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NOT having kids

genkakugenkaku Northampton, Mass. U.S.A. Veteran

At the risk of self-congratulation, I am linking a blog post I wrote this morning about the down side of having children.

Personally, I have always felt that Buddhism might be roughly described as the study of both "it's all about you" and "it's not all about you." This setting seems to me to be brought home with a vengeance when it comes to having children and I thought others might want to add their two cents.

And yes, I have three kids.

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Comments

  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    I also have 3 kids. There are a lot of "buts." For me, the huge responsibility of trying to guide them to a good life, whatever that means for them and for humanity that has to deal with them. I think the "bankrupt" part is a choice though. You don't have to owe your kids stuff, financially, as long as you are truly providing for them. But what that means to each person, of course, varies. But i think a lot of parents who think they have to provide everything at any cost to themselves do it for all the wrong reasons.

    Most of my "buts" or "regrets" if you can call them that is in dealing with the world around me. It's a hard environment right now to raise young kids. The planet doesn't need more people, for one thing. Also, the moment it dawned on me that it truly never ends. That even when your kids are 100% self sufficient, then they often have their own kids, and you have to teach them how to parent their own kids. The decision to have kids is a lifelong commitment and I don't think most people truly think about what that means until much later. That alone is exhausting. Your life is never your own again. Ever.

    I think too many people consider parenthood a right. To the point we circumvent everything that has in the past been in place to help control population in order to have kids because we all think we have a right to that. I am just thinking aloud, and I apologize if my thoughts offend as I do understand the suffering people go through, having had several very good friends in this position. But the whole idea of "I was BORN to be a mother and I cannot have children! Life is so cruel!' makes me think maybe they, at least some of them, are missing another point that perhaps those qualities they see as making them born to be a parent would serve the world and humanity in better ways. Just because we want something really badly doesn't mean we are meant by some obscure force to have it no matter what it takes. While I am grateful for medical advances, I do find myself wondering how many more kids would be adopted if people couldn't simply make their own babies in labs and in other situations where they are unable to conceive without a lot of medical assistance. I think we tend to get too hung up on the idea of feeling so strongly towards having our own biological children.

    But, when I truly investigate my doubts and regrets, I honestly almost always find that they are based in ego. Parenting is not about me as much as I make it. My concerns for how their futures could turn out is all about me. I don't want to be dealing with their mistakes forever. I don't want people to think I am a bad parent if my kids make mistakes despite how I have raised them. I don't want them to make horrible choices (getting involved in drugs, for example, knowing addiction is so strong in their genes) and have to suffer the pain that goes along with that. But it's all about me. The moments I can let their lives and paths be there own, then things aren't so suffocating.

    :lol: I make it sound so pleasant. Truly, having children has been the biggest gift in my life. But it is hard. Parenting offers a lot of opportunity for Buddhist practice, for sure. I love them more than I ever thought possible to love anything or anyone. But that is what makes it so hard.

    Vastmind
  • KeromeKerome Did I fall in the forest? Europe Veteran

    I have no children, and have the feeling I have missed out on something that would have deepened my emotional life. But in the end we are what we are, our choices and our nature shape the course of our lives and there's no use trying to be something else.

  • I have mixed feelings about not having kids. I thought I would and then time ran out. About once a year I think - oh, it'd be nice to have kids but usually that's for about 1 minute and is quickly resolved by visiting Toys r us.

    I think about all the things I've done because I didn't have kids - travelled the world, went to uni, followed the dharma, studied the dharma, went through therapy - the list is very long indeed. If I'd had kids I would have had no freedom and this would have made me very very grumpy. My gut says the world is a better place for the fact that I didn't have kids. I just don't think I would have been a good mother. My mother wasn't very good at it and she and I are very alike. It's good to recognise my limitations.

    There are so many kids that don't have enough love. Who needs more like that? And who's to say that the kids you get are ones you like, are healthy etc. With everyone working so much and the world in a mess, is it wise?

  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    I think everyone should make the choice that is right for them, and I think knowing you don't want kids and choosing not to have them is terrific. Nothing worse than someone who doesn't want them and has them anyhow. Or has them believing they will fill a void. But, one doesn't have to give up all those things you mentioned @Tiddlywinds just because they had kids. We travel quite a lot. My son is the one who brought the Dharma to my life. I went to college (while having kids, even). My relationship with my parents, especially my dad, improved drastically upon having kids. And I get to stay involved in the younger generations and watch what they are up to and capable of which is much more refreshing than just watching adults defend their attachments to the way things were 50 years ago.

  • genkakugenkaku Northampton, Mass. U.S.A. Veteran

    When my first child was close to being born, my sister, who by that time had two kids of her own, saw that the prospect made me anxious. "Adam," she counseled me quietly, "you can either read every book that was ever written about child-rearing or you can read none at all. Either way, you won't know shit." As far as I know, she was absolutely right.

