Sunday, November 02, 2008

On children

I'm often at a loss to understand why people decide to have children. I suppose for many people - perhaps even the global majority - its not a choice. Its something that simply happens, just like the waves that ripple onto the shore. Perhaps this automatic approach is the more understandable - women whose hormones condition large swathes of their reality, men who follow their desires and consider after the fact.

The conscious decision to have children is more difficult to understand. Clearly, the human species is going to be in for a torrid time in the next two decades. Resource and climate crises will only compound, whatever response international financial systems make to the immediate present. Population is spiraling out of control in many emerging economies, such as India and Nigeria. There will be not enough resources or jobs for the multitudes to come. There will be untold violence, perhaps as bad as the twentieth century's worst, perhaps as bad as the DRC right now. I don't see how there could be more peace, given the initial conditions of the present.

Why then, when one considers the issues at hand, would one want to add to the burden we humans face by bringing yet another child into the world? I simply don't understand it, as a conscious decision one might make. If one has the desire to be a parent, then why not simply adopt one or two or three of the hundreds of thousands of unwanted unloved children? Anything else strikes me as vanity.

Another strange phenomenon: that people with children often consider themselves to have something more significant at work in their lives than those without. The childless are subconsciously considered to be lesser beings, somehow less involved in the affairs of the world. Why think like this? One can be at work in the world, engaging to the full extent of one's powers in trying to leave the place one drop better, without reproduction. There is a residual smugness that surrounds many family set-ups, as if society is a better place for the children round about to be in existence. Such folly!

Right now, the fewer humans on the planet, the better. Why then are we headlong in the opposite direction?

46 comments:

LoloBloggs 11:01 pm  

I think it's relevant to consider world factors in family creation, yes let's all be responsible etc etc etc, bla bla bla.. but when my biology rings, I'm answering, that's just the way things are! We are biologically programmed to procreate. We may think it's a choice, but essentially it really isn't, its....well...life!

Waffarian 12:50 am  

abeg, jeremy, dem go soon come quote the part for Bible wey dem talk say "be fruitful and multiply!"heheheheh na im make we dey born anyhow na...

As for people wey dey look down on others because dem don born or marry, etc...everybody needs to hold on to something that feeds their ego and tell them why they are so very important in this shit life...

all part of the show, my dear.

@lolobloggs: In the year 2008, its a choice.

dapxin 12:59 am  

lol @loloblogss....

lol !

lol

Kody 4:53 am  

response from me on this topic.

Your post on children, Jeremy, is a perfect illustration of an aspect of your personality that infuriates me. You have a strong opinion on something (disbelief in God is another), and it is one so strong that you doggedly believe that your way, and your belief is the 'right' one. Anyone one else with contrary opinions or belief systems surely must be dim.

I could go on till I can breathe no more about reasons why I think many choose to have kids. Same for why, for me, it was, and will always be the best conscious decision I ever made. But I won't. Today am too busy and I have a zillion things to do!

What I will say though is that in my opinion, choosing to be childless and not adopt, is to me, the ultimate exercise is vanity.

Onyeka 7:35 am  

You're looking at it from a scientific element, instead of a human element, and just like lolobloggs said, when it comes down to it, humans are internally programmed to want to procreate. You're hardly going to find someone that will sit and think, "hm, I'd like to have children, but wait, the world is already so populated...maybe not then".

arin,  10:02 am  

oh bloody hell give it a rest about this nonesensical biological programming. Biology is never so straightforward. Biology always has to interface with culture. Yes, women have the biological capability to procreate, but do they have to act on it? Do we have to act on every biological impluse that we feel? I don't think so. To act on it is part of our embeddedness within culture. Nothing is as natural as we think.
What we think is natural yesterday might not be today or tomorrow.

Kody said he/she made a conscious decision to have children - bullshit. Just like so many of us straight people or meat eaters we defend our mediocrity by saying that we were conscious of our decision or choice. Of course not. We just do what everyone does around us. We fuck the opposite sex cause our culture demands it and we eat meat because we were brought up in a meat eating culture. We do things as our society expects of us. Only a few renegades actually disrupt that and dare to be different. They are the ones that sets the terms of culture. It only becomes a conscious choice when you have actually gone through a journey of intense internal examination and then decide I still want to be heterosexual, eat meat or procreate. Until you have done that you are just doing what your society expects of you at this historical period and this may very well change.

Please take us on a journey of your conscious decision to have children so that some of us can understand. I have children, but that decision to have them is no more conscious than me eating meat and going to work. I thought I wanted to have children. But now I realise it is not because I want to have children, it is because that is what is expected of me. In another life, I would definitely think more consciously about it.

Unconsciously and unbiologically yours.

Arin

Anengiyefa 11:22 am  

It is not a choice to be heterosexual and for those who are not, it would clearly be incorrect to suggest that they are programmed to procrate as Lolobloggs seems to believe. It just so happens that fulfilment of heterosexual sexual urges leads to procreation, but we cannot ignore the fact that a significant number of these pregnancies are unwanted or unwelcome. To procreate conciously is a deliberate choice that people make and I could not agree more with Arin that biology does go hand in hand with culture.

