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18 June 2002 (Tuesday): request for comments

Always intrigued me that documentation for networking protocols were called RFCs: Requests For Comments. Technology evolves constantly.

Q: How important is being a parent to you, personally? What is (or what do you envision to be) your role in a child's world, if any? Why?

The crackerjack box prize goes to Lenny for getting me thinking about this.

posted by enjelani @ 02:09 PM PST

Replies: 12 comments

Q: How important is being a parent to you, personally?
Nothing is of higher importance to me, but only because I am already a parent. Before I became one, I put very little importance on parenthood at all.
What is (or what do you envision to be) your role in a child's world, if any?
Assuming you mean my child, I see my role as one of guide, mostly. I figure that if I can keep her happy and safe and loved, I am doing ok.
Why? Because if I can do those things, all else will fall into place.

posted by Moonpuddle @ 18 06 2002 09:48 PM PST

Did I never tell you the story of why they're called Request For Comments? So back in the day, when it was a bunch of grad students basically sitting around doing research and designing shit to run on the ARPANet, they knew they were way low on the totem pole of the whole thing. There were colonels and generals and so on in charge of the whole network, who were the grad students. So as they were researching or whatever, planning and designing ways to have their different computers talk to each other, they kept wanting some kind of standards--but they felt like they were nobodys, they didn't have the wherewithal to publish STANDARDS--they were the grad students, there were big mucky mucks running this network. So instead they published 'requests for comments' on their proposed standards so that the high muckymucks could comment--but that in the meantime they'd use it as a standard to work from, since they needed standards, after all.

The generals, needless to say, have yet to comment.

posted by Gaudior @ 19 06 2002 12:44 AM PST

I haven't bought into the whole becoming a parent and letting my child rule my life (and don't get me started on the "save our children" bandwagon). It's a concept that many parents find offensive, but I believe having children is a selfish act where the parent(s) usually impart some pseudo mystical meaning of life jazz on the experience. What's ignored is the true cost children have on the world as they mature. The need for schools, roads, houses, food, water, and electricity is proportional to the number of people in the world. Personally, I don't mind subsidizing other people's children, but I dislike the notion that it's my responsibility.

I may seem selfish, but it's the people who insist on having children in an increasingly overpopulated world that are to a certain degree selfish. It's also interesting that populations in many developed countries are not growing or even declining whereas populations in developing countries continue to grow, despite the inevitable poverty that results.

This may sound like I hate kids, but I actually like them, I just don't want my own.

P.S. I'm still waiting for my crackerjacks...

posted by uslennar @ 19 06 2002 02:56 PM PST

hmm. not sure i agree with the notion that child-rearing is ultimately a selfish endeavor. it's just biology, elevated to something a tad more noble. having nine kids on a barely-enough-for-one salary is one thing; making the commitment to contribute one or two nifty human beings to the world is another.

but you're forgiven your bitter tone, Lenny, since i know just how obnoxious people have been about stomping on your personal decisions. :)

posted by enjelani @ 19 06 2002 03:13 PM PST

Procreation is the most prevailing instinct in nature, so it's a bit silly to cast it off as merely selfish. What the world needs is better families.

I'm all for children being born into healthy, happy, financially secure households.

I couldn't be more passionately against children being born into unstable, unloving, inattentive households where they can't be financially cared for.

Continuing that thought to its conclusion risks my being perceived as a nazi, so I'll shut up right there.

posted by soren @ 19 06 2002 04:14 PM PST

just wanted to clarify: i'm all for people *not* having kids if they don't want them. Ava made this decision years ago; she loves children (on the boat in Kenai Fjords NP, everyone thought for sure that she was an elementary school teacher), but she senses she's inherited some of her mother's worst parenting traits, and would just rather not go there.

funny, that makes three people i know who've chosen to be childless and want to be/are teachers.

i think my attitude on it is like my attitude on homosexuality: not my thang, but if it's who you are, more power to ya -- and i'm as pissed off as you are at people who try to force you to be otherwise.

posted by enjelani @ 19 06 2002 04:38 PM PST

Just to clarify, the desire to fuck is biology. Having children is the effect of this. Of course, there's also the maternal instinct to consider, but this kicks in after the child arrives.

I doubt many people have children with the primary intention to better the world, although some undoubtedly exist. I know many people who had kids "cuz we wanted em".

P.S. Sorry for my crotchetiness, I think I've been at work too long, (even though it's only five).

posted by uslennar @ 19 06 2002 04:46 PM PST

obviously. :p

you need a machine that doesn't hang for ten seconds with every mouse click. :)

posted by enjelani @ 19 06 2002 05:26 PM PST

Find me any mother who will tell you that the instinct stops at fucking and you win a gobstopper.

posted by soren @ 19 06 2002 06:11 PM PST

Sorry, my momentum ran out until someone (not soren) goaded me again.

Non-instinctive motivation cannot be ignored in something as complex as having a child. I'll grant there is some truth to Freud's view of the world, but peopleís decisions are more complicated then behavior solely based on instinctual motivation. Personally, I find Maslow's concept of self-actualization relevant here.

When I'm hungry or horny, it's on my mind until I satisfy the physiological need. Now a result of my actions could be a child, but I don't have a physiological need to have a child. Having a child certainly influences the state of my psyche (as you point out), but this is after the fact. Considering we are (usually) sentient and rational people, we can understand that having sex can produce children unless preventative measures are taken. Since I've not had a child, and therefore am not influenced by already having one, it is other psychological influences that guide my choices such as the desire to learn and the pursuit of personal satisfaction. While some might find self-actualization in the raising of a child, such a choice is no more or less valid then curing polio, becoming a CEO, or becoming a vigilante superhero.

The point is people can and should consider what raising a child means in both its positive and negative aspects before having one. Unfortunately, many people don't, claiming it's instinct or "Godís way". That isn't true, it's just the avoidance of potentially uncomfortable issues.

You can give enjelani my gobstopper.

posted by uslennar @ 20 06 2002 03:56 PM PST


I didn't mean to pick on you, by the way. :) I actually agree a lot with what you're saying.

But the instinct is very much alive and well (read "The Evolution of Desire" for an eye-opening look at the difficulties of having a reproductive instinct in a modern world). I think the thing that you're saying, that rational thought often overrides the instinct, is part of the thing that scares me. In the Western world, rational, intelligent people are opting out of childbirth (in effect, putting aside the instinct) because of reasons you mention -- things like self-actualization, lack of time, doubts about ability, a perception of too much evil in the world, difficulties in one's own childhood.

At the same time, people who often don't think rationally about things, who aren't as educated, less well-off, with less opportunity for self-fulfillment, are the ones having babies in droves. So the rational ones with money and freedom to pursue their own ambitions don't have children, while those who see no other reason for life have them.

It doesn't take a genius to see the outcome of this. And it's the reason I didn't want to come off sounding like a nazi, but I wish more rational intelligent people were having children instead of uneducated, poverty-stricken ones.

posted by soren @ 20 06 2002 05:03 PM PST

Well said.

Damn, I was hoping (as were others) to have the first true flame war on this blog. Eventually we'll get some scorched html pages around here.

posted by uslennar @ 20 06 2002 06:22 PM PST