When a couple decide to have a child, the decision is greeted generally with excitement and joy. However, when a couple decide not to have children to further their careers, experience more of the world, or just because they don't lie children, they can be stigmatised for it. Is there an expectation that everyone should want to reproduce? Is there anything wrong with choosing not to have kids?
I guess the problem is not that they arent having children, but I can see how people might think that they are missing out on an important part of life. Its part of everybodys traditional life cycle. You are born, you go to school, get a job, get a girlfriend, get married, have kids, raise them, retire, get old and die. A major part of any species lifecycle is reproduction to ensure the survival of their genetic material. Some peoples' children are they're whole reason for living and a source of inspiration. They might worry that they're missing out on something great.
The other option might be jealousy. Personally, I don't want kids, but since a bunch of my friends now have no social lives and their main conversation is centered around stuff their kids do, seeing me continue to live a life of awesomeness might make them miss their freedom. After all, misery loves company.
Then there's the question of whose going to look after you when you get old. If you have kids, they'll help you out (hopefully). Then again, by not having kids, you could probably save enough money to afford your own care, so that debate could go either way.
In the end, there is nothing wrong with not having children. You might just wake up at the age of 60 to realize that you might have made a terrible mistake.
Considering the state of the world, I actually applaud people when they decide not to have children or they decide to adopt instead of reproducing. The species is overpopulated enough as it is. There is no need for people who aren't completely certain that they want kids to be forced into it; there are enough people who do want kids to keep the human race going.
I am going to agree with Peter and Sea on this thread. At 24, many of my friends as well have taken the plunge and started a "family" of their own. I believe it is one of the noblest sacrifices a man can make with his life, and nothing comes close to developing character or responsibility (or exposing one's lack thereof) as quickly. They are right to greet the parents with excitement and joy. But, many other activities can develop character and maturity as well, and the perfect family does not have to and should not be every man's objective. I believe also that having children is contingent on being married first, but that condition deserves its own discussion.
I would hope that no couple decides to have children just to "complete" their family, satisfy their parents or friends, or use the child as super-glue on a failing relationship, but I know this happens. If you have ever watched Maury Povich or gone to family court, you will know that some men were not graced sufficiently to be fathers. Too many children are doomsday machines, mutually assuring the destruction of marriages and relationships. This is despicable, and it is right for men who know they cannot handle the responsibility to avoid taking it on. Even if you can handle a marriage, the demands of a child, I would think, would far surpass them. Divorcing one's children is a grueling experience for all.
I discovered that I did not want to have children a long time ago, before puberty. Most women I know would claim that I would make a good husband and father. I want neither of those titles because I just KNOW that it is not my responsibility. I can come up with a billion excuses, but the decision will rest with me. It is based on reasons that even I do not completely understand, just as I hope that parents will understand that their children are precious gifts to them, for reasons they should not be able to comprehend.
It's conventional wisdom that there are way too many people, that world's population keeps growing exponentially, and the most socially responsible thing to do is have no children.
There are too many people I think (although I can't give proof), and the world's population does keep growing, although it is "exponentially" *decreasing*; the growth rate is approaching stability overall.
In some countries, like Greece, Italy, and Russia IIRC, the population rate is crashing -- about 1child per woman. You can see how that'll work out in terms of taking care of retirees: if it continues, you'll have one adult and his two parents working to support four grandparents (on average): more retirees than workers.
So just looking at the world population isn't the whole picture. You have to look locally, too.
In a country like the US, which has approx 2 children per woman, you've got stability.
But this is overall. What's good for society is that we get what we need from someone, not necessarily from each person. We need doctors; we do not all need to go to medical school. We need parents; we don't all need to be parents, as long as we have enough children overall, but not too many.
Let those of us who don't have children be grateful to those who do, and let those who do have children be grateful to those who don't. We don't all have to choose the same path in life.
To the original question, I will give my opinion outside the question of population control. I'm guessing that not every monkey, bird, bug, or fish ever birthed or hatched reproduces. Its not completely unnatural or unethical to not reproduce. It is unethical to harrass or humiliate people into making either choice. Personally I don't want anyone that doesn't want to have a child to have a child.
If we are to claim that as humans, we have evolved or that God has made us above the animal, then I claim that is it no longer necessary for each one of us to breed. Our needs are above the simplistic needs of the animal. We require more then simply to find food, shelter and to mate.
Honestly as it has been stated before it's one's personal decision to make whether they have kids or not. If a person isn't ready or thinks they aren't ready they shouldn't be looked down upon for it. Besides Am I going to be raising your child? Obviously not so I have no say in whether you have one or not. However as a discussion forum the question was posed and does deserve debate.
Depending upon the reasoning I believe it is perfectly fine to wait to have kids. Me personally I don't want kids right now due to the fact that I'm not looking for a wife at this point in my life and I also don't have my personal issues together enough to settle down and raise a human being. I'm also at a transitional period in my life so it would be silly of me to take on a responsibility that needs grounding at this point in time. There are millions of reasons to wait to have kids or not have kids at all. I personally believe that everyone if they have the capability should have a child to carry on the legacy and help propagate the species in general. Also if one is incapable of having kids a some point in time I believe they should adopt a child. There are way too many childless kids in this world to "create" and extra one.
My wife and I have had several long discussions about this. I've always been rather ambivalent to the question of children. Rather if they happen, great! If not, great! Lately, though, we've been taking a hard look at the world around us and some of the children that are caught up in struggles they should have no business being a part of, and we can't morally justify bringing another child into the world with so many already needing good homes.
It's not about population control, it's more about rescuing a child from an abusive situation, and giving that child a good, safe place in which to be a child and grow up the way they should. Every child should be wanted and loved, and our mission is to make that a reality for at least one, maybe two children.