Thursday, August 13, 2009
The Philosophical Parent: Wanting an X Kid
More about choosing children...
Alot of children arrive serendipitously, and they are still a joy, and everyone lives happily ever after. Still, there are lots and lots of reasons to believe in family planning, and I think many people do choose to have children. And how they choose is interesting. Some ways of making the choice are better than others, and in particular better for children (or so it seems).
So, more about the baby urge. Lots of helpful comments yesterday...and I thought about my own desire for children some more. If you look closely at the desire for a baby, you might find that it includes desires for a certain sort of possession ("my child"--a very resonant phrase), desires to be pregnant or to impregnate (not sure about the last), to merge (in a certain way!) with someone, etc.
None of those elements of the baby urge concern the nature of the baby. That strikes me as all to the good. It's hazardous to the baby's future when a parent wants a...girl, a boy, an athlete, a partner for the family business, an extra hand on the farm, a musician, a body-part donor to help out their first child. (There's a movie about that last situation coming out soon.)
If you want a baby just to have a baby and (by the way) it would be nice if the kid were an athletic girl, that would be fine. In that case, you are receptive to whatever comes along, but happen to prefer certain things. But it's very hard to tell the difference between a strong preference (I want an X and only an X) and a mild preference (I don't really care, but it would be nice to have a girl).
You'd think you could just introspect and find out how pivotal a particular preference is, but it doesn't seem as if you can. You're only really going to find out how seriously you wanted...a girl...a body-part donor for your first child...an athlete...if you don't get what you wanted. And then it seems the child is worse off for your having had specific desires.
So, when it comes to the baby-urge, the less specificity the better. It's fine to want a red car. Not fine to want a red-headed child. Which strikes me as surprising.