Reasons why you do not want to have kids?

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Re: Reasons why you do not want to have kids?

Post by DNS » Sat Mar 13, 2010 7:40 pm

meindzai wrote: And yet as a childless, unmarried person I've often gotten the feeling of being perceived as some kind of selfish outcast because I've chosen not to play house like everybody else. I've gotten stuck with crappy shifts at work and bad parking spaces on behalf of the kid people. (If you have a kid, you can pretty much get away with anything at work just by mentioning you have a kid.) I used to park in the parking spaces dedicated to people with kids just to protest. "Not my fault they got knocked up!" Not very Buddhist behavior but I felt justified at the time.
:jumping:
Anyway, it seems that kid-less people think kid people are selfish and vice versa.
:thumbsup:

Maybe both "sides" should drop the judging.

I have known many kid-less people who are far from selfish. My favorite professor in college never had kids and he is a pillar of the community and the university:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allan_Saxe" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

That article does not even come close to describing all of his charitable works. He gives out scholarships, delivers meals on wheels, and so many other things. If he had children he probably would not have had time to do all these good works. He is in his seventies and still working as a professor. There is also Oprah Winfrey and numerous others who make very good use of their time in many unselfish ways.

And on the kid people side there are also numerous examples of unselfishness. I saw a documentary of illegal immigrants from Mexico who came to the U.S. They collected pop cans from the garbage to live and spoke only English at home so that their kids could have a better life. They sent their kids to MIT and other prestigious universities. One is now a mathematician and I think the other one is an attorney.

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Re: Reasons why you do not want to have kids?

Post by acinteyyo » Sat Mar 13, 2010 8:04 pm

David N. Snyder wrote:
acinteyyo wrote: People are often talking about the gift of birth... I would like to know whether the ones who have kids thought about the fact that they also make the gift of death to their children?! All the suffering starts with birth and in my eyes the parents are at least partially responsible. If I would have had the chance to decide whether I will be born or not, I wouldn't have chosen to be born.
But assuming you accept rebirth, you would have been re-born regardless if your parents chose to have children or not. "You" would have just gone elsewhere.
You're right "I" would have just gone elsewhere but that wouldn't be your business. I tell you the same thing I said to christopher: http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.ph ... 847#p56492
David N. Snyder wrote:What about the possibility of being born human and the opportunity to escape samsara, which can only be attained by humans and some devas? The Buddha did praise higher births and the rarity of human birth.
You or anyone else isn't responsible for the opportunity of others to escape samsara. We all are responsible only for our own actions and related results.
best wishes, acinteyyo
Thag 1.20. Ajita - I do not fear death; nor do I long for life. I’ll lay down this body, aware and mindful.

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Re: Reasons why you do not want to have kids?

Post by DNS » Sat Mar 13, 2010 8:17 pm

acinteyyo wrote: You or anyone else isn't responsible for the opportunity of others to escape samsara. We all are responsible only for our own actions and related results.
best wishes, acinteyyo
Hi acinteyyo,

I assume you are just making a general point, because I did not mention that anyone is 'responsible' for another to escape samsara. One might be able to provide the means in whatever way or choice they prefer, but it is up to the individual.

The Buddha and the arahants in their wonderful compassion and selflessness taught the Dhamma, but in the end it is up to each of us to apply the teachings and attain Nibbana.

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Re: Reasons why you do not want to have kids?

Post by Mukunda » Sat Mar 13, 2010 8:29 pm

David N. Snyder wrote:I think one can have children for unselfish reasons
Out of curiosity, what are these unselfish reasons?

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Re: Reasons why you do not want to have kids?

Post by DNS » Sat Mar 13, 2010 8:44 pm

Mukunda wrote:
David N. Snyder wrote:I think one can have children for unselfish reasons
Out of curiosity, what are these unselfish reasons?
For some it might be cultural reasons, for their community, for their parents. For others it might be to provide love and care to another being. I suppose it could also be providing an opportunity for 'someone' to come out of samsara (note I say 'opportunity' not responsibility). Or it can be some of the above or all of the above and there may be other unselfish reasons too that I can't think of right now.

But as I said, there can also be unselfish reasons not to have children too.

Most of the monks and nuns during the Buddha's time probably did not have children. And then there is the Buddha who had a son, Rahula, who also attained enlightenment.

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Re: Reasons why you do not want to have kids?

