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Dad and his baby

Decoding Dad Dreams: Exploring the Motivations Behind Men Wanting Kids

  • 10 mins

Birth Decline

The declining birth rates have emerged as a significant concern, with financial constraints serving as an obvious and crucial factor. While the economic perspective is pivotal, this post primarily delves into the underlying motivations for procreation, particularly from the male standpoint. In the present era, the escalating frequency of climate disasters has catalyzed an environmental argument for antinatalism, emphasizing the need to prioritize the quality of life for forthcoming generations.

 

Interestingly, the climate change argument presents a counter to Don Marquis's well-known anti-abortion stance. Marquis argues that abortion deprives potential children of a future similar to our own. Recognizing the persistent challenges associated with poverty, some have come to understand its intergenerational nature. Given the increasing difficulty of upward social mobility, the possibility of children escaping poverty seems uncertain. As a result, some suggest that preventing further suffering might involve avoiding having children altogether, and some may even consider adoption as a means to alleviate current challenges.

rivka weinberg

Image Courtesy of New York Institute of Philosophy/Youtube

 

Risky Business: Exploring the Ethics of Natalism

This blog post draws inspiration from Rivka Weinberg's thought-provoking book, "The Risk of A Lifetime." Weinberg's work offers an examination of the moral and ethical dimensions of natalism, presenting a compelling perspective on the complexities surrounding the decision to procreate. It's important to note that her focus isn't necessarily on advocating for or against abortion but rather on dissecting the underlying reasoning behind the choice to bring new life into the world. As you delve deeper into her book, you'll likely come to recognize that many of the motivations driving individuals to have children are often insufficient and superficial.

 

Throughout this blog, I will be incorporating some quotes from Weinberg's book. However, for a more comprehensive understanding of this topic, I highly recommend delving into her work. In addition to the insights gleaned from Weinberg's research, I have gathered responses from various sources, including Instagram, to shed light on the motivations of men for wanting to have children. It's important to acknowledge that the burden of childcare disproportionately falls on women, and with the increasing autonomy and liberation of women, there has been a growing cultural awareness around natalism, leading to a significant pushback against traditional views on parenthood.

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1. The Significance of Family Name

A prevailing response from the survey revolved around men’s desire to preserve their family name. This raises an intriguing question: would a woman choosing to retain her own last name be considered a deal-breaker? While some people do not perceive any problem with this, many consider it the norm. It appears that some men prioritize the continuation of their family name over more significant moral considerations, leading to a potential misalignment of values. This tendency to prioritize the subjective desire for lineage continuation above other moral imperatives does raise pertinent questions about the underlying motivations for wanting children.

 

A far-fetched comparison emerges when considering the issues surrounding the Ten Commandments. While these commandments were not initially arranged in any specific order, the first half of them are subjective in nature. This prompts the realization that, perhaps, the moral justifications for having children are often assumed, and individuals might not explicitly include them in their reasons for desiring parenthood. Nonetheless, this emphasis on familial legacy and its potential implications for the dignity of children does raise significant concerns that warrant thoughtful reflection.

“Procreating solely to carry on the family name, increase social status, fulfill a perceived religious or national duty, or solely for free farm labour or spare parts or marrow for existing people, while not necessarily always directly harmful to the child, does seem disrespectful of children as separate people in their own right.” (p. 42)

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2. To Make it Serious

Certainly, the decision to bring a child into the world signifies a profound commitment, necessitating emotional, financial, and practical readiness. This rationale includes couples attempting to rejuvenate a faltering relationship by having a child. It represents a paradox since being in a committed relationship already entails a serious obligation. While the decision to have a child might stem from a desire to strengthen family ties, this motive merely scratches the surface of the multifaceted issues involved.

 

This dilemma underscores a critical concern. Parenthood indeed amplifies the gravity of the relationship, but the seriousness of a partnership should not solely hinge on the presence of children. Such an approach unfairly burdens women, leading to unrealistic expectations that can breed disappointment and strain. While this notion may seem obvious, its profound implications are not always readily apparent to everyone. It is essential to emphasize that introducing a child into a relationship lacking a sturdy foundation has the potential to exacerbate existing issues. Hence, addressing fundamental relational dynamics before expanding the family becomes imperative.

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3. To Build a Prodigy

“Thoughtless procreation, in my view, does display a rather reckless disregard for the magnitude of the effects and implications of creating another person. People are valuable and ought to be treated with consideration that is elementary and uncontroversial so it is not much of a stretch to say that thoughtless procreation is morally reckless and, at least in that respect, negligent.” (p. 43)

The aspiration to nurture a musical or athletic prodigy appears to harbor more intentionality and substance compared to other motives on the list. While there's nothing inherently amiss in wishing for your child to excel in a particular field, the imposition of exceedingly high standards comes with inherent risks. Does your fervor for your child to emulate the likes of Kylian Mbappé stem from a sense of personal pride? Moreover, what occurs if your child fails to meet or surpass your lofty expectations?

 

The mental health challenges arising from the pressure exerted by overambitious parents are well-documented. Often, we hear accounts of students relinquishing their own passions to fulfill their parents' unfulfilled dreams. Even if these aspirations originate from a place of goodwill or the pursuit of financial stability, they can still infringe upon the child's autonomy and self-determination. As a parent, it is imperative to embrace the possibility of your child pursuing careers and interests that may diverge from your own values. If you find yourself unable to accept this fundamental truth, it might be prudent to reconsider or abstain from the decision to have children.

