CultureWatch

Bill Muehlenberg's commentary on issues of the day...

Adult Selfishness, Child Suffering

Jul 16, 2009

One of the big problems with living in an age of rights is that when one person demands his or her rights, often someone else will suffer as a result. In the past people were more willing to forego rights in the interests of the community at large, or to keep the peace. And if rights were insisted upon, usually the corresponding duties were emphasised as well.

But today everyone wants a slice of the rights pie. And today very few are talking about things like duty, obligation or responsibility. In an age of entitlements, everyone expects that they should be treated like a king, with nothing denied or withheld.

Even worse, many of these so-called rights have simply been pulled out of a hat. Such rights never existed before, but have been artificially created by a generation which demands total fulfilment, constant gratification, and instant satisfaction. Also of great concern is the fact that many of these rights being demanded by adults entail the diminished rights of children.

One of the most basic and fundamental of rights a child has is the right to be raised by his or her own biological parents. That right is being stripped away as selfish adults demand alternate relationships recognition, such as same-sex marriage, and unfettered access to assisted reproductive technologies (ART).

Right now there is a dizzying array of ways to manufacture a baby, most involving anything but a biological mum and dad. In some of these new reproductive technologies there might be just one biological parent, and sometimes none. And often a number of players can be involved, whether a sperm donor, surrogate mum, or any number of others. Thus a child can often be raised by a team or a committee, rather than a loving mother and father.

Consider the case of IVF, and how older women are demanding the right to ART. For various reasons, more and more women are putting off child birth until it is far too late, and their biological clocks have well and truly run down.

Often these women have bought the feminist myth that the only fulfilled woman is a career woman, and that getting a good job and successful career should be the first priority for every woman, and only afterwards should children be considered.

Many millions of women have gone down this path, only to discover that climbing the corporate ladder is not all that fulfilling after all, and that those maternal instincts are just too strong to resist. So they turn to IVF and other forms of ART, hoping to make up for lost time. Thus we have heard all sorts of horror stories in the media lately.

Indeed, only days ago a story emerged concerning a 72-year-old British woman seeking to conceive. One press account puts it this way: “At the age of 72, she is old enough to know better. But it seems Jenny Brown cannot be deflected from her determination to give birth. Miss Brown, who has never had a long-term relationship, has already spent £30,000 in the United States and Italy trying to conceive and is now prepared to travel abroad again to clinics that still offer IVF treatment to women her age.”

She has gone through all this expense and grief of enduring six courses of IVF, and she is still going at it. Other cases of elderly women trying to do the same –some successfully – have made the headlines. Consider the case of a 52-year-old Adelaide woman who had triplets through IVF. And there is the case of a 65-year-old Indian woman, who, along with her 68-year-old husband, had a baby through IVF. More recently, a 63-year-old British woman underwent infertility treatment. Or consider the 66-year-old Romanian woman who had twins through ART. While one of the girls died, chances are the other girl in her formative adolescence will have a wheel-chair bound mother, if she is alive at all.

These children will be raised by someone more like a grandparent, in terms of age, than a parent. How will an energetic youngster be properly looked after by parents getting too old to physically keep up with them? And the later that parenthood begins, the greater the chance the child will experience the death of a parent.

Indeed, what triggered this article in the first place was a story in today’s media. It is an incredible story. Here is how the story goes: “A Spanish woman who deceived a US fertility clinic about her age and become the oldest woman to give birth has died at 69, leaving behind two-year-old twins, newspapers reported on Wednesday. Maria del Carmen Bousada gave birth in December 2006 after telling a clinic in Los Angeles that she was 55, the facility’s maximum age for single women receiving in-vitro fertilisation. Guinness World Records said the 66-year-old was the oldest woman on record to give birth and the case ignited fierce debate over how much responsibility fertility clinics have over their patients.”

How bizarre. How selfish. This seems to be all about just one thing: the selfish desires of adults, with no thought taken for the wellbeing of the children so conceived. These twins now have no mother, presumably they have no father. So what will come of them? This woman had her jollies for a few years, and is now gone from the scene. But these twins have the rest of their lives to live out, without the two most important people they could ever know and love.

But in an age of rights, the only person we are expected to be concerned about is our self. Who gives a rip about anyone else? As long as all my selfish whims, desires and wants are catered to, who cares how much others might suffer as a result of my selfishness?

This is the logical outcome of a society which is fixated on rights – many of them bogus – but does not know the meaning of the terms ‘responsibilities’ or ‘duties’. In such a misguided world, people are going to suffer. And the ones who are going to suffer the most are the children.

Any society that can create such an environment as that is a society that needs to be put out of its misery, before it causes any more harm and damage.

www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-1199527/This-woman-72-spent-30-000-courses-IVF–shes-STILL-trying-baby.html
www.theage.com.au/world/woman-who-deceived-fertility-clinic-to-give-birth-to-twins-dies-20090716-dlrb.html

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16 Responses to Adult Selfishness, Child Suffering

  • In doing some research to think about rights from a Christian perspective I looked up some of the original charters, particularly those arising in the aftermath of WWII.

