivist wanting to be able to personally influence such a blank slate for the purpose of companionship (interpersonal bonding/love) and as a celebration of their OWN lives. It is selfish to want to teach the byproduct of a joyous land lasting sexual/romantic union everything worth knowing and everything that makes life wonderful.

-By making a parent proud, children can bring joy to parents.

This is true. What is the source of parental pride, though? The source of pride is seeing a child grow from a blank slate to an autonomous moral creature. Seeing a child progress in positive manners brings pride to parents because at first it is like a demonstration of a lesson well learned. You see a child apply GOOD philosophy and produce GOOD things for themselves in their own lives. You see the capacity for happiness that is possible because of your hand in such moral/intellectual development.

-Children can bring joy to parents by taking care of them in their old age.

No. That isn't a way in which kids can bring joy to their parents. That makes the parents dependent upon another person for their own survival and care. Dependence on another person is NOT a source of joy.

What could those parents have done if they didn't have the responsibility of children? Tahiti every year for 2 weeks? Traveling across the world? Doing whatever the hell they wanted? Writing a novel? Chasing their own, selfish dreams?

Parents could probably do lots of things if they didn't have the responsibility of children. However, they could also do a lot of things WITH children.

You once again assume that having a child isn't what a parent genuinely wants. Why is this?

Why CAN'T children be part of a person's selfish dream?

Ask any parent, having a child is an enormous sacrifice
Ask any student, getting good grades is an enormous sacrifice at times. Simply having to sacrifice in the sense that you mean is NOT a bad thing. Anything of value requires sacrifice in the sense that you have to WORK for values. You can't obtain values by osmosis. Having a GOOD MARRIAGE is a sacrifice at times because you have to put up with crap you wouldn't have to put up with if you were by yourself.

You are using the word sacrifice as a synonym for "hardship" or "tough proposition."

Lots of things in life are tough or hard. It doesn't mean that they aren't valuable.

What makes a sacrifice IMMORAL is if you sacrifice a HIGHER value for one of a lower value.

I've named some "self-interested" reasons for having children and I believe all of the reasons I've mentioned are either 1.) irrational or 2.) outweighed by the value of not having children.Ayn Rand chose not to have children. This is HER philosophy. If you are a true Objectivist, then we wouldn't be in disagreement. (I'm poking fun here, because it seems that a lot of individuals on this forum (whether it be the philosophical principles or the application of philosophy) find it convenient to say one thing ("This is Ayn Rand's philosophy and you cannot amend it or act any differently than she would have acted") and at times, say another ("Having children is a rational choice for an Objectivist").

Some of the reasons you listed ARE irrational. HOWEVER...if they are irrational...then they can not be simultaneously "self interested." That is a contradiction in terms. Check your premise.

Whether or not the reasons that you listed that WERE rational are outweighed by NOT having children is a matter of personal choice and personal opinion. The act of weighing values is done on an individual level.

The rational self interested reasons that you listed that you claim are outweighed by not having children are outweighed by YOUR values and decision calculus.

Hugh Ackston had rationally selfish reasons for being a philosopher to the exclusion of other possible professions. Richard Halley had rationally selfish reasons for being a musician to the exclusion of being a philosopher or other career choices. For Halley, being a musician "outweighed" being a blacksmith.

That is a matter of individual choice and neither choice is more moral or immoral if it is rationally chosen.

Ayn Rand's personal choice has nothing to do with whether or not having children is an equally moral proposition to not having children. They can both be equally moral decisions just like Richard Halley's decision to be a musician and Roark's decision to be an architect.

-Evan

Edited by Evan

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If you valued the propagation of the human race?!? Is that even a concern in a time when people are starting movememts to make the human race extinct?!?

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!

I wonder what Darwin would think of that. Talk about natural selection at work.... :)

He has a little drum set in the living room. After watching some G3 he realized that he could play his drums while daddy played the guitar...just like the guys on the TV do! Man, that's good stuff.