    Kids, like spiritual practice, require attention ... no-fooling-around attention. Of course they aren't as splendiferous as spiritual venues and rituals, but I would argue that the attention is really the only thing that counts. It may make you scream, but pay attention anyway. :)

    Vastmind
  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    Embarrassing moments, enjoyable moments it's all part & parcel of the growing up of both the parents and the children...We learn a lot from each other...and one thing that the parent really learns to take in their stride is "Shit Happens"

    Ah Kids...Who would have them ???

    KeromedhammachicksatcittanandaVastmind
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    I have said it before, and I'll say it again: Given my time over, I would SERIOUSLY think twice or more times, about having children, and as I have stated, that doesn't mean "I wish I'd never had them".
    My eldest daughter is happy with one, and has no intention of having more.
    My youngest daughter is positively anti having-kids, which dozens of people keep telling her, "is a phase, unnatural, and just wait until your body-clock/broodiness kicks in, you'll see..." All of which just deepen her resolve and confirm to her that she's done the right thing, particularly when she witnesses the commitment of parents and the behaviour of children...

    I have not yet read the article @genkaku has posted. I shall, presently....

    Sticking my neck out over the parapet (and mindful of all the right speech discussion that has - and is - circulating the board, I think it is frankly selfish and irresponsible for people in an affluent society to have kids.
    Ask many young people if they want to have kids ("yes, eventually...!") and more importantly, why, their reasons oscillate between the vague and the romantic.
    They range from "Well...it's what you do isn't it? I mean my mum can't wait to be a Grandma!" to "it's just wonderful to be a mum, I love the thought of having my own little baby....!"

    Tell them it will cost them upwards of quarter of a million to raise a child, and that there are no guarantees of pregnancy or even having a healthy baby... what would they do in the event of having a disabled child? And honestly, the "rabbits caught in headlights" comes to mind.
    I don't mean to be insensitive or callous to anyone here. But actually, they were questions asked to couples during Pre-Marital workshops run by a Counselling association I worked with.

    The problem is, young couples are conditioned by society to reproduce, have offspring and provide a future generation because.... because of no particular reason, but they fail to really consider all the different aspects, difficulties, challenges and sheer hard bloody work of parenting, nobody ever tells them about.

    That said, the populations of certain European countries are seriously depleted because actually, many young couples are actually deciding they'd rather have 'the good life' without any self-imposed encumbrances....

    karastiVastmind
  • KeromeKerome Did I fall in the forest? Europe Veteran
    edited December 2016

    Yeah... when I was young I kind of decided that there were enough people on the Earth, and circumstances were such that I ended up sticking with that. It's kind of ended up being the thing I've done for the planet, plus not owning a car for the first 45 years of my life.

    It's only recently that I have wondered whether I did the right thing, whether maybe I should have chosen the middle road - worked a bit less, spent a bit more time on romance, and had one child rather than a bunch. It may have worked out much better for me, and not made that much difference to the world.

    Still considering all the crap I went through with physical health and my breakdown and spiritual crisis prior to ending up with Buddhism, maybe it's for the best that I didn't drag a family through all that, they were not easy times.

    But life is like a pesto and mozzarella sandwich, it's got salty bits as well as sweet tomatoey juicy bits and fleshy cheesy mozzarella parts. Can't have one without the other, the whole would somehow be less effective if any of the ingredients were missing.

  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    Isn't it the birth rate in Asia that is the prime problem with overpopulation these days though? @federica I'm curious why your focus would be affluent societies (I assume you mean much of the Western world).

    The thing with the US and Canada in particular is, we have alot of space. We could fit a lot more people and still give everyone a yard. In places like India, China and Japan, space becomes and issue, and with that, all the associated problems with access to resources and disease. Not that it's a perfect parallel, but here when our deer population gets to big, it's the same issue. They start killing each other over food. They spread disease that kills them. An overpopulation of deer means the wolf population does well, so then the wolves kill more deer and the population goes back into balance. Except with humans we have no wolves (other than ourselves). We have too much ability to circumvent the things that are meant to control population, and countries like China and India that are SO overpopulated are gaining those abilities more and more, too. Once a life is here, we should do all we can to sustain it. But preventing more from being born is what we need to do but that won't happen without really strict policies.

    Anyhow, just wondering what your thoughts are on the affluent mention.

  • DavidDavid some guy The Hammer in Ontario, Canada, eh Veteran
    edited December 2016

    We are explorers by nature and we will spread to other planets and moons as soon as we quit fighting over this one and get our act together.

    Every single view is an unique view and all it takes is a few skandhas to connect a certain way and we have a new way of seeing the world.

    To stop reproducing just because it could be hard or because we may run out of room on this little chunk of infinity seems pretty silly to me.

    There is nothing wrong with recognizing that one may not be the best parent or living child free simply by choice or because of bad environments but so far the benefits outweigh the negatives for me personally.

