The morality of having children
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25-03-2017, 02:08 PM
RE: The morality of having children
Being a responsible parent, I've negated the threat posed by overpopulation by teaching my kids to accept the practice of temporary cannibalism, should it become necessarily for the population to be reduced until it's more in line with available resources.

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25-03-2017, 02:25 PM
RE: The morality of having children
(25-03-2017 01:07 PM)Stevil Wrote:  
(25-03-2017 12:27 PM)mordant Wrote:  So the notion that you are going to have children who are going to bond emotionally with you and retain that bond throughout life is not a guaranteed thing. You don't get to choose your child's personality characteristics or their compatibility with yours. You don't have control over how spouses (or ex-spouses, that's a whole OTHER topic) are going to influence them. You don't have control over how teachers and peers and culture are going to influence them. I am truly happy for folks like dancefortwo who had entirely satisfactory parenting experiences and good relationships with their adult children, I really am. But I get really irritated when sometimes those folks say, this turned out this way, not because I was lucky, but because of how I went about it or how dedicated I was or how much I was present or whatever. No, you got LUCKY and I hope you know HOW lucky you are. Because my wife and I can testify that no amount of brilliance, dedication, good intentions or effort can overcome some of the factors that influence outcomes in child rearing. It's basically a crapshoot.
Well, that was thoroughly pessimistic and depressing to read, I feel quite sad now.

My experience thus far has be quite different. My kids are 8 and 6, so I know there is a long way to go in the journey, puberty hasn't come just yet.
I do like to think I have some influence. I read lots of books, I think long and hard about my strategy, I put alot of time into bonding with the kids and teaching them stuff. As well as teaching them academic stuff I try very hard to teach my kids responsibility and life skills (such as critical thinking).
But in saying that, my two kids are different. So I understand that there is some luck of the draw too.
I do feel that as parents if you show interest in your kids, if you pay attention and support their academics, their personalities and their interests then your kids will likely turn out fine.

I'm not sure about this "will they care about me, will they respect me, will they look after me in old age" thing though.
I live my life as if I don't expect a return from my kids. As a parent, I'm not necessarily trying to be their best friend. They may grow up to resent me as a parent for this. At some point as my kids become adults, I do need to stop "parenting"them, and start more and more respecting them and their choices. But I don't have an expectation that they must respect me or devote their lives to looking after me in old age.

Anyway, I'm not pointing at you and saying you must have done it all wrong. I do agree there is some degree of luck involved but I don't give it as high a weighting as you do. I'm trying my best, as I expect you did too. You have high insight, I have my naiive dreams, anyway. I'm not really sure what the future holds, but I'm not about to give up and think it all comes down to luck, that is too pessimistic for me. I believe that what I do matters.

It's the old nature and nurture there. Yes, I said and, not or. Your kids are a product of evolution, and they will be different from you. So there is the luck of the draw that everyone can see.

The next piece of luck is where you are located and what the other people there are like. It will influence the development of the kids, no matter how good a parent you are. You can't parent 24 hours a day for 18 years.

All you can do is give them the tools and teach how to use them. The rest is up to their hard wiring and environment. That would make you one of at least 3 factors.

[Image: dobie.png]Science is the process we've designed to be responsible for generating our best guess as to what the fuck is going on. Girly Man
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25-03-2017, 02:36 PM
RE: The morality of having children
I didn't think of having my kid as a moral choice. I'm not quite sure why I had my son, actually. I had always been deathly afraid of being pregnant and didn't want the responsibilities of motherhood, until I met my husband and changed my mind for no particular reason, and certainly not for a moral one. Parenthood sent me to hell and back, but it's not something I regret.

My perspective may be partly because of my son's autism, which forced us to confront the difference between expectations and outcomes quite early. Back when he was four or five and it was clear that he was not going to grow out of whatever was going on, my husband and I began the process of letting go of the kid in our heads and letting in the kid we actually had. It was somewhat of a grief process, even if what had been lost was only the stories we'd told ourselves. (I felt guilty for grieving, but I found out that happens to a lot of parents of special needs kids)

My experience of parenthood was often difficult, sometimes unpleasant, sometimes hazardous. For a while, before medications, counseling, and maturity combined to smooth things out, my son had violent episodes, a few of them psychotic breaks. I went through several years after he outgrew me (he was about 10 when that happened) where I was convinced that at some point he was going to do me a really serious injury or even kill me. But over time, my son was able to figure out things that he wanted and loved, how to communicate, how to control and understand himself, how to make different work for him. From the lowest points, around age 12, 13, things between him and us have gotten better and better.

