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Is it selfish to have children?(20 Posts)
I'm really depressed at the moment. As a mother of a child with learning difficulties, and being pregnant with my second child, I have been questioning weather I should have had children or not.
Is it selfish to make a little human being, forcing them into existence and a life they might not want? In life everyone suffers; as a mother am I responsible for all my child's suffering?
When I look back at the reasons I had children I can only see selfishness - I thought having children would make me happy. Is it selfish to have a child to make yourself happy?
Why did you have children?
I don't think many people decide to have a child for the good of society or the human race, so in a way everyone who decides to have a child is doing it for selfish reasons.
Are you asking that with the assumption that everything that is selfish is necessarily bad?
I had children because of not one but two alcohol fuelled nights with a lack of care in the contraceptive department. These acts of carelessness have brought me joy I would never have otherwise known.
I worry occasionally about the future for them but my job is to make sure they are resilient and prepared for whatever life throws at them. Whatever happiness they make for themselves will be their own to enjoy and that's not selfish from my point of view. They are not here as solely as a source of my happiness.
I do think children are a lifestyle choice in a way though and get a little chippy at people who go on about 'right to have children' and that they were put her to procreate etc. It doesn't sit right with me but that's just my opinion.
If selfish is "to make me happy, without considering others" then yes it is selfish.
If selfish is "to make me happy, and makes others less happy" then not so much.
Thanks for the replies guys. Do you ever feel guilty for having kids to make yourself happy? Doesn't that imply that we love our children conditionally, on the condition that they make us happy?
Maybe it would have been better to get a puppy or adopt, instead of bringing a child into a world of suffering and uncertainty...
I suppose it could be looked at as a selfish act but in most cases having children makes you less selfish so the original selfishness is cancelled out.
Sorry you're going through a rough time atm, all we can do is keep on trying, take each day as it comes, tomorrow is a new day to try again.
On a more practical note, do you have much support around you that you can call on more.
I think it depends on what you mean by make yourself happy. I'm pregnant, I'm happy to be having a baby, but I wasn't unhappy before that.
If someone is very unhappy with their life in general and thinks that having a child will fix everything, I think that's more of a worry - it's not a small child's job to make their parents happy (though most manage it without knowing!).
Can I ask if not too nosey, are you getting support for your depression?
Doesn't that imply that we love our children conditionally I think you can dislike an act/behaviour your child has done but the love should be unconditional though.
No, your children along with everyone else's bring joy and hope into a world that can be a dark and unkind place. What a sad world we'd be without the giggling, smiles, slobby kisses and innocent yet profound questions.
We are an ageing population and need the young to grow and develop society, to provide a workforce, to take charge when we no longer can.
i can't see a disabled child as of any less value. The children with Down Syndrome that I know offer much to their parents and wider society. Without the vulnerable, we become much more egocentric, create higher expectations of perfection and impose that perspective on others. Disabled children teach us it's OK to be different, to need help, they teach us compassion and tolerance.
I've spoken over the years with many disabled children and their parents. I've only ever met one who wished they'd not been born. I think even where parents tragically lose a child, they remain of the view their brief live was valid and brought more happiness than sadness.
If the world were entirely lacking in children that would be sad.
But any one child does not make the world as a whole a significantly better place.
Any one adult choosing to be a parent or not be a parent is doing it for their own reasons. They are not doing it to bring the light and joy of a child into the world, for the world's benefit.
I've only ever met one who wished they'd not been born. To be blunt though, there wouldn't be very many willing to admit to this though if it were to be true.
Developing I disagree, I've got a friend with advanced progressive MS. It's sad to see her rapidly losing her independence, she needs help with everything now when I remember her as a healthy young mum. She's quite open about how she feels - fed up that life has dealt her a poor hand, sad that she's life limited but in no doubt about the value and happiness of her life to date. I have another friend who lost three children to a degenerative neurological condition in early childhood. They were 7, 5, 6 when they died. So, so sad - but would she rather have not had the happy years they shared pre diagnosis, when they were healthy toddlers? No, absolutely not. Anecdotal, I appreciate and I've not done research but from my experience of paediatric palliative medicine (where we do have the difficult/open conversations) my view remains that most do not regret having been born.
It doesn't matter if the child is happy to exist once it is does exist (and has developed sufficient understanding to be able to consider its own existence). The decision to have one is made before they exist, so the question of selfishness relates only to you and to other people who do exist.
Thanks for your replies once again. You've helped me make up my mind. I'm getting an abortion. I can't justify imposing a painful existence on another child. How utterly cruel mothers must be to carelessly throw human beings into an uncaring world - who cares if the mother enjoyed it.
OP I'm not sure if you're serious but you should definitely seek help for your depression before making that kind of decision.
who cares if the mother enjoyed it
Well, the mother cares.
I don't think "is it selfish to have children, in general?" is a question that should have too much impact on the more practical question of "should I personally have another child, right now?".
Yes, think you may need to talk through this decision with somebody impartial.