  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    But what if the problems of resources vs people starts even more wars? What if your kids die of horrible diseases because of over-crowding or if starvation or fresh water becomes a problem? I guess for me I wouldn't want to bring kids into the world just to watch them suffer the way some kids in other parts of the world already do. If I lived in Syria, I wouldn't be reproducing just because one day we might live on another planet. I think we are more likely to continue to run into resource problems than we are to solve that problem by interplanetary travel to the point we can just shuttle humans elsewhere to live. But who knows.

    Indeed, the benefits outweight the very minor negatives for me when I look at our family life on a small scale. I wouldn't have had 3 if that weren't the case. It is expanding it to the billions of people in the world that it becomes a problem. But, i do also believe we need good people to help solve the problems the world faces, with compassion in mind. If the ones who know better stop having kids, then Idiocracy becomes even more of a reality than it seems like it is today, lol.

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    @karasti said:
    Isn't it the birth rate in Asia that is the prime problem with overpopulation these days though? @federica I'm curious why your focus would be affluent societies (I assume you mean much of the Western world).

    The thing with the US and Canada in particular is, we have alot of space. We could fit a lot more people and still give everyone a yard. In places like India, China and Japan, space becomes and issue, and with that, all the associated problems with access to resources and disease. Not that it's a perfect parallel, but here when our deer population gets to big, it's the same issue. They start killing each other over food. They spread disease that kills them. An overpopulation of deer means the wolf population does well, so then the wolves kill more deer and the population goes back into balance. Except with humans we have no wolves (other than ourselves). We have too much ability to circumvent the things that are meant to control population, and countries like China and India that are SO overpopulated are gaining those abilities more and more, too. Once a life is here, we should do all we can to sustain it. But preventing more from being born is what we need to do but that won't happen without really strict policies.

    Anyhow, just wondering what your thoughts are on the affluent mention.

    I should explain that comment, yes...
    But I may have difficulty in articulating exactly what I mean....
    In poorer countries, children and families are needed to carry on the work, labour or vocation of the family or community they live in. Children are an insurance, particularly if the mortality rate is high. It is not unusual to see films of children as young as four or five, adpet at riding ponies, herding goats and cattle, fetching and carrying wood for fuel, or water, and knowing how to cook... It's a survival thing....And contraception is neither a priority nor an easy thing to obtain or implement. There are attempts at education, but progress is slow, and traditions and habits die hard.

    In the Western world, we have no such extreme problems; Having children to perpetuate the lineage is a luxury, not a necessity (could I just say that my observations must be taken as a general view and I'm sure holes could be shot in them, under scrutiny....) But hopefully you get the gist...
    China has attempted to control the population growth by the Government dictating that families could have no more than a specified number of children. Unfortunately, this resulted in boy children being favoured over girls, and we are all aware no doubt, of the tragic and inhuman consequences of such 'traditional' decisions... China is now reaping the cost, having to cope with an excessively masculine population, and eligible women are at a premium.

    It's not really a question of space. It's a question of resources and supplies, and demand outstripping productivity.

    Every parent knows that having a child means more expense, fewer luxuries, a lot of sacrifice and a huge modification in lifestyle.
    So, multiply that by the affluent couples who have children in situations where they really needn't.... and see just how much of a drain we are putting on resources.
    We're choking this world with an ever-growing population, and something's got to give....Feeding all these people and keeping nutrients at a level to suit everyone, is costing the Earth, dear....

  • FosdickFosdick in its eye are mirrored far off mountains Alaska, USA Veteran
    edited December 2016

    @David said

    We are explorers by nature and we will spread to other planets and moons as soon as we quit fighting over this one and get our act together.

    I think this is pie in the sky, so to speak. We are nowhere near being able to do either of those things, and if it ever happens, it will be centuries, not years, in the future.

    We are faced with an overpopulation problem now , and the problem is not one that is ours alone, not just a question of whether we, personally, want to live in a human world that is all assholes and elbows and concrete.

    We are seeing the onset of another major extinction event, and it is being caused entirely by human activity and population growth. Are we willing to sacrifice so much of the rest of the natural world to satisfy our biological and emotional craving to reproduce as much as we please? It seems that we are.

    Parenthetically, it is nearly always the case that a very sharp population spike in any species is always followed by an equally sharp population crash, whether from exhaustion of available resources, or disease or both. Homo sapiens is displaying such a spike, one that is still building, and it does not seem to me that w are fundamentally different from other species, only that our resources are greater. The turd in the sky that matches the pie, perhaps.

    I myself have no children, but once wished that I did, and it was not my moral sense nor my regard for nature that prevented me from having them.

    karasti
  • KeromeKerome Did I fall in the forest? Europe Veteran
    edited December 2016

    @David wrote:
    We are explorers by nature and we will spread to other planets and moons as soon as we quit fighting over this one and get our act together.

