Wednesday, October 06, 2004

The selfish parents

Parents are the most selfish people in the world. When it comes to their children's welfare, nothing else matters. Here are some examples that support my claim. A couple of months ago when I was looking for a job, my father asked me if I needed help financially, and I declined professing that it shouldn't take me more than a month to find a job I like. He seemed a bit apprehensive about me rejecting some offers. He claimed that due to outsourcing there are fewer jobs in the US and that I should not nitpick. I said that it doesn't seem to be making a big difference (I was getting tonns of interview calls), and even if there are fewer jobs, they are probably going to India, so it's for the larger good. I was taken aback when he replied that he doesn't care about jobs in India; his children are living in the US so he only cares about jobs here. I wanted to say that it's our country and we should care about its benefit, no matter where we live, but I kept quiet.

It's not just my parents, but parents everywhere seem to be extremely selfish when it comes to their children. One day at lunch a coworker, just for the sake of conversation, asked a hypothetical question - "If there was one last slice of pizza left and you wanted it, what would each of you do?" Almost all stuck to the standard, that is, ask if anyone else wanted the last piece. If not then take it, otherwise share it. However, one woman who was the only parent in the group said that if her daughter wanted it, she would just grab the slice for her without asking. I thought her response was quite interesting.

My mom is the same when it comes to her children. She is like a grizzly bear protecting her cubs. If anyone is not so nice to me, my mom hates that person's guts. And she doesn't forget if someone wrongs me. On the other hand, when people are nice to me, she takes very good care of them. Parents make huge sacrifices for their kids. My mom put her career on the backseat to raise her kids. My parents lived apart for almost 2 years for my brother and sister. I was recently opposing the idea of my brother buying a car, but my mom said that I should buy him a car and she won't get the new car she had been thinking about for the longest time. So that makes parents the most selfless people.

I don't think I could be as good a parent as my own parents. The main reason being that I would never be home for my kids. I am also not completely sold on the idea of having children at all. They seem to be a huge liability and entail a humungous change in lifestyle. Besides my maternal instincts could easily be satisfied by getting a dog. But this is another discussion.

The question that arises is - "Is parents' self-sacrifical behavior actually selfish?" I think the answer is yes. Their behavior is motivated by protection of their own kin. Now if they were making these sacrifices for somebody else's kids then it would probably be truly selfless. Or would it? According to biogical and psychological theories on altruism, altruistic behavior evenutally leads to natural selection of the group if not the individual, and hence it is eventually propagating their own gene pool. If that's true, does altruism exist at all?

Regarding the question - "Is parents' self-sacrifical behavior actually selfish?. I agree with you with one more note...actually a question: "Why do man and woman decide to have a it for the child's happiness or for their own happiness ?". They want to be happy so they decide to procreate. They never care whether the child want to be born or not.
--- Nitya
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