Well, at least you're starting him off right. Remember. Zildjian good, Sabian bad....repeat after me... :D:P

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I think, to a certain extent, that having a child is less about the child itself and about the selfish act of creating it. When my wife and I have our child I don't see it as something to learn from (although it is) or propogation of species (though, it is that, as well) I see it as a personal creation between my wife and I. A culmination of values, if you will. Everything that we had with each other, now in one tiny (yet, growing) package. It's extremely hard to explain but in my mind, the actual act of creating a child is more about my relationship with my wife and our acts together. I guess I see the child as a (PLEASANT) product of that. Once the child is born and the responsibility of raising and independant being sets in....well, that's a whole other story (one that I'll learn about in the coming years.)

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I've got three daughters, ages 4 1/2, 4 1/2, and 3. I'm also deep in the process of adopting a boy from Ethiopia between the ages of 0 and 18 months. My wife and I were married 10 years before we had kids and I think it was a great decision. Of course, it means that we'll be over 50 when the youngest is in high school but oh well.

Kids are great. :P

Bill

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"I would like to know: what's the rational basis for having children? What if they grow up to be a person that you don't value? "

I would say:

Life is the root of value, which gives rise to the whole issue of ethics.

An alternative which promotes your life is the good, one which threatens it is the evil.

Sadly, it is a fact that ultimately your life is unsustainable, whatever you do.

The closest thing to living on yourself, both in matter and in spirit, is having children and raising them according to your values.

behold, the selfish (good) nature of having children :P

(I wouldn't say taking emotional appreciation of children (how applaudable may be) as a primary and reasoning deductively from that qualifies as objective ethical validation, that's called rationalization)

I would add to this that having children to the exclusion of your own personal happiness would be a sacrifices of your highest value, which is your own life, which would take all joy out of being alive. It would be altruism, your life scarified to your children’s, which would in turn be expected to do the same for their children. How gloomy, and how resented children would be.

For children not to destroy your happiness I think you must be able to financially support them and have a partner to share the burden of child rearing otherwise you would be left without any money or time to spend on any of your other values. If you are left with enough time and money to live a fulfilling life yourself, then children are not a sacrifice, but an additional value.

so much for the objective part....if kids annoy you...don't do it ;-) (you would probably be lousy at the 'raising' part)

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This past Sunday, I attended a picnic with the Objectivist group I regularly meet with. There were two pavilions next to each other that could be rented for larger gatherings. My Objectivist group had one and a chruch group had the other.

At one point during the day, someone on our side pointed out how many children were at the church picnic compared to the one child with our group. We couldn't help but laugh as we noticed the rowdy kids running all over the church's pavilion. Then that started a short discussion about how we're being out numbered, rapidly. I was a bit discouraged at first, feeling that our cause is hopeless, but then I realized something. I used to be one of those church kids running around a pavilion on a Sunday. :)

EDIT: K-Mac gets out her checkbook and writes another check to ARI to buy more books for students.

Edited by K-Mac

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Then that started a short discussion about how we're being out numbered, rapidly. I was a bit discouraged at first, feeling that our cause is hopeless, but then I realized something. I used to be one of those church kids running around a pavilion on a Sunday. :lol:

EDIT: K-Mac gets out her checkbook and writes another check to ARI to buy more books for students.

True. It is however not the same as being taught the right epistemology from the start and being raised with rational approach to life.

We have the best chance reaching young minds (high school level) but even at that age many will (and do) lack the necessary virtues to make such a drastic ideological tranformation. It requires certain level of self esteem, independence, and honesty.

Thus I consider approaches such as the book project as the second best thing...

Edited by ~Sophia~

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I've got three daughters, ages 4 1/2, 4 1/2, and 3. I'm also deep in the process of adopting a boy from Ethiopia between the ages of 0 and 18 months. My wife and I were married 10 years before we had kids and I think it was a great decision. Of course, it means that we'll be over 50 when the youngest is in high school but oh well.

Kids are great. :)

Bill

My wife and I have been married for 14 years, and for most of our marriage we were not ready for children. But a few years ago we discussed it at length and came to the decision that we do want children. After a couple of years of trying to conceive without success, we underwent medical testing and learned we were infertile. After the shock of that diagnosis, and the resulting sense of loss, we both arrived at the realization that: 1) our self-esteem is not based on the biological criterion of reproductive fertility; 2) we still want children and the joy of raising a family and 3)it is therefore not a necessity that a child be genetically connected to us. Faced with the prospect of spending tens of thousands of dollars on fertility treatments, which in our case has only a remote chance of success, we decided that adoption was the rational course of action for us.

