3 Great Reasons to Have Children… and 4 Bad Reasons
By Jen Lade - February 14, 2018

Parenting for Freedom article series: This is the sixth in a series of articles that analyzes how freedom-loving people can align their parenting with their political philosophy, and how doing so will allow ideas about personal liberty to carry on to the next generation.

The best reason to have kids

This is my final article in a series about how parents can apply principles of freedom to raising their children. And I think it’s a great chance to clarify my attitude toward parenting and children.

After reading my first article, which called parents’ care of their children a “sentence,” one commenter questioned my agenda. He asked whether what I really objected to was the continuation of the human race, since I talked about the creation of children as a “crime.” But nothing could be farther from the truth.

As the mother of six children, I would never want to limit how many children someone else chose to have. I would never try to prevent people from having children at all.

For one thing, it would be awfully hypocritical of me. For another, trying to ban or limit a person’s children is a grave violation of their rights. It is the stuff of coercive governments, like China’s — and our own.

All adults should have the freedom to pursue parenting if they choose, either by trying to conceive a child or through adoption. (Still, no one is entitled to children).

But when it comes to why you want kids, some reasons are better than others. If you embrace the best reasons to have children, you’ll have better parenting as a result. Your philosophy will guide your actions.

If you’re a person who values freedom, your top reason for having kids should be to allow them to share in the joy of existence.

Why is this the best reason? Because it correctly orders the good of the child ahead of the parents or society. As I argued in my first article, children deserve positive rights from their parents. This is because the parents helped to create the children and because so much of kids’ early life is out of their control. If the parents believed in this philosophy, all their actions would reflect this.

The parents would view long-term involvement as necessary for the children’s survival. They would try to give their kids autonomy in the home and in their education as much as their ages allow. This would make up for how little children get to control other aspects of their lives.

Parents would try their best to give their children ever more freedom. In doing so, the kids’ lives would transform into a life they chose for themselves — and thus, an existence that is joyful.

This doesn’t mean every day needs to feel like a Disney World vacation. Parents need only provide a child with real choice and as much autonomy as possible. When children can exercise control over their lives, they will be happy to exist. They are building that existence piece by piece each day.

Other good reasons to have kids

There are plenty of other good reasons to have children that do not interfere with a child’s rights. Here are some of them:

To provide a tangible expression of a couple’s love for one another. Humans, like all animals, have an innate drive to propagate their species. This drive has continued over thousands of years of Natural Selection. Thus, it cannot be discounted as a motivating factor in having children. But unlike animals, humans can bring their intellect and will to the sexual encounter. Sex in humans, therefore, is both procreative and unitive. So we can consider children to be a natural result of a couple’s love for one another.

To experience the joy of being a parent. There is nothing wrong with enjoying one’s children as you bring them up. And while I believe framing parenthood as a “sentence” was necessary as a philosophical exercise, that is not how I (usually) view my role as a mother.

On the contrary, I see all six of my kids as my life’s greatest blessings. Their existence adds meaning to my own. Their presence in my life has prompted me to be more generous — with my time, my money, my plans, even my own body. And I see all that as a good thing. I’m sure most parents feel the same way, because it is so natural to love your children and give so much of yourself to them.

What NOT to consider when deciding to have kids

Some reasons people give for having kids — or not — should not factor into the decision, such as the following:

To have someone to take care of you. It’s possible your child will be both willing and able to assist you during times of sickness or old age. But there are no guarantees. Your child is an autonomous person who will make that decision for himself. This isn’t indentured servitude.

To carry on the family name or bloodline. These expectations promote the idea that parents should control their adult children. Sure, your son or daughter might love to give you grandchildren and name them after you. But to expect or demand it belies a wrong belief about who owes whom in the parent-child relationship.

In this belief system, parents see each thing they did for their child as a favor. They would see the years of care as a debt that the child must pay to the parents. The debt ought to be paid through obedience and the bending of their will to that of the caregivers. Property rights would be conditional because the child never owned anything in the first place. Even once the child is an adult, gifts from the parents could come with strings attached. For example, a parent helping with a down payment on a house would expect to have a say on what house the child buys.