Post by christopher::: » Sat Mar 13, 2010 9:00 pm

meindzai wrote:I used to not want to have kids. Now I'm not as sure it's a matter of what I want. I'm not talking about fate or destiny but my life does seem to be going in a particular direction and I no longer dismiss the possibility of having children like I used to. I used to go on a lot of self-righteous rants about why having kids was a bad idea - that people should adopt instead - that there are more kids that need parents than parents that need kids. This is all true of course. Adoption is still a possibility. Overpopulation is an issue, but it's more complex than I initially thought. There is global overpopulation while some individual countries are underpopulated, and there is immigration and emmigration, and a whole host of complexities that kind of make it hard to use the "there are too many people" argument.

I have to admit that since I got together with my friend, spiritual partner and now fiancee, we have a difficult time discussing our future without kids coming into the discussion. We tried to "ban" it from our conversations but it didn't work. :) The truth is - and take this however you please - we both think we would make awesome parents. (We often joke that we've already got this kid thing alllllll figured out already and don't anticipate any problems whatsoever. lol)

Beings are born and die all the time and I'll take it as a special priveledge to be able to "host" a sentient being for the short period of time they are with us. Ultimately they are not ours.

-M
Great post!

This is how it happened for us. It's not something i thought too much about until i met my wife and then it just made sense. Not sure about "awesome parents" but it helps to have faith that this is something the two of you can do well, and wish to make the attempt.

Concerning selfishness, i think that exists for all of us but parenthood definitely demands and provokes a reduction in self-ishness for many people, which for illusory "me" was a great relief. It can be a unique dhamma practice opportunity in that sense. No longer was practice about gaining enlightenment for my self, i now have the responsibility to care and guide others. AND, importantly, i can see every day how my ability to practice the dhamma successfully has an effect on those around me.

The same thing can happen in other situations of course, as David pointed out, not just parenthood. This is true for all of us who take on social responsibilities and try to help others.

:group:
"As Buddhists, we should aim to develop relationships that are not predominated by grasping and clinging. Our relationships should be characterised by the brahmaviharas of metta (loving kindness), mudita (sympathetic joy), karuna (compassion), and upekkha (equanimity)."
~post by Ben, Jul 02, 2009

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Re: Reasons why you do not want to have kids?

Post by Northernbuck » Sat Mar 13, 2010 9:38 pm

My wife and I did not plan to have kids. She was told that she could not conceive or would have a hard time and not carry to term, so we did not think about it. Short version: we have four beautiful kids and whether it is selfish or not, I could not imagine my life without them. Children help teach compassion, patience, and understanding.
But if this neutral feeling that has arisen is conditioned by the body which is impermanent, compounded and dependently arisen, how could such a neutral feeling be permanent? - SN 36.7

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Re: Reasons why you do not want to have kids?

Post by acinteyyo » Sat Mar 13, 2010 10:17 pm

David N. Snyder wrote:
acinteyyo wrote: You or anyone else isn't responsible for the opportunity of others to escape samsara. We all are responsible only for our own actions and related results.
I assume you are just making a general point, because I did not mention that anyone is 'responsible' for another to escape samsara.
Hi David,
yes I'm just making a general point. Perhaps I was a little bit too overhasty in reading your post and jumped to conclusions. You clarified it:
David N. Snyder wrote:I suppose it could also be providing an opportunity for 'someone' to come out of samsara (note I say 'opportunity' not responsibility).
I thought you wanted to "excuse" the decision of parents to "support suffering" (make another birth possible/having kids) with the explanation that they probably did it because they are or feel responsible in one way or another to provide an opportunity for "someone" to come out of samsara. IMO to provide an opportunity for "someone" else to come out of samsara is not his or her business. That was the point I wanted to make.
David N. Snyder wrote:One might be able to provide the means in whatever way or choice they prefer, but it is up to the individual.
One might be able or not... I mean one should not take such a speculation into account if one considers whether one should have kids or not. As you said, in the end it's up to the individual.
best wishes, acinteyyo
Thag 1.20. Ajita - I do not fear death; nor do I long for life. I’ll lay down this body, aware and mindful.

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Re: Reasons why you do not want to have kids?

Post by Mukunda » Sun Mar 14, 2010 4:25 am

David N. Snyder wrote:
Mukunda wrote:
David N. Snyder wrote:I think one can have children for unselfish reasons
Out of curiosity, what are these unselfish reasons?
For some it might be cultural reasons, for their community, for their parents. For others it might be to provide love and care to another being. I suppose it could also be providing an opportunity for 'someone' to come out of samsara (note I say 'opportunity' not responsibility). Or it can be some of the above or all of the above and there may be other unselfish reasons too that I can't think of right now.
...for their community... Would this really be for the community, or to fit in with the community? ...for their parents... Or to get approval from their parents, or get them off their back? To provide love and care to another being... There aren't already enough beings alive to love and care for. ...providing an opportunity for someone to come out of samsara... By bringing them into it? I've yet to hear anyone make a sound argument for the selflessness of parenthood. The desire to have children always seems to boil down to self interest in some way, as does most human behavior.

