Joy, purpose, and the hard work of parenting

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Erik Kain

Erik writes about video games at Forbes and politics at Mother Jones. He's the contributor of The League though he hasn't written much here lately. He can be found occasionally composing 140 character cultural analysis on Twitter.

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8 Responses

  1. Avatar Rufus F.
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    Here’s where I don’t understand cultural conservatism- I see certain things as being about as close to “written on the heart” as you can get. I think we all, on some level, know that it’s bad to steal from someone, or lie, or cheat on your spouse, or, conversely, that friendship and love are good, and that childrearing is an unparalleled personal joy. You can see that as human nature, or the knowledge God puts in every heart, or evolutionarily favored traits, or whatever you want, but certain ethical beliefs seem to be very basic to the species. But, for some reason, cultural conservatives seem to think that there has to be compulsion for those truths to be known. Never mind the whole of human history. If people figure out they have a choice, they’ll stop behaving as they always have. I’m all for people seeking guidance from religious texts and institutions, if they help. But it’s not as if most people were always having children because they didn’t realize it was a choice between positives and negatives.Report

    • Avatar North in reply to Rufus F.
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      @Rufus F., Well Rufus, not to dump cynicism all over your lovely point but for most of human history people had children not because they had a choice but because children inevitably showed up after sex and no one was willing to give up sex.Report

      • Avatar Rufus F. in reply to North
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        @North, Yeah, I don’t see that ending either though, even with birth control. It could be because I live in a city that is known as the teen pregnancy capital of Canada! But also if you have children, they can help take care of you when you get old. That’s still a big incentive and I don’t see that changing much either.Report

        • Avatar North in reply to Rufus F.
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          says:

          @Rufus F., In most modern states it’s pretty firmly severed. With either abortion or adoption acting as a safety net for birth control if you don’t want a kid you don’t have one.
          Certainly in the earlier ages children were the only assured means of caring for yourself but in the modern world you simply save up enough money and a stranger will take care of you (though certainly that’s not the preferred end of life state).Report

          • Avatar Rufus in reply to North
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            @North, Okay, well, this is all true, but people are still squirting out kids at a decent pace and I’m not convinced it’s because their priests are encouraging them too. Right? I mean, I know plenty of women my age who are really driven to reproduce and I’ve got to assume there’s some innate drive to do so, even if it’s only to pass on some of your genetic material.Report

            • Avatar Rufus in reply to Rufus
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              @Rufus, In other words, if starting tomorrow nobody believed in a God who wants them to be fruitful and multiply, I’d be surprised if they didn’t keep doing so.Report

            • Avatar North in reply to Rufus
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              says:

              @Rufus, I won’t quibble that it isn’t the priests making multiplication happen but you may want to consider the assertion that “people are squirting out kids at a decent pace” with an eye to demographic trends. In the well heeled and even upper middle class ends of society people are not “squirting them out” at a decent pace if population growth is one’s goal. Remember that it takes two children to simple replace their parents. Many in the west are opting for one or none. If you exclude the highly fertile immigrant factor from America’s numbers my understanding is that Americans are in step with their European brethren in choosing not to reproduce above replacement levels.

              This is a problem if population growth is your goal. Since I don’t share that goal I consider this a positive factor. Decreasing population growth eases strain on the environment and makes room for more people to move into first world countries from third world ones. Having mixed populations makes it less likely that wars will occur and it’s entirely possible that the money sent home by immigrants has a positive effect on the well-being of other poor third worlders.Report

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