Children whose parents believe the child owes them will not have as much autonomy. They will also be mentally tethered by the idea that they are living for the benefit of someone else. Their lives are not their own. This is the mindset behind government too: because of all the benefits we receive as citizens, we should happily accept the restrictions of our freedom as the price we pay for being so well cared for. That’s an easier idea to accept when the notion was first tied to the parental relationship.

The environment. One reason people often cite for not having children is that the world has too many people already. Rather than arguing back and forth over whether that is the case, it’s better to realize that it doesn’t matter. The interests of individuals supercede those of the collective.

To benefit society. Same argument as above. It would be great if Junior found a cure for cancer, invented calorie-free ice cream, or carried on your political ideas to the next generation. But none of that matters as much as whether he individually benefits from his existence.

It’s not too late to change

Maybe you already have a kid or six and never thought much about why you chose to have them. Maybe you had kids for the wrong reasons. Maybe you want children but decided not to because of the critically endangered Yangtze Finless Porpoise.

It’s not too late to start reframing your parenting mindset. Starting today, choose to parent with joy in mind — your own joy, yes, but also the joy your children can feel from their own existence. Giving them the freedom to find this joy is the best gift you can give them — and the best reason to be a parent.

You don’t have to play by the rules of the corrupt politicians, manipulative media, and brainwashed peers.

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  • Varangian Guard

    You need a license to fish…………… takes nothing but exchanging fluids to breed.
    It seems our burdens of responsibility and where to place them have become skewed.
    Among those who can afford to raise and care for children the birth rate has all but reached zero while on the other hand, if you have a LOT of free time on your hands it’s cool to breed your own football team. Feel free to pick however many partners you want, the guys paying for it will continue to go to work and not have time to bring responsible families of their own into fruition.

  • Sol

    “The interests of individuals supercedes [sic] those of the collective.” (hereinafter referred to as “Selfish Nonsense” that is sometimes true, but often is not, and can be the type of thinking that actually backfires against the interests of individuals so is self-contradicting and should just never be a person’s general philosophy)

    Don’t consider the environment because…Selfish Nonsense. So…what about all of those individual interests you end up infringing upon when you don’t consider the collective and the environment it exists in? How does that work exactly? How does one ignore the interests of the collective in favour of the individual when it is a collective of individuals? Moronic. So glad you’ve brought 6 little future morons into the world.

    • snow27

      Thanks for the collectivist/coercionist perspective. A fundamental tenet of libertarianism is that you have maximum freedom as long as you do not harm others. When you frame it as the collective over the individual, you descend into coercion/forcing the majority view on the individual. Perhaps at times this may be necessary, but it should always be viewed with suspicion when attempted (ex. public domain).

      • Sol

        So incremental harm counts for nothing? It’s just such small-minded thinking. Like, ME not recycling and just throwing everything in the landfill-bound garbage isn’t REALLY going to directly affect the situation or cause anyone any harm, so why should I be forced by the gov’t to recycle? And why should I even care one bit about future people because all that really matters is that I’M here now? I mean, I see the temptation to think that way, but I’m literally incapable of it. I think it’s morally reprehensible and it gives me JOY to be a willing participant in a system that “infringes” on your “rights”. You people sure are using your “god-given” ability (more of a negative side-effect of some really positive evolutionary attributes) to misunderstand your place in an ecosystem. Insects are smarter than you in that regard.

        • Don Duncan

          Our species is fundamentally different from all others by virture of our distinctive means of survival. Humans can’t survive using innate programing (instinct) or brute force, although “might makes right” in the political sector is a worldwide superstition. Using insects as a guide for humans is to ignore the human mind, as expressed only by individuals. There is no collective mind or instinct like with insects.

          Your ethics Sol are explicitly promoted by every dictator. This collectivist/authoritarian philosophy was detailed by Plato in “The Republic”. It was countered in the Age of Enlightenment political philosophy which culminated in the Declaration of Independence.

          But a specific detailed explanation of individualism and non-violence as a moral code was presented for the first time in “The Virtue of Selfishness” with a metaphysical and epistemological foundation.

