Why Bring Another Human to This Crowded Planet?

Ours is a very crowded planet. Will your child be an added burden, or will s/he make the world a better place? photo: blog.worldbank.org

Before you were a parent, you heard this question, I’m sure. That chatter still continues, but to the extent that you surround yourself with other parents, you’ve pushed it to the background.

Still, it’s a worthy question to consider. The world is getting more crowded every day. In the opinion of most scientists who study the global climate, the earth’s increasing population is causing the earth damage that could one day be catastrophic.

Before kids, my answer to the question, “Why bring another human to this crowded planet?” was very direct and simple:

“My children won’t be a burden to the world. Instead, they’ll make the world a better place.”

In other words, the value that they bring to world will be greater than the burden they bring, in the form of additional hydrocarbon generation and resource depletion.

I believed this then. Very deeply. I still do.

Now, though, my wife and I need to make this happen, or at least do our part to make it happen.

This is our fundamental job as parents, to raise children who make a strong positive impact on the world. Note that we’ll be “graded on a curve,” in that kids with more “advantages” from their parents – i.e. kids who generate more hydrocarbons and use more resources – should make a stronger positive impact to not be a net burden to the world.

Unfortunately, many young adults these days aren’t making a very strong positive impact on the world. In fact, the psychology profession is considering adding a new stage of life called “emerging adulthood” to account for all the twenty-somethings who aren’t yet ready to handle all the responsibilities of adulthood, living with their parents and not holding a stable, career-track job.

Is it their parents’ fault if these twentysomethings aren’t making much of a positive impact on the world? Well, the bad economy certainly should share some of the blame, too, but not all of it.

The key, I think, is to raise kids to be “doers” with a sense of purpose. We must somehow help our kids find a fire in their soul to do something positive for the world, and we must also help them acquire the tools to accomplish their dreams.

This is my new mission – to figure out how to do this, and to communicate it to other parents. I strongly believe that facilitating a life of unsupervised outdoor play is a fundamental building block toward this goal. However, parents must do a lot beyond that to help their children become doers with a sense of purpose.

Stay tuned. I’m excited!

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