LoloBloggs 11:35 am  

@Waffarian, Onyeka and Arin

Lets be clear, one of the dangers of the intelligence and depth of thinking that we indulge and enjoy these days is arrogance about our existance. In 2008 we may think more about it, but as far as I see it, the choice NOT to act on nature when you are physically able to is basically a result of over thinking.

I don't even condem those who choose not to have children or those who are maybe re-thinking the fact that (through choice or not) they have had children. But likewise, I don't think it is appropriate for those people to look down on me for answering the call of nature. I hold no-one responsible for my choices, I can take care of and educate my children effectively and lovingly.

If I start thinking about over population in the world, global warming and how we are supposedly destroying our world, why stop at not having children? I might as well pop some pills and kill myself to prevent more damage!

I beg, lets be considerate and conscientious but it's not about getting our purpose twisted!

Anonymous,  11:50 am  

i really have to disagree with most of what you have written here; i agree that a lot of people especially in countries like Nigeria have children because it is expected of them, the same way a lot of people get married because they feel it is expected. This has been the case across the world for many years. Thankfully more and more people are now making informed decisions before they do either; in my case i have felt the urge to be a mother from a very young age. Like most girls I had all these dreams about getting married and having my children. I am now over 40 and I have never been married. i do however have a child. having my child was a very concious decision on my part which has brought untold joy to my life. Children are not for everyone. I have a wide group of friends with varied views on children and I respect all their choices. i do not in any way feel superior because I am a mother neither do i think my childless friends are missing out. very few people will admit to regretting having children but some do. Your air of superiority is my biggest gripe with your blog. I do not know you personally so I do not know if you write in this manner just to stir up controversy. yes I agree that there is alot of misery in the world and a lot of motherless children. i admit my decision to have my own child rather than adopt may have been somewhat selfish but it was my choice. we all have choices in life and just because we do not agree with another persons does not make them wrong.

Goy 1:03 pm  

People have children because they want to have children, full stop. And, so long as said people are happy, willing and capable of taking responsibility for the consequences of their own actions - and I think most people do, surprisingly - then it's their business and their business alone.

Likewise, people choose NOT to have children because they do not wish to have children, full stop.

I do not see the altruistic position in either stance. More to the point, the short and long term consequences of smaller and childless families is well documented - why do you think several European governments are trying to coax their citizens into having more children, for instance? (I'm tempted to phrase this in cruder language, but I won't. It'll probably upset someone or the other). There is a completely different demographic timebomb ticking in western Europe, to do with the unsustainable nature of public services and provisions like state pensions because there simply ain't enough young 'uns coming through the system to fund these commitments, through taxation and so on.

But that's neither here nor there. It all comes down to choice. Sorry to say it, but you sound as reactionary and - dare I say it? Smug - about the whole business of procreation as the people whom you - quite correctly - excoriate in your penultimate paragraph. Let it go...

Jeremy 1:30 pm  

"it all comes down to choice". Pretty vapid response Goy. The question is, what are the issues on either side - to have children or not? My point is that I see more significant reasons to not have children: overpopulation, the instability and violence to come, resource issues, masses of unwanted kids out there already. That's not to say that there is much joy to be had in being a parent, nor is it to deny that reproduction itself can have social value - if associated with deep parental responsibility.

The idea that somehow you can insulate personal decisions from the wider world in terms of having children is as fluffy and delusionary as is the idea that you can separate your own carbon footprint from the issue of global warming.

A few years ago, only a small percentage of people anywhere were interested in green issues. In the West, high oil prices have changed that more than anything else (ice shelves collapsing, freak weather etc.)

At some point we will have to face the population issue and internalise it. 8,9 or 10 billion people on the planet will require the resources of 3 or 4 earths. Its completely unsustainable.

Standtall 3:30 pm  

It's good to have children after deep consideration of
1. how to take care of them
2. how many one can take care of
3. the real reason for wanting them

That and another point I want to make is, we need not rule out the fact that we need to help our world and adopt children instead of having more than we cant cater for

It's equally important to try and limit the number of children one want to have to 3. I will personally say have one and adopt one

We have being socialised to believing that those that are childless must be viewed particular way. We dont think in Nigeria that anyone in her/his right mind can choose not to have kids or that she/he might choose to adopt

We need to change from that.

And Jeremy, how many kids do you plan on adopting?

Jeremy 3:34 pm  

Well said Standtall. We plan on adopting a couple of kids..