          • Sol

            I was using insects as an example for very base-level animal intelligence – I’m not suggesting we should have a hive mind.

            And you’re taking one part of my ethics and comparing it to every dictator – is that what you’d call a strawman argument? – I’m not up on all the debating lingo. In any event, I certainly believe in a balance of individual and collective rights – I think those on the extremes of either end are both wrong.

          • Don Duncan

            You believe the war is unconstitutional (illegal), immoral, and highly destructive to society. Society has delegated authority to politicians (govt) to make war. Govt. drafts you to kill or be killed at its whim and forces taxpayers to pay for a war they abhor.

            Where is the “balance”? At what point are “inalienable rights” not inalienable? Who can give some people the authority to violate rights?

            Does living in society mean the majority can coerce the minority? Does a majority acquire rights a minority does not have? Doesn’t that contradict the definition of rights? When majorites shift and new laws contradict old ones, does morality change? Doesn’t this concept create a “dog-eat-dog” society where only force dictates? Isn’t this fundamentally unstable? Isn’t this the way past civilizations fell?

          • Sol

            I never suggested there is a balance now. Far from it. I gravitated to this site because it is anti-establishment and anti-elite – I do find it overly libertarian. ESPECIALLY when it comes to business rights. The notion that business can self-regulate is ridiculous. In fact, given how in the pockets of business politicians are, we are essentially seeing them self-regulate now and I think society is in a state of out of control capitalism that allows for far too much individual wealth at the expense of collective wealth. In a pride of lions there is never one lion who hordes more meat than he could ever eat while most of the rest of the pride starves. But I digress.

            I disagree with the fundamental notion that “the interests of individuals supersedes those of the collective”. In some cases, sure. I certainly don’t agree with a draft. If a government can’t convince a volunteer army to fight then there’s not a great enough threat. No one should be forced to fight.

            But yes, living in a society and enjoying the benefits of that society may require you to follow rules set by the majority. And I said MAY and I’m not saying I would agree that any and all rules set by the majority are moral or just. Governments are problematic – what we have now is not the answer, but it’s slightly closer to the answer than either pure libertarianism OR fascism. Given the choice I would probably err on the side of libertarianism. At the end of the day, I’m not even sure there is an answer to successfully governing human beings. Our extinction has never seemed more possible than it does now.

          • Don Duncan

            There are two ways to define “the collective”, as in collective wealth. 1. Add up all the wealth of individuals. 2. The individual wealth taken by an elite, theoretically in the name of all, the public.

            What principle replaces property rights and justifies wealth to be taken by force or fraud? None is offered. Practical arguments abound, but when demolished by reason, the force/fraud remains and the robbery continues.

            How does one “balance” force against the principle of rights? Majority rule? How do the majority acquire moral superiority over a minority? Is right/wrong decided by vote? Or is morality absolute, eternal, as discovered thru reason, and therefore rights either exist or not, e.g., each of us is sovereign, or an elite (claiming to rep all) is sovereign. Both cannot be true. Either we are free (in principle) or not. Now, worldwide, the state is sovereign, i.e., an elite rules us as if we were one, a collective. But we are not. We are a collection of indivduals which make up the whole, and a violation of one is in principle a violation of all. It follows those who deny their sovereignty and sacrifice themselves to rulers self-enslave. Those who do not are free, in principle if not in fact.

            In conclusion: One important distinction between the two groups of free and slave (sovereign & subject) is that the sovereigns allow the subjects to chose. The subjects force their choice on the sovereigns, as in “If I chose to be ruled, all must be ruled, under pain of death.”

        • snow27

          “it gives me JOY to be a willing participant in a system that “infringes” on your “rights”.

          Wow, that says it all right there.

          Obviously, you don’t understand that being free does not mean throwing your garbage on the street. It means being responsible for your own actions. Throwing garbage on the street interferes with other’s use and makes others do the work to clean it up. It is abdicating your responsibility, which is exactly what the government wants you to do, to give responsibility to them so they can control you. The government doesn’t want you to throw your garbage in the street, but they want you to give them the responsibility for controlling such ‘irresponsible’ behaviour. If you do this, then you have given up control over your life to the government.