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4. Against Adoption

This complex and nuanced perspective holds a significant degree of validity and warrants empathetic consideration. In fact, it could readily be explored as a separate blog post. However, I will provide a concise overview here. The desire for a biological connection, the continuation of family lineage, the unique experience of pregnancy and childbirth, adherence to cultural norms, and concerns about bonding all play pivotal roles. These reasons, coupled with the intricate complexities surrounding the adoption process, which encompass financial, legal, and emotional challenges, contribute to the case against adoption.

 

Let's delve deeper into a fundamental underlying attitude that underpins these factors—a sense of ownership. While some of us appreciate the thrill of thrift shopping and discovering a unique second-hand item, others prefer a custom-made leather jacket tailored specifically for them. They seek the experience of breaking in fresh leather, molding it to their own contours. This analogy echoes the sentiment surrounding the desire to have biological children. The critical distinction, however, lies in the realization that this 'product' will eventually develop a mind of its own and evolve beyond our control.

 

This highlights a broader societal inclination to perceive children as objects that can be owned. It is one of the reasons why prospective adoptive parents often prefer to adopt a baby. They yearn for a fresh start, eschewing the potential complexities and challenges associated with an older child who may carry a burden of trauma and emotional baggage. Instead, they seek a clean slate where their influence and guidance can shape the child's future. This particular reason encapsulates and intertwines various aspects outlined earlier. Nevertheless, it's apparent that this topic demands a much deeper exploration than the surface scratched here.

“Adoption is difficult, expensive, very often ultimately out of reach despite initial promise, and imposes the loss of a biological connection…” (p. 212)

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5. Pregnancy Fetish

This particular perspective is indeed peculiar, yet it remains highly relevant and warrants thorough discussion. Let us assume that there is already consent; however, this alone does not alleviate the myriad of problematic issues that can arise. Notably, there is a perpetuation of gender stereotypes, which reinforces the notion that a woman's primary role revolves around bearing and raising children. Moreover, there is the risk of the exploitation and commodification of pregnancy, potentially objectifying the entire reproductive process and undermining the physical and emotional challenges that pregnant individuals may endure.

 

Interestingly, this reasoning often sidelines the child and instead places the focus squarely on pregnancy and the journey leading up to the actual act of child-rearing. This rationale can sometimes fall within the broader context of the preference for having one's biological children instead of opting for adoption. It is essential to recognize the misconception that a natural birth always guarantees an inherent emotional attachment to the child. In reality, this may not always be the case.

“...although feelings of attachment may develop during pregnancy, they may not develop in the gestator, and they may develop in others who may feel a growing attachment to the baby even though they are not gestating it.” (p. 54)

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Should Poor People Have Children?

The debate over who should have children and whether they possess adequate justification often circles back to a discourse on social class. While the primary focus of this blog is to delve into men's motivations for having children, this broader topic cannot be ignored, as it's a central consideration for many individuals. Deliberations about the merits of having children inevitably lead us to contemplate the material necessities and conducive environments they require. As previously mentioned, the looming climate crisis forces us to confront the irrationality of bringing a child into an unfavorable economic and environmental situation.

 

The question of whether individuals living in poverty should have the right to bear children is a deeply complex and sensitive issue, one that warrants a thorough and separate blog post. However, it is essential to briefly delve into this intricate matter. The discussion surrounding the permissibility of procreation often navigates a treacherous terrain, as it can easily veer into the realm of class-based eugenics. Despite this, there remains a critical need for compassion and empathy.

 

As highlighted by Weinberg, it seems unjust to deprive individuals living in dire human conditions the freedom to have children, even though it might seem illogical when the child's existence is almost certain to begin under oppressive circumstances. It is crucial to acknowledge that there are instances where children born into impoverished families have defied the odds, achieving remarkable success. This underscores the importance of contemplating how we can maximize the autonomy and freedom for all children.

 

It is imperative to note that wealth does not inherently equate to superior parenting skills or provide justification for having children. At its core, the discussion revolves around the fundamental principles of autonomy and freedom. After all, a financially privileged parent might still impose unwarranted pressure on their child to pursue particular paths or exhibit emotionally neglectful behavior. Thus, the focus remains on ensuring that every child, irrespective of their socioeconomic background, has the opportunity to pursue their own aspirations and lead a life of autonomy and fulfillment.

“No kids (or intercourse) for you!” I am not sure that we can, even though I think that not procreating would be the right thing to do under the circumstances. Circumstances this tragic make it difficult, and perhaps wrong, to hold people accountable for their irrationality.” (p. 223)

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Other Considerations

In the interest of brevity, several other significant reasons were omitted from this discussion as they each warrant a comprehensive exploration in their own right. One of these reasons revolves around the notion that some parents may choose to have children primarily to receive additional state benefits. This stereotype, often associated with mothers on welfare, has unfortunately been internalized by a considerable segment of the population, despite the actual math not necessarily supporting this claim. The dynamics of state support for families, including the provision of financial incentives for childbearing in certain countries, present an additional layer to this complex topic.

 

Don’t Tell Me What to Do

You might perceive the tone of this blog as assertive or judgmental. While I cannot limit your autonomy and right to have a child, it is crucial to recognize that this decision extends beyond individual desires. It concerns the life of another autonomous being, with the potential to significantly impact society in either constructive or detrimental ways. While a child may be biologically linked to you, they possess their own independent consciousness, capable of shaping the world around them. Therefore, the act of bringing a life into the world without their explicit consent holds significant societal implications, inviting the voices of others to contribute to this critical dialogue.

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