After the thread about gay marriages (which I played a large role in) up comes another controversial and philosophical blog entry.
I am not homosexual, but I am going to admit to something equally taboo- as things currently stand, I have no ambition to have children. If nobody believes me that it's a taboo, consider the answers I usually get when I say I don't want children:
"Oh, it's just a phase, you'll grow out of it and you'll want kids when you're older."
"It's unnatural not to have children."
"Not having children is selfish because you're unprepared to make sacrifices."
"Your life is incomplete if you don't have children. If you don't try having children, you will never experience it."
"All women want to have children because of biology, therefore a woman who doesn't want children is a freak of nature. Men should want children because of their desire for sex, and out of respect for the wishes of the women they marry, who will want children, assuming that they are not freaks of nature."
"You should have children, you can get your future wife to look after them"
"You would be a really good father."
Re the view that not having children is selfish. Surely the real selfish people are the ones who actually do have children, and then don't look after them? That way, people are harmed, whereas by not having children, while one doesn't bring a new life into the world, one doesn't harm anyone.
As for the idea that one should try having kids otherwise one won't experience it, I think that's a very good argument for decisions where one can turn back if it doesn't turn out well. Having children is a decision where there is no turning back and it shapes the rest of one's life- if it doesn't turn out well, tough.
I think the image that people who have children always end up better off, and those who don't sometimes regret it, is misleading Many people who have children do genuinely end up better off, but it's also something that a parent has to feel- if a parent has regrets about having kids, how is that going to reflect on the parent and pass over onto the kids? To ensure that they bring up their kids well, they will have to suppress any such regrets. People who don't have kids have no similar self-reinforcing mechanisms that prevent them from having regrets about it, so we end up with a misleading picture of how people feel about having children.
Some people also decide to have children because it's the done thing. I understand the argument that everyone decides things because they want to do them, and if they didn't want to do them they wouldn't, but social pressure is clever in that it attaches negative 'strings' to particular decisions. If I have a choice between doing A and being rejected (a common example of a negative 'string'), or choosing B and being accepted, I may choose B. From this, it follows that I don't want to do A, but my main reason may be fear of rejection.
I also feel, incidentally, that measures to increase birth rates in order to tackle the aging population problem are not a good long term solution. In the short term they may work, but in the long term, as the elderly population continues to grow, larger and larger birth rates will be required, presenting risk of an overpopulation spiral.
Disclaimer: I have nothing against people having children. I also retain an open mind to the possibility that I might change my mind when I am older, and have children. I can't say that I hate children either- indeed I have a reputation for being quite good with them. However, as things currently stand, I don't want to have children of my own, and there's a possibility that my stance will not change, no matter how un-PC it is.