    There are some major issues with that view. The economics of moving people into orbit are driven by the costs of rocket technology, and even with SpaceX's recent advances in reusable rockets it is very expensive to move a human with everything needed to support him into space. Beyond that, we are a long way from knowing all the biological issues caused by living in zero g or in low g. Take for example the astronaut eye problems.

    From an engineering point of view we have failed to solve the spaceship propulsion problem in a convincing fashion, and there aren't many options on the horizon. A reasonable prognosis taking into account where we are at and our rate of progress would be that we will be cautiously exploring with maybe a few people on mars and the moon for another couple of centuries at least.

    That means that our linked problems of overpopulation, climate change, the extinction event and potential biosphere collapse are going to have to be solved here on Earth. It is a key question for our survival as a species - are we mature enough to master our impulses, and to become gardeners of this earth rather than its exploiters.

    TravellerFosdick
  • personperson Where is my mind? 'Merica! Veteran

    I wonder how the whole idea of modern parenting fits into the whole mix. For most of history children generally weren't thought of as these great emotional gifts, for lack of a better phrase. Only about 1 in 5 kids would make it past age 5 making it harder for a parent to attach as tightly to them, then beyond that they were largely seen as an economic resource. Childhood, the way it exists today, wasn't really a thing and so parenting was quite different. Children were regularly beaten and by modern standards emotionally neglected. So having children in the modern world seems to have a different flavor.

    For myself, I have no kids but have some niblings that I'm close to that have really opened me up emotionally. I can get a small taste of what it might mean to love something more than yourself. I apply that to my Buddhism and use it as a tool in my love and compassion meditations.

    Regarding over population. The most effective way that has been shown to reduce population growth is through economic development and education, primarily that of women.

    karastiKeromeDavid
  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    @federica Yes that makes sense, I understand what you are getting at.

    I know that here, baby boomers complain how hard they worked to make life so much better and so much easier and now we're going backwards and ruining everything they built. My parents aren't quite that age, but close, and they ruminate on such things often. Sometimes I think they didn't do any favors by making life so much easier, and so automated. It takes a lot of work to sustain a life, and that doesn't disappear just because we pass the buck to other people in a million other fields (farmers, teachers, ranchers, loggers, factory workers, etc). It's just shifted and the cost of that shift, it seems, has been great in so many ways. The abuse of our resources, the love of money and material wealth, and yes, overpopulation because it's so much easier to have successful pregnancies and kids in the West do pretty well overall. They thought it was so good 40-50 years ago and it's crumbling now because what they built wasn't/isn't sustainable. Perhaps life isn't meant to be quite as convenient as we've made it.

  • DhammaDragonDhammaDragon Carpe Diem switzerland Veteran

    I knew I wanted children, but never really had this mother vocation.
    I waited for the right moment, feeling ready, getting that mother instinct to kick in... whatever came first.
    Seven years into our marriage, none of the above happened.
    Then, at the advice of a good friend, mother of four, I took the plunge and ventured into motherhood.
    I got pregnant immediately and had my only son.
    To me, it was and continues to be the most awesome experience a human being can go through.
    I find parenthood opens us up from belly gaping and ego pruning, to an empirical understanding of the meanings of metta and unconditional love.
    I do understand, though, that children are viewed as upadhi because, well, the spiritual experience gets easier when one has relinquished all of one's attachments.

    Kerome
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    I once read a very sobering comment written by a Buddhist Teacher. I can't quote directly, because I don't remember exactly who it was, where it was or what the exact words were, (maybe someone else has a similar recollection?) so I apologise for my vagueness. Nevertheless, the comment really struck me like a truck t-boning my car....

    When you give birth to a child, you are condemning yet another human being to death. You are bestowing a Life of Suffering which will without question, entail pain, anger, anxiety, stress and sorrow. Of course, it will know other things too, but all those things are an uncertainty. The above experiences are guaranteed, and include the opposite emotions. But Suffering will be the basis of all this human will ever go through. And all because you chose it.

    I remember the author was not against having children; I think he - or she? - pointed out that their parents made the same decision, and that if we consider rebirth to be a solid concept, then humans are perpetuating a kammic existence....so it wasn't a recommendation to never have children. It was just a reality-check, a "you do realise, don't you....?" kind of talk....But it made me wish I'd seen it BEFORE I'd had children....

  • KeromeKerome Did I fall in the forest? Europe Veteran

    @federica, but have you not considered that incarnation may be an essential stage in the life cycle of the spiritual being that we are? Yes, by bringing another being into this world you will bring it suffering, pain, anger, anxiety and stress, but you are also giving it a chance at learning the dharma, learning the beauties of compassion, kindness and love, deepening its life and self through the ups and downs of a human existence.

    karastiShoshin
  • DhammaDragonDhammaDragon Carpe Diem switzerland Veteran

    Yes, Fede, @federica, but we have slid here in Samsara and we're coping well so far.
    Our children will too.