          If people understood that freedom comes with responsibility, then they will not leave their messes for others to clean up. Freedom-lovers know it is their responsibility to clean up their own messes. Government encourages people to abdicate their responsibility for their own lives and hand it over to the government.

          • Sol

            Sorry, you’re giving far too much credit to people. If we weren’t forced to recycle by municipal regulations, the vast majority of people would not. Period. I live in a community that pays for private garbage pickup that has no recycling requirements (for us – I assume they do it on their end) – I would say fewer than 25% of households have blue bags in front of their house on pickup day. I think libertarians are often more intelligent than average – however, I think they’re also often incredibly naive about human intelligence and morality. We would not be here today were it not for leaders making rules and punishing those who don’t follow them. I’m no fan of dictators, but civilization owes more to them than it does to libertarians.

          • snow27

            You are not giving people enough credit. We are not taught to take full responsibility for our lives. Teach people to take responsibility and to resist government efforts to take that responsibility away and you will see real change.
            Is that naive? It seems impossible in a world that is brought up believing in coercion and control (it’s for your own good they always say), but do we want to live in a world that is always in danger of becoming more coercive and controlling? Do you just want to lie back and take it? I’m sick of control freaks trying to tell me how to live my life. I know best how to make decisions for myself. I don’t want anyone else making those decisions for me. Why would anyone want to give up that self-determination? But unlike SJWs, I am not ‘resisting’ to change the world. I am only ‘resisting’ to have full control over my own life. As a libertarian, I am happy to let others make their own decisions for themselves. If they want to give up control, that’s their choice. Just don’t expect me to do it.

          • Sol

            I do expect you to do it. If you want to live in, and share the benefits of society, you have to follow some rules. And when it comes to a great many things you don’t know how to make the best decisions for yourself. You sound like a child.

          • snow27

            “You sound like a child.”

            Wow, the irony of having a statist/coercionist/collectivist tell me I’m like a child! You and your governments want to treat others like children. I believe in treating others like adults.

            I agree that there are some rules we must follow. I don’t believe in anarchy, if that’s what you think freedom is (it isn’t-freedom requires responsibility). Throwing out all the rules at this point certainly would not work because people have been conditioned to believe they must give up freedom to others ‘who know better’. But I believe in living with a focus on more freedom rather than less. You collectivists think in terms of forcing others to do what you want. You fundamentally don’t believe others have or should have the freedom to make their own choices. You think you or the government should make choices for people. Why not let people make their own decisions about their own lives? It is the height of arrogance to claim that others have to have decisions made for them.

          • snow27

            Left and right are false opposites. The real paradigm is more freedom versus less freedom. You statists prefer more control/less freedom. You fundamentally don’t care about, trust or believe in people. You only care about control. I prefer to move towards more freedom, rather than less. If anything, I am more responsible to society than collectivists are, because I take full responsibility for my actions. I respect other’s choices and preferences. You don’t.

          • Sol

            Okay, big boy, I would put forth that people already have plenty of freedom in the aspects of life that matter most – the things that most directly impact only them – since you feel so oppressed, surely you can give me a list of 10 things that governments of various levels are doing to “oppress” your freedom that you feel are out of line. The only one I can really think of off the top of my head is marijuana and to some extent most other drugs, though I would also argue that there are very few hard drugs where the effects of use are STRICTLY limited to the individuals using them. But go for it – I’m interested to see what you have to say – maybe you’ll change my mind.

          • snow27

            If you are happy with how much you pay in taxes and think those who make the decisions are doing a fine job in making decisions for you, then go ahead, enjoy your life. But if you think things could be done better, could allow people more freedom, then you will remain vigilant when governments (and other statists) take measures to decrease freedom. Do you like the NSA taking in all the data they do? Do you trust governments to act in your best interest? Do you believe that they are making the best use of your tax dollars? Do you believe everything that others tell you? Do others have your best interests at heart?
            I want to feel I am fully in control of my life, that’s why I choose to continually push for more freedom. If that doesn’t interest you, then go ahead and enjoy your life. Unfortunately, I know from my own and other’s experience how ineffective, inefficient and incompetent governments can be. I am also tired of leftist/statist attempts to tell me what to think. I remain vigilant to the collectivist mindset because it almost always infringes on my own personal decision-making. I can choose to cooperate with others and to help others, as long as it is my choice to do so. After all, capitalism is a very cooperative system. But let me make my own decisions. Why abdicate responsibility to others?

