So as is appropriate, I am starting a discussion rather than posting comments. I was going to go back and look at the original comment that started all the controversy but it has mysteriously disappeared. I would be curious to know if the author is the one who deleted it. It seems to me that he was not treated with respect from the beginning.

Maybe it is unpopular, but I thought he made valid points. I believe the first was a question about why have biological children rather than adopt. The second was concerning respect for children and treating them like people rather than inferior people. I apologize if my summary is inaccurate as the original post disappeared.

My husband and I chose to have two children of our own rather than adopt. I admit that we made that decision for selfish reasons, but my justification is that we are just replacing ourselves. Which is weak, I admit. I would, however, be open to adoption should I want any more children or perhaps under the right unforeseen circumstances.

I think he made several other good points regarding parenting. I do agree that children can learn to control their emotional reactions. After all, how do adults learn it? Hopefully they begin learning it from their parents when they are toddlers.

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Well, Egan, I wasn't explaining why everyone should have children, but why I did, so, no, it wasn't an excuse. See, I use toilet paper, buy bananas at the gercoery store, drive a car, grow grass in my yard, and use the air conditioner when it's 90 degrees outside. I'm not being cheeky, either. I see your logic, but I couldn't live my life not enjoying anything in it. I am self-disciplined, but, frankly, I wouldn't want t be entirely self-disciplined. Everyone should have some joy. I don't think that have a few children who are genetically mine is actually going to destroy the lives of others. If I had 10 of them and raised them in poverty to be ignorant, I'd be more inclined to agree with you. But my children live well, they're smart and creative and are being raised to be responsible freethinkers and to care about life and the world.

And as for genetics, your example doesn't work, because there are many smart religious people. I'm not talking about not wanting to have a child who is naturally religious. I'm talking about wanting to have a child whose personality is similar to my own. From my own experience as a mother and a step-mother, genetics can play a HUGE role in helping parent and child relate to each other and get along. I am very smart, very creative, and caring (not trying to toot my horn, but being realistic) and so is my husband--and I wanted children who had a good chance of having those same abilities AND who would have personalities that would go along well with my own. There can truly be a huge difference in how well I relate (and vice versa) to children who are similar to me versus dissimilar. When a child and I are similar in ability and personality, I can spend my time focusing on things that I'd like them to learn and experience rather than on trying to repair our relationship or try to understand just how they think. I am not saying that this is the answer for everyone and I'm not preaching it, to please don't compare it to religious thought. It's simply a reality. Raising my step-son is hugely different than raising my own children, not because I love him less, but because we simply don't think alike. I spend most of my time with him just trying to move past basic interactions and figure out how he thinks, whereas my biological children and I tend to (not always, but there is a strong tendency) automatically follow the same train of thought. I might have considered adopting before I had biological children, but, to be honest, experience with my step-son and other children has shown me how important it can be to share personality traits. Call me selfish, but not irrational. Like you said, people can overcome behavior and habits, but the genetic groundwork will always be there determining what is possible and what is not. Again, that's not to say that having children biologically is better for everyone, but for me I have no doubt whatsoever that it would likely have been harder to raise children drawn from a random genetic pool. And by "harder" I am NOT only referring to selfish reasons, but am recognizing the intircate relationship between parent and child and how the child is affected. I'm also not saying that having biological children is a foolproof method for having "easy" or "ideal" kids.

To be frank, I'm not here to live as an ascetic. I use toilet paper, buy bananas at the grocery store, drive a car, and have three children who are biologically mine; I hurt the world simply by existing and it's difficult to say just how much I've hurt it by bringing three smart and responsible humans into the world. If I lived my life feeling guilty over every action I've taken that has an impact on the world I think I'd have to just not live. Thankfully, I've learned over time that it's pointless to feel guilty over everything. That's not to say that I don't live a lifestyle that takes the world's well-being into account. Not at all!

you have a highly inflated sense of what traits are heritable, which reveals a lack of an evolutionary perspective. humans are unusual among animals in that we're so similar to each other. behaviourally, without some actual brain disorder, we have the same range. if i were to have a child now, they'd be far more likely to inherit my family history of heart conditions, diabetes, and vision problems than any aspect of my personality. besides, which would they inherit, my personality as it is now, or my personality as it was when i was a kid? these are totally different things.


ideas are simply more important traits for humans to inherit than genes, doubly so considering the costs of overpopulation

You're just wrong and clearly have limited experience with children. And as I said, I'm talking about potential ability, not my adult personality. But thanks for being so informative, lol. I had no idea that intelligence wasn't based in genetics. Wow, the things you learn! I can now flush my education AND experience down the toilet!

