Why do so many parents act, speak and appear to think as if having a child is the ultimate accomplishment?
Flies also reproduce. Primitive savages do it too. Cavemen did it. Having offspring is not a particularly human accomplishment. It’s a necessary act of biological survival, at least from a species perspective. But there’s nothing distinctively human about it.
However, rational, effective and conscientious child rearing is, indeed, distinctively human. Taking full responsibility for the competent development and maintenance of your child’s intellect and psyche is a great accomplishment.
My hat is off to parents who manage to accomplish this. But merely giving birth and expecting others to admire you for it scores no points in my book.
To some, these might be shocking sentiments. Consider one reply to these comments I received when I posted them at DrHurd.com a little while back:
‘I think you might be coming down a little hard on parents. When I had my two daughters, the imposition on my time and convenience was huge. Suddenly I couldn’t do many of the things I had been able to do before. I don’t see why other people can’t be inconvenienced a little since I made such a sacrifice to have children.’
To anyone with this attitude, I can only reply: Your sacrifices are not my problem. They are your problem. By the way, my advice is never to make a sacrifice. I don’t, never do and never did make sacrifices; nor should have you. If you do sacrifice, that’s your error—and one you never had to make. You have no right to try to turn some of your sacrifice into mine as well. You have no basis for making your regrets my emergency, or even my inconvenience.
My reply, although rational and honest, is the exact opposite of the ‘It takes a village’ mentality so promoted by our political and intellectual-spiritual leaders—or, more accurately, our political and intellectual-spiritual executioners. To claim that ‘it takes a village’ to raise a family means that the well-being of any individual child that any two people choose to procreate is the responsibility of everyone. Why? Well, just because. No other reason.
Now just imagine if other things in life worked according to this philosophy. Let’s say a young couple down the street from you buys a house. After three months, they discover, due to poor planning, that they cannot afford the mortgage after all. Should you be morally—even legally—obliged to chip in, along with all the other neighbors in the ‘village,’ to ensure that the bad judgment of this young couple is rewarded, supported and ensured for decades to come? Or is this really between the young couple and their bank? To most, the answer, I’m quite sure, is obvious: ‘It’s their problem, not mine.’ But somehow, when it comes to children, the answer is different.
I suppose there’s some good reason for this. After all, the children, once born, are human beings and didn’t ask for this situation. I realize the stakes are higher in the case of a young human life than with a house or a bank. But this still cannot change basic facts: If you did not create these children, they are not your responsibility.
If you feel compassion for a particular child and want to take him in and raise him, and if the parents legitimately relinquish (or lose) that responsibility, OK—but that’s your choice to make for yourself, not to impose on anyone else. To those who would claim that this is a cold, even unfair, approach to ‘social’ responsibility, let me pose this question: What happens in a world where everyone who becomes a parent can be certain that once they have a child, no matter what happens, the ‘village’ will be there to carry the load for them if, for whatever reasons, the parents become ‘unable’ or, much more likely, simply don’t feel like it?
This article concludes tomorrow.