Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Western Attitudes Towards Children

There is a story circulating on the interwebz of an Indian lady giving birth in her seventies. Apparently she and her husband had been infertile through nearly 50 years of their marriage but finally saved enough for  IVF treatment and the third one was a charm so they became parents of a healthy baby boy.

Giving birth in your seventies is somewhat extreme and obviously many people will consider it unethical on the part of the doctor, yet it's what the couple always wanted, they financed it themselves and they are paying for the child themselves.They are happy because they have a son to carry on the family name and the husband's bloodline. It's hardly anyone's business especially if they live in another country. Yet, internet busybodies are very upset with it.

The comments demonstrate everything which is wrong with modern Western mindset concerning children. Apparently, the child won't grow in ideal circumstances and there is real chance he'll be orphaned soon. Well, this has been true about children born in the Western countries prior to the appearance of the welfare state and yet people kept having them. However now, the birth rates everywhere in the West are falling despite numerous government handouts and the improved quality of life.

Second, it's somehow wrong and selfish for people to desire to pass on their genes when there are so many orphans. It appears we don't have a duty to our ancestors to carry on their bloodlines but we have a duty to perfect strangers to take care of their kids. Adoption can be a very good thing, but there is no duty to adopt. It's what works for an individual couple that counts.

Then the world is overpopulated in general and India in particular. Again, it's partly true. May be, some third world countries would have less poverty if the families stopped having 10+ kids. Yet, for this couple it's their first and last. It's rather strange reasoning that if someone somewhere is having twenty children than it's your duty to have none to save the planet.

The couple praised God for giving them the desire of their hearts and said God will provide and that insulted the resident atheist brigade even more. It was not God, it was science! Why can't it be both? God gives us means,  we use them but it's Him who ultimately decides the outcome.

Now the story above may not even be true, but the comments perfectly well illustrate what's wrong with modern Western mindset concerning children.

(Here is the link. Keep in mind that it's Daily Mail but if you google the couple's names you'll come across other news reports about them).

P.S. I'm not promoting ART.  One could make a perfectly valid argument against ART from tradition, like Catholic Church does, but they are also against abortion, anti-conception and divorce so they are rather consequent. Western liberals, on the other hand, like to talk about tolerance and right to choose, as long as you choose according to the liberal doctrine.


  1. This topic is very delicate but important. First, I decided to never choose IVF because of the embryos that may get lost while trying to fix them into the uterus. I couln't understand if there is a contract made in order to make sure no embryo will be frozen or used for other purposes. Next, if nobody can avoid for sure an eventual loss of embryos I have enough reasons to give up IVF. I don't judge couples who had children through this treatment. It's their life not mine. Adoption is an option and no obligation. It has its risks aswell, staying childless is another normal option. I respect childless people for their sincere attitude towards human life and parental care: if somebody is infertile but dislikes IVF and hasn't decided to adopt either, then staying childless can be a good option. Doing less is better than doing more but with a wrong attitude. As for old parents, this shouldn't be a serious problem itself. I'd be happy to conceive spontaneously at 50 should this happen but I wouldn't choose IVF for that just medication or plants etc. I feel happy for families who have children assisted or not by medical help. I respect adoptive parents aswell. We have flexible ways to follow.

  2. Alexandra, IVF is problematic in some aspects, and it's a topic in itself (though nowadays some clinics do mini or natural IVF where no embryos go lost). I perfectly well understand why some couples choose not to pursue treatment. Ultimately whether to have children and how many, and pursuing adoption/fostering/fertility treatments is a very personal decision.

    What I find perplexing though is the sheer amount of venomous comments from total strangers on the personal choices of some couple 10.000 km away. Now if there was an article about a woman choosing abortion she'd probably be applauded for exercising her right to choose.

  3. I happened to come here from Home Living and see this post. I think you are quite right, and this comment is quite right. There's a movement in the US (perhaps elsewhere) now encouraging women to "shout" their abortions--ostensibly a way to encourage dialogue without shame and help normalize discussion about abortion.

    I read the article about the couple in India with great interest. All I could think (after thinking "wow! I would be so tired!") was how sweet and tender those two parents will be to their child. Definitely two mindsets regarding children.....a sad juxtaposition.

