Why do we congratulate people for getting pregnant and having a baby? Tradition, compulsion, good will, stupidity, desperation...? There is often considerable doting that happens when a pregnancy or birth is announced. I understand wanting to wish people well and support them in their endeavors; however, when it comes to birthing and parenting culture I think a line has been crossed.
Why I am loath to congratulate people on the birth, or soon-to-be birth, of their child:
- The idea that people need to be reinforced and praised for propagating the human race is outdated, puzzling, and ridiculous. Pregnancy often results by choice, and it is a very natural process in most instances. It takes no special skill or knowledge to have basic sex, which is actually somewhat concerning if your primary reason for having a child is to help build a strong future for humans. Sex as a biological function is essentially nature's adult version of a shape sorter; easy, as long as you aren't trying to put the square peg in the round hole. To compound this, natural selection is being thwarted all over the place with more advanced technology and medicine. The fittest genes are no longer the only ones surviving.
- You could be the worst parent in the history of parenting, or at least a bad parent. Granted raising children is a big commitment, and undoubtedly a difficult task but the likelihood you are going to be a good parent vs. a bad parent is probably pretty evenly split. So, congratulating you would be like saying, "Hey, nice job on permanently damaging your kid. Thanks for keeping me in business." That seems a bit self-serving, don't you think?
- Your child could be the next Justin Beiber. Enough said.
- Choosing not to have children is an equally valid choice, and yet, when one dares utter the phrase "I'm not interested in having children" a bombardment of admonishments, disbelief, and ignorance follows. No one ever says, "Congratulations on having responsible sexual encounters and not adding to the already overcrowded population of Earth." or "Congratulations on not forcing a child into this world without the proper financial, emotional, and psychological support needed to help them grow."