Sandrine 3:38 pm  

Hi Jeremy,
It's funny, I was thinking about you the other day and I was wondering when you will post some personal writing or stir a debate.Here we go!There is nothing closer to me than this subject.However as I am not as witty as you and I certainly don't have the answer about the argument of adding to the burden of humanity, I will only speak from my heart.I have four children (2,5,7,8) that my husband and I decided to have.After the second one people started to ask"was it planned?" or said "again!".Even though we told everybody from the beginning we wanted four, that didn't change anything. Even now people are still asking me if I want anymore and I also get the very subtle comments "but are you making sure?".Somebody once actually said to me "you and your husband make beautiful babies"like I was breeding puppies.When I was pregnant with my third and fourth I had to endure "don't you have a TV?".People will always criticize one way or the other and in a nutshell I really don't care.I always loved children, even when I was a teenager.Maybe because I am an only child,who knows.I am sure the biology has something to do with it since this the only way the species continues.However the number was mine and my husband choice and we had the names from the beginning too.I have to say, considering everything I have experienced in my life, this is surely the best ever.The love that resulted from the moment each of them was born until now, can not be compared with anything.I love my kids with all my heart and I miss them whenever I am not with them.Also creating life is probably the closest one can get to the divine, if I may say since I am not believing in God.
Now, to each his own and if you or anybody don't feel like having kids, I would say that's fine too.You have to find your own path and be happy with it.
On the subject of"people with children often consider themselves to have something more significant at work in their lives than those without".I don't think it is just a matter of people with children versus people without,at least in my opinion.It is a matter of caregivers versus people who only have to worry about themselves.There is a big difference between them a lot of times.In my experience, people who are caregivers (of parents,kids or siblings) are more compassionate.Being a caregivers means having to deals with problems on regular basis and it is likely that you have been through the problem another person is going through now.So you may understand them better.It is not to say that a person who is not a caregiver doesn't encounter problems but it is likely that there are not as numerous.Encountering problems on regular basis gives one a broader picture as what it is to be human.
My two cents.
Take care.
Sandrine
PS: I always enjoy your writing.

Waffarian 3:45 pm  

@lolobloggs:

"Lets be clear, one of the dangers of the intelligence and depth of thinking that we indulge and enjoy these days is arrogance about our existance. In 2008 we may think more about it, but as far as I see it, the choice NOT to act on nature when you are physically able to is basically a result of over thinking".

First of all, you are assuming it is part of MY nature to want to have a child.

Secondly, you are also assuming that I am ABLE to have chidren.

Maybe having children is part of YOUR nature and if YOU are able to, then by all means, answer the call to YOUR nature but don't expect me to conform to YOUR reality.

However, I do agree with you when you say:

"I don't think it is appropriate for those people to look down on me for answering the call of nature. I hold no-one responsible for my choices, I can take care of and educate my children effectively and lovingly"

I don't think it is right for anybody to look down on others just because they have a different idea, opinion or view of life.

We are all different and thats why we should all be able to make different choices in life without having to defend ourselves all our lives as if we are perpetually on trial for our own choices.

I don't understand what being "intelligent" has to do with ignorance of "existence". People have been making choices for years, educated or not. I believe its a personal choice because we can control with who or when or where we want to have a baby.

If Jeremy thinks the world is too fucked a place to raise a kid, thats his bloody business. If he thinks people that have kids are causing more problems, bla bla bla...really, do you really give a fuck about what HE thinks? Its your life at the end of the day. All these are just HIS own opinions and affects nobody's life but his own.

I see no reason why we can not all discuss without resulting to RIGHT OR WRONG. Why can't we all just state our opinions or debate without anybody being right or wrong? Its always so boring when it has to be right or wrong. Fucking boring.

(meanwhile, I think say na wey person wey wan shit na im dey "answer call of nature" heheheheehehehee)

Mr C 3:48 pm  

J, there is much logic in your argument,but there is another angle to it. Following up to what loloblogs said, intelligence and increased depth in thinking (that could correlate with the population decline in the west) might actually be the cause of the world crisis that we are in. Having less children might compound the problem more.

I personally think that if the general public had continued under the same route of engaging in the mundane activities of life (like managing & raising kids), no one would have had the time to invest their mental engine in the develops that threatens our existence.
I don't have a child, but I know that there is something about one can give the biological parent something to live for. This is more than just a culture thing. It is spiritual; being able to create a creature who is just like you. It can gets one up in the morning (even during downtimes; that is times when the person is willing to give up). A society fueled with that spirit, would have its leader passionately looking for answers that can ensure survival.

Having children is more than just a cultural wiring; it is a survival instinct.

R.E.II 4:18 pm  

Jeremy you do not surprise me in the slightest. Most of my English friends share this view. It seems very reasonable in this world of sorrow and trouble.

Mike,  4:18 pm  

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C1sE1E3z7jU

Watch out for that haert attack!

Interesting article here that I think I may have posted here before: http://www.newamerica.net/publications/articles/2006/the_return_of_patriarchy

I haven't had time to really study it but some interesting views!

Anonymous,  4:31 pm  

Jeremy, don't lie. You WANT to have a BIOLOGICAL pikin. You know I know now.

I'm adopting, abeg. Two of mine, two adopted.Luckily, somebody feels the same way.

Ide.

Anonymous,  4:35 pm  

Lets be honest with ourselves to have children in Africa is not a choice. And if it is, it is a limited choice. It is a do or die affair. Look at the agony people go through when they can't have children. Look at the abuse and insult childless women go through. I remember two of our neigbhours one I was growing up fighting tongue lashing each other for the whole street to hear. One of them was clearly winning and then voila, the other one shut her up forever by shouting 'you dried up barren women'. I still remember the face of the woman and she ran back into their flat. She did not come out for days and days. The shame was just too much.

Now, what kind of choice do one make in such a circumstance where the penalities and stigma for not having children are so great?

Me, I want children and I can't imagine dating or marrying a woman who will tell me that they don't want to have children or they want to adopt. Perhaps because I am the only child, but I don't know. I can't explain the feeling of wanting to have children. whether is biological or cultural I don't know. All I know is that the issue is an important one for us to reflect on. I don't see smugness from Jeremy. It is certainly uncomfortable.

procreation is overated,  4:45 pm  

'when it comes down to it, humans are internally programmed to want to procreate.' BULLSHIT!! BULLSHIT!!! BULLSHIT!!! BULLSHIT!!! BOVINE CRAP

If we are so internally programmed why are some women/men not able to give birth?

"Also creating life is probably the closest one can get to the divine, if I may say since I am not believing in God."

Many artists will tell you that producing a work of art is the closest they get to the divine. So, I guess Sandrine you are right the act of creativity brings one closer to divinity.

Certainly some people in a state of sexual ectasy thinks it is as close to the divine as they would ever get.

Arin,  5:01 pm  

I love love my children and they bring so much joy and I feel my life is enriched by their presence in my world.

However, the question remains, beyond my husband and I saying 'it would be nice to have children once we are financially stable', I don't think we really ask ourselves, do we really want to have children? Why is it that we want to have children so desperately that we'll do anything? What is motivating that desire to want to procreat? What is missing in our lives that children will fulfill? What is served by us having children? What if we don't have children, how would our families take it? Can our lives still be richer with or without children?

Now, I asked those questions but when I first had my first three I didn't. If I had asked these questions would I have changed my mind? Perhaps yes and perhaps not. I will never know, but at least that will be the beginning a of conscious choice and rationality about the urge I felt to have children.

I don't regret having children at all. But the question I see here is about the meaning of choice. This could apply to anything: religion, heterosexual, meat eating etc. How did we arrive at our choice in a context where our choice is the norm of the society we live? That is the question. The issue you have raised is interesting to me because I see what happens to childless women here in Nigeria. And it makes me wonder about this idea of choice.

BTW jeremy, Sandrine is right, when you are a caregiver, you have an added responsiblity that you may not have. It doesn't mean it is superior to yours, it just means that the responsibility that involves emotional work has a different dimension.

Goy 5:19 pm  

'The idea that somehow you can insulate personal decisions from the wider world in terms of having children is as fluffy and delusionary as is the idea that you can separate your own carbon footprint from the issue of global warming.'

But I'm afraid we do, like it or not, and not just with childbearing and childrearing. Take flying, for example; or driving, or consuming beef (and yes, I know you are a vegetarian). A few people make valid - and admirable - choices, to take a stance on issues like for the common good. Most of us don't. That's not to say we shouldn't have a greater awareness of the consequences of our personal choices, but...

We make all sorts of choices that are irrational, if approached from a logical perspective, but nonetheless make sense in our personal lives. And there isn't any way of getting around it.

Adoption is a noble, honourable choice. But should people be compelled to adopt? I don't think so. Far better to address the issue of unfettered childbirth through education and awareness of the other options available.

And, does it - can it - replace the experience of pregnancy, of birth, of bringing your own progeny into the world? Possibly. But I'm not so sure.

AS it happens, I have no problems with the childless philosophy, or with adoption. I just disagree with your arguments.

Incidentally, I note that you ignored my point about the consequences of population decline. Of course, that won't be an issue of most of sub Saharan Africa in my lifetime. Still, it is there. Or what do you say about China, where aggressive - and not fully thought out - population control has led to a spectacular demographic imbalance, both in terms of gender and age?

I admire your stance. But, you must acknowledge, when all is said and done it is ultimately a path that you and your partner have chosen. It is your choice.

Goy 5:30 pm  

(sorry, internet connection dropped whilst posting this. If it is duplicated, please disregard)

@ Jeremy

'The idea that somehow you can insulate personal decisions from the wider world in terms of having children is as fluffy and delusionary as is the idea that you can separate your own carbon footprint from the issue of global warming.'

But I'm afraid we do, like it or not, and not just with childbearing and childrearing. Take flying, for example; or driving, or consuming beef (and yes, I know you are a vegetarian). A few people make valid - and admirable - choices, to take a stance on issues like for the common good. Most of us don't. That's not to say we shouldn't have a greater awareness of the consequences of our personal choices, but...

We make all sorts of choices that are irrational, if approached from a logical perspective, but nonetheless make sense in our personal lives. And there isn't any way of getting around it.

Adoption is a noble, honourable choice. But should people be compelled to adopt? I don't think so. Far better to address the issue of unfettered childbirth through education and awareness of the other options available.

And, does it - can it - replace the experience of pregnancy, of birth, of bringing your own progeny into the world? Possibly. But I'm not so sure.

AS it happens, I have no problems with the childless philosophy, or with adoption. I just disagree with your arguments.

Incidentally, I note that you ignored my point about the consequences of population decline. Of course, that won't be an issue of most of sub Saharan Africa in my lifetime. Still, it is there. Or what do you say about China, where aggressive - and not fully thought out - population control has led to a spectacular demographic imbalance, both in terms of gender and age?

I admire your stance. But, you must acknowledge, when all is said and done it is ultimately a path that you and your partner have chosen. It is your choice.

LoloBloggs 6:52 pm  

@Waffarian

I hope I haven't been taken to be presenting my ideas in terms of right and wrong, it is most certainly just MY expressed opinion.

Also, I shall qualify my view that it is within our biological natures to have children. Biology is a perfect science by design, however in reality it is imperfect hence why some people are not able to have children and a million other human conditions which spring to mind as biology gone wrong.

When I talk of nature, I talk of biology and the design, I do not mean nurture and personality. So I stand by the opinion that it is in human nature to procreate. The choice therefore, in my opinion, is to NOT have children, because the natural (again biological) state is to have children.

Finally, as for my comment on greater intelligence leading to an arrogance about creation, I stand by that too. I think myself to be very intelligent, and as a result of that I know that the way in which we are learning and increasing knowledge is seperating us from instinct and spirit and therefore leading to arrogance. I can see it in myself and I think we all need to check for it before we're talking ourselves outside our bodies! As an African, I know my mother has been telling me this for years so it shouldn't be a shock! "Read your book, but you berra know yourself!"

@ Goy, totally agree with you on the European age dilema and imbalanced demographic in China. Controlling childbirth either by enforcement or so called individual 'choice' isn't going to have great consequences.

Anonymous,  8:26 pm  

there are lots of things one can do for the greater good of mankind ( smaller carbon footprints), but most of us dont do them....if everybody chose not to have children for the greater good. when will humankind end? I guess some need to have children to keep the human race going.... should only people who can afford children have them? I guess the poor are fu%&^ked.

Its ok to have these hoity toity ideas about how people should live. BUT there are usually many sides to the story.... and We all know that thw world grows enough food for every human on earth... perhaps the world is not really overpopulated at least not per capita for land or resources.

There is a very artificial and skewed division and distribution of resources in our world weith 20% of the world population(USA, Europe) consuming 80% of the world resources.
So instead of penalizing the poor , perhaps we could work to address the inequity of income and resource distribution.

just my two cents













/

Marin 9:20 pm  

To have or to adopt is a personal choice and I don't think one owes anyone any explanation about their personal choice.I always wanted to have biological kids and to adopt, have wanted that since I was a kid - and yes, I'm a born and bred Nigerian.

I don't think that one has the right to judge other people's decision to have many kids either -as long as they can afford to. If you can afford it - na you get your body and your money -go for it. I begin to have problems when there are people struggling to survive who keep churning out kids and then try to guilt you into helping support the kids, or sentence the kids automatically to a childhood (at the least) of deprivation.

If you chose to adopt, good for you - as long as you can give the kid(s) your unreserved love and not make their lives more miserable than in an orphanage.

my two cents.

Anonymous,  10:27 pm  

Of course it's vanity. But so what? If you choose not to have children or adpot children, you only exist for yourself. That's vanity. If you have children, and your life has a greater purpose outside yours, such as providing for them - that's selfless.

As for having children of one's own, some women want to experience childbirth. And as a Darwinian/Dawkinsian, you'll know that the selfish gene trumps all. Why have sex at all, if it doesn't include procreation? The reason sex is pleasurable is so that the man keeps coming back to the woman, hence creating an investment in a possible sprog. Two-parent families creating a better environment for the child to thrive etc.

I'm sure you'll love your adopted children as if you gave birth to them. But it will be a gradual process. Loving the children will not be visceral and instinctive the way it would be with a child carrying your genes. In the end, you will choose a child, how will you do so? What criteria will you use? You could easily choose any number of children - so you now love all the children of the world? With a child that's yours, those questions rarely apply, because you just love and care for them "like only a father could".

Besides, why do you want to adopt? Because you feel sorry for these children who have no one to love them? So when they grow up, you'll tell them you gave them a home because nobody loved them? This is, as I'm sure you'll agree, patronising. You want children because you think YOU can give them whatever it is you want to give them.

Having children is always selfish and vain, whether you adopt, or sprog yourself. It's the nature of the beast, don't knock it.

Anonymous,  11:37 pm  

"people with children often consider themselves to have something more significant at work in their lives than those without"

No need to feel inferior if you don't have children. Uphold your choice and respect others for their choices.
The world was falling apart four decades ago yet your parents had you!

Kody 6:20 am  

Arin, how dare you presume because to know the though processes my partner and I went through before making the decision to have children.

Arin,  7:50 am  

@Kody, I don't know the thought process you and your partner went through to have children. I am just asking you to walk us through if you care to. If you don't, then don't and move on. No need to be so touchy.

Anonymous,  7:55 am  

"Why have sex at all, if it doesn't include procreation?" God help us!! So you only have sex 'cause it includes procreation. If everyone had your views the world would be in a worser state than it is.

"The reason sex is pleasurable is so that the man keeps coming back to the woman, hence creating an investment in a possible sprog." -
So sex is only for straight folks? I'll be damned. If we follow your logic, there really should be no abortion from straight folks should there?

"Two-parent families creating a better environment for the child to thrive etc" So children of single parent have no hope? They should just go and die? What about children being raised in multiple families or by the community as it is the case in many AFrican cultures?

Anonymous,  12:40 pm  

Jeremy, you know you want to !!! You may be considered too old to adopt in the UK and the race issue will take a life of its own. My cousin adopted in Lagos as a single woman. After a while people found something (or someone else) to talk about.
Human beings are inherently selfish therefore the decision to have or not have children is a selfish one.

Anonymous,  11:09 pm  

Hahahaha…. I am not surprised by this write up at all. Your views come as a direct result of your belief in atheism. And as I said in my previous write up, the belief in atheism is foundation for a ruthless, selfish, warped, illogical and barbaric society.

There are issues with the world as you rightly point out like, overpopulation, global warming etc however one thing you fail to understand is that there would always be issues with the world and there is nothing you or any body can do about it. Even in the 10th century there were issues with the world but people still procreated. So, if you were living in those times would you not have had offspring? If so, what benefit would that have been to you or even the offspring you failed to deliver?

As there are challenging issues involved with having children, there are also immense Joyful and positive things associated with children. Is it that you only see the negative things like overpopulation, climatic changes about the future?
About sustainability of resources and population, all I have to say is Thomas Malthus. If you do not know him, go research.

When the worst comes to the worst, your parents, brothers and sisters would not do as much for you compared to your BIOLOGICAL offspring. When I am in my old peoples home chilling, I would be happy cos I know that there are people with my own DNA, my blood and whom I have raised, running around, having fun and making positive impacts to peoples lives.
By having kids, my boring job begins to make sense. The passion to work, live and succeed increases. There is joy in receiving a gift or present I did not budget from my offspring. There is joy in receiving extra hugs, not just from the wife but from my kids in the morning.
There is joy in seeing the fruits of your work/labour take LIVE form by your offspring gong to university, earning a living, leading a group of individuals, making a positive impact to peoples lives/community, getting married and having their own offspring, finding the cure to diseases, changing the world for the better.
Even if a million icecaps were to collapse tomorrow, I would not swap that joy for anything in the world.

There are people that were born like Mandela, Ghandi, Einstein, Newton, Ford, Obama, Galileo, Churchill and even Isaiah Osagiede. These are people’s descendants. These people were born into the world and world benefited from them.

So Jeremy I ask, why do you want to rob the world of people like these by not having children?

Anonymous,  10:51 am  

On children
Jeremy, it's been a while since you offered an opinion. I do enjoy reading them. On your view about children. I can agree with most of it, but I disagree about couples who want children. I can't see anything wrong with them having children of their own. Why adopt other people's kids when you are capable of having your own?

The consciousness that we all share the world and have responsibilities to it, is lost on many people, who are too busy with their own lives to recognise such facts.

Surely is it not encouraging irresponsibility of the parents who choose not to provide for their children? Nothing wrong with adoption, I can see a place for it for orphans or children whose family life is so poor that it is a good option for them to be adopted. However, prevention is better than cure.

I think there is a place for family planning for the nation at large.

People have to recognise actions have consequences, and have to face up fully to the challenges of being a parent.

NIGERIA and the population question.
Nigeria has somehow managed to abuse this concept and now distorted it to such an extent that it is now a danger that is looming ever nearer.

Nigeria touts itself as the "giant of Africa", many Nigerians will say this is true how can you disagree with that? Nigeria has the highest headcount of any African country that does not equate with greatness. There is nothing else Nigeria has established that makes it a giant in any respect. They are now using this notion of figures to advocate a permanent seat on the United Nations. They say it is the most powerful black nation on earth. I wish people would stop saying that Nigeria is the most powerful black nation, because to an outsider looking at Nigeria, they may think that ” if Nigeria is the best the blackman can do” , then blackman is well and truly "f*****"! Hopefully some other black nation can lead the and set a good example.

The press are as guilty of spreading this false notion “that biggest is best” I can't count the number of times, I've read an article that starts along the lines of ..."Nigeria a country blessed with abundant human and natural resources...". There are many other countries whose human resource and natural resource base far outstrip that of Nigeria, and they don't feel the need to state the obvious, they let the facts speak for themselves.

If greatness is based solely on the size of the populace, then Bangladesh surely has a good case, their population is on a par with that of Nigeria, yet no one pays them any attention.

The standard of living amongst the average Nigerian is no better than that of any other African south of the Sahara.

The whole political structure is based on numbers and this is inherent with democracy. Where the majority rules, and because of this idea that occupies centre stage. It means that the larger groups tend to feel they can dominate the smaller ones. The smaller groups are doing their utmost not to be swamped by the larger ones, witness the case of Plateau state and it's near hysterical claim to be a Christian state.