    If anyone asked me, given what I have lived, given what I have learned, given what I have suffered, if I would prefer not to have been born, I would absolutely and emphatically say "NO."

    I would not want to be spared the samsaric experience for anything in this world... and beyond <3

    Steve_BDavid
  • DavidDavid some guy The Hammer in Ontario, Canada, eh Veteran
    edited December 2016

    @Fosdick said:
    @David said

    We are explorers by nature and we will spread to other planets and moons as soon as we quit fighting over this one and get our act together.

    I think this is pie in the sky, so to speak. We are nowhere near being able to do either of those things, and if it ever happens, it will be centuries, not years, in the future.

    Nowhere near? We are much closer than we were even just ten years ago. I understand many think it's a long shot but it's the only option besides our destruction.

    We are faced with an overpopulation problem now , and the problem is not one that is ours alone, not just a question of whether we, personally, want to live in a human world that is all assholes and elbows and concrete.

    Growing pains.

    We are seeing the onset of another major extinction event, and it is being caused entirely by human activity and population growth. Are we willing to sacrifice so much of the rest of the natural world to satisfy our biological and emotional craving to reproduce as much as we please? It seems that we are.

    People have been saying that for a long, long time and it's getting old.

    Parenthetically, it is nearly always the case that a very sharp population spike in any species is always followed by an equally sharp population crash, whether from exhaustion of available resources, or disease or both. Homo sapiens is displaying such a spike, one that is still building, and it does not seem to me that w are fundamentally different from other species, only that our resources are greater. The turd in the sky that matches the pie, perhaps.

    I myself have no children, but once wished that I did, and it was not my moral sense nor my regard for nature that prevented me from having them.

    I'm sorry to hear that but if you regard nature why turn your back on humanity? Humanity is not set apart from nature.

    Kids need positivity though and so perhaps only positive people should bother having them.

  • DavidDavid some guy The Hammer in Ontario, Canada, eh Veteran
    edited December 2016

    @Kerome said:

    @David wrote:
    We are explorers by nature and we will spread to other planets and moons as soon as we quit fighting over this one and get our act together.

    There are some major issues with that view. The economics of moving people into orbit are driven by the costs of rocket technology, and even with SpaceX's recent advances in reusable rockets it is very expensive to move a human with everything needed to support him into space. Beyond that, we are a long way from knowing all the biological issues caused by living in zero g or in low g. Take for example the astronaut eye problems.

    From an engineering point of view we have failed to solve the spaceship propulsion problem in a convincing fashion, and there aren't many options on the horizon. A reasonable prognosis taking into account where we are at and our rate of progress would be that we will be cautiously exploring with maybe a few people on mars and the moon for another couple of centuries at least.

    That means that our linked problems of overpopulation, climate change, the extinction event and potential biosphere collapse are going to have to be solved here on Earth. It is a key question for our survival as a species - are we mature enough to master our impulses, and to become gardeners of this earth rather than its exploiters.

    That is almost true but it's all we really have. Did you know NASA has plans to make the Mars trip in just over a month?

    We are working on it and with the way technology progresses these days I'm surprised at how skeptical people still are.

    Humans spread and curiosity guides us. Yes, we still have to get over greed but the universe is abundance and greed will become obsolete if we ever tap into it.

  • DavidDavid some guy The Hammer in Ontario, Canada, eh Veteran

    @Kerome said:
    @federica, but have you not considered that incarnation may be an essential stage in the life cycle of the spiritual being that we are? Yes, by bringing another being into this world you will bring it suffering, pain, anger, anxiety and stress, but you are also giving it a chance at learning the dharma, learning the beauties of compassion, kindness and love, deepening its life and self through the ups and downs of a human existence.

    Yes.

    It's easy to say we shouldn't bother having kids for fear of pain but I for one do not take sunsets for granted.

  • DavidDavid some guy The Hammer in Ontario, Canada, eh Veteran

    Nobody knows how, where or if we existed before we were born here and nobody knows what happens when we pass on. We are only here for a hundred years at the most so suck it up, buttercups.

    Life ain't for sissies.

    DhammaDragon
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    Well, I did add the writer's own thoughts on the matter but you all seem to have missed that paragraph....

    I remember the author was not against having children; I think he - or she? - pointed out that their parents made the same decision, and that if we consider rebirth to be a solid concept, then humans are perpetuating a kammic existence....so it wasn't a recommendation to never have children. It was just a reality-check, a "you do realise, don't you....?" kind of talk....But it made me wish I'd seen it BEFORE I'd had children....

    DhammaDragon
  • Steve_BSteve_B Far southwest corner of Indiana, USA Veteran

    We're each commenting on the facets that resonate with us individually. That doesn't mean we missed a paragraph, it just means we had another thought and expressed it.