I can't begin to tell you how much respect and admiration I have for my son for how hard he's worked, how far he's come. Maybe that's because it was a long way down and very dark for years, so maybe what I have now is subpar for normal people, but it feels great to me.

But my son's only 19, so I have no idea how our relationship is going to be when he's an adult on his own. I also know I'm a terrible disappointment to my parents. Time will tell. I wouldn't want another child, but I am happy with the one I have.
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25-03-2017, 02:56 PM
RE: The morality of having children
Quote:I'm a terrible disappointment to my parents.

If they don't respect what you've been through and achieved doing your best for another human being under trying circumstances... then fuck them! Your son knows who are and what you've done.

Life is hard enough without that bullshit.

PS I don't really know enough to say what you should do with your parents. That just struck a nerve.
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25-03-2017, 06:56 PM (This post was last modified: 25-03-2017 07:01 PM by mordant.)
RE: The morality of having children
(25-03-2017 01:07 PM)Stevil Wrote:  I do like to think I have some influence. I read lots of books, I think long and hard about my strategy, I put alot of time into bonding with the kids and teaching them stuff. As well as teaching them academic stuff I try very hard to teach my kids responsibility and life skills (such as critical thinking).
It was not my intent to suggest that parents have NO influence or are helpless. Only that there are no guarantees and there are substantial factors in play besides parental dedication and devotion.
(25-03-2017 01:07 PM)Stevil Wrote:  I do feel that as parents if you show interest in your kids, if you pay attention and support their academics, their personalities and their interests then your kids will likely turn out fine.
Your odds go up and if you are not in your heart of hearts seeing troubling signs now, your odds are probably good. I had deep concerns about my son almost from the cradle and my difficulties with my daughter kicked in with puberty.
(25-03-2017 01:07 PM)Stevil Wrote:  I'm not sure about this "will they care about me, will they respect me, will they look after me in old age" thing though.
I live my life as if I don't expect a return from my kids. As a parent, I'm not necessarily trying to be their best friend. They may grow up to resent me as a parent for this. At some point as my kids become adults, I do need to stop "parenting"them, and start more and more respecting them and their choices. But I don't have an expectation that they must respect me or devote their lives to looking after me in old age.
My goal would, like most people, be to not be a burden to my children. I am unlikely to need their help or care in my dotage. What I had in mind was more along the lines of what I experienced when I volunteered with hospice. A guy was dying, surrounded by his obviously adoring family. Someone was always holding his hand. They were celebrating his life and surrounding him with love. It was a stark contrast to most of the people in our care, who died largely alone or with very conflicted / complicated relations with adult children, grandchildren and even clergy. The stories I could tell! I really am not so much looking for, so much as hoping for, some gratitude and appreciation and respect, at least some passing acknowledgment.
(25-03-2017 01:07 PM)Stevil Wrote:  Anyway, I'm not pointing at you and saying you must have done it all wrong. I do agree there is some degree of luck involved but I don't give it as high a weighting as you do. I'm trying my best, as I expect you did too. You have high insight, I have my naiive dreams, anyway. I'm not really sure what the future holds, but I'm not about to give up and think it all comes down to luck, that is too pessimistic for me. I believe that what I do matters.
I agree. Even with the outcomes I had, what I did mattered, objectively, even if I'm in some ways the only one who really understands that it mattered. I was always there for my kids, and have no regrets. I have disappointments (which I am working through) but not regrets. My wife feels the same with regard to her kids.

Keep in mind, too, that my first marriage was profoundly dysfunctional and their birth mother was seriously mentally ill. That's hard to overcome. In my current wife's case, the difficulties with her daughter are largely a function of polar opposite mother/daughter personalities and some late-blooming cognitive maturity in the child; Mom did an outstanding job of parenting by any objective standard but her daughter hasn't seen it that way, though of late she has in some significant ways started to come around.

So there is always hope, for some given value of hope. And most people I know have had better outcomes.
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25-03-2017, 07:15 PM
RE: The morality of having children
(25-03-2017 02:36 PM)julep Wrote:  Parenthood sent me to hell and back, but it's not something I regret.

...

But over time, my son was able to figure out things that he wanted and loved, how to communicate, how to control and understand himself, how to make different work for him. From the lowest points, around age 12, 13, things between him and us have gotten better and better.
Parents really don't ask for much, they just want everything to be okay in the end, or at least headed in the right direction. I am very glad to hear that your son appears to be finding his way.

