Social Question

SQUEEKY2's avatar

Is having children a selfish act?

Asked by SQUEEKY2 (3725 points ) December 8th, 2013

Before you jump all over me, think about it for a second, people state my child has brought me complete joy, or my child makes me so proud, that sounds like they are only thinking of themselves and not the child, what’s your opinion?

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37 Answers

marinelife's avatar

It is a biological imperative.

KNOWITALL's avatar

I’ll just say that it takes strength to not have them in our society.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Having them may be selfish.

Raising them may be torturous.

ItalianPrincess1217's avatar

Deciding to become a parent was a little selfish on my part. I wanted a little baby to take care of and I thought he would bring me happiness. I was thinking of myself, yes. But now that I’m actually a parent and he’s here in real life, I have to be almost completely selfless. His happiness is first, not mine. I think there are some parents who remain selfish throughout the child’s life and there are those who are the opposite. I don’t think we can say “Yes, having a child is selfish. The end.” Everyone is different. Me personally, I’m a much less selfish person now that my kid is part of my life. He comes first. I want him to be happy. His happiness makes me happy. Sometimes that means sacrifices be made on my end but I don’t even think twice about those things. This was what I signed up for.

stanleybmanly's avatar

As usual as not.

hearkat's avatar

Yes, procreation is a base instinct, but we have advanced as a culture to where it is a choice.

I find that some people in our self-centered society are motivated to have a child for selfish reasons; such as having a cute mini-me, or to have someone to love, or to just reach the next milestone that society dictates. Some even try to catch a husband by having a child with him, or to hopefully get an organ/tissue match for an ill family member.

I find that few are actually realistic about how much work and selflessness is really required to actually raise a child to be an independent, responsible adult at the time they get pregnant. Some never really put forth the effort to actively participate and guide the child through life, but instead do it all for them, and thus each generation seems to have become more self-absorbed and needy than the one before.

SQUEEKY2's avatar

@KNOWITALL I’ll say we were hit hard for the first ten years of our marriage with her side of the family ,but after that they left us alone and been nice.

MadMadMax's avatar

I had two wonderful, fantastic kids who never gave me trouble and were smart as hell.

You kinda think: Look at us. We have a fun family. Life is good. And you kinda think this is it. This the way it will be forever.


I can’t speak for everybody but my kids live so far away I’m lucky if I see them once a year. They love us. They call. Sometimes they forget to call and that hurts. I sometimes see them and realize they’ve aged. They have wives and jobs and responsibilities and typical problems and spouses who have their own agendas and expectations and parents. Maybe parents who are right around the corner so they visit weekends and are there every holiday.

Kids become adults.

Seek's avatar

Our genes are quite selfish.

They demand replication.

It’s biology.

zenvelo's avatar

No, it is not.

There seems to be a cynical point of view of calling anything that might provide oneself joy as being “selfish”. But being a loving caring parent doing his best to raise children is a truly unselfish thing, a good parent sacrifices much for his or her children.

SQUEEKY2's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr My wife and I have never felt the need to reproduce,and still don’t to this very day.

ucme's avatar

Bestowing life on another living thing who in turn can do likewise & so on & so on, can never be labelled as a selfish act, quite the opposite in fact.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@Ucme In an overpopulated world with plenty of unloved homeless starving kids, you can see how some would disagree.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@SQEEKY A little more intense here in the bible belt lol. It’s like the think it’s out of my control. Pretty weird.

cookieman's avatar

Yes. It was terribly selfish of my parents to have me. I’m ashamed to even be alive. I wish they never ha… :•:

ccrow's avatar

Well, if it is, then they certainly punish us for it:-P

jonsblond's avatar

Is it selfish to give the world a person who will do the work the elderly can no longer do?

SQUEEKY2's avatar

@jonsblond sorry but to me that answer does sound a bit selfish, and who says that person will be productive in todays world.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Ouch, that’s cold.

jonsblond's avatar

@SQUEEKY2 I see. Every person in society that helps you get along in this world is non-productive. The people who pave the roads you drive on and the people who supply the food to the grocery store you shop at and the nurses and doctors that help keep you alive so you can complain about selfish parents on the internet. I hope you never need anyone to help wipe your ass when you grow old. it could happen, but hey, you’re a go getter who doesn’t need help, right?

LornaLove's avatar

I found it to be a very selfless act and it continues to be so.

SQUEEKY2's avatar

@LornaLove Then please explain all the homeless,abused,unwanted children in the world today if it is such a selfless act.

LornaLove's avatar

@SQUEEKY2 I thought you asked us personally our own experience. When did you mention unwanted children and other people? My own experience is a son who I still care about at age 31 and expect nothing in return whatsoever. How can that be selfish? Your question has confused me, so perhaps explain?

Personally I have no idea about other people motives for having children, so cannot comment.

jonsblond's avatar

I smell a pessimist

funkdaddy's avatar

not a pessimist, just someone who chose not to have kids and now has to justify that choice to friends and family who insist he’s missing out and selfish for wanting his life to be about he and his mate….

Here he had to frame his justification as a question in order to discuss.