  • DavidDavid some guy The Hammer in Ontario, Canada, eh Veteran

    @federica said:
    Well, I did add the writer's own thoughts on the matter but you all seem to have missed that paragraph....

    I remember the author was not against having children; I think he - or she? - pointed out that their parents made the same decision, and that if we consider rebirth to be a solid concept, then humans are perpetuating a kammic existence....so it wasn't a recommendation to never have children. It was just a reality-check, a "you do realise, don't you....?" kind of talk....But it made me wish I'd seen it BEFORE I'd had children....

    I lucked out there. I already considered it all before making any solid decisions.

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    @Steve_B said:
    We're each commenting on the facets that resonate with us individually. That doesn't mean we missed a paragraph, it just means we had another thought and expressed it.

    Yes, but if you look at both @Kerome's comment and that immediately following, of @DhammaDragon, both are counter-discussing the comment as if it was mine. I didn't say what was in the post, I was paraphrasing someone else's writings... I'm not necessarily disagreeing with their comments, I'm merely pointing out that I am not the original provenance of the comment therein.
    What the writer says is absolutely true. Blunt, forthright and it has a certain shock factor. But what they say is also right, so I'm not contradicting them....

  • DhammaDragonDhammaDragon Carpe Diem switzerland Veteran

    Hi, Fede!
    I was not counter-discussing your comment at all.
    It was just my personal thought at what the woman you quoted expressed.

    It reminds me of my husband complaining that why should we have kids at all with life getting more and more difficult as it does.
    I remind him that had he been born at the turn of the last century, he would have witnessed two world wars, that in Victorian times, as a child, he would have had to work in carbon mines all day, etc, etc.
    This woman is partly right, but I still like to have been born and have a child.
    I am not even counter-discussing her.
    She has her opinion and I have mine.

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    I don't remember whether the author was male or female. I know, vague, right?

    I'm still hoping someone else recollects reading something similar....

  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    I tend to think more along the lines of what @Kerome said. I realize it doesn't fit neatly within Buddhism, but there are a few beliefs I hold that are like that. My religious beliefs tend to have a bit more spirit or soul in them. Not along the lines of Christianity or even an abiding sense of "me" that carries on. But I do think that "we" make a choice to be reborn and to a degree we choose where, when and how. I don't think it's quite so intentional and forced on solely the part of the mother where pregnancy and childbirth is concerned. If I choose to carry a child into this life, I think there was some choice in the "soul" of that person in being born and I think we continue to evolve spiritually by continuing to experience all of humanity and learning all that there is to learn.

    There is a sense of "ugh, bringing another person into this world is just cruel" at times. For me, anyhow. But I think it's all just part of the necessary experience for "us" to eventually stop the cycle of rebirth.

  • FosdickFosdick in its eye are mirrored far off mountains Alaska, USA Veteran

    @David said

    I'm sorry to hear that but if you regard nature why turn your back on humanity? Humanity is not set apart from nature.

    Thank you kindly. That was precisely my point - you said it much more succinctly. Humanity is a part of nature, and nature operates according to certain laws - I trust you agree?

    To keep those laws in mind as we proceed into the future is hardly 'turning one's back on humanity', as you suggest, but a matter of going forward mindfully rather than reactively, cautiously rather than recklessly - with the objective being the welfare of both humanity and of the natural system of which humanity is a part.

    Mindfulness and caution to me would indicate a reduction of our birth rate to match our mortality rate, or a little less. How onerous is that? One or two children per couple? Do you disagree with that?

    Nowhere near? We are much closer than we were even just ten years ago. I understand many think it's a long shot but it's the only option besides our destruction.

    Why do you think that? To me, that sounds like giving up on humanity, like saying we will never get our act together, we will never solve the problems that we create by our own inattention, and we must take technology as our savior or we will die. I am gratified that you do see the problem, but we seem to disagree on the solution. But then again, I have always been naively optimistic about human capabilities.

    People have been saying that for a long, long time and it's getting old.

    The extinction event, yes, that does get old doesn't it? The facts always gets stale when years pass and little or nothing is done to address them. We just roll over and go back to sleep, ho hum.

  • DavidDavid some guy The Hammer in Ontario, Canada, eh Veteran
    edited December 2016

    @Fosdick said:
    @David said

    I'm sorry to hear that but if you regard nature why turn your back on humanity? Humanity is not set apart from nature.

    Thank you kindly. That was precisely my point - you said it much more succinctly. Humanity is a part of nature, and nature operates according to certain laws - I trust you agree?

    To keep those laws in mind as we proceed into the future is hardly 'turning one's back on humanity', as you suggest, but a matter of going forward mindfully rather than reactively, cautiously rather than recklessly - with the objective being the welfare of both humanity and of the natural system of which humanity is a part.

    To be fair, that is a much more positive view than the one you painted earlier.