    It is my understanding that the original writers meant rights to actually be responsibilities. They were framed in terms of, “We need to protect the rights of others in these ways”

    Their framing as rights didn’t help, but it didn’t last long. Rights now are never about my responsibility to you, but are only ever about my self assertion. That was the problem the original writers were trying to correct, selfishness that disregarded others.

    Is it any wonder a human attempt to nullify human sinfulness fails? There is only one solution to human sin.

    “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!”

    Let’s make Him known.

    Michael Hutton, Ariah Park

  • I agree technology is allowing elderly women to have children when they could not possibly live long enough to raise the child into adulthood. The media are giving this subject a lot of attention lately plus I noticed many polls asking society questions like “at what age should people be allowed to have children?”

    I believe we are living in a time in which our “rights” are under threat and we should be vary wary when lawmakers want to make new laws regarding them. Debating this topic is a sure first step indication of, getting society to think about “should there be a law to stop people having children over or under a particular age”.

    I agree rights do equate to responsability however removing rights can result in the loss of our God given rights. What will be next? Will society be discussing, things like “one child per family?”

    Donna Opie

  • Another aspect of this is the character of the mother( usually), and the attitudes they hold.

    A mother who has swallowed the feminist myth, and applied it in her life for 30-35 years from say 20 to age 55, then takes on ART to conceive a child, is going to be exceedingly selfish, partially or significantly unfulfilled and possibly even bitter – at the very least grumpy about ‘life passing them by’.

    What kind of preparation is that for raising a child?

    Notice that even the patriarchs in Genesis raised their children in the earlier parts of their marraige, and the later years were left for wise fulfillment in ministry or service to others.

    It’s as if raising a family was part of God’s training in unselfishness.

    John Angelico

  • Donna,

    God given rights is something we hear a lot, particularly from our American brethren. I don’t know that what most people claim as God given rights actually are.

    For example, most poeple would talk about the right to an education, or food, or a job, but if you are going to call that a God given right I wonder why God didn’t give it to the kids in Africa.

    That’s a harsh way to make a point, but I’d love to hear where in the Bible it talks about God given rights. It seems to me, that if anything Philippians 2 teaches the opposite.

    This is a sincere question. I’m not just having a go at you.
    God Bless,
    Michael Hutton, Ariah Park

  • Spiderman said it best: with great power comes great responsibility. Seems this selfish world wants power and no responsibility. Somewhere in the bible it is put something like this ‘of those that have more, more is expected’.
    Lawrie Mcnamara

  • When my wife and I had a child we were in our 40’s and I was attacked by well meaning people in regards to our selfishness in having a child so late in our life, (albeit by natural means).
    We now have a beautiful young daughter who has attained the age of 21 and who is extremely grategful that we gave her life and she shows no signs of suffering because of our age despite the doom and gloom given to us by other people.
    I personally find it difficult to understand how we on one hand can condemn abortion yet also condemn those who, for whatever reason and by whatever means, want to give life,
    My wife’s mother is nowing nearing 90 yet my wife has a younger sister who is in her 30’s and is also the mother of 2 fantastic young boys.
    I feel certain that these young boys are quite happy that they have life.
    Jim Sturla

  • Thanks Jim

    But you miss the point here. Surely there is a big difference between having kids in one’s 30s or 40s, and trying to have them in one’s 60s or 70s, as this article was mainly about. Indeed, what will you tell these two-year-old twins Jim, who now have neither mother nor father? Is their well-being not important?

    And I don’t think you really mean to say that we should seek to have children “by whatever means”. Hopefully you are aware that the creation of spare embryos has long been a part of IVF, for example. Of course often those excess embryos are destroyed. Or are you in favour of human cloning as well – to bring about life – which would also destroy an existing embryo to procure the stem cells to make a clone? Or is it OK for lesbians to use IVF to make children? Or is adultery or fornication OK, if it results in new life? Or even rape?

    You really can’t tell me you are pro-life on the one hand, and then tell me that anything goes when it comes to the manufacturing of life. Indeed, as a believer you would know that the end does not justify the means, and any means is simply not acceptable in all sorts of areas, even having children. With all due respect, you need to think these things through a bit more carefully Jim.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch activities

  • John Angelico is right to raise the psychological aspect. What are the personality problems of these elderly mothers who are likely to be dead or senile before their kids reach adulthood? Are they narcissistic types? Is the child merely some sort of appendage to their egos? According to my recent reading, narcissistic parents can get worse in their old age, making life difficult for their children.
    John Snowden

  • These competing tensions show me the wisdom of doing things God’s way and leaving the creation of life in His hands. Man makes such a mess of it.

    Furthermore, even where there may be aberrations – such as Jim’s mother-in-law (or the biblical Sarah) having a baby in later life – the Director is God and we do not hold the philisophical dilemma.

    Jeremy Peet

  • My wife and I gave birth to two children rather late in life. We were in our early thirties (that was late in those days). They are 37 and 35 now. My son and his wife have produced five beautiful grandchildren for us. Having children is fantastic. Having grandchildren even more so because you can enjoy the pleasures that children bring and then hand them back.