@SQUEEKY2 – I just got done with three days of exclusive child care, waking on her schedule, singing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star over and over, then reading Green Eggs and Ham until I can actually recite it from memory.

Did you know a caterpillar can eat one apple on Monday, and still be hungry, have two pears on Tuesday and still be hungry, have three plums on Wednesday and still be hungry, have four strawberries on Thursday and still be hungry, eat five oranges on Friday, and still be hungry. It’s incredible.

If I had a kid for my own enjoyment and selfish reasons, I’m an idiot. She’s amazing and I’m blown away by her on a daily basis, she makes me a better person. But it’s more like a farmer was given the seed to an unknown plant and only has one shot to see what it can become. He may be enriched by the process, but it’s work, and long term work at that.

jonsblond's avatar

@funkdaddy I chose to have my children, but I have to justify my reason to care for them on my own to family and friends. They wonder why I don’t work outside of the home. Why do child care providers get more respect than stay-at-home parents? Child care providers are considered saints, but stay-at-home parents are thought of as bored and lazy. It’s bs. Life sucks when you worry about what others think of you.

funkdaddy's avatar

@jonsblond – I get it, and occasionally you get fed up and come here with a question that isn’t a question, but a chance to blow off steam…

This is the same.

ucme's avatar

I laugh in the face of the negative pessimist…hahaha!

whitenoise's avatar

We live in a society. We depend on other people. All of us, humans.

We need to have children, otherwise our societies will collapse.

Parents pay an awful lot for their children. The average cost of a child to its parents in the US is around 241,000 US$, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture (CNN link:).
That is excluding costs of college!

Parents may not realize it, but on average, they are far from selfish and society should do more to support them. We should all thank parents for their investment into our society.

(This is not to say, that there are no selfish elements into being a parent. Of course it is addressing one own needs and happiness as well.)

Leanne1986's avatar

I don’t want children. I don’t like the idea of having to sacrifice certain things/freedoms in my life in order to raise a child. Surely that makes me far more selfish than someone who decides that raising a well rounded, good mannered child is far more important to them than being able to just do whatever they want without having to take another person into consideration?Obviously I do take other people into consideration when I make decisions but not to the extent I would have to if I were responsible for a child.

KNOWITALL's avatar

John Lennon said it’s the hrdest job in the world. Time & money could be spent helping others. Abnormal is hurtful.

KNOWITALL's avatar

What I mean is that people who make you feel abnormal about not having children are very rude sometimes and I personally find it hurtful. My body is able to have children but my husband is seizure prone and has poor health, so I’d rather direct my energies to helping others in this world rather than bringing another life into it.

I admire good parents and when they unselfishly give of themselves to raise productive people well, I admire then even more. Just having a child in itself is not the end-all be -all for people in my opinion though, it doesn’t make you good or bad or better than anyone, for sure.

Seek's avatar

I will say, that I admire anyone who recognizes that they do not desire to be a parent, and takes measures to ensure they do not become one.

We all have our battles. Some have societal pressure to have a kid, some have societal pressure to raise their child a certain way. If you’re 40 without kids someone will be telling you you’re running out of time, and if you’re 20 and pregnant people sniff that you’re throwing your life away.

People in general can piss off.

hearkat's avatar

I interpreted the question as being mostly about people’s reasons or motivations for making babies – not just the biological sexual urges, but the choice to allow those urges to result in pregnancy… to choose to bring another human into the world.

I think very few people consider the cost when they choose to have a baby, and thus it isn’t selfless as if they chose to donate the same amount of time and money every year to a charitable cause; instead they make the investment out of obligation. Besides, many in our western culture spend even more so their kids can have the adorable designer baby outfits and all the latest gadgets. Those expenses aren’t selflessly to help make the kid a better person, they are to make the kid cute – keeping up with the Joneses has now gone beyond lawncare and automotive brand names. People want the attention as a reflection back on themselves. Look at the trend to over-schedule them with sports and other activities – all of which need to have professional portraits taken every year. Those scenarios often stretch the kids too thin and stress them out, and if they do have to spend some down time, they don’t know how to entertain themselves and whine or act-out. But the parents are quick to post pictures and blab on about all the stuff their kid is doing.

We live in a world where we are told to spay/neuter our pets because of overpopulation. Humans are overpopulated, too. The sociological issue, as I see it, is that the people who elect not to procreate usually are the ones who really could afford to have kids, and who are likely to be better educated, more emotionally mature and socially conscientious. Meanwhile, the people with lower socioeconomic status and lower education often have less creature comforts and fewer other opportunities to be distracted from those hormonal instincts, and are less likely to have the funds or insurance for birth control, so many are reproducing without giving it much thought at all. This is why I believe that education and health care should be considered basic human rights in civilized society – not would we be compassionately caring for all people regardless of the situation into which they’re born, but we’re also teaching them their value as a human and giving them more opportunities to change their own situations and make conscientious life decisions. Within a couple generations, the impact would benefit all members of society. (This article is relevant to my point, but not directly to the question. I hope I’ve worded this clearly… these are touching on concepts I’ve had in my mind for a while, but haven’t put into words before.)

Nullo's avatar

I’d say that it depends on the people involved. The list of examples provided is hardly exhaustive.

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