I Don't Recommend Parenthood

In which I recommend visiting Iceland, but don't recommend visiting the land of parenthood.  At the Oxford University Press blog today.  Fun fact: "I don't recommend" doesn't mean "I recommend not"!


s. wallerstein said...

I wouldn't recommend parenthood either.

Not all people are fit to be parents.

Contrary to what you say, not all parents love their kids, although most say that they do. Many parents are hostile to or indifferent to or competitive with their kids, and those people shouldn't have kids. Some parents call the experience of controlling and lording over a dependent young being "love".

It would be great if everyone knew themselves enough to be able to say before having kids whether or not they are the kind of person who should have kids, but few have that kind of self-awareness, especially at the age when most people have children. Still, it might be good for lots of people to talk over whether or not to have children with some kind of psychological counsellor who might be able to advise them whether or not having kids would be a good experience for them and above all, for the kids.

Unfortunately, the people who will be atrocious parents (those who treat their kids with constant physical and psychological violence, those who are uncaring) probably will be least likely to seek psychological advise before procreating.

Jean Kazez said...

You sound much more negative than I am. I just think it's not the kind of thing you can recommend, but most parents are OK and I've rarely heard anyone say they regretted having children. I feel like it's a pretty low-risk thing to decide to have children, and yet there's something odd an inappropriate about telling another person they ought to do it.

s. wallerstein said...

Would we have the people that we have if most parents were ok?

I assume that loving caring parents raise loving, caring human beings, not human beings full of violence and hatred.

I'm 71. It wasn't until maybe age 40 that I had the slightest idea of what it means to love and care for another human being (in the sense Erich Fromm uses the word "love" in his book The Art of Loving). Sure, I fell in love with frequency and developed strong attachment to others, but I had no idea of what loving another person means in the sense of seeking the good of another person while respecting their autonomy and capacity to grow creatively. When I look around the world, I don't see all so many others who seek the good of another person while respecting their autonomy and capacity to grow creatively.

I'm not claiming that no one else seeks the good of others while respecting their autonomy and capacity to grow creatively, and some people surely are more skilled at it than I am, but I've seen and see all too many people, many of them parents, who haven't taken the first step on that route.

By the way, I assume that someone who is a bastard in daily life, in business or wherever they work, cannot suddenly transform themself into a loving, caring person when they return home and greet their kids.