I'd like to justify the general belief-pattern in society that rearing children
is important, and should take precedence over other, more adult pursuits
(even those of strangers with no obvious responsibility to the child in question) at least some of the time. Before that, I should mention that this issue has nothing to do with one's sexuality for me--I have no reason to believe that being homosexual or bisexual would make one a bad parent, and it also seems quite possible for someone who is homosexual to have a child in his/her care, either through artificial insemination, experimentation (e.g., The Birdcage
), or adoption.
Things which persist
for a long time either take pains to do so, or are indelicate in the extreme. Societies are quite delicate, therefore, those that last are so constructed as to encourage their continued existence
. If we can assume that good parenting
helps society to be more viable by producing more prosocial
individuals (which seems fairly cynical, but also largely accurate, so long as we assume that this is not ALL that it does), it is in the long-term good of any society to encourage good parenting. I'm not saying that this is good or bad, just explaining that if one wants to be in a society which will last longer than one generation, good parenting is certain to be a strongly-held value which must sometimes take precedence over other, less society-critical exploits, and one will have to accept that.
That said, there is a further injunction against infringing on the rights of parents
to deal with their children as they wish, even if the children are clearly doing something wrong that the parent is dealing with inappropriately--this is much harder to justify. As a matter of personal choice, I know that I will tend only to interfere if it appears that the child's rights are being violated, however, I recognize that I am far more patience
and value children more than most members of my society. I do this because I feel that there are many situations (Demeter
describes one) in which allowing the child to continue to disturb the peace is the best option for society as a whole, and I am willing to accept that my peace has been disturbed in order to bring about the benefit to society that will be generated by the improved behavior
of such children in the future. So there are some cases in which it seems as though, even though the children are annoying
, the parent(s) is/are doing the right thing, and should be given the space to do so.
When a parent seems clearly to be doing something WRONG, however (as in WolfDaddy
's example of the cruise gala), it really comes down to the individualism
in Western culture. Parenting is hugely important in developing beliefs and behaviors of future adults; it would be absurdly easy, if a government or society could control how children were raised, to drastically alter the future of the government and society. That's more power than I'm willing to allow the state to have, even if it means that selfish people will raise their children badly
in ways that both produce bad citizens later and annoy me now. Even just altering social norms slightly so that other people would give advice would weaken the child's belief that their parent was in control of things (which could be traumatic at first, and also end up reducing the number of people who believe in God
(for many atheists contend that the reason people believe in God strongly relates to a need for a God-like authority to fill the hole left by their parents, when it was discovered that they were not all-powerful)--whether that would be good or bad, I'd rather not put the beliefs of my future children in the hands of strangers), and potentially allow people to interfere with the parent's authority in situations like Demeter
's, where such interference would be negative. Essentially, allowing smart people with good parenting instincts to give good advice would also allow stupid or selfish people to give bad advice, and it isn't worth it.
Finally, I think the dude at the counter WolfDaddy
describes was a prick, and needs a smack. Still, it seems difficult to predict with certainty that no children will come over in the future (similarly, any lighter, from the manufacturer's and retailer's perspectives, might fall into the hands of children too young to avoid setting themselves on fire--callouses on the hands of the many are worth preventing the death by incineration
of the few) to be strangled by the cords of one's blinds, so unless there's a compelling reason to remove the cord-stops, I'd leave them on.
To illuminate my perspective somewhat, I have yet to find the right partner, and am not yet in a situation where it would be wise, but I am dearly looking forward to having children. I rate being a good parent as a more important goal of mine than any other, and intend to relish the experience. I have never heard anyone use the word 'breeder
' to refer to anything other than a band, so I have no particular feeling about that word, but disdain
for any large class of people is something I feel pretty cautious about.