The Drive to Procreate

I’ve always felt out of step with just about everyone I’ve ever met in the way I’ve yet to be overtaken with a desire to have children, as most everyone else has by their thirties, and even more true when you are Mexican, or when from any non-European Spanish-speaking country, in origin, at least. As an outsider on the matter, I’ve not been able to abstain from pondering what is the root of wanting to have children. Perhaps what I often see will never be politically correct to say, but many of the reasons I’ve deciphered have at least partially egotistical foundations to them. Reproduction is certainly a deeply-seated drive within us, hardwired in our DNA, but aside from that, what motivations or explanations do we arrive at in our minds that propel us to seek becoming parents?

One major factor which influences many people, from my view, is that becoming a parent is simply something you do, and like other traditions, whether it’s caps and gowns at graduation, kissing under the mistletoe, or brides taking on the groom’s surname, it is a practice that is carried out a great majority of the time, though not always. The way many traditions are simply accepted, without much questioning, is ample evidence that we often seek security with snowballing taboos, which gain momentum with the passing of time. We begin to look down on or alienate those who may choose to even consider the possibility of not following a certain norm or practice. Having children is surely one such example. I’ve encountered countless people who assume my disinterest in fatherhood signifies I am the possessor of some affliction—be it physical, mental, interpersonal, or some other form they may conjure. The idea that someone may not want something they not only want, but feel is simply invaluable and essential to happiness may in fact pull the rug out from under them, perhaps rendering them rather vulnerable, and this may trigger animosity towards that person who opts not to have children. Anxiety surfaces in the mind of a person who’s never considered the possibility of an alternative choice, in marriage, being a parent, buying a home, or any of a variety of firmly established rituals that are considered essential by most, or which stand as symbols of ‘making it’, or as steps to happiness. The anxiety may trigger skepticism, not believing the person’s for real in not wanting children, or feeling the person may be confused on the issue. Feelings of jealousy can surface as well, especially if the anxiety-driven individual has already had children, and even more so if those children were had at a young age. They may see the possibilities and freedom they in fact surrendered when becoming a parent, embodied in that other person. I don’t point it out to criticize the practice of having children, but I imagine having a child is a life-changing event, like it or not, and that includes a drastic decrease in freedom in various aspects, a more pronounced financial responsibility and feeling of duty to hold down a job, and the virtual death of selfish or egotistical tendencies one may harbor.

Another inspiration behind parenthood that’s come to my attention is the need for a continuation in our lineage, of extending one’s family into the future, of having a way of leaving a sort of mark on this world. It may sound a bit harsh, but many people do think of this as a motivator to procreate. A child is seen as a palpable confirmation of one’s visit to this planet, and the thought of that child procreating too seems to grant the parent a sort of relief, a feeling of being able to depart this life having made some peace, having left a legacy of sorts, and in a way living in on through their children and grandchildren.

A more archaic motivation is that of wanting children so that they may help one with the homestead or of assisting or tending to the parents in their old age. This was a more prevalent reason in older times, when life had not been as influenced and permeated by the Industrial Revolution, when more families did everything themselves, when strenuous chores at home were the norm. Modern times have pulled most away from the farms, meaning less difficult tasks, at least of a physical nature, and parents are more often on their own, and at times put in homes. This is less the case in Latino countries and even amongst first or possibly second generation Chicanos, or descendants of Latinos not from México.

Yet another set of reasons which propels some people to have children, which I feel a true disdain for, is of having children out of boredom, out of spite, seeking some form of financial security by way of child support, or out of the ignorant belief that bringing a child into the world is the way their unresponsive partner will start loving them or will become responsible. Couples often become couples, whether just in a relationship or in marriage, because of trouble of some sort in one or both of their homes. The courage to take a stand and move out of their home/s is often lacking and the only way they feel able to wage that move is to get pregnant, which basically makes it an issue of high urgency and which one or both of the people in the relationship allude to as a ‘kick in the pants’ or as ‘growing up’. This fallacy in thought leads to countless divorces, bickering amongst parents, neglect or animosity diverted towards the children, and the unfair dumping of children on grandparents, who had already raised their children, but because of poor planning or terrible decision-making are practically extorted into caring for them. The grandparents usually feel guilty in saying ‘no’, though some will, but it’s nonetheless an unfair practice to expect one’s parents to care for one’s children. Grandparents who opt to do that, who offer themselves, that’s a different story. This day in age there are still mothers who intentionally get pregnant, knowing the father is not interested in any form of fatherhood. These women feel they may have a chance of ‘reeling in’ the man in question, by some defect in their thinking pattern. I am well aware it takes two to conceive a child, but a woman has ultimate control over the situation, and if she is seeking a relationship with a man who is not showing interest in being committed, taking such a step as a last desperate attempt at hooking him is truly irresponsible. They may see it as a ‘win-win’ situation, thinking that should he still not fall, at least he’ll have to pay for it by way of child support, which very often fails, and the one who suffers most is that child, who did not ask to be brought into the world as a form of bait or as some type of revenge.

