Under the code of ethics that I propose (the honest and rational one) people will realize, before becoming parents, that they had better really be ready for the job, because there’s no village to rescue them if they change their minds. Don’t you think this will lead to a better quality of parenting than a social and ethical climate in which someone will always be there to rescue you if you become anxious or tired and want to quit?
Even if you find this argument unpersuasive, I will never budge from the point that another’s chosen responsibility is not my responsibility or obligation—not for a moment, not for an hour, and not for a lifetime. There is no ‘village’ other than the one I choose to belong to (if any), and the one in which others have likewise accepted membership on a strictly voluntary basis. You can’t force me into the ‘village’ merely by the fact that I’m alive, and I cannot force you into my village either—nor do I want to do so.
In this spirit, I truly love some of the other comments I ran across from readers on the subject. For example: ‘By inconveniencing others with the poor behavior of your children you are interfering with their lives for your sake. Since they were not part of your decision to have children, you are violating their rights to do as they wish with their own lives. If you would rather be doing other things, then you should have chosen to remain childless. If you think that having children is your moral duty, be assured that not everyone agrees with you. If you do care about raising children, then for their sakes and everyone else’s teach them to behave. It surely can’t be any kind of a pleasure to have them running your household, and certainly isn’t good for them to grow up into adults with the same sense of entitlement. There are far too many rude adults out there without you breeding more.’
Well put! I believe a lot of people have this attitude but are afraid to admit it. Too many are afraid to applaud rationality and honesty on this subject when the truth is uttered (which it rarely is). Many parents actually put great care and concern into raising their children properly, and do not hold the ‘village’ attitude that others are just as responsible for their own choices as they are. These decent parents should be even angrier than childless people who don’t happen to want children in their lives at all. Yet where are they? Where are they on the airplanes and in the restaurants, movies and everywhere else when screaming, ill-behaved children are neglected and left to disturb others in the name of ‘preserving their self-esteem?’ Why don’t these accomplished parents go up to the negligent parents and say, ‘Hush your child. I raised a child and I know it can be done. Stop being a weak parent. Stop sitting there and doing nothing.’
As another Daily Dose of Reason reader put it: ‘I am so tired of these ‘parents’ who think they are entitled to annoy in restaurants and do just about anything else rude just because they managed to breed. I am, of course, looking forward to having a child some day, but I don’t see the biological act as any sort of accomplishment unattainable by pretty much anything that moves.’
One of the things that makes me the most sick is to watch Hollywood celebrities, and others like them, speak of how having a child is a brand new discovery—an innovation that only someone with their own special talents and insights (always left-wing and mystical) could ever hope to appreciate. Give me a break! As I said: Flies do it. Any parent who thinks that merely going through the necessary motions to have a child is an accomplishment is failing to make the distinction between biology and free will.
Biological processes are automatic. The ability to procreate is no more an accomplishment than having beautiful eyes or pretty skin. All that matters is what you do with your biology. Raising a child—a long-range and endlessly challenging responsibility, to say the least—is the only real accomplishment, and you can’t evaluate it until the job is finished.
So if you’re a Hollywood celebrity, I suggest you wait until your child is at least a couple of decades old before you pat yourself on the back too much. Let’s see what you create and contribute intellectually and psychologically. Because biology was the easy part.