Why Do People Have Children?
It’s common to talk about why people decide not to have kids, but it’s less common to have discussions about the couples that choose to have no kids. Couples that just say, “You know, we’re more interested in our intellectual pursuits or traveling.” I think they’re really missing a key component of what life is. In fact, I really believe that they think that kids have a bad rap, and that’s the problem. That’s also why I wrote this article, in part because you see this in a lot of Hollywood depictions of children. It’s rare that you see children portrayed nobly in a Hollywood film such as, for example, you saw it with Harry Potter. I like that, and I think that’s partly why that was so popular.
I mean, there were some bad kids and there were good kids and, of course, heroic kids. They were treated pretty realistically, in some sense, given that it was such a magical enterprise. They had some courage, heart, even some rebellious ones, and so on. I like that, but the thing that you have to understand about kids is they’re unbelievably good company. In a way, they pay you back for your care of them by being ridiculously amusing. They can be little clowns, doing crazy little stunts all the time, and they have a sense of humor that kicks in.
For example, I have a grandchild now that’s two and a half months old. That child can already smile and has the beginnings of a sense of humor and that’s to me that’s a miracle, it is indeed, and so they’re very funny they’re really playful ,they really like you and you can have the kind of relationship with them that you set out to have. Which makes it very interesting now and you can also like.
Once I had little kids around, I spent a lot more time with them than I did with my friends. The reason for that was that, I actually found it more enjoyable to do things with little kids than with the adults and the reason for that is like by the time you’re 30 say you’ve seen so much of the world, that you actually don’t see the world anymore and this is technically true like I’m old I’m 55 when I walk down the street there are houses, I don’t look at them, I have icons in my memory and I just see the house icons and so, the older you get in some sense the more you see of the world is your memory. It looks efficient but it’s sort of dead you know and artists help break through that they show you something as if it’s new again you know. So that’s why van Gogh’s irises sell for 160 million dollars, it’s like you haven’t looked at flowers since you were 3 years old.
So, the thing that’s cool about having a little kid is that, everywhere you go because we’re so good at putting ourselves in other people’s bodies, the kid revitalizes the world and the kids like they’re just completely awestruck by everything and you can see that again and that’s really interesting. I know you know about my love of Star Wars but I watched Empire Strikes Back with my five-year-old, and at the moment when Darth Vader told Luke II was his father. I was staring at him and he loves Star Wars now and I was looking at him and the way his eyes opened I was like “wow” like that’s what it’s all about. How could I have that experience again and that’s what you’re talking about.
Also, I took my daughter to see the masks with Jim Carrey when she gravely a little bit young for that yeah and I held her on my lap and it’s pretty intense, it was like holding a what you would call a bundle of electrically charged barbed wire for hours. I mean you forget how much impact the world has. In fact, you know if you bring little kids around old people, you can really see this because old people will sit around like we take her up to this lake where I go to see my parents in northern Alberta and she was like a little fire, you know how people sit around a fire and look at it, they can’t look away it’s because we’re all the descendants of the first crazy chimpanzee who couldn’t keep his god damn eyes off the fire. That’s what little kids are like and the older people just watch them non-stop and it’s partly because they’re participating in that renewal of the world you know which is like a reintroduction to the unsullied paradise of being something like that.
Furthermore, it only works if you like your kids and so there’s a disciplinary element that’s really important too and one of the things that modern parents don’t understand and I think this is because of the exceptionally permissive ethos of the 1960s when we developed this idea that everything that society does to children is bad. So, don’t damage your children like by putting restrictions on them it’s like that’s so wrong that it’s almost impossible.
Its why people shy away from kids because they don’t understand that you don’t have to put up with any unpleasant, you don’t have to put up with any unnecessary unpleasant nonsense from children, it’s not necessary. It’s interesting that you could almost argue that the sixties led to exactly what you’re talking about these kids who then were taught to be afraid of everything they become. They’re the parents of now and that’s probably in part why they’re having less children or at least talking about family and children in a different way.
Also, there’s also less trust in the structure of the family because the divorce rate has proliferated. There’s a woman in our department in the psychology department, she showed that, if you interfere with the maternal relationship between rats and their pups because rat children are called pups, that you can see the detrimental effects of that disruption three generations later. Being a good mother is not just something that you’re taught it’s something that you kind of have in your bones.
Particularly, if you were mothered properly, for example, my father was an excellent father, especially when I was a little kid, he really spent a lot of time with me and I used to love it when he came home. Which makes me have a natural affinity for little kids and I do believe it’s in large part that’s why it’s because I just know how to react with them. I do believe it’s because of the way that I was treated when I was a little kid. If you disrupt that, it’s like lots of people don’t trust themselves, because they were hurt or they didn’t have good role models or they don’t trust the family structure and so you know that all that all makes people afraid. If you want to know more about another interesting topic discussed in family, read our post asking, “Why Do People Love?“