We must awaken, and become aware of the motivations behind what we do. Tradition for the sake of tradition, unchecked, unquestioned, done only to fulfill some expectation or to avoid animosity or alienation is ignorance. I defend the right of people to have children, but if the motivations are truly benevolent, not reliant on egotistical whims, if the parents are really able to accommodate the financial requirement, and are willing and able to invest the time, effort, and patience necessary to raise a child correctly. Too often we are creatures of habit, of unnecessary taboos on communicating on certain subjects, and of believing certain things are correct simply because all others do them, and too rarely do we question tradition, seek our motivations, and make decisions based on feelings and preferences that are genuinely our own. A child is not a means of acquiring some selfish whim or of escaping some undesired setting or situation. This is taken too lightly and too many times people don’t realize this until it is too late.

J. González Solorio

4 thoughts on “The Drive to Procreate

  1. Certainly, people may not be in optimal financial or even personal conditions to be parents, but ultimately, not all is bleak.

    Children from unsuccessful marriages or relationships are not pre-conditioned or destined to fail in life. There are many examples of people that overcome adversity from childhood to achieve great things in life. For example, our president Barack Obama came from a single parent upbringing.

    Neither is a child of an undocumented parent destined to fail in life or be a burden on the state, for another example, but Ron Paul would have a child born in this country into that condition not allowed citizenship thus perpetuating “the illegal problem” within the country’s own borders. Hence, the nonsensical view that Paul exhibits at times.

    On a side note, but still relating to children and their education,

    I expect that Paul would give Republicans what they want in places like Arizona and his own state of Texas where they are practicing a revisionist version of history in school text books and where they attack Ethnic Studies, with Mexican-Americans being their main target.

  2. I agree that children from unsuccessful marriages or relationships are not pre-conditioned for failure in life, but in this day in age, no one should have a child that isn’t planned. Pregnancy is something that is extremely easy to prevent in our day. With very rare exceptions, anyone that winds up with an unwanted pregnancy has been consciously ignorant or blatantly irresponsible. Marriages based on a sense of obligation, because of an unplanned pregnancy, are much more likely to fail than those marriages that were decided because of a pregnancy. The more unstable home life that accompanies such marriages is an important factor when considering a child’s chances to succeed. It’s definitely possible, but it’s an obstacle the child will have to overcome, and that can be easily avoided. People need to assume responsibility for their own lives. We are babied entirely too much in this country, and are led by the hand on things which should not be issues, and we have a federal government which exploits this irresponsibility to step in and assume more power and in turn create more bureaucracy

    I’ve mentioned that I disagree with Ron Paul’s view on not granting citizenship to children of illegal immigrants born within the United States not being granted citizenship. Despite my disagreeing with him on that issue, these babies born as American citizens, who have parents who are illegal aliens, sometimes have to suffer being separated from their parents when these are processed for deportation. The separation that results when one or both of the parents are deported is a terrible occurrence, but it demonstrates it is a more complex issue than most will make it out to be. It is easy to say no immigration laws will be enforced, that an amnesty granting all illegal immigrants will be passed, and that all parents that are illegal aliens who wind up with a child born an American citizen will be granted residency or citizenship, but it is childish to think all these things will happen. A compromise needs to be reached, and simply saying ‘No, no, no!’ about any concessions will not help the issue for either side.

    The issue of an amnesty can be debated, and even if one supports it, what I feel is more important is to make an advance on the root of the issue, which is the economy. An amnesty, whether right or wrong, is simply a bandage on the situation. I believe NAFTA is one of the primary causes of the economic downturn in México, as well as in the United States (though to a lesser degree). Its repeal is crucial when hoping to work on resolving the drop in the economy in México that has lead to massive numbers of people crossing the border illegaly in the last couple of decades, as they search for better opportunities. Illegal immigration IS in a decline, due to the downturn of the American economy, but the number of illegal immigrants coming in is still considerable.

