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Making Babies for the Me-Generation

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If you're wondering just how self-centered and me-focused the average American has become, you need look no further than how that average citizen regards their offspring. Before they're brought into the world, those who haven't yet joined the party are at the mercy of those already in attendance.

If you can't hold it, bring it!

Colleen Pavelka opted for an early delivery on January 19th because her husband might have missed the Saints-Bears playoff had she waited for the baby to come on its own. It's entirely possible the baby would have waited until after its January 22nd due date to greet the world, but for Colleen and her husband Mark, that wasn't a risk worth taking.

Given the importance of football in the Pavelka household, and how seemingly okay the Pavelkas were with this decision, one wonders how many more times the new baby will be forced to accommodate Daddy's addiction and Mommy's subservience.

Would you like that with fries?

Meanwhile, Cara Reynolds of Collingswood, New Jersey, is not happy with those who are critical of using embryo screening as a way to produce a child with a disability. Reynolds is a dwarf and wants a child who is also a dwarf. She had considered embryo screening, but now plans to adopt a dwarf baby. "You cannot tell me that I cannot have a child who's going to look like me," Reynolds said. "It's just unbelievably presumptuous and they're playing God."

Who's playing God? Presumably it would be anyone with their hand in creating a child who, without interference, would never have otherwise existed. Cara would have us believe it is not those who use this cafeteria approach to baby making, but rather those who would disallow it.

The debate centers on the definition of "normal." Many within deaf and dwarf cultures don't consider themselves disabled. To some dwarf and deaf would-be parents, designing a child like themselves is no different than designing a child with a particular hair color or talent in mind.

Maybe, just maybe it isn't about you.

Perhaps what all of these would-be parents are missing is the ability to refocus outside themselves in preparation for the most important task of their lives – a mindset not lost on many of us who are already parents. Deliberately creating a child to one’s specifications, as if a child were a car or a house, is probably the most selfish thing I can think of, second only to abandoning a baby who wasn’t born just so – you know, like they do in male-obsessed cultures when a child is born sans penis. Sure, the latter is considerably more tragic – and it doesn’t make the former any less tragic.

My children wear glasses, take thyroid medication, and have ADHD. These things have impacted their experiences and have come to define them as people. Too, who they are (as a result of what they were born with) has had a profound impact on my life as a person and as a parent. I asked my children if they would, given the opportunity, change these things about themselves, and all three of them said, “No!” Would they have preferred my trying to make them more like me? All three noted my quick temper and crippling fear of heights. Again I heard, "No!"

It would have been reprehensible to tweak away nearsightedness, hyperactivity, or a hypoactive thyroid. For all I know these very traits, if you will, are the flipsides of their artistic talent, their humor, and their compassion. They wouldn’t be the people they are today had they been born differently – which is to say, they wouldn't be who they are had they been born to selfish, myopic parents.

If you can’t deal with a normal or abnormal child, regardless of how you define either term, then you don’t deserve to be a parent. Parenting is a privilege, not a right – just ask Mother Nature. Those of you who really think you have the right to play God (yes, Colleen and Cara, that’s you) don’t need medical technology. All you need is Toys-R-Us.

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About Diana Hartman

Diana is a USMC (ret.) spouse, mother of three and a Wichita, Kansas native. She is back in the United States after 10 years in Germany. She is a contributing author to Holiday Writes. She hates liver & motivational speakers. She loves science & naps.
  • Mohjho

    Parenting is not a privilege or a right, but a duty. Mother nature is not here for the asking.

    How on earth are you going to shame people into not enhancing their abilities to have born a child that better competes in this world or is less prone to debilitating disease? What government agency are you going to invoke to make sure future babies are up to your natural standards?

    Your fears are warranted, but the world is changing at a hyper rate and new generations will grow up with the opportunity to more precisely choose their offsprings attributes. What will keep them from taking advantage of these opportunities?

  • http://benefitofthedoubt.miksimum.com/ Jesse

    I’m not convinced that “naturally born” babies are absolutely preferable to “test-tube” babies, any more than I’m convinced by any argument that assumes nature should have priority. Nature wasn’t kind to my body or my health, and I’ve spent my whole life compensating for it. I would welcome the chance to spare my own children the same adversities.

    I had a professor in college who used in-vitro fertilization, not to ensure that his child looked like him or had a certain eye color, but to choose the healthiest embryo, so that his child would have a better chance of living a living a full life and developing according to the laws of family and culture. I feel that humans are smart enough to use technology well, and to sanction and control those who abuse it.

  • http://benefitofthedoubt.miksimum.com/ Jesse Miksic

    I DO agree with you, though, that people need to keep their priorities clear, and develop a functional and loving family structure, despite the distractions of modern culture all around us. We won’t be doing justice to the next generation until we see childbirth and parenting as an honor and a personal responsibility, rather than as a hobby or a social obligation.

  • Ruvy in Jerusalem

    Diana,

    Great article!!

    Both my wife and I are plagued with chronic diseases – or should I say we are blessed with them? They have both made us who and what we are, and in our cases at least, they have made us good responsible parents who have given it the old college try to make our own shots into the future decent and responsible young men.

    Have we succeeded? Don’t ask us. Ask our friends. We get compliments all the time, and neither of us know whether to swell with pride or quail with fear that whatever success we may have had may be jinxed…

    After catering to infantile desires in a Burger King for a number of years, I cannot believe how self-centered Americans are – but unfortunately, I know why…