    It has been written that grandparents are important to a teenagers upbringing and sense of well being. Apparantly teenagers with grandparents who interact with them are better adjusted as people. I know my grandchildren love having us around.

    That being the case, I can assure you that children don’t want grandparents as parents. Having both is the optimum. The selfishness that drive s a person to have a child in their 60s and 70s is going to control the relationship as they grow up. The focus of the relationship will be the mother and what makes her happy. That is no life for a child.

    Roger Marks

  • Bill,
    I am not saying that all is OK if life comes out of it,.
    When my wife and I had our child we were soundly condemned by ‘well meaning” people both before and after the birth of our child.
    We were criticised for our selfishness and lack of consideration.
    As stated I am not saying that any means, age, sexuality is fine and that the ends justify the means but I do understand the stresses that a woman undergoes with her need for a child.
    Having stated this I also am aware that the offspring have rights to a normal lifestyle as well.
    I believe that the woman in question has shown great selfishness and that these twins need proper parents.
    Jim Sturla

  • When my wife and I had our child we were soundly condemned by ‘well meaning” people both before and after the birth of our child.

    When a married couple naturally conceive a child, it is a great blessing and nobody else has the right to say anything bad about it at all. Such “well-meaning” people should probably be put in the stocks.

    Louise Le Mottee

  • Jim,

    I think we have all gotten to the same place. There is a difference between 45 and 65, namely the time it takes to raise a child (mori memento). There is a difference between IVF and natural birth, and between a couple and a single mum.

    But the biggest difference is whether we think about my right to have a child or my ability to meet the responsibility of raising a child.

    I would argue that that is the difference between you and the lying 66 year old. You had every reasonable expectation that you would be able to bring up your daughter, people have had children in their forties before, in fact in earlier days it was usual. The lady in the news did not have such an expectation, in fact one wonders whether it can have come into consideration at all. It seems to be all about her wants/needs and not those of the child.

    That’s why I want to be a bit careful of Louise’s last comment. She’s correct it’s wrongheaded (and rude) to criticise a couple for having a natural child in their forties. But to say nobody has the right to say anything is starting to move back toward the thinking that is right at the heart of the orphan twins insanity. I would argue that your pastor, or best friend, or whoever knows you has the right to ask, “Have you thought about how you are going to counter the possible drawbacks of having a child later?” Have you thought about how to offset the risks?” That’s a reasonable question to ask, just as it is reasonable to advise a single teen to think again about having a baby.

    The whole point is that there is another life involved, it’s not just about you.

    But Jim, I would have supported you, given that you were healthy and capable. We need to remember that children are a blessing form the Lord. But we also need to remember they are a great privilege and responsibility.

    God bless,
    Michael Hutton, Ariah Park

  • But to say nobody has the right to say anything is starting to move back toward the thinking that is right at the heart of the orphan twins insanity.

    I was speaking *only* in the case of married people. It really isn’t anyone else’s business in that case – it’s between the couple and God.

    Louise Le Mottee

  • I agree with today we are selfish. Im 44 years old and have no children. I was unable to meet a woman who i felt a overwhelming need to have children with. With so much pain in this world is there even a need to have them, joking but a bit serious. At 44 i believe my time has passed and i have transfered my need to nurture to 1 of the 50,000 homeless children in Australia. I believe God has equiped me to do this. When will people learn that its in the unselfish acts, we find true peace and fulfilment.
    Daniel Kempton

  • Good stuff Bill! Very interesting topic.

    The adults are the ones who are entrusted to leave society as in good a condition as possible – so when children come of age, they are placed in a positive position to have a good chance of succeeding in life. Today, what we see, is quite the opposite. Adults simply choose whats best for themselves as individuals, with token, and seemingly hypocritical behavior. Also, there is little loyalty today between adults in business, its mostly the bottom line which determines if a relationship is worth keeping. This is atheistic in the sense that convenience determines viability, rather than loyalty. You can be a super-loyal efficient, talented worker, and if your company is bought for example, and they don’t need you anymore, well “sorry”. You didn’t do anything wrong, but you just lost your job. Things can change from a relatively secure living to no security what-so-ever. Adults are focused on the adult world, not the world they leaving behind for the next generation to inherit. Any generation that makes decisions that primarily benefit itself, is a generation that is detached from reality. It is insanity. They can attend church every Sunday too, and ironically, do so in complete pretense and hypocrisy: It is certain if their kids made these very same choices visa versa, they wouldn’t like it, and neither want to be the recipient of financial burdens created by a different generation, simply so they could live like kings. If dysfunction has a face, it wears the face of selfishness masquerading as altruism and benevolence. Actions speak louder than words, and the actions we see will ensure one thing: There’s going to be legions of angry young adults once they realize what the adults have handed them to deal with, not our of necessity, but out of …..”better you than me. This was handed to you because if we accepted responsibility for it, we wouldn’t be able to live the good life.” Its the good life at all costs. Take your pick, either we deal with our own problems, or we hand them to the kids to deal with. The choice has already been made. The results will unlikely be pretty. Thank you.

    Walt Sullivan

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