My ‘Me-ternity Leave’ post managed to get me branded as the ultimate hater of family. Today, I’m going to dig myself even deeper by questioning is there should be limits on who becomes a parent? You just have to visit the UK and you’ll surely encounter a ridiculously young chav mother with a baby in one hand and ciggy in the other to question whether just because one is able to procreate that necessarily means they are capable of being a half decent parent?
OKCupid certainly thinks this is an important issue as one of the questions it uses to match users is : Do you think stupid people should be allowed to have children? Well, this questions is itself just that STUPID because it is subjective and dependent on how we define the term stupid – Is it someone with a low IQ? A kid who failed to finish high school? Or can someone with a PhD even be classed as stupid if they air ignorant/racist views? While it may be a useful exercise for OKCupid users (maybe I’ll get matched with another hater of family and we’ll live happily ever after) but in the grand scheme of things it is pretty pointless because it’s not as if most of our opinions are going to change things.
While our opinions have little control over who has kids, there is something that does and that’s nature. I’m no scientist so I have very limited knowledge on why some people are able to spread their legs and get pregnant while others have to jump through hoops to have a child. Thankfully (for some a least), the forces of nature are no match for the human intelligence and advancements in medical science have meant that those who aren’t able to have kids the traditional route still have hope. From IVF to sperm donation and surrogates there are plenty of other ways for people (especially those with money) to continue increasing the world’s population.
While I do support such advances and am fully aware that thanks to them many reproductively challenged people have been able to have the one thing they’ve always ever wanted, I do think such methods also allow for an element of control (although at present it seems that if one has enough money they’ll get access to these services) and as such need to be used responsibly.
One of the things that got me thinking about limits on who should be parents was the case of the 70-something couple in India that had a baby via IVF. None of us have any idea of when we are going to die and the fear of the grim reaper certainly shouldn’t put us off having a child. But I would have thought that would be a greater concern for a 70-something than for the average 30-something mother? I really hope this old couple live long enough to see all the important milestones in their child’s life (especially after waiting so long for him!) but you do have to wonder whether such cases show IVF being used irresponsibly?
In this case, we can’t solely blame the doctors involved. The couple from a part of India where their inability to have a baby meant they were stigamatised and they were believed to be cursed so even if they had been open to the options of adopting or fostering a child when they were younger would not have seen an end to their problems. But still, is it really a legitimate reason to have a child at such an age? If they are alive when he graduates university the chances of health being questionable is at least very high. I’m not saying age should be only limiting factor…how about a person’s capability to bring up a child? Should criminals or peadophiles be allowed to procreate? What about poor people (I’m not sure but I doubt at present they’d have access to things like IVF)?
At the end of the day, I don’t think that having the ability to impregnate a women or simply being able to push out a kid makes you a (good) parent. The best parents are those who have either made the considered decision to have a baby or, in the case of accidental pregnancy, decided to grow up and put someone else’s needs before their own. It’s not simply about following the crowd, avoiding the stigma or satisfying some temporary broody phase. A child is a long-term commitment (just like a puppy – sorry I couldn’t help myself!) and people should make the decision to have or not to have a child responsibly.
Ok darling Rinsers, go wild. Do you think there should be limits on who should be a parent? Should elders be allowed to have babies via IVF? Is it any different from those with serious medical conditions procreating? What about those who can barely afford stand on their own two feet financially? Should they have kids knowing full well that they’ll have to turn to outside parties for support?