Children as a confusing social… thing

Strangely enough in all of my studies in family development and sociology I never focused on how children are viewed by different social groups or children’s rights. I focused on marriage and alternative adult relationships. I focused on psycho and social development in late adolescence. I never really paid much attention to children. Now that I am about to have a child I find it all very confusing and wish that I had thought about it a little more when I had structured studies to help me sort through the various attitudes towards children.

I have friends who have all sorts of different views on children and families including those who seem to be altogether anti-children and those who are very family focused and everything in between. Today I came across an offhand remark that a friend was doing her part in water conservation because she (among many other things) didn’t have children. It led me to wonder if children and families actually consume more water than the same number of single adults. (Besides drinking water, which children consume more per pound but less overall than adults I couldn’t find any statistics.) It also got me thinking about the perception of children and how they are thought of as an accessory to their adult parents as opposed to an individual with rights of consumption just like any adult. Of course this leads to the thought of taxes and schooling and public services for children and how single adults without children often do not see why they should contribute to such things. However, children are protected from the ideas of their parents through many social laws, making children not only the responsibility of the parents, but of all of society. (Laws about health care and neglect set a certain standard for parents that they must follow, which means that they should have support in adhering to those laws. For instance, state-enforced chemotherapy that neither the child nor the parents agree with should be paid for by the state.)

As my mind marches around these topics I find myself grasping for an actual question… something that I can tease out into a thread that makes sense and I can follow. Instead I just find an incoherent blob of attitudes that I can’t really understand. I guess it doesn’t help that I don’t have a solid position. Part of me is very selfish regarding children. I don’t want to send my child to kindergarten (here starting at age 3-5), and I am offended that I won’t be allowed to homeschool him. However, logically I am against things like inheritance and think the only way to overcome the huge inequality of capitalism is the destruction of the nuclear family in favor of a more socially based child rearing system. I think about the idea of “continuing the human race” as opposed to “continuing an individual blood line or attitude line,” and I wonder how people deal with the dissonance of these two ideas in their every day life. For the anti-breeders, do they just not care if the human race doesn’t continue? Or they just don’t want to have any responsibility for it? For the breeders… is it a selfish thing? How possessive do you feel over your children? Adopted children? And when it comes to rights and expressing opinions and desires… oh… it just gets so muddled in my mind. And here I am, sitting on a baby about to pop out any day, having no clue how I actually feel about children. 

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