OPINION

Desire to have children can be complex

The driving force behind our desires can be complex

When I lived in Southern Florida, I became pals with another parent.

She had one child; I had two. To my surprise the woman said to me and my wife: "I can't stand to see you with two children because I want to have a second child."

You might say that my friend was honest to a fault. But she did show something important: Many people want very much to have a child - or another child.

I recently read a novel, What Alice Forgot, by Liane Moriarty, in which a character obsesses about having a child.

The character dislikes seeing other women with small children.

Reproduction can be maddeningly difficult for some individuals.

Couples may have a genetic defect, or the reproductive system of one may not work well. A woman may not have a partner or may have a female partner. Some men do not have partners or have male partners.

The solution for many of these individuals involves IVF, in vitro fertilisation (in a test tube). The process tends to be expensive and painful. It does not always work, so hopeful individuals try again and again.

Waiting to see whether a child develops can be highly stressful.

If you haven't used IVF, you probably know someone who has. I do. The IVF industry is huge.

You might think that it is mostly women who feel driven to have a child, but studies show that in general men are just as pro-child.

What is the force driving the desire to have children?

In a word, evolution. Some individuals long ago did not have genes that led them to greatly value reproduction and to be inclined toward nurturing.

Their genes are gone now.

The genes in humans that long ago pushed them toward reproducing and nurturing are still around - kept going in generation after generation.

But, you might say, not everyone wants to have children. Right. I know individuals in this group.

How to explain them? I'll try.

Genes mix, they mutate; other genes have different influences.

Also, the environment can influence whether a person wants to have children.

The COVID situation, climate change, overpopulation, poverty, war, a hard childhood - any of these can quash a person's desire to have children.

Human desires are complex.

Lifeline: 13 11 14

  • John Malouff
This story The driving force behind our desires can be complex first appeared on The Canberra Times.