A recent article asked the question, “Is modern life making us irrational?” My first thought and subsequent post related that people are irrational by nature and that the desire for children is an indication of this. Predictably, I was lambasted for such a comment. “WHAT’S IRRATIONAL ABOUT WANTING CHILDREN?” and this was coming from so-called rational people (they being the target audience of the article). In order to defend myself, let’s take a woman in her mid-30s as our example: When a woman starts to feel as though her biological clock is ticking, that time is running out to have children, this is not a feeling based on any rationality; it’s a matter of biological urgency. A feeling, an internal longing or desire, or what have you, is the opposite of being rational. This is not just a matter of semantics; this is simply the way it is.
Basically, I’ve never met anyone who has given a rational reason for having children. Of course, we might ask what a rational reason would be for having children, and the answers I can think of are few: Perhaps children are necessary to have someone to care for us in our old age or to have a potential organ or blood donor should an organ or blood need replacing or replenishing. Or, perhaps children are more entertaining than a dog or cat, although I would not agree with that sentiment.
Usually, though, like the woman running out of time to have a child, the reasons for having children are irrational. When someone says they want children, it is because that is what society or culture demands of its participants or because someone wants to raise a human being to be better than they ever were or have more than they ever had. I’m not saying having irrational reasons are wrong or immoral, just that such reasons are based in biology, or, has psychological underpinnings. So-called rational people never admit they are irrational, though, for that would undermine their belief that they are, ahem, rational people.
For the most part, I have never wanted children. In the rare cases I would have consented to having children was due to either the fact that my partner at the time wanted children and I thought they’d be a fit parent (meaning they’d be better at raising a child than me) or because I believed – irrationally so – that the combined genetic make-up of our offspring would somehow, ambiguously, be ‘superior.’ But when I see how difficult children can be, the headaches they cause both figuratively and literally, I see no reason to want children. When I see how much time is dedicated to raising a child, weighed against my desire for free time, I see no reason to want children. And when looking at the cost of raising a child, well, do you have any idea how many cases of good beer I could buy instead? At least my desire NOT to have children is rationally based.
It is often claimed that the desire not to have children is selfish, though this assertion is clearly illogical given that the desire not to have children is no more selfish than anyone whose goal it is to have children. Of course, by not having children I am robbing the world of my exceptionally good-looking offspring whose good looks really amount to nothing more than bullying, or, robbing the world of my exceptionally intelligent offspring who the exceptionally good-looking kids would beat up in school. Either way, it’s a no-win situation, so why waste endure the headache, waste the time, and subject myself to large quantities of cheap beer? Because if I’m not already an alcoholic, I would be after having a child. Sparing my liver seems quite reasonable to me.
It takes brains not to have children, once again pointing out that rational people are usually nothing of the sort.