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Re: Reasons why you do not want to have kids?

Post by fig tree » Sun Mar 14, 2010 7:41 am

My feelings on this have changed from time to time. I have partly hoped to work it out with whoever I marry, but I'm reaching the point where it seems unlikely I will have any kids.

The state of the planet combined with the population worries me. It's looking like the peak population won't be as great as we had once feared, but it still looks like we'll have some additional billions of people in the coming generation, followed by a decline. I think now is maybe a particularly bad time to add to the population. We're facing loss of habitat for all kinds of creatures plus depletion of various resources. If the peak of population were a bit lower I think it'd be easier to solve our problems.

I find the question of how to "steer" the next generation interesting, and many of the people I see fighting the hardest to do that seem to be buying themselves a lot of suffering. Some seem to assume that the only reason their children don't consistently adhere to the same religion as they do is because of some kind of "subversive" influence. Their religion is completely natural, as they see it, and failure to follow it is a kind of corruption. So they go around trying to stamp out all these influences. Some of them are "home schooling" their kids to keep them away from corrupting influences in schools, for instance. On the other hand, I feel a kind of perverse reassurance in knowing that these plans to make their religion predominate in the future are based on such an inaccurate model of how people come to join or to leave it. It's not so much that they're wrong to think that certain "influences" can make a person more or less likely to stay with their religion. It's that they have the wrong idea of what the mechanism is.

There are for example people who assume (sort of as part of their religion) that biological evolution is some kind of transparent nonsense, and attempt to raise their children to think likewise. They think it's dishonesty, a desire to deny God and so on that lead people to believe in evolution. Little do they realize, however, how persuasive the evidence is, once one has actually looked at it. This makes things like biology education work like "secret weapons" against their plans, even though it's all laid out in a very transparent manner. So while it may be disconcerting if they raise a ton of children to think as they do, I think their plans to create a generation that continues to do so throughout life is not likely to work out so well.

Fig Tree

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Re: Reasons why you do not want to have kids?

Post by acinteyyo » Sun Mar 14, 2010 9:56 am

Mukunda wrote:The desire to have children always seems to boil down to self interest in some way, as does most human behavior.
I second that.
Thag 1.20. Ajita - I do not fear death; nor do I long for life. I’ll lay down this body, aware and mindful.

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Re: Reasons why you do not want to have kids?

Post by ground » Sun Mar 14, 2010 10:52 am

acinteyyo wrote:
Mukunda wrote:The desire to have children always seems to boil down to self interest in some way, as does most human behavior.
I second that.
It may seem so but it is not necessarily so. If seen from a perspective of "within society", i.e. being one among other fellow beings, the wish to have children may very well coincide with some altruistic motivations.

Kind regards

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Re: Reasons why you do not want to have kids?

Post by catmoon » Sun Mar 14, 2010 9:39 pm

I don't want to have kids because the world is overpopulated as it is and we are drowning in our own muck as a result.

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Re: Reasons why you do not want to have kids?

Post by Mukunda » Sun Mar 14, 2010 11:04 pm

TMingyur wrote:
acinteyyo wrote:
Mukunda wrote:The desire to have children always seems to boil down to self interest in some way, as does most human behavior.
I second that.
It may seem so but it is not necessarily so. If seen from a perspective of "within society", i.e. being one among other fellow beings, the wish to have children may very well coincide with some altruistic motivations.
What altruistic motivations? People are quite fond of hiding self serving actions under the cloak of altruism, but I really don't see how any one can have children for the betterment of society. They may have children because their community expects it, but in that case, the real motivation is not bettering society, but fitting in it.

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Re: Reasons why you do not want to have kids?

Post by Wind » Mon Mar 15, 2010 7:08 am

I thought this Sutta is relevant to this thread: Nandana Sutta (SN 4.8)
Here we have Mara trying to outwit the Buddha.

I have heard that on one occasion the Blessed One was staying near Savatthi in Jeta's Grove, Anathapindika's monastery. Then Mara the Evil One went to the Blessed One and recited this verse in his presence:

Those with children delight because of their children. Those with cattle delight because of their cows. A person's delight comes from acquisitions, since a person with no acquisitions doesn't delight.

[The Buddha:]
Those with children grieve because of their children. Those with cattle grieve because of their cows. A person's grief comes from acquisitions, since a person with no acquisitions doesn't grieve.

Then Mara the Evil One — sad & dejected at realizing, "The Blessed One knows me; the One Well-Gone knows me" — vanished right there.


:namaste:

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