Thursday, January 13, 2011

Deciding Not To Have Kids

Man, that Amy Chua article has lit the Asian American blogosphere on fire. Amy Chua's got the World on Fire. No kidding. I've been fielding e-mails, getting a decent number of comments, getting Facebooked all over. What a trip. I think this is the closest that I'll ever get to being totally in sync with the mainstream. :) Even if I disagree with Amy in some respects, I think it's great that she's opened dialogue on this issue. And we've had some great dialogue, not just here, but all across the Asian American blogosphere. I had no idea that parent-child issues were so widespread in the community.

Continuing the dialogue, Omamas just blogged about local Portland author Karen Foster, who has written a book on defending her choice not to have kids. Even though I'm a happy daddy, I agree with Foster--our society demonizes people who choose not to have kids. The irony is that that choice is better for our planet (although maybe not as good for our economy...I think I've blogged about Japan and how a relatively small number of young people are now supporting a huge number of old people.) Plus, if you read some of the comments on the quora site or Betty Ming Liu, it's clear that some parents shouldn't be having kids. As people often say, you need a license to drive, but unfortunately there's no license to become a parent.

I remember a couple years ago talking to a Chinese American dude, married to a White woman (yes, it does happen sometimes). He was saying that he and his wife decided not to have children. They were too busy with their careers. He said his parents were pressuring them to have kids in order to "continue the family line," but he said that that was one of the worst reasons to have kids. He said, "If you do it, you do it for yourself and your wife. You don't do it for other people's expectations." I think he's 100% right. Other than "it'll bring us closer together and help solve our marital problems," other people's expectations is probably THE worst reason to have kids.

For those who have decided not to have kids, I think Karen Foster's book is worth a look. Check it out.

(cross-posted on bigWOWO)


Jeremy Pierce said...

I'm not going to dispute the claim that having kids merely to continue the family line is a bad motivation. But is it really any better to do it "for yourself or for your wife"? Doesn't that sound a bit selfish? Is that much different from "it'll bring us closer together and help solve our marital problems"?

bigWOWO said...

My view is that it's always selfish. I remember this one celebrity who was having a child. This celebrity had a disease, and the child would have a 50-50 chance of getting it too. People said it was selfish. She replied that having a child is always selfish.

So I guess it's degrees of selfishness. Yourself and your wife is selfish, but "help solve our marital problems" can be destructive!