          • snow27

            Also, I don’t need to change your mind or persuade you of anything. As a libertarian, I believe you are free to make up your own mind. Just let me make my own choices, as I expect you will do for yourself.

          • Sol

            So you can’t really answer my question. Gotcha.

            I’m actually Canadian and as we don’t throw TOO much money down the shithole on the military, I’m mostly happy with how my tax dollars are spent, namely providing free healthcare to my fellow citizens. Certainly they can be inefficient but do I walk around sore about how not free I am because I pay taxes? Not really. Is that the best you got? I ask you for 10 things and you provide a half-ass, not really specific ONE? Two, if you count the NSA, but really? That’s weighing on you? Come on buddy, tell me what these chains of oppression you’re walking around with look like because I mostly feel free to live my life how I want, happy to pay my share for the roads and schools and other comforts being a part of a society provides me. What’s really bothering you? Obviously I’m asking because I suspect you can’t answer, but if you could, maybe I’d change my mind a bit.

          • snow27

            First of all, it is not my interest to change the world, let alone change your mind. Also, I don’t have time to do what you ask.

            Furthermore, I am not oppressed and I am not a victim. You just don’t seem to get it. As a libertarian, I believe in questioning the accepted doctrines. Do you really think there’s no problem in forcing people to do what you think is right? Don’t you even wonder if there might be something wrong with this?
            I too enjoy many of the things we have (the healthcare is pretty good), but why can’t things be done better? Government is hugely wasteful (I can give many examples, but I don’t have the time or space to go into it). Why not make it less wasteful?
            And no, I don’t walk around being sore about life. I too enjoy my life, but always aim to move towards more autonomy in my own decision-making. Why wouldn’t you want to have more control rather than less? I am the master of my own fate. Do you want to leave any of your choices up to someone else?

          • snow27

            What’s really bothering me? A lack of autonomy in my profession is a start. Currently, I work for a government-funded agency and they are trying to ram a completely disastrous system down our throats. I do have a choice. I can do it or I can quit. But as government intrudes more and more into my field, it squeezes out any creativity and in this case, they are throwing out the quality to enforce a system that does not work, just because it aligns with the goals of academics overseeing the program. Even the government does not realize what a disaster it is. This type of encroachment is common in many professions, where there is a growing requirement for ridiculous certifications, etc. I couldn’t even be a ditch digger without 17 types of certification.

          • snow27

            Government squeezes out the private. Can’t you see this?

        • mary

          If you truly believe the total nonsense of the enviro psyop, than your very breath is destroying the planet. Why have you not yet committed suicide, you selfish enviro-destroying hypocrite?

          • Sol

            Hey, is this Jesse Ventura?

    • Jen Lade

      I mean, I don’t go out of my way to harm the environment. I recycle! But when making a choice about having another child or not, the effect on the environment or society is not going to influence me as much as the effect on my life and that of my family. Is that really moronic, to think of these questions on a personal level? I think you can have a hierarchy of considerations in your life. The environment is not my No. 1 consideration.

      • Sol

        But on a philosophical level how are they any different? When you make the choice to recycle are you considering the environment? Not having children (or having fewer children) is the biggest positive impact you can have on the environment – why wouldn’t someone who cares about their impact on the environment not consider that aspect? Granted, my issue with your statement had more to do with the general statement you made – I don’t expect most people to be prioritizing environmental impact when considering having kids. But I disagree with your reason for not considering it in that case.

        • mary

          When you make the choice to recycle, you are acting like a brainwashed automaton, virtue signaling to no one in particular. That’s how pathetic it is. In general, recycling was instituted in the West as a way to make the hoi polloi feel like that were doing something for “the collective.” It was a psyop and you fell for it. Ja, ja, ja.

