I have felt this and have been saying it for years (without much of a sympathetic reception it has to be said): being a parent isn't selfless; it’s the most selfish thing I ever did! Raphael Samuels agrees. He is currently in the news because he is thinking of suing his parents: for having given birth to him! Now while this sounds outrageous on the face of it, in my humble opinion he makes sound sense.
The 27-year-old man from Mumbai is thinking of suing his parents. Why? Because they created him without his consent, that's why. He has a page on Facebook called Nihilanand. The posts on his page ask questions full of existential angst such as why does society reward people who have unprotected sex. He also believes that procreation is the supreme act of evil and to those who want kids, he suggests adoption. Predictably, he is very much against assisted reproduction. Listen to your body, stop IVF he says.
Samuel is an antinatalist. Antinatalism or anti-natalism, is a philosophical position that believes procreation is morally wrong. Some antinatalists also believe that any kind of breeding of sentient beings (such as dogs, cats, cattle etc) is bad and wrong. Their position is that people should stop producing more people simply out of compassion – for them and for the earth. Having kids only adds to the burden we place on earth and its resources; it only adds to the sum of misery on earth. What is the point, they ask? Life as we know it, is so full of suffering that we ought not to create more lives only to consign them to said life of suffering. According to Samuel he loves his parents but avers that they had him for their own joy. He asks “Why must I suffer? Why must I work?”
In his video, Samuel raises some rather unusual and unconventional points: parents who produce children do so without the consent of their children, as such they should maintain and provide for those children throughout life. Kids are either an accident or a choice; but it is always the parents’ decision and not the child's. His message is that children don’t owe their parents anything; neither do parents own their kids.
He believes that parents ought not to have any expectations of their kids and that kids ought not to give in to emotional blackmail. Kids are not the investments of their parents. He underlines the point that everyone has the option not to have kids. He understands that his views go against the fundamental principles of life.
He receives a lot of flak for his views. Many people suggest that his views are just excuses for not wanting to work for a living. There are also suggestions that he should commit suicide since he didn’t want to be born. Samuel however, wants to make his point to make people think: people shouldn’t be having kids just because it is the done thing and they certainly shouldn’t be having kids or because of the expectations of others. All fair points.
According to Samuel, being a parent is an exercise in narcissism. Here is why I, the mother of two beautiful, beloved and marvelous kids, agree with him. When I had my girls, that was all me (and my husband, minimally), not them! My children did not ask to be born; they did not ask to be initiated into the struggle of life. I had my children so I could nurture and enjoy them and watch them grow; share this splendid world with them.
I believe that as parents, it is our conceited urge to create someone in our own image that makes us have kids. It is the egoistic desire to leave behind a little bit of us in the world even after we’re gone. Today when people remark about my younger child looking so much like me, I experience a warm glow of satisfaction. Those feelings are far from selfless.
To parents who pat themselves on the back for making sacrifices for their kids, I say, this is your choice. It is not quid pro quo and the supposed sacrifices we choose to make for our kids now, do not entitle us to expect sacrifices from them later in life. Our kids are not our old age insurance policy. One more reason why I agree with Samuel – there are quite enough of us on earth – do we really need more of us?
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