As a person interested in the philosophy of objectivism, I am amazed at the plethora of anti-children sentiments that abound in it, and among modern ‘secular educated’ adults. Usually, people feel themselves too selfish to have children, not wanting to sacrifice the time and attention required for raising a child well. On one forum, one responder went so far as to suggest a Ferrari is a better investment than child rearing, being of similar costs. Additionally often those making these sentiments revert to championing the virtues of dog ownership, as happened in the thread I participated in which spawned this post. One can not help but wonder that what drives someone to want a dog, but not a child, is rooted in the difference between the two. Could it be a that a dog perpetually remains loyal, obedient, and socially demanding (they are genetically social herd animals) while when raising a child a parent must contend with an individual intellect that could disagree and have countering opinions? While I could certainly never know what justifies one over the other to an individual, the fact that it is far easier to raise something that never leaves your side and never questions you remains pertinent. While it is certainly not a good idea to have a child out of any sense of duty or obligation, having and raising children can certainly be something selfish and rational. As a now 30 year old male who wants to have children, I thought I would chime in with some comments on the pro-child bearing side. Here are a few selfish reasons I would like to have children.
1) I can’t imagine anything more fascinating than watching a life come into being, and to develop and grow. Watching my friends children make conceptual leaps (especially when I help them do so) is something I find utterly enlightening and absolutely fascinating and it brings me a great deal of Joy. As a scientifically minded person, is there any process in the world more fascinating than bringing a life into the world and preparing it for a life of it’s own? I don’t think so.
2) I enjoy facing challenges and overcoming them and I believe they make me a better person. Raising a child well (especially in today’s world) is certainly a challenge, and should be interesting, and lessons learned will help me become a better person.
3) I do not want to leave the world to fools. As an involved parent you have a lot of influence of the information a child is subjected to and values that become important to them, rationality, honesty, integrity, motivation, dedication, ambition, etc. Being a person that practices these virtues with a great deal of effort, I think it is likely a child of mine would be similarly minded and as such might have significant impact on the world, possibly making my life better, easier, or longer (or even possibly indefinite) Idiot children of drug addicts certainly will not cure any disease I am likely to get nor invent any new energy source which will add years to my life, nor will any dog.
4) The better the mind, the longer the range. I have read that Honda plans for a market 50 years out. While it will take a lot of time and resources to raise a child well, it may well pay off more for you just as any proper investment could. I am a motivated goal oriented highly ambitious person, a child my prevent me from achieving those goals, but conversely they may very well help achieve those goals, if it is what they want to do.
5) Instead of rotting in a nursing home when I am old, I would like to have someone who would want to take care of me out of the respect and admiration and selfish love they feel for me just as I will my parents when they reach that age in trade for bringing me into the world and raising me well.
Also I should note that almost all of the arguments against children can be made against romantic partners as well (e.g. I am too selfish, they take too much time, i have one as a sense of duty, etc) of course this is not applicable in very early years, but it is later on.
Raising a child need not consume as many resources as is often considered in the west either, children can be put to work early on in things they find a lot of fascination in doing. I do a lot of welding, metal working, aluminum casting, etc and had my best friends 12 year old daughter work one day in my shop with me, and she absolutely loved it, far more than gossiping or playing with dolls, or whatever 12 year olds do. Her younger sister is very jealous and wants to come next time.
It is said that our only instinctual tendency is to learn, or more precisely to make conceptual connections between perceptions. A child’s mind is the most powerful, fascinating, and information hungry thing yet known to exist, and it is only after years of drudgery, stifling, and psychological bludgeoning that this great learning machine gets dulled into a grey automaton.