From the Bookworm Room, in response to recent posts here at PJ Lifestyle: Is a familial genetic legacy the right reason not to have a baby? No!:
PJ Media has had two interesting posts about whether familial genetic legacies are the right reason not to have a baby. David Swindle passes on an article about the fact that well-known “comedienne” Sarah Silverman (I use the scare quotes because I don’t think she’s funny) announced recently that she will not have children because she and her family have a history of depression. Silverman can’t bear the thought that any children she has might suffer the same fate. Conservative blogger Kathy Shaidle also thinks that her family’s genetic possibilities — in her case, shortness — makes having babies a bad deal for the babies. (Shaidle offers up a number of other reasons why she wouldn’t have a baby, all of which make it clear that she’s thought the subject through carefully and really isn’t the maternal type.)
Neither woman is concerned about a life-threatening genetic problem, the kind that mandates that the child will suffer terribly and die young. Both are concerned, though, about traits that have affected the quality of their otherwise successful lives. Within this framework, Silverman and Shaidle are both wrong. There are many reasons not to have children, but their genetic concerns aren’t the right reasons.
To begin with, there’s no guarantee that a child will inherit whatever genetic problem exists in the family. Keep in mind that babies aren’t clones. They are, instead, the end result of thousands of years of genetic mix-ups. My great-grandmother had fraternal twin girls. One was six feet tall, the other five feet tall. They represented the two genetic extremes in just one family line. I’m five feet tall. My (male) cousins on the maternal side hover around 6’7″. They married short women; I married a tall man. All of our children are clocking in at average. Nature does what nature does. We can make some educated Mendelian guesses about the probable outcome when a couple have a baby, but those are just that — guesses.
Dr. Helen also weighed in too:
I read with interest Kathy Shaidle’s post here at PJ Lifestyle called “I Kid You Not: Top Four Reasons I Don’t Have Children.”
She mentions a couple of reasons such as bad personal experiences whereby you might end up ruining your kid’s life and bad genetics and other reasons such as your temperament and pop culture. Okay, the latter two, especially the former, I understand. You don’t have the temperament for children. Okay, fair enough, but as for ruining your kid’s life, why does it have to be that way? If you had a bad childhood, doesn’t it make sense to have children so that you can give them a better life than you had? As for genetics, don’t we all know people who don’t seem that great who have kids who are fine, or at least okay? Even people who are depressed don’t necessarily have kids who are depressed. And if they are? Get them treatment, just as you would for diabetes or other ailments. Apparently, Comedian Sarah Silvermann does not want kids because they might have mental illness which runs in her family. Human beings have problems, do you have to be perfect to be born? I hope not because we would all be goners.