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Why isn't everyone doing it? - Elizabeth Unexplained
Lots of data but no answers
Why isn't everyone doing it?
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psychohist From: psychohist Date: July 14th, 2008 05:56 pm (UTC) (Link)
One thing I'd note is that the question seems to assume that the default is to want kids, and to be fair, it's not clear to me that's the default. The question may be more, why do those of us who have kids, want them?
chenoameg From: chenoameg Date: July 14th, 2008 06:44 pm (UTC) (Link)

Why do I want to be a parent?

- I think that my children will be an asset to humanity.

- I feel a responsibility to society, and should do something to help society. Parenting is a contribution I think I would be good at.

- I want to do something hard with ringrose that's worthwhile.

- It's what I've wanted to do ever since I was little. Seriously-- when they asked me at my college interview "where do you see yourself in twenty years?" I said "Raising my family" and then I thought I would never get in. (I did, and matriculated and everything :-)

countertorque From: countertorque Date: July 14th, 2008 09:26 pm (UTC) (Link)
Uhm, aren't we genetically programmed to want kids?
greyautumnrain From: greyautumnrain Date: July 14th, 2008 10:09 pm (UTC) (Link)
Well, that was my assumption. I took ethology at MIT, and the entire premise of that branch of study was that passing on our genes drives much of animal (and presumably human) behaviour. In fact psychohist should know this because he borrowed my text for that class eight years ago and I just noticed he never put it back with my books.
psychohist From: psychohist Date: July 14th, 2008 10:29 pm (UTC) (Link)
Not necessarily. We're genetically programmed to have kids, but that isn't the same thing as being genetically programmed to want them.

Our genetic programming happened in the absence of effective birth control. In that environment, we could be genetically programmed to have kids by:

(1) Being genetically programmed to want sex

(2) Being genetically programmed for an evolutionarily stable strategy that balances (a) being genetically programmed to care for kids once we have them, irrespective of whether we wanted them before, and (b) being genetically programmed to dump kids on partners (or others) to care for them.

I think the evidence indicates that most males, at least, are more strongly programmed to want sex than to want kids directly. Note that the fact that I think this is true does not mean that I approve of it.
greyautumnrain From: greyautumnrain Date: July 14th, 2008 11:16 pm (UTC) (Link)
Well, personally I want kids a whole lot more than I want sex. Of course, given how effective sex is at making me pregnant, that is the ideal situation from an evolutionary point of view for me.
psychohist From: psychohist Date: July 17th, 2008 01:48 am (UTC) (Link)
Hm. I don't feel like I'm in the genetically programmed camp, so perhaps I should answer my own question on why I want kids.

I do have some cultural programming to want kids. My dad had eight siblings, and he once said he thought everyone had a right to have as many kids as he wanted. I certainly wouldn't go that far - the entitlement mentality part of that statement really turned me off, actually - but it did keep me open to the possibility that it might be okay to have children. I don't think this was a strong effect, but it was an effect.

I think that mainly, it has to do with what I'd like the future to be like. I can make a contribution to the future through work and such, but I'd also like to make a genetic contribution. This even goes beyond just taking advantage of its being the only form of immortality currently available.

I do recognize that there are already too many people in the world due to the couple generations of petroleum induced plenty we're currently in the middle of. I completely respect the people who refrain from having kids for that reason, just as I do the people who simply choose not to have kids because it's not for them. However, I don't think the correct solution is for all of us K-selected types to refrain from having children even though we can support them. That would just leave the gene pool entirely to r-selection for genes that encourage reproduction with abandon on the assumption that food is free, which I don't see as a good thing.
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