As I touched on in the previous post, our culture (and probably most cultures) relentlessly promotes this idea that parents, by nature of bringing us into the world and taking care of us, deserve undying gratitude and honor for all eternity. They are beings to be worshipped, respected and appreciated for all they have sacrificed for us. Parenthood is the highest calling in life, the greatest role one can pursue and so on.
I've already argued that excessive gratitude to parents for caring for their kids is uncalled for, since having a child is a choice, and once you have one you must take care of it. You are simply carrying out your duties.
My argument today is that all of this excessive worship of parents is misplaced because people have children and take care of them, not for selfless, saintly, self-sacrificing reasons, but to satisfy their own selfish desires - to fulfil wishes for all sorts of self-gratifying things - receiving unconditional love, feeling needed and important, enjoying the activities of "family life", carrying on a last name, gaining acceptance into society via conformance, feeling a sense of accomplishment (since having children is equated with "having it all" and accomplishment in our culture), having a caretaker in old age, and on and on and on - the list is truly endless. People do not have children because they are selfless beings who want to struggle and sacrifice themselves for the betterment of the world or to help a needy person. They may enjoy thinking of themselves this way, but parents are not Mother Teresa. A selfless being does not reproduce and bring more people into the world when the world is already overpopulated with millions of needy, homeless children rotting away in orphanages, clamoring for homes. A selfless being does not need a genetic mini-me who reflects herself back like a mirror for the purpose of self-admiration and worship.
Perhaps I am over-analyzing here, but to me this whole parenthood = sainthood ideology is such a ridiculous and obvious sham, it makes my head spin. It is particularly irritating to me as a childfree person because so frequently the childfree get slapped with the selfish label, while parents walk around wearing a badge of sainthood for this phoney, non-existent selflessness - taking care of the little creations they made to satisfy their selfish desires.
And let's not forget the fact that our self-congratulating parents never asked for our permission to bring us into the world, and yet we are commanded to be grateful that they produced us, as if life on Earth is the best thing going. Maybe it's not - we have no way of knowing. One thing we know for sure is that every human being who is born is born with a death sentence.
The bottom line is, people have children for themselves - for everything they will get out of it and for all the ways they think parenthood will benefit them and make them happy. So putting parents on this pedestal of sainthood for the purpose of expressing undying gratitude and appreciation is simply wrong on every level.