Egan – you might be very interested in the extensively well researched book by Alfie Kohn – Unconditional Parenting – which basically talks about how punishments and rewards – extrinsic motivations are detrimental to child development – he promotes reasonableness to encourage a child’s natural altruism.


It’s normal for comments such as yours to induce guilt in others – which is an uncomfortable emotion.  I’ve prided myself in knowing what I’m meant to do and doing what I feel like doing anyhow… : )


Besides having just read Dawkins book on Evolution the greatest show in town – it clearly states in there that the ones that are most successful – will survive – meaning that there is no natural selective benefit in refraining to have children – it’s a competitive world out there and you have to be in it to win it – hell we’re all going to be start dust in a couple of billion years any how – so what the heck!  Pump out 10 of them if it makes you feel good : )


I love stirring the pot…  my life is otherwise so mundane – washing, dishes, floors, shops,…


Anyhow – good luck in your journey and may be find much compassion in your heart as life goes along…


I too have suffered at the hands of nature in my upbringing – life is cruel and harsh – as is natural selection…


It seems Egan that you are in need of support and crisis counselling from some sort of horrific childhood yourself.

"child's natural altruism". that sounds dangerously close to the "noble savage" school of behavioural science.


you should read dawkins more closely. the biggest threat to human survival IS human survival. we're populating ourselves to extinction.


yeah, heard that one before. "if i believe you're simply an emotionally damaged person, i don't have to consider your viewpoint". where was it i heard that? oh right, theists.

Amen, John! Enjoy a juicy burger, a beer, fun in bed, and have a kid or two if it makes life worth living! There has to be a balance.
that's not balance! what's the point in making life worth living while making it impossible to sustain?!
Haha, me, too!
yes, part of life is balancing short term and long term pleasure. this is what you're arguing AGAINST. you are arguing that short term pleasure is MORE IMPORTANT, remember?
population is about nothing but numerical values

Well that first post from me was just the initial response to the first few posts – but now I’ve read the whole thing I have a slightly different take on it.  I’m surprised that I’m the only one it seems that has taken Egan’s initial comment with much humour and hilarity!


I think I must be quite detached from notions of ‘doing good’ in the world – I spend most of my childhood in pain and having compassion with others and so have spend a large part of my life thinking desperately how I might help and save others from this pain.


At the end of the day, you can’t save the world!  And in light of evolution and natural selection – and even the heat death of the universe.


From all this I’ve come to quite a simple place.  Life is hard and painful – anyone who has given birth can attest to this!  Therefore – enjoy your life – do what you will to enjoy it.


Some recommendations – which you can study further in the group on here Compassionate Connection (CC)– consider my own and others basic needs (see discussion on CC) –


In fact here are the 4 I like best:


Be mindful of our own feelings and needs – now and into the foreseeable future – with equal consideration of others feelings and needs – again into the foreseeable future.  Use protective force where others lack tools to consider others need for safety – and be mindful to show appreciation of self and others as a matter of course.


What this basic ‘philosophy’ amounts to is this – if you can successfully care for a child into the foreseeable future IYO – then have one, foster or adopt one – what ever you deem most appropriate.  If you can’t then don’t.


If you find it hard to gain happiness in life – seek and seek some more – that’s what I’ve had to do – I’ve had many times in my life when I wish I hadn’t been born, been angry with my parents – none stop almost – for having me – and have wished that I wasn’t here any more – not much of an existence – but I’ve very recently found much more happiness in life – it took me 32 years but hey at least I’ll have the rest of my life in reasonable happiness – hopefully : )  my main problems consisted of mental health problems and minor related physical health problems that I’ve been able to fix essentially through changing my diet and changing my attitude.


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