Having children is a public good
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Choosing not to have children
As a parent I notice a lot of negative comments made by some people about children and families, but I think parenting and having children is a public good that seems to get a bad rap these days.
Thus, I’d like to remind us of why having children is important.
To start, children are our future. It’s a cliche, I know, but think about it: If no one had children, we would all get old and die. The end.
Most people who say childbearing is unimportant, environmentally unfriendly or a waste of time and energy are forgetting several important factors. Let me list them for you:
Everyone was once a child themselves. Imagine if your parents thought childbearing was unimportant, inconvenient, and a waste of time. What would have happened to you? Oh wait, you wouldn’t even be in the position to think about it because you wouldn’t exist and what a tragedy that would be!
Each person is a precious individual who cannot be replicated. We need to remember where we all began – as children.
Imagine if every person in the world thought childbearing was unimportant, inconvenient and a waste of time; the human race would die out very quickly.
Many people who think that way say “Oh, there’s no danger of that happening, so many other people are still having children”. But in the west even the people who are having children are, on average, not having enough of them to replace the population. Any population increases are from immigration.
If you count just the natural increases of most western countries, you'd find they are actually natural decreases - how sad! Most of our immigrants come from countries where populations are still naturally increasing and they emigrate mainly due to war, persecution, or lack of economic opportunity, not simply overpopulation.
The environmental impact of our children is directly proportional to the example we set. If someone wants to be environmentally friendly, the best way for them to pass on their values is to pass them onto their children (preferably lots of children as it's better to spread their values further). Children imitate what they see and if they grow up with parents who live out their values, they are likely to take on those values for themselves.
There are many other good things we can pass onto our children like kindness, respect for other cultures, skills, talents, and precious family traditions that may otherwise die out. If your family doesn't have any nice traditions you can make up your own. How cool would it be to think your new tradition may be passed down to your great-great-great grandchildren?
On that topic, you only get grandchildren if you have children first, and you’ll only encourage your children to give you grandchildren if you’ve loved your children first. Well-loved children (usually!) grow up to be loving parents. Think of the legacy you can leave!
Most people don’t go to the grave wishing they’d spent more time at the office, rather most wish they’d had more time with their family, or even had a family.
Of course, some people never get an opportunity to marry and/or have children, but they can still become honorary family members to other single people, and that also has great value and leaves a wonderful legacy of love.
Another silly comment I've heard is "Having children is selfish". Often people who say that don’t have children themselves. As any normal parent can tell you, parenting isn’t for selfish people as it forces you to become unselfish.
I don't think you can call it selfish when a parent is up at 1am changing and feeding their baby, or when a parent patiently cajoles their toddler into using a potty, or when a parent comforts their teenager after another mood swing.
This is not to say that parenting is simply awful, because that is patently untrue. Parenting is rewarding because you get to mould and influence other lives. And it isn’t just your children who are moulded, it’s you as well.
Parenting moulds adults into less selfish, more considerate and understanding individuals – provided they’re willing to change for the better. Parenting is also lots of fun – you get to play childish games again!
Remember the children of today are the adults of tomorrow. If we can think, speak and act positively about having and raising children, we can raise adults of tomorrow who are willing to do the same, and pass it on!
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