  4. Polly, no, luckily we don't have such movement as yet. We have a "right to die" movement whose adherents insist that it's the duty of the government to provide them with a painless death. One of the main arguments they use is that nobody asked them whether they wanted to be born so at least they can choose when they die. There was time when you were supposed to be grateful to your parents for giving you life now some see it as a burden (they didn't consent to it!) Nearly the same argument was used against this couple: since their circumstances aren't ideal it would be better for the child to never be born. Current Western mentality is very nihilistic.

  5. Killing yourself by modern means is still the same suicide. People feel that their lives are empty and meaningless and I feel so sorry for those who put an end to their life. Maybe there should be made a system for encouraging people to enjoy even a difficult life. Everybody with suicidal thoughts should find help and governmental support for facing life not for getting killed professionally.

  6. Yes, it's true, many people see their lives as meaningless. Western society has a spiritual malaise and suffers from pathological altruism, self-hatred (including many Christian churches which keep shaming their parishioners for something Spanish Inquisition did 500 years ago), all around nihilism and a strange variant of teenage rebellion. People are also risk-averse and are more interested in bread and circuses than anything else. We need a revival.

  7. Housewife from FinlandMay 19, 2016 at 4:35 AM

    Our hunter-gatherer brains do not really understand, wether something happened in the neighborhood or in the other side of the world. That is why people react so strongly.

    I wonder if she will be able to breastfeed? Hope so.

    When it comes to that father's admirable trust on God, I must quote Oliver Cromwell: "Trust in God, but keep your gunpowder dry."

    You Sanne said this child is nobody's business but the parent's. But can't you see, that they willingly MADE him everybody's business buy giving interviews? If one chooses to give his personal affairs to media, one chooses to get -let's say feedback. If one doesn't want other people talking about his private things, he should keep them that way!

  8. I can't imagine having a little one at that age. Western society has in some ways become a trophy society. Your children are your trophies, but that doesn't mean they are nurtured. The latest name brand clothes, the best strollers and prams, etc. There seems to be a lot of focus on appearance; not so much on substance.

  9. Housewife, from what I read in one of the articles on the topic, yes, she breastfeeds. I also think that it was probably the clinic which made their info public as it's some darn good advertising. I also strongly suspect that in India people don't generally view it just as negatively as in the Anglosphere since again, I read that they keep having friends and relatives over the floor to congratulate so I guess they didn't mind talking to Indian newspapers and then someone else picked up this news.

    1. I also don't mind people discussing them. Heck, we are doing it on this blog, too. I just don't understand all this venom. It's not like they committed genocide or something.

  10. Marietta, yes, ours is a materialistic culture. BTW, one could make a perfectly valid argument against ART from tradition, like Catholic Church does, but they are also against abortion, anti-conception and divorce so they are rather consequent. Western liberals, on the other hand, like to talk about tolerance and right to choose, as long as you choose according to the liberal doctrine.

  11. Pathological altruism? What a short word for describing the complex behaviour that has been developped while trying to immitate real altruism. Self-hatred is another problematic word. I've been watching some German medieval movies this week: das Geheimnis der Hebamme (action around 12th century in Sachsen, Germany) is one of them. The main character, a young midwife is saved from death by a knight because she was supposed to be a witch like her mother. The midwife saves mothers and babies from her village and the knight finally marries her because she is the only responsible and strong woman he could find. I was very impressed about the movie, there was such a struggle for the knight to convince the king and village about the innocent midwife and what a gift it was to have medical knowledge.

  12. Pathological altruism sure comes in as a substitute for real altruism. It's more of a virtue signalling, like pharisees praying in the street so that everybody could admire their pious behaviour. As for self-hatred, well, it appears the West has lost something, like the will to survive, for instance. I don't think you see much of it in your country, since Eastern Europe is quite different. This movie you describe sounds interesting!

  13. Yes, egolatry is more frequent than self-hatred in our environment. We don't have many of the scrupules a good western society feels necessary to have, some of these rules are good indeed. Even the biblical teachings where we are called to despise our selfishness and follow Christ and love others hasn't a very punitive or moralizing character in our tradition. Maybe because we had many financial hardships, perhaps more than other wealthy societies and these were enough to put a limit to our natural spirit of sacrifice. But hospitality doesn't seem to be affected by hardships in my area, it keeps dignity at a proper level and sharing isn't a thing to be preached very much.