    The other essential step needed in this country is the end of borrowing, the end of the printing of paper currency with no backing, the end of The Federal Reserve’s counterfeiting operation. Pretending that borrowing more money from The Federal Reserve, a private international bank organization, will lead to economic prosperity is simply childish. Our nation continuing to borrow from the Federal Reserve, by printing currency without any gold to back it is like a person who finds themselves in serious debt repeatedly taking out new credit cards with ever-increasing interest rates attached to pay part of the interest from the last credit card believing they’re making any progress in eliminating debt.

    No candidate but Ron Paul talks about these two crucial and necessary steps needed to head towards economic recovery. No candidate even talks about the economy, despite it being the most important issue for voters. Their mind is stuck on the next war, the next racket. People are fed up of endless needless spending and no sense of fiscal responsibility in sight. We have to suffer for a while, there is no other way out. Someone gave those bankers a bailout instead of having bailed out the citizens of this country, and we have to live with it, but the solution is not more spending. It’s insane.

    What Ron Paul wants to do is return much of the power that’s been gradually usurped by the unlimited growth and tyranny of the federal government. The level of bureaucracy in Washington has helped to strip power from the state level. The states were designed to possess equal or even more power than the federal government, but the trend in the last decade has turned that upside down. There is growing discontent because there is no more balance in power between the federal and state levels. Many issues which were guaranteed to be state issues in the Constitution are not so anymore, and this will unavoidably cause strife and animosity from the states, who begin to feel unrepresented. The issue in Arizona is not going away. To be real about it, people of that mentality are not making a change any time soon, and they’ve only been antagonized and angered more by the utter disregard Washington has shown for their concerns in the past decade, whether those concerns are right or wrong. The KKK, The Minutemen, whomever, are guaranteed representation on issues, both at the state and federal levels. The arrogance with which the federal government has acted in the past decade, declaring itself as all-knowing and stripping states of their right to decide personal issues and not listening to Arizona’s or any state’s demands has shattered the working relationship and trust that was present before, which helped to keep some form of compromise possible.

    The federal government’s involvement in education was never intended by the founders of this country. It is a personal and community issue that requires the involvement of parents and local groups/communities. In a perfect world, racism would not exist, but it exists, and some regions of the country still harbor a large amount of it, and it’s something that is not going away overnight, we have to admit that to ourselves. Arizona does not celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day, but it’s been decided by a majority of the state. Do I agree with it? —No. But it’s a right granted to the states nonetheless. Hate crimes or specific acts of discrimination waged on people are a different story, but the federal a government needs to get itself out of state matters. It is the only way this nation can remain as one. Without this, there is a possibility of violence on minorities or other groups at the state levels and states will begin to spread ideas of secession, it’s a fact of life, whether we like it or not.

    1. But there is a hierarchy, and the Federal government has the power, rightly so, of defeating the intentions to rule through bias and bigotry, or methods and treatment of people in places like Arizona. It’s why the confederates were put in their place in the 19th century, and yet every last one of the descendants of the confederacy will tell you that they love America. To think that a place like Arizona would threaten or even think of secession would make them the modern-day spiritual successors of the confederate south. And why? Because they were told no to racial profiling and discriminatory practices? Should states have a right to behave as Arizona?

  3. That is true, but the truth is everyone has their own unique view of ‘America’, and though most have a somewhat similar view, that is not overtaken by racism, because, we are all, to some extent, influenced by racism or biased views of different types, there will always be those who hold views as many do in Arizona and throughout the ‘Bible Belt’, who very much hold on to ways that have passed down generation to generation. I feel much more can be done more effectively at a local grassroots level by those living in the communities themselves uniting, boycotting, protesting, placing pressure on the forces that implement questionable resolutions, laws, or actions. An issue like textooks or school programs is not clear-cut if it’s looked at from the perspective of the Constitution. Textbooks we grew up reading have been grossly inaccurate as well, and have omitted so much from their pages. I strongly feel education is not the business of the federal government, it’s a matter of the state and even more of communities. Parents need to involved in the authorship of programs, not the federal government. We place entirely too much trust in the hands of the federal government, simply assuming it will do what is right for us. Many people do not agree with decisions the federal government may arrive at on personal issue, not on this case specifically, but in general, and it’s the very reason issues not specifically covered within the parameters of the Constitution really need to be surrendered to the states.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s