Once we decided to adopt we were faced with a major choice: get on the (10 year plus) waiting list for domestic adoption of a healthy infant, or enter the much shorter but more expensive process for international adoption.

So we are now in the waiting stage of the adoption of a baby girl under twelve months from Ethiopia.

Bill, do you have your son home yet or are you still waiting?

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From early on in my life I did not want children. I was considered odd and told that I would change my mind once I got married. I did not change my mind and my husband fully agreed with my thinking.

We are both artists and the life of artists is very unpredictable with many ups and downs. We just did not want to have that responsibility, it was hard enough to secure our own lives. We thought having children in our situation to be very irresponsible.

Family pressures were huge of course, they thought it was an obligation to make grandchildren for them, but we just cut ties with the families and our peace returned.

Sometimes I have thought about what we might have missed, but no regrets really.

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From early on in my life I did not want children. I was considered odd and told that I would change my mind once I got married. I did not change my mind and my husband fully agreed with my thinking.

We are both artists and the life of artists is very unpredictable with many ups and downs. We just did not want to have that responsibility, it was hard enough to secure our own lives. We thought having children in our situation to be very irresponsible.

Family pressures were huge of course, they thought it was an obligation to make grandchildren for them, but we just cut ties with the families and our peace returned.

Sometimes I have thought about what we might have missed, but no regrets really.

My oldest daughter also says she does not want children. Her reasoning is that when she becomes a teacher those kids are going to be "hers" for 8 hours a day and that is enough for her.

I don't argue with her, she will either keep that opinion or change it as she gets older. Her mother on the other hand has a hard time accepting the notion.

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My oldest daughter also says she does not want children. Her reasoning is that when she becomes a teacher those kids are going to be "hers" for 8 hours a day and that is enough for her.

I don't argue with her, she will either keep that opinion or change it as she gets older. Her mother on the other hand has a hard time accepting the notion.

You know, I think this idea that we have to make our own children to continue the bloodline is a hangup many people have. I think this is all rooted in the idea that we want to preserve certain traits that many people think are unique and worth preserving. It also often relates back to traditional thinking and religion as well, even if we are not religious, the customs are rooted there.

Children are wonderful. Your daughter has the right idea, make the children that she will teach her own. That way she will be able to fully devote herself to this job ;)

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I never wanted children, I just always knew that I was too selfish for that. Didn't have a problem with that, either. I remember a conversation with a former co-worker about my non-existent desire to have children:

Co-worker: "You're just selfish!"

Me: "You say that like it's a bad thing."

That was long before I read anything by or about Ayn Rand. It was just obvious to me that neither I nor my hypothetical children could gain anything good from me reluctantly making a huge sacrifice by having children I would have resented.

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I never wanted children, I just always knew that I was too selfish for that

There is nothing intrinsically altrusitic or sacrificial about having children. If raising children is a value to you - then it's selfish to raise children.

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There is nothing intrinsically altrusitic or sacrificial about having children. If raising children is a value to you - then it's selfish to raise children.

I know, I wasn't implying that it is intrinsically altrusitic, just talking about my personal experience. To me, children never were a 'value' - all the reasons that people gave me for why having children is great just never made sense to me.

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Definitey a selfish choice for me. I knew I always wanted kids, and well, we have 5 so it worked out.

I hope my kids have kids of their own, because I think it would be fun to have grandkids. (And. as my mom said to me when I was young "My revenge will be that you have a child exactly like yourself." That came true haha.)

If the minions decide having kids isn't for them - well, I will be disappointed, but I would rather they live their own lives and be happy. I have plenty of siblings that have (and will have I am sure in the future) little kids I can dote on should I feel the need. And there are always the kids of friends. I never try to say to my children "when you have kids of your own" but try to say something like "if you decide to have kids when you are an adult..." instead. I want them to understand it is totally a choice, and not an obligation to have kids. But oh, do obligations begin when you do have them! haha.

I get a lot of joy out of having kids (even despite the obnoxiousness, and hassles - the good really outweighs the bad), but I don't believe that one has to have a kid to have a great life. I have friends who have purposely decided NOT to have kids, and some that want them badly but either have to adopt or just cannot have them for one reason on another.

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