    Mindfulness and caution to me would indicate a reduction of our birth rate to match our mortality rate, or a little less. How onerous is that? One or two children per couple? Do you disagree with that?

    It depends on the family, really.

    Nowhere near? We are much closer than we were even just ten years ago. I understand many think it's a long shot but it's the only option besides our destruction.

    Why do you think that? To me, that sounds like giving up on humanity, like saying we will never get our act together, we will never solve the problems that we create by our own inattention, and we must take technology as our savior or we will die. I am gratified that you do see the problem, but we seem to disagree on the solution. But then again, I have always been naively optimistic about human capabilities.

    That's putting words in my mouth but as Stephen Hawking says, right now we have all our eggs in one basket. Do you honestly think we will always be incapable of spreading to other planets? If this one is wiped out by any means we would be toast.

    You certainly didn't sound optimistic earlier and my solution would include yours by matter of course and logic.

    People have been saying that for a long, long time and it's getting old.

    The extinction event, yes, that does get old doesn't it? The facts always gets stale when years pass and little or nothing is done to address them. We just roll over and go back to sleep, ho hum.

    Maybe you're not paying attention to what we are doing about it as a species in general.

    That argument carried some weight in the 80s but we really have come a long way with alternative energy harnessing and the beginnings of space exploration. So many young people are excited about not only saving ourselves here on Earth but about figuring out how to find new worlds to explore.

    Curbing our population is only a band-aid solution. Temporary at best and still just passes the buck to the next generations. It would be hard to get everybody on board but greed would become obsolete if we figured out how to better work with the abundance that is all around us.

    Sounds like a pipe dream but so does the world we live in compared to a hundred years ago.

    Some would say we have no right to go to space to populate other planets but then what was the point in coming out of the water.

    Information sharing isn't just for breakfast anymore.

  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    If we don't look at the roots of why we are overpopulating and misusing resources, we will only take our problems with us to other planets and infect them as well. Dealing with population might only be a bandaid, but so is moving.

    FosdickKerome
  • DavidDavid some guy The Hammer in Ontario, Canada, eh Veteran

    @karasti said:
    If we don't look at the roots of why we are overpopulating and misusing resources, we will only take our problems with us to other planets and infect them as well. Dealing with population might only be a bandaid, but so is moving.

    For sure. We pretty much have to do both. It would be no problem at all if we didn't spend so much time and resources fighting over seemingly limited resources.

  • FosdickFosdick in its eye are mirrored far off mountains Alaska, USA Veteran

    Quoth @David

    Do you honestly think we will always be incapable of spreading to other planets?

    No.

    You certainly didn't sound optimistic earlier

    Nor did you sound pessimistic. Where is the middle way?

    The extinction event, yes, that does get old doesn't it?

    Maybe you're not paying attention to what we are doing about it as a species in general.

    Not enough.

    Curbing our population is only a band-aid solution. Temporary at best and still just passes the buck to the next generations.

    I don't follow that. Overpopulation is the immediate problem. If we get a handle on that, future generations can fully focus on the next set of problems.

    I sense we are fundamentally in agreement, but seeing things from slightly different angles.

  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran
    edited December 2016

    We were all 'children' once...and before that ...just a twinkle in our 'pair rents' eyes ( or a lust in their groin-whichever the case may be)

    When crap happens to us ...should/do we blame our 'pair rents' ?

    As a pair rent who embraced Buddhism after having children, I've come to see the intricate workings of 'karma' playing a big role in the scheme of things to come...

    To have or not to have...is out of the question as far as karmic patterns flow :)

    Some parents might regret having children, whilst others might regret not having them...and some parents and their children are just happy to go with the flow of the here & now...

    Many Buddhist practitioners have children ...Where would the Buddha Dharma be without procreation taking place I wonder ?????

    The cogs of the karmic wheel go round and round....

  • KeromeKerome Did I fall in the forest? Europe Veteran

    @David said:

    @karasti said:
    If we don't look at the roots of why we are overpopulating and misusing resources, we will only take our problems with us to other planets and infect them as well. Dealing with population might only be a bandaid, but so is moving.

    For sure. We pretty much have to do both. It would be no problem at all if we didn't spend so much time and resources fighting over seemingly limited resources.

    I largely agree with @fosdick and @karasti here, overpopulation, climate change and resource use is the larger, more immediate problem. I think there is room to do both, but there is a risk of focussing too much on the long term goal of populating other planets while in fact the challenge of getting everyone pointed in the same direction as far as keeping THIS planet as a beautiful, bountiful home to the species is a huge one.

    The universe is vast, but the problems of interplanetary let alone interstellar travel are far from solved. We evolved on this Earth and are perfectly adapted to its environment - it's food, the very microbes in our gut, the trees to climb in, the beaches to swim at. We may never find another planet which suits us this well in the whole rest of the history of the species, and it would grace us to take care of this planet, our home.

  • DavidDavid some guy The Hammer in Ontario, Canada, eh Veteran
    edited December 2016

    @Fosdick and @Kerome, I don't think over population is as immediate a concern as the disease of us and "them". There is still lots of land for everybody if we all worked together.

    person
  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    @David I agree, but too much of the world doesn't look at things that way. I think we are probably farther from coming together in that way than we are from interplanetary travel. I hope I am wrong. Things can move swiftly in the right conditions.

    I am pretty attached to life here. Obviously a work of fiction, but I can't imagine myself living like The Martian (in the book and movie of the same title). I don't want to stay alive just to live in a suit, hooked up to hoses etc. I prefer a simpler life, but that assumes easy access to breathable air, fresh water, and a food supply. Currently our options aren't nearly so pleasant as where we are now. And like @Kerome said, it's not so simple as just picking up and movie. We are a living part of a giant living organism and it all works together, from the smallest bacteria in our body to the atmosphere. I imagine the effects for many generations of uprooting that relationship and establishing elsewhere would cause some significant problems for us.

  • KeromeKerome Did I fall in the forest? Europe Veteran
    edited December 2016

    In one way there still is plenty of land - if you look at how densely packed some cities are, we have a long way to go before we fill up the earth to that extent. But if you look at our usage of the Earth, pretty much all the land is owned and used for something.

    There isn't that much room left for wilderness, and natural habitats of a lot of animals are getting squeezed out. Many forests - the lungs of the earth - are being cut. Much of the seas underwater are now little more than deserts through overfishing. And we have two billion people in China and India who are now becoming wealthier and want to move up to the same standard of living as people in Europe, North America and Japan.

    The Earth's land and sea resources are getting squeezed, and climate change and soil erosion are eating away at that limited capacity. It looks quite likely that we will be getting water and resource wars within the next thirty years. And it's the biosphere that's at the bottom of the priority list... I wonder whether in five hundred or a thousand years, if we survive that long, people will look back and regard us all as mad despoilers of the beautiful environments that history bequeathed to us.

    Fosdickkarasti
  • upekkaupekka Veteran
    edited December 2016

    we have kids already, that is good
    we do not have kids yet, that is good too
    planning to 'have kids' or planning 'not to have kids' is not good
    because that is suffering

    ShoshinDhammaDragon
  • FosdickFosdick in its eye are mirrored far off mountains Alaska, USA Veteran

    @David Still plenty of land? Curses! We are in fundamental disagreement after all. We need to look at some data. For starters, I would refer you to the book Half Earth by Edward O. Wilson. I will send you a copy if you will provide me with an address. You could consider it a Christmas present to both of us.

    @upekka Failure to consider the consequences of our actions is also suffering, and perpetuates suffering, for us and for others.

    upekka
  • @Fosdick said:

    @upekka Failure to consider the consequences of our actions is also suffering, and perpetuates suffering, for us and for others.

    True
    remembering (reminding) the failure again and again is too suffering (kukkuchcha in five defilement)
    what one should do is have a determination not to make the same failure again

  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    How long will we have "open" land when the coastlines start going underwater though? Even with our existing population, it's a lot of people to move inland. 650 million people live in coastal flooding risk areas even more at a slightly higher elevation but very close to coastlines.

    Yes, much of the land is in use for farming and other things. We should shift that around though and if humans are going to survive we might have no choice. In the US the government is able to take private property if they deem it necessary (with compensation/payment of some sort).

    I'm not sure if I'd want to survive at any cost though.

    Fosdickdhammachick
  • FosdickFosdick in its eye are mirrored far off mountains Alaska, USA Veteran
    edited December 2016

    @upekka said

    remembering (reminding) the failure again and again is too suffering (kukkuchcha in five defilement)
    what one should do is have a determination not to make the same failure again
    .
    .
    .

    Yes, well said. So many teachings, so little time.

  • FosdickFosdick in its eye are mirrored far off mountains Alaska, USA Veteran

    @federica Yes, yes, quite right. I have murdered this thread - I shall quit the field and let it go - until next time. :p

  • SpinyNormanSpinyNorman It's still all old bollocks Veteran

    I haven't got children, but came close to it a couple of times. When I was married I had a step-daughter, which I found really challenging!

  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    Step-parenting is crazy challenging! My husband is stepdad to my 2 older boys and there have been a lot of challenges, especially with the older one who was 12 when his dad died. He was very loyal to his dad's memory and hesitant to bond with anyone else in that role as a result. Definitely not an easy path. I commend anyone who becomes a stepparent. It's really no different than adopting. Jumping into a family, into a child's life, is a major commitment to make. Especially when the kids are not babies, and there have been many years of bonding and growing between the other parent and the kids. It's pretty hard to explain that to someone who has never been a parent and has to jump in in the middle!

    @federica I love that! You could totally make that a meme ;)

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