Are you missing out by not having kids? Your DNA sure is…
Over at Psychology Today, clinical psychologist Ellen Walker has a blog called Complete Without Kids, which is dedicated to the modern child-free (presumably professional) adult. There, she extols and rationalizes the conscious decision to not reproduce.
Of course, it’s not like Psychology Today isn’t loaded with the typical cutting-edge suspect psychological wisdom, and it isn’t like there aren’t many other advocates like her. But her latest post caught my attention in its usefulness a window into the mindset of these folks.
Her post, titled “Are You Missing Out by Not Having Kids?” starts off by defending the complaints of a childless 28-year-old woman who “was in [Walker's] office expressing her frustration that her slightly older sister—married with two children, was making jokes about her becoming a ‘cat woman’ if she doesn’t act soon.”
Oh I don’t know, maybe this woman’s sister would like a few nieces and nephews to help continue the family line?
Walker then goes on to list the wonders of being child-free, such as having more sleep, more time for marital bliss, and the all important career (which we know doesn’t mix well with motherhood). All objectively valid, but isn’t this missing the point?
An interesting statement that speaks to Walker’s apparent ignorance of the reason for people’s desire to have children, I will note that she actually said this on her previous post:
The age-old human desire to procreate came about by necessity. Just think about it—families living in rural areas needed to have as many hands as possible to manage the workload, and it really didn’t cost much to feed and clothe another person. Many children died at birth or at an early age, and couples were unable to “plan” their families through use of birth control. The common practice of having extended families live together also made it easy to have many children underfoot while Mom and Dad went about their daily work. It was a different time and place from today!
I couldn’t help but mention Charles Darwin in my comment on her latest post.
Now, it’s my belief that if you’re someone who knows that you don’t want children, then you probably shouldn’t have them. People are encumbered by parenthood enough such that it’s something that should be undertaken only by people who have the desire. Whatever floats your boat and sinks your chromosomes.
But the key problem with advocating this is that this will dissuade procreation among those the most easily dissuaded: high-IQ, driven types; that is, the type of people we need to reproduce the most if we want to sustain our advanced civilization.
In my comment there, I decided to clue Dr. Walker in on a few things. One, while she may not be missing out on much, her DNA sure will be. I wonder, do voluntarily child-free people think that their genes will magically propagate themselves? Or course, I’d imagine that for most such people, heredity is not even being factored into the equation.
However, the thing that really got me, and the thing that sparked me to write a comment to Walker’s post and this blog post, was this part:
Doing your part for the environment. I’m happy to see more and more being written about the environmental footprint of each human. Just last week I read that the single action you might take that would make the most difference in saving our world is to have fewer or no children. I feel proud of what I’m giving back as a childfree adult.
Really? Funny, the ones who are actually doing the reproducing and overloading the planet don’t seem to be so concerned.
This is something I’ve heard before from others. Many people who curb their fertility (typically high-IQ, capable types, often on the Left of the political spectrum) actually believe by so doing, they personally are doing the planet a favor (well, some of them are). Of course, in reality, the inescapable consequence of this thinking is that this leaves the future with more people less concerned about overburdening the world and fewer people with the ability to provide for these individuals.
Now, I know that I’m not going to change many minds with this post. The reality is that for any individual, the decision to have children is mediated by forces beyond my—or most anyone’s influence (and I just don’t mean wealth, but heritable dispositions that lead to less procreation). And in the end, this isn’t a huge problem because of the slow (but steady) rate of decline in average IQ. As well, as I’ve noted previously, and as Jason Collins has affirmed, fertility will eventually rebound as the non-reproducers select themselves out of the gene pool. I’m not so sure that this is that much of a good thing, but that is where we’re headed none the less.
But, I couldn’t resist pointing out the folly of Walker’s blog, to which I’ll leave off with this reminder: