Why Have Children?

Thursday, June 21, 2012

In a woman’s life, there are many rites of passage: her first period, her first time falling in love, and her first time being hired for a job. 

And if she makes it past the ripe old age of 25, she very likely has one more rite of passage that lasts for the next two decades. And if she doesn't hit this milestone, she gets asked over and over again: “Why don’t you have children?”

Christine Overall thinks it's the wrong question to ask. Instead, she suggests that the question should be “Why do you have children?” Overall is a professor of philosophy at Queens University, Ontario and author of the new book "Why Have Children? The Ethical Debate."


Christine Overall

Produced by:

Kristen Meinzer

Comments [11]

Watch the movie "Children of Men" starring Clive Owen and Julianne Moore before you decide not to have a kid.

I don't have a child myself but I'd like one. Does anyone know if Winona Ryder is single and looking? :)

Jun. 21 2012 10:30 AM

I am amused but not amazed that the subject of adoption did not come up. If we are looking at humans as nothing more than carbon footprints, is it ethical to raise a child who is already here? I need to check so that I can tell my 14 year old son who is adopted that we made a mistake.

Jun. 21 2012 10:18 AM

I think it's fine to not have children, as long as you are making other other contributions to humanity. The speaker seems to think that having children is akin to just popping out a little creature to eat and scream and use up the earth's resources. But having a child can be a great opportunity to take what you've learned about the world and raise up an adult who will have great morals, a great education, and a fantastic opportunity to make a real contribution, big or small, to the world. Of course, if you don't think you'd be a good parent, then don't bring screwed up children into the world. However, everyone should do SOMETHING to have a positive impact on the next generation. If you're not raising the next generation, then you should be actively contributing to it in other ways. Someone like Carrie from Sex and the City didn't want to have kids because she was too busy having fun writing a sex column and going to fashion shows - that is NO reason to not have children, and that really does indicate a selfish and immature person.

Jun. 21 2012 10:04 AM
maria from boston

I was born with a serious health problem that is not, however, visible to others. I was told that it would be best not to have children, both to stay alive and for the wellbeing of the child. I keep getting asked why I don't have kids and why I CHOSE not to have kids. I feel like it is NOT really my choice, it is something I cannot control except morally. For ethical reasons, to not harm a child, I have no children. But it is extremely painful to keep getting this question.

Jun. 21 2012 10:01 AM
John Gilmore from New York

The guest is ridiculous. Having children is a social and biological necessity for the survival of human life. Not all people need to have children nor should all people have children, but the guest is engaged in an inane line of sophistry, probably motivated to justify her own life choices.

Jun. 21 2012 09:57 AM
philco from bosto

I am a man, my analysis is futile, people can do as they wish and being devoid of pressures and social "norms" varies from formal and informal education experiences. I am going to clone, having missed the baby bus myself. As for state of consequences today having kids is easier than it has ever been in the history of humanity it just takes money and extraordinary amounts of it.

Jun. 21 2012 08:42 AM
George Gee

As usual, your discussion of choosing not to have children was superficial and glib. You ignored the biggest ethical justification for not having kids...i.e., that life has become too difficult in this crazy world and is just not worth living. In other words, the best you can do for your kids is NOT TO HAVE THEM!

Jun. 21 2012 08:06 AM
Charles Imbimbo from Teaneck

The professor makes some great arguments, and it's about time we had someone defend the decision not to have children! There is an ethical component which many don't seem to contemplate.

Jun. 21 2012 08:02 AM
Ariadne from NYC

I entirely agree that having children is an ethical issue. As a 32-year-old woman, I've never had a desire for children. I'm also entirely fine with being asked why not, so long as the asker is prepared to hear things that may be contrary to their expectations, values, and their own decisions. I will unabashedly explain that: there are far too many unwanted children already in the world, including those who are parentless and in need of homes and families as well as the millions who go to bed hungry every night; the current human population is unsustainable; and financially, a child is a tremendous financial burden in a time when the worldwide economic recession is not going away anytime soon - there is no way I could provide properly for a child.

Jun. 21 2012 07:59 AM
Listener from NYC

Ed, I'm beginning to think you are a troll...

Jun. 21 2012 07:51 AM
Ed from Larchmont

One thing can be said about women: they love babies and children.

Jun. 21 2012 06:13 AM

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