Up the street from us there's a decent-sized grocery store that has hired a number of autistic and Down's Syndrome adult workers and they are our favorite employees -- so conscientious and particularly in the case of the Down's workers, just happy and positive and pleasant human beings. It's a union situation and the jobs pay well, too. I wish more employers would make this kind of effort toward special needs folks. These workers really appreciate their jobs and treat the customers well and do their jobs well. And the community respects what this employer is doing.

In my son's case he had a mental condition that is not well understood, often misdiagnosed until into their twenties, and there really aren't effective therapies as yet. You are in much better shape with your son, and I'm glad for that, and that you can see light at the end of the tunnel.
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25-03-2017, 07:25 PM
RE: The morality of having children
(25-03-2017 07:15 PM)mordant Wrote:  
(25-03-2017 02:36 PM)julep Wrote:  Parenthood sent me to hell and back, but it's not something I regret.

...

But over time, my son was able to figure out things that he wanted and loved, how to communicate, how to control and understand himself, how to make different work for him. From the lowest points, around age 12, 13, things between him and us have gotten better and better.
Parents really don't ask for much, they just want everything to be okay in the end, or at least headed in the right direction. I am very glad to hear that your son appears to be finding his way.

Up the street from us there's a decent-sized grocery store that has hired a number of autistic and Down's Syndrome adult workers and they are our favorite employees -- so conscientious and particularly in the case of the Down's workers, just happy and positive and pleasant human beings. It's a union situation and the jobs pay well, too. I wish more employers would make this kind of effort toward special needs folks. These workers really appreciate their jobs and treat the customers well and do their jobs well. And the community respects what this employer is doing.

In my son's case he had a mental condition that is not well understood, often misdiagnosed until into their twenties, and there really aren't effective therapies as yet. You are in much better shape with your son, and I'm glad for that, and that you can see light at the end of the tunnel.

I'm very sorry about your son. It's heartbreaking to feel that you've done as much as you can and it's still not enough; it feels just fundamentally unfair. And mental illnesses/conditions can be so difficult to diagnose and even harder to treat, not to mention extremely expensive. My son has depression and anxiety in addition to the autism, and there are many times when that's been very difficult to manage.

Hug
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25-03-2017, 07:51 PM
RE: The morality of having children
(25-03-2017 07:25 PM)julep Wrote:  
(25-03-2017 07:15 PM)mordant Wrote:  Parents really don't ask for much, they just want everything to be okay in the end, or at least headed in the right direction. I am very glad to hear that your son appears to be finding his way.

Up the street from us there's a decent-sized grocery store that has hired a number of autistic and Down's Syndrome adult workers and they are our favorite employees -- so conscientious and particularly in the case of the Down's workers, just happy and positive and pleasant human beings. It's a union situation and the jobs pay well, too. I wish more employers would make this kind of effort toward special needs folks. These workers really appreciate their jobs and treat the customers well and do their jobs well. And the community respects what this employer is doing.

In my son's case he had a mental condition that is not well understood, often misdiagnosed until into their twenties, and there really aren't effective therapies as yet. You are in much better shape with your son, and I'm glad for that, and that you can see light at the end of the tunnel.

I'm very sorry about your son. It's heartbreaking to feel that you've done as much as you can and it's still not enough; it feels just fundamentally unfair. And mental illnesses/conditions can be so difficult to diagnose and even harder to treat, not to mention extremely expensive. My son has depression and anxiety in addition to the autism, and there are many times when that's been very difficult to manage.

Hug
Thanks for the kind words and thoughts, julep. One thing I would urge you to do is to get your son, if he's receptive, to give you a generous medical power of attorney. One of the biggest difficulties in trying to help my son was that he was (1) an adult, (2) no danger to himself or others, and (3) resistant to being transparent / honest about what was going on with him and fully compliant with health care. Combine that with doctors being unable and often unwilling to cooperate with concerned parents, and you have a really bad situation that leaves you feeling helpless. It's my belief that the age of majority should not be automatic, it should be conditional somehow on demonstrating self-mastery, independence and responsibility. I think some kids could have it conveyed at 16, others never. If I had still been legally responsible for my son and in control of his health care, he would likely still be alive today. They'd say I shouldn't "infantalize" my son, but I'm afraid he'd already infantalized himself. My desire to respect his personal dignity and boundaries was laudable, but ultimately misguided.

Anyway, a thought, for what it's worth, if it hasn't already occurred to you.
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26-03-2017, 09:44 AM
RE: The morality of having children
The whole "I'm gonna have kids so someone will take care of me when I'm older" seems kind of selfish to me. My children didn't ask to be born. They had no choice in it. And so I feel they have no obligation to take care of me when I am elderly. It'd be kind and gracious of them to do so but I do not feel they are obligated to it. I feel a great deal of obligation and responsibility to my kids, however, and though I don't feel I chose to have kids (had my daughter when I was a teen because I just wasn't really educated about sex or given access to birth control, and my son was unexpected, though it could be said I should have known better by that point) I still do what I can by them. I try to do my best. I am not always successful.