          • Sol

            Grow up.

          • mary

            I have, you haven’t. You can’t even tell when you’re being duped.

          • robt

            Recycling always was and still is a function of economics but was hijacked by enviro-nuts who act under government programs. Ragpickers, collectors of useful metal scrap, and pickers of furniture that can be restored and reused, bottles, newspapers, corrugated cartons, appliances, etc were historically the recyclers. These people knew, and know, the value of castoff items. The rest is trash. In our city, if I put an appliance or electronic item out in front of the house it will be gone in an hour or less. We put a freezer out not long ago and 10 minutes later a man and his wife were struggling to put it in their station wagon. I always put a note on things explaining if they’re working or not working, or what is wrong.
            Governments, applying the macro collectivist mentality, now consider these people thieves, while the municipal authorities have complicated and attempted to define the collection of recyclables to the degree that you have to consult a chart to help you decide what’s to go where. Consequently all manner of trash is thrown in with the recyclables because people just give up trying to sort it out and it’s no longer an economically viable endeavour.
            A further irony is that China has just recently banned the import of ‘recyclable’ material from Western countries because it’s just a bunch of junk with no economic value to recycle, and the stuff is piling up to the tune of millions of tons, undoubtedly heading for the dump.

    • mary

      Sorry, Sol, but if anyone can be called a moron here, it’s you. The “collective” is a rhetorical construct. There is no such thing in reality. There are only individuals. That insight is the basis of classical liberalism, the philosophy that gave us what prosperity we have. When individual rights are protected, the “collective” will always gain. Amazing that you are reading this website and don’t know that.

      • Sol

        I read this website to keep an eye on what the other extreme is saying. Sometimes there are good ideas here. Sometimes they are awful but I don’t want to live in an echo chamber and I hope you don’t either.

  • snow27

    “The interests of individuals supercede those of the collective.”

    That’s why I like reading these articles. Far too much collectivist thinking surrounds me in daily life. I also like how it has been pointed out how coercion is fundamental to the collectivist mentality.

  • Dr Pieter du Plooy

    It is a pleasure and a challenge to have kids. It IS your right, but any right comes with a responsibility: YOU personally must be able to keep them. NO outsider should be expected to support them not even the government. If you are unable to support them until they are independent, then you should not have them.

  • Don Duncan

    When you speak of “our own” govt. be careful in your phraising. It is “the” govt., not ours, even if the vast majority chose it. Why? It was created to represent the majority by some and the individual by some, but does neither. The govt. serves itself at the expense of others. Statists and Voluntaryists suffer under govt. Voluntaryists see it and resist, rebel against the institutionalized coercion. Statists do not see the harm by choice. They choose to ignore the net anti-life enviroment created and they submit to and defend their masters.

    This submissive mindset often begins from birth, as detailed in “Raising Children as Philosophy”.

    • Jen Lade

      Good point. I will be more careful with my word choice next time.

  • Me

    Interesting article, but you didn’t address MY issue which was I felt I had nothing to pass on and didn’t think I would be a good parent (“guide”?) and didn’t want the responsibility of providing for them and the guilt of perhaps not doing so “enough.” When I was younger I was very aware that I was insecure and had low self esteem so it seemed to me to be wiser to not make “life decisions” under those conditions. Maybe I get credit for that, but net net I never did have kids and have never regretted it.

    As an aside, I may be either the worst judge of this or the best, but my number one question I have of adults in all of the 3rd world “arm pit” countries (ie. most of them) is why did you have kids in such a god-awful environment? I hear testimonials about parents sending their kids to the US for asylum and can’t help but ask (rhetorically) “why did you have kids when you knew everything sucked?”

  • Bob

    What about bringing children into a world that is run by evil, a spiritual battle, per say, without that child having a choice to brought into this hellish world…that doesn’t sound either fair or compassionate….the Prince of the Air rules this world till Messiah comes back and gets rid of him, and the world only continues to grow more evil by the day….

    2 Timothy 3 New International Version (NIV) 3 But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. 2 People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, 4 treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.