Do Would-be Parents Consider the Ramifications of their Choices?

Hey you, in row 37, smile for the camera

   When people decide to make their own babies, they may have very particular reasons for doing so. Or none at all. While the teen birth rate in the United States has been dropping, there are still too many teenage girls who decide to become mothers because they just love babies, or they’re just too naive to believe pregnancy can actually result from indiscriminate intercourse. Some even do it because they have friends with babies and they want to keep up with the Joneses.

            We would not expect these young people to give deep consideration to the long-term impacts – both societal and personal – of choosing to bring another life into the world. But what about the rest? We wonder how many people in their twenties, thirties and even forties really make such considerations.

            When Ellis asked his mother, many years ago, why she had Ellis and his older brother (actually, there were two older brothers but one died at three days of age), she replied candidly that she did not know. It was just something you did when you got married. She created children simply because it was expected of her and her husband.  

            All of us who exist on this planet have a dramatic impact on its wellbeing. No other species upsets the ecological balance of the planet the way humans do. We are probably the only species that has a significant impact. But how many of us think beyond our own needs and wants when we decide to procreate?

            Here’s a dramatic example of what we are talking about. We know a couple – let’s call them Jerry and Elaine – who are extremely ethical people. They are vegans, meaning that beside not eating animals, they consume no animal products; no dairy, no eggs, no leather. They conserve water and try to avoid buying products that contain ingredients the harvesting of which negatively impacts the earth or its indigenous peoples.

            Jerry and Elaine, however, have a total of five children from previous marriages. None of their now-adult offspring are vegans, or even vegetarians. That means they have produced five other humans who are impacting the planet. Plus, there are half-a-dozen grandkids, only one of whom, a pre-teen, is trying to be a vegetarian.

            If Elaine and Jerry had it to do over again, would they have made the same reproductive choices? Who knows? What we do believe is this: very few people on the brink of deciding to have kids ask themselves questions like: If I have (another) child, how will that child

  • impact climate change?
  • change air quality?
  • affect water supplies and the demand for water as well as the quality of that water?
  • damage the oceans?
  • reduce the earth’s natural resources?
  • affect other people, especially those in less-privileged countries?
  • impact society?
  • affect wildlife and endangered species?
  • fare as it makes its way through life?


Among many other issues, Cheryl and Ellis did ask these questions – as did millions of others. We wrote our book, Enough of Us, because, ideally, we would like others to give the issues of human reproduction the same thought.


  1. I have actually seen people choose to have a child to “keep up with the Jones’s” and find it mind boggling that otherwise logical people will create a child just to keep in step with their friends.
    A big part of the problem with having kids is that so many parents don’t have a clue about parenting. There was a time when families would have three generations in the same house, but those days are mostly gone, especially in America. Parents don’t get the benefit of the grandparent’s experience, and the grandchildren don’t get much supervision from their elders. Instead they get electronic babysitters.
    Maybe manditory high school classes in parenting would produce better parents, and give young people a moment to consider the seriousness of creating a child before they suddenly have one.

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