The allocation to the states is based on headcount.

All of this helps to encourage an atmosphere where people tend to have more children than they can adequately care for.

Even with a growth in the economy, the growth of the population far outstrips that, already there is chronic unemployment and under-employment. This mass of discontented people will not sit idley by watching a few get wealthy and they fight for crumbs amongst themselves. They are not organising themselves witness the area boys and the almajiri in the north.

NIGERIA and it's attempts at curbing the population.
Population is the gorilla in the room that no one there hardly addresses. They think it’s not an issue, or somehow it will sort itself out. Or the classic, discussing population is a taboo issue, ( - yeah right , like anything else that is uncomfortable to talk about).

It is often ignored, and religious and cultural reasons are cited for this. As for religion are the Catholics of Nigeria more Catholic than the Italians, they have curbed their population growth. Are the Muslims of Nigeria more Muslim than the people of Iran, who also have curbed their population growth? I think it is due to cultural reasons.

I have often put it to many Nigerians that Nigeria is no more than 1/10th the size of the USA, but it's population is nearly 50% of that of the USA. More often than not this doesn't register. Some people say and so what, it is a good thing. These figures mean that the population density in Nigeria is 5 times that of America, and most Nigerians endure a standard of living that is way below that of the average American. With the population growing as it is now, is there any hope for standard of living for the masses to improve, the answer is more than likely - no.

So what does it matter if the population is large? Only recently, the British government expressed alarm that the population if unchecked will surpass 70 million. You may say it's a ploy to curtail immigration (it may well be), the fact is that unrestricted population growth goes hand in hand with an ever decreasing standard of living. Even in Victoria (state) in Australia, the state government announced that due to a shortage of housing, migrants will not be encouraged to settle in Victoria (and the state is in no way over-populated).

Countries whose physical resources far outstrip that of Nigeria's many times over have opted to reduce population, for instance Brazil, in the 70s and 80s the government embarked upon a strategy of population control. Why? They have more than enough land to go round. The reason was that to reduce poverty amongst the general populace the population would have to be controlled, so as make the effects of poverty be felt. How did they go about achieving it, they made contraception freely available.

The Nigerian government has done very little to address the issue (I remember the Babangida regime tried mildly and this was ignored) , this is not helped by the attitudes of the state governments. Who use it to leverage more funds from the centre.

The problem is a vicious circle, as government is perceived as distant and largely irrelevant to the lives of the populace. As such government announcements carry little weight. Nigeria is not like China in the 70s, where the state was deeply involved with the lives of it’s people, so disobedience was sternly punished. On the other hand even if the government did try to promote this, the social provision is poor ie decent basic healthcare and education are lacking, so there is little confidence on the part of the general populace.

So where does one begin, maybe both parties would have to take their responsibilities more seriously and engage in some sort of government.

I don’t see how government can enforce this, they can’t even make people pay their taxes or stop people from defecating on the street, so what hope of an effective population control policy on an unruly nation?

NIGERIA and the effects of over-population.
If you refer to

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Bev%C3%B6lkerungsdichte_Nigerischer_Bundesstaaten_english.PNG

You will see that in the south that Lagos and the geo-political zone of the South East and Akwa Ibom state are under acute pressure. The states of Anambra and Imo states are suffering severe erosion, leading to the loss of productive land, and the displacement of it’s people.

In the north, Kano state is under the heaviest pressure, due to its fragile environment, booming population and poor planning. Other frontline states are also under pressure like Borno

http://allafrica.com/stories/200810290406.html

Strangely enough, the Niger Republic, is now becoming more green due to afforestation projects. However, their cousins south of the border can’t!

Ultimately failure to address the population growth will result in more poor and desperate people battling to survive and ultimately hastening their own death as well as the destruction of the environment they live in.

Haiti, at one time was the pride of the black world, it fought for its independence and was successful and was relatively wealthy, but now it is the poorest country in the Western hemisphere, it has a relatively large population with poor prospects. Nigeria is endanger of heading the same way.

NIGERIA and its future population.
Over-population goes hand in hand with a low standard of living. I can’t understand why governments there pay little head to the atrocious standard of living many people there endure. “The face me face” you accommodation in Lagos is just one example. Or the acceptance of beggars (especially in the north).

Parents who have children should recognise it is their responsibility to feed, cloth and educate their children to give them a good start in life. Success requires planning, if you fail to plan for success you are preparing for failure. (This is common sense).
So parents who don’t plan and say “God will provide” are falling short in their duty.

If unchecked as Jeremy said, there will be mass civil disturbances. There was a hint of it during the Obasanjo tenure, when land disputes broke out left right and centre that had ethnic overtones in Plateau state, Taraba state, Lagos state and the OPC etc. Ethnic polarisation will increase, as people fight to defend what they think is theirs.

A day will come when those who can afford it will find the reverse gear and leave the country, seeing the future for their children as bleak. Others who are left will either have to flee to some other African country or manage as best they can.