But yeah, my experience with my own mom is that she had certain ideas in her head, certain wishes she had for my life that ended up not being what I wanted to do or be. I resented that she had plans and dreams for me that I had no input in as she had these dreams and plans while I was just a baby. As such I've tried very hard to not have any expectations of my kids, at least not in the "I hope your career is X, Y, or Z" or "I hope you get married to this certain type of person" etc. All I want is for my kids to be happy. If what makes them happy is to do or be some things that I don't personally agree with, then that's just tough shit for me. Not my life. It's theirs. I've had struggles with this in that my kids (my daughter in particular) are still Christians (partially due to my own having taken them to church - especially my daughter - and allowed them to be brainwashed) but it does at least seem that my daughter holds a more liberal view of Christianity than I ever did. She has no problems with gay folks and even seems to accept evolution. So I have to at least be pleased with that. But if she were more fundamental, then it would just be what it is. Again it's her life.

I do feel it is ill-advised to have children these days with the way things are going what with climate change and all, but that's just me.

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26-03-2017, 12:28 PM
RE: The morality of having children
(26-03-2017 09:44 AM)Escape Artist Wrote:  The whole "I'm gonna have kids so someone will take care of me when I'm older" seems kind of selfish to me. My children didn't ask to be born. They had no choice in it. And so I feel they have no obligation to take care of me when I am elderly.
Don't get hung up on this. It was not my main point. Like most parents, I don't want to burden my adult children in my old age. What I do want is simple respect and appreciation.

My daughter has a weird intimacy approach / avoidance thing going on such that if my wife and I send a birthday gift to one of her children, we generally never get even an acknowledgment that the gift was received, much less a simple thank you. After this happens a few times it leads you to wonder whether the gifts are wanted or appreciated, or are somehow offensive or less than expected or Who Knows What. So ... we gift our grandchildren because we want to and it's the right thing to do but do not expect it to be appreciated. Once in awhile there's a bit of acknowledgment ... usually an impersonal one, like an incidental FB post showing the grandkid enjoying a book we bought them. And so sure, we do the Buddhist thing and check our ego and expectations at the door. But you can't tell me this is appropriate behavior, or that it's what we taught or modeled for them. Or that it shouldn't be possible to have a sane conversation about these things and work them out without it turning into a whole "Thing" that chills the relationship rather than improves it.

I submit that parents are human and as such they have reasonable hopes / expectations that the object of their ardent devotion and personal sacrifice will in some reasonable way value, respect and appreciate that effort as adults. That MIGHT mean RETURNING some of that sacrifice as an adult, or at least acknowledging it. Objectively, people who don't acknowledge such things, are dicks -- even if they ARE your kids.
(26-03-2017 09:44 AM)Escape Artist Wrote:  But yeah, my experience with my own mom is that she had certain ideas in her head, certain wishes she had for my life that ended up not being what I wanted to do or be. I resented that she had plans and dreams for me that I had no input in as she had these dreams and plans while I was just a baby. As such I've tried very hard to not have any expectations of my kids, at least not in the "I hope your career is X, Y, or Z" or "I hope you get married to this certain type of person" etc. All I want is for my kids to be happy. If what makes them happy is to do or be some things that I don't personally agree with, then that's just tough shit for me. Not my life. It's theirs.
I completely agree that expectations can't extend to chosen careers, lifestyles, beliefs, sexual orientation, gender identification, and such like. Parents who have preset expectations of those kinds are fools. My only expectations are to be treated well and to have my value added at least minimally recognized. I would for example like to get off the phone with my daughter and have it be a regular, rather than extremely rare, occurrence that she asks about my life or how I am doing / feeling.
(26-03-2017 09:44 AM)Escape Artist Wrote:  I've had struggles with this in that my kids (my daughter in particular) are still Christians (partially due to my own having taken them to church - especially my daughter - and allowed them to be brainwashed) but it does at least seem that my daughter holds a more liberal view of Christianity than I ever did. She has no problems with gay folks and even seems to accept evolution. So I have to at least be pleased with that. But if she were more fundamental, then it would just be what it is. Again it's her life.
Completely agree.
(26-03-2017 09:44 AM)Escape Artist Wrote:  I do feel it is ill-advised to have children these days with the way things are going what with climate change and all, but that's just me.
I used to think this was really overwrought thinking but these days I agree with you.
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