Good morning readers.
This morning’s post is, as usual, philosophical. I am a thinker, and find myself continuously analysing; which sometimes gets me into trouble. I am constantly told at work, “don’t think, just do”! But I can’t help it!!!
I was reading a discussion on the ABC this morning that was the result of a Life Matters programme. You can find it at: http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/lifematters/childless-by-choice/4494324. I am an avid listener to ABC broadcasts on Radio National. They are always presenting interesting and informative programmes that educate and inform. Food for brains and thinkers.
This particular broadcast was about whether to have a child or not.
I have analysed my thoughts about wanting to have a child or not over my last 30 years (I am now nearly 42), and I have come up with many hypotheses. Now that I have a child who is 8 months old, I find this topic, raised on Life Matters, very interesting.
What I particularly found interesting were the comments by both parents and non-parents, and the diverse views presented, on the ABC’s website above.
While it is not my place to decide for a person whether they should or should not have a child, I like to analyse and talk about their motivations, because it says a lot about who they are. For many decades I have been interested in psychology – perhaps that will be my fourth career change. NNNNNOOOOOOO!!!!! Perhaps that will be a topic for another blog… but I digress.
Why does a person, or family, choose to have a child or children. What is the motivation behind that decision? This is why I found the topic on Life Matters so interesting, because we could see some insight into the minds of the commentators, and by inference, the general public.
What is your motivation for having a child or not? Do you feel that your motivation was selfish, as some who commented on Life Matters, or do you feel that your choice was selfless?
For some time I have felt that my decision to have a child, while my choice, would always be a decision for the child. Hmmm. At the time, how could I decide that my choice to have a child was for the child which, not only had not been born, but hadn’t even be conceived or even planned?
I guess what I mean is that I DIDN’T want my motivation to have a child to be for my benefit. In other words I never wanted to have a child primarily to make ME happy. My thoughts were always about the child’s future, and what I might be able to offer my child. What I could bring to the world – to pass on my skills and knowledge that I have accrued. Is this ego? Is this an arrogant statement to make, to suggest that my skills and knowledge are helpful to society?
I believe that sometimes parents, or mothers, decide to have a child because that will make them feel whole in some way, or fulfilled; that they will feel more happy; that the child will bring them great joy. Perhaps this is a “selfish” choice? Of course my thoughts may in fact be incorrect, but that is the way it seems from what I have viewed, read or seen in others.
Many people, women in particular, have a desire to have children; many parents want grandchildren, because that brings them joy. Is this a selfish motivation? Is this motivation of benefit for the child, or is this desire purely selfish on the part of the parent?
If we desire a child or children purely because we WANT it, is that of benefit to the child? Just because we WANT a child, does that mean that we will be a bad parent? Or will our “selfish” motivation provide no impact at all on the child?
This is not the point of this hypothesis. My thoughts are about the mother or parent’s state of mind. If we are not happy in our self, but think that a child will make us more happy, is this the state of mind that will ultimately provide the best soil for a fertile child mind? That is the point of my hypothesis.
My feeling is that if our attitude doesn’t focus on the child, but instead focusses on OUR need, then can we provide the best outcome for the child, or are we bringing into this would a PUPPY to make us happy?
We constantly see child bashings and abuse by parents. Children are neglected and treated harshly because the parents are not of sound mental state. The sound mental state, and the maturity of the parent, ultimately impacts on the child, and this is my primary motivation for raising this issue.
We currently see in our society, trends towards aggressiveness and anger in our youth. Bashings, graffiti and destruction are common in our youth. Why? Is it an upbringing thing? Partly. Is it a societal problem? Partly. If our parents were more mature, would the outcome be better? I believe so.
But I am getting off track.
My concern is for the child, and the type of person that we create. The personality that our child develops, has a lot to do with the personality that we present. Children learn from our actions, significantly more than we teach them actively.
If we are immature, easily angry, abusive or aggressive, this personality will be picked up by our child and form part of their personality. However if we present a mature, assertive attitude, our child will learn to discuss things openly, be mature and professional in their attitude to others.
Whatever the case, our decision to have or not to have a child, is personal. Our parents should never interfere with that choice, but so many do. The comments that were made in response to the ABC broadcast, showed how often our parent’s influence our decision.
It was good to see though, that many people chose not to have a child because they felt that they didn’t want to pass on their bad genes; at least their belief that they had bad genes.
Some commentators mentioned mental illness as a reason for their decision to not have children; that they didn’t want to pass on those bad genes. While mental illness can be attributed to bad genes, mental illness can also be nurtured (for want of a better word), through the negative actions of the parent.
Neurons grow depending on the stimuli of the outside world. If the child is stimulated by negative actions, then it is more likely that neuron growth (brain development) will not result in a positive outcome for the child. This is the “Nurture/Nature” hypothesis. But what can we attribute to nurture and nature. There is of course a combination of both in all of us, but with positive nurturing, a positive result is more likely, regardless of nature.
Is that too philosophical?
Another thing that I felt worthy of comment, was the suggestion that government should not be giving parents as much assistance, a purely selfish statement that I have heard on many occasions by non-parents who don’t like their taxes paying for other parents to have children. I actually find this quite offensive for several reasons.
Our economic system, developed by our current and past governments, is dependent on labour. Without children working and paying taxes, we have no economic system and our financial system collapses. If businesses want workers, then they should support families that provide them labour in the future. That includes a fully funded and essentially free education system. Of course this is a very political statement, which isn’t at all unlike me .
Another thing that bothered me was the suggestion that government should not have instigated the baby bonus (or similarly maternity/paternity leave). This statement however, requires a bit of analysis.
Firstly, while the baby bonus may caused some problems, by encouraging some younger people to have children (an open statement with little proof), it also assists many families. It could perhaps be better administered, and means tested (I don’t believe that the very wealthy require financial bonuses for example), but as a whole, it can assist families in a country that has such a very high cost of living. In fact Sydney is the seventh most expensive city in the world to live in; a very important point to remember.
Secondly, as mentioned above, our economic system is such that it is dependent upon employment; workers provide taxes to pay for pensions, health, roads etc. Without youth moving into the workforce, we would have no future pensions, health systems or roads, and again our economic system would collapse. I believe this is the principle reason behind the decision for the Liberal’s to instigate the baby bonus, because our birth rate was falling and the government needed to make sure that there were youth to pay for their pensions (and gold cards for politicians).
If our economic system were to collapse, due to a lack of children moving into the workforce, perhaps this would be a good thing, then we could move into a more appropriate, inclusive and assistive system, rather than an antagonistic “them and us” system that uses labour to provide profits to the few, while abusing the many. Which appears to be becoming more dominant in current times around the world; hence driving so many economic collapses, and consequent uprisings.
Once again I digress.
In summary, it is our personal decision as to whether we do or do not have a child. However if we analyse our thoughts, what is our motivation for that choice? Is the child for our benefit, or for the child’s? Can we truly be impartial if we have a child and are in the early stages of having a family, or do we have to wait until old age to analyse our true motivations?
Well that is it for this morning’s philosophising. Tune in for the next episode, coming soon.