Saturday, November 17, 2012

Parenting And Society's Ills

When I analyze many of society's ills, I can't help but come to the conclusion, that most of them are due to bad parenting. I think that if all parents were better informed and let go of the embedded cultural ignorances that were passed on to them from their parents, we would have a better world that maximized its potentiality. That means a world with far less violence; no war (imagine that); the humane treatment of the environment, animals and fellow human beings; technology that maximizes human well being through renewable energy; and an economy that is not based on the exploitation of finite resources and cheap labor. Sure many problems are natural: disease, famine, drought etc, so better parenting by no means would end all of our problems, but surely a great number of them could be reduced if not all but eliminated.

I have very strong thoughts about being a parent. I have to be honest when I say that I do not, and have never wanted to have kids. I don't see myself as the fatherly type. I have thought perhaps too deeply about this issue, unlike many people who simply have kids, either planned or not, without really thinking about the consequences. When I tell people that I do not want kids, I usually hear a shocked response that asks, "you really don't want to have kids, ever? I say "yes", and we usually get into a debate about why. Why I don't want to have kids is for several reasons.

The main reason why I do not want to have kids is the main reason why most people want to have kids: I do not want to pass my genetic material on to someone else. There are things about me that are genetic that I simply would not want to knowingly pass on to another human being. I don't want to go into detail about them, but I know that all the negative traits that I have that are genetic, can all be stopped by me if I don't have kids.

The other reason I do not want to have kids is the high financial cost of raising a kid today, combined with my low attention span and general dislike for kids. I like adults. I like people who are educated and cultured and intellectual, because it is these kinds of people that I can usually have the most interesting conversations with. Kids are by nature uneducated and immature, and I do not like anyone regardless of their age, who has these characteristics. Kids deserve parents that truly care about them and want them in their lives. I am sad to say that I cannot fulfill that end of the bargain. I have had so many friends over the years who have told me horror stories about their parents neglecting and abusing them, and being such bad parents that I sometimes think you should have to have a license to be a parent. I am deeply concerned about the potential that I could be a bad parent, that my way of dealing with this is to refuse to have kids. I would never want to intentionally bring anyone into the world and then mistreat them. I feel this to be the most rational and educated stance on the matter. If more people thought like me in this regard, then the brightest, most informed and most dedicated people would have children and they would grow up into the better adults.

The desire to be a parent is as natural as eating for most people, and I don't quite know why I lack this quality. I have a different twist on "reproduction". For me, passing on my ideas is how I envision my seed being spread. Children are not necessarily like their parents, and there is no guarantee that parents will get along with their kids. But if you are intelligent, and outspoken, you can pass on your knowledge and ideas to others, and influence minds, and that can make more of a difference in this world than making another human being. It is not merely the act of influencing minds that I care about so much that it is bettering the world. I truly care about the quality of life for human beings, animals and the environment. We have extremely complex problems that we must address if humanity should see the end of this millenia.

I propose a radical change in the way we raise children that is partly taking place already. Parents should wait until they are older and more responsible before they have kids. There are many cultural reasons why having kids at an early age happens, that needs to be phased out as people enter the modern world. No one should have more than 2 or 3 kids; the Earth simply cannot yield enough resources to handle litters of 10 kids anymore. Cultural practices in raising children that are shown to be harmful should be abolished. (This admittedly would probably be the greatest challenge to a world with maximized parenting skills.) A deep sense of morality must be taught to our children that emphasizes above all else, compassion and empathy towards others. We must emphasize the pursuit of knowledge, reason and critical thinking as these have shown to be the best medicine to cure the ignorance that has led to so much unnecessary suffering.

In short, better parenting means a better world for all of us.

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