The world is on its way to self-destruction, some parts of the world may get there before others.

Has anyone ever stopped to ask themselves why all this fuss over the environment and its attendant issues? It’s because leaders of the Western world recognise they want to give their children a better tomorrow. So they look beyond their noses and start planning and taking preventative measures.

The sad thing is that Nigeria could do the same but for one reason or another will not. So in the end those who can get out of the country will go and seek shelter in those countries whose leaders took action. If the leaders of Nigeria could address serious issues, this undesirable scenario could be avoided.

Jeremy, you mentioned Zaire, there case although sad is a lot better than that of Nigeria. They aren’t facing population pressures, their population is barely half of that of Nigeria’s and their land is fertile and is nearly three times the size of Nigeria. Once they can settle down with a capable government they will do well, much of their wealth is still untapped.

Kody 6:14 am  

Arin,frankly, your 'rush now, think later' thought process is evident in the tone of your first then your second post.

Enough said.

Anonymous,  10:15 pm  

Jeremy, you really do have issues.

Isnt it enough to state reasonably 'I choose not to have children because...'? No, you must disparage those who choose differently from you as being thoughtless.

You really are a piece of work! This post was obviouusly meant to lead to that 'profound' personal declaration: 'we intend to adopt'. (And I must say, WAOH, after how many years of marriage my dear? Whjat hypocrisy.) and i am upset to be falling for the bait.

But you really must let go of this misguided air of superiority - where your decisions are made from thoughtfulness but that of others who choose difdferently are not.

God, I can only be grateful that your'rte not a religious If your selfrighteouness was mixed with the moral certainty of religion in anyway, you would have been poisonous. Which is putting it mildly.

Kike Greene,  1:50 pm  

Jeremy,

I usually enjoy reading your blog and I don't usually comment, but I had to leave one this time. This piece you wrote is frankly disgusting and self-righteous. What point are you trying to pass across? That because you have decided not to have children of your own, then you must be far more intelligent and forward thinking than everyone else who chooses to?

Your first paragrpah fills me with rage. I am a woman and you seem to be inferring that most women just operate based on hormones and don't think before they act. I suppose then, that for you as a guy, you do not have the urge to reproduce? Do you have sexual relations? Do you feel attraction for the opposite sex? Pray, tell, what are those natural urges designed to do?

You say that "Clearly, the human species is going to be in for a torrid time in the next two decades." So what then: WE MUST ALL STOP REPRODUCING IMMEDIATELY! Good luck with telling people to stop having sex for the good of the human race and the environment.

You exhibit some of the smugness you accuse others of. Because you choose not to have children, does that make you a better person than say, your parents who chose to have you? Would you even exist to write this blog without those two people choosing to become parents?

And how do you know that the fewer people we have on the planet, the better? This is what happens when we human beings think we are too wise for our own good. If we are already too many, then the Creator would simply choose to stop giving women babies.


I have no children of my own yet, but I have a desire to have two in future. I have a friend who wants to have six children. What right does anyone have to criticise her for that choice? Perhaps she should come and listen to you lecturing her about the reasons why she shouldn't have six children. I suspect she will tell you to go and stick your opinion where the sun doesn't shine.

Anonymous,  5:43 pm  

Kike,

I have to say: thank you. More people need to let Jeremy know what time of the day he is.

Such watery self-righteousness!

Boosh 11:39 am  

They done tol' you good Jeremy. Consider yourself well lectured n scolded. No children ke? Such subversive and un-African thinking. Oh yeah, forgot you are not an African but just an Oyinbo

Anonymous,  3:35 pm  

but I don't get this hatered for Jeremy. the man is just expressing his opinion. If he is self-righteous then go find another blog that is more to your liking. I don't agree with this particular posting, but that doesn't mean I've to attack the man.

The comments are more self-rigteous than the posting. I am sure jeremyy got the effect he wanted. The reality of the matter is many are uncritical about why they do the things they do.

Anonymous,  11:17 am  

Going to find a blog to anyone's liking is besides the point. When you open a blog it is a public instrument and the public has a right to engage.

Standtall 5:53 pm  

Well, I do believe it's unfair attacking Jeremy. It's nice to know how to put one's different opinion across even if you dont agree with his style of writing, you can all disagree in a polite manner. There is no harm in expressing ones opinion and that is why this is his blog. Even if you feel he has sense of superiority, or he's self righteous and all, be polite! 2 wrong dont make a right they say

Standtall 1:24 pm  

There is a big difference btw attacking and engaging I reckon.

Emi,  11:53 am  

I totally agree with you Jeremy. The world is facing a disaster and we are too stubborn to see it. Why have children and fuel a fire? Better still,why dont we help the situation by commiting suicide, afterall the less we are on earth the better! I advocate for mass suicide across all continents!

Jeremy, my good man, what say you?

Emi Njoku
Abuja.

Kike G,  5:32 pm  

@ Emi: LOL!

I doubt Jeremy would advocate that. You see if he agreed to mass suicide, he would have to go first....

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