1

votes

Is it "paleo" to have children?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created April 30, 2012 at 9:09 PM

Ok, so forgive me if something like this has been asked before, but I've had this conversation a few times now, and it always stems from conversations about my dietary choices. From an evolutionary standpoint, the idea of children was to ensure that the race/species was carried on, the survival of humans, as it were. But now, in this world that is so over-populated already and where living sustainably for everyone really isn't an option, is it a good idea to bring a child into the world? What about more than one? Is it selfish at that point to have kids because YOU want to, or YOU want to carry on YOUR OWN line? Doesn't adoption make much more sense for the majority of people? I'm trying to leave religion out of the question here, but if it plays a major role in your answer, then so be it.

I don't ask this with any ill-intentions, or pre-conceived notions or anything, it's just an interesting question and I was wondering what you all think about it? We're always talking about the "ideal" way to take from this planet, what's the "ideal" way to give back? Thoughts?

B6114a1980b1481fb18206064f3f4a4f

(3924)

on September 13, 2012
at 01:05 AM

Interesting. I know three couples who have chosen to use a donor or to adopt rather than have fully genetic children because of a history of mental illness in their families. I don't consider this eugenics. I consider this a thoughtful choice made by three couples who didn't want to see their children struggling with the same mental health issues as they did.

B6114a1980b1481fb18206064f3f4a4f

(3924)

on May 03, 2012
at 01:36 AM

There is evidence that women who do not procreate and especially women who do not breast-feed have higher rates of ovarian, cervical and breast cancer. Also, some diseases typically go into remission (or at least get better) during pregnancy, so women who have been pregnant tend to have lower rates of these disease in the 5-15 years post child-bearing. Of course as a single mother of twins, my stress levels and years of sleepless nights have probably more than canceled out any hormonal benefits I've gotten from pregnancy and breast-feeding!

81fca18329e68e227cdfef3857bfef96

(1320)

on May 01, 2012
at 09:40 PM

I happened to take an environmental sustainability course for my master's where we examined civilizations that lived with extreme limitations and how they dealt with them. Let's just say cannibalism IS an option.

592fdaa77ec6342b736f1d25962aab7f

(547)

on May 01, 2012
at 09:20 PM

Gotcha! I just find it so interesting; I definitely need to read more.

81fca18329e68e227cdfef3857bfef96

(1320)

on May 01, 2012
at 06:02 PM

I do see the point you are trying to make. I believe the premise that paleolithic peoples were attempting to populate are wrong. The explosion of the human population began after the introduction of agriculture. Also, there were hunter/gatherer societies that lived on islands in the Pacific and off Australia that were studied by Naturalists in the 1700-1800's. It was observed that these people understood the environment could only provide for so many and that culling was actively used to limit the population.

592fdaa77ec6342b736f1d25962aab7f

(547)

on May 01, 2012
at 01:55 PM

I know it happened - not arguing with that - but I don't think they did it for the best of the herd. Or they just didn't know better. Maybe something spiritual behind it? In New Guinea a woman may have 12 kids with only 3 to reach adulthood. Culling would further hurt their efforts to populate. See where I'm going?

45eaf1688c1baf31d687a382b78f451f

(502)

on May 01, 2012
at 12:59 PM

And the fact that I should not be allowed to use the computer unsupervised after 8 PM on a work night. PaleoVenus, I don't consider your response to be inflammatory. It's got me thinking...(which can be very dangerous ;))

45eaf1688c1baf31d687a382b78f451f

(502)

on May 01, 2012
at 12:56 PM

Good points, Mark. And no, I do not support eugenics -- I don't believe someone can dictate to someone else whether that person should reproduce or not. I think my answer comes, in part, from years of people telling me that I'm going to want to have kids, that it's only natural. Some people have even gone as far as telling me it's my whole purpose! So being the naturally stubborn person I am, I've gone a totally different direction in my thinking. So my answer applies to me and the struggles and heartache I've seen with my sister.

518bce04b12cd77741237e1f61075194

(11577)

on May 01, 2012
at 07:19 AM

It's such a tough situation. My 2 cousins were put up for adoption when they were 2 and 4, and ended up being adopted by another family member who has many issues and allows the children to be in full contact with the mother and father that they were taken away from. It is terrible, and I often wish they were adopted to some place far away from where they were born, but I also know that the problems and issues are already instilled in them. It's so sad.

Bf57bcbdc19d4f1728599053acd020ab

(5043)

on May 01, 2012
at 07:12 AM

interesting answer, but this is delicate territory that has been trod by people arguing for eugenics and ethnic cleansing. (I.e. we are diluting our gene pool by keeping damaged or unworthy people alive.) I think we can safely say that humans no longer have the moral choice to leave things up to mother nature as we did in the Paleolithic. And that is a good thing in many ways and a bad thing in others.

Bf57bcbdc19d4f1728599053acd020ab

(5043)

on May 01, 2012
at 07:06 AM

Great answer. We are hardwired to continue our community. And the most important community for any higher-level mammal is its family group.

Bf57bcbdc19d4f1728599053acd020ab

(5043)

on May 01, 2012
at 07:04 AM

@foreveryoung - and since we have 10x more microbial DNA in our bodies than our own DNA, maybe we're just a survival machine for our collective bacterial overlords.

57fe410364322da1273494ded305c742

(109)

on May 01, 2012
at 06:11 AM

But evolution is already broken, because you no longer have to be fit to survive. I think that's the point of his question.

57fe410364322da1273494ded305c742

(109)

on May 01, 2012
at 06:10 AM

But evolution is already broken, because you know longer have to be fit to survive. I think that's the point of his question.

6ec8d30130a6fb274871314533b5536b

(581)

on May 01, 2012
at 05:41 AM

+1 for oh my God, emotion... amazing response. Very well explained and well said. My cousin is Korean and has been living with us since middle school (she's in college now). She's not adopted and is here for education, but even SHE went through a really hard adjustment period and hard time when she first came here. She gets to see her family during the summer, though. I can only imagine if she had been adopted by complete strangers with no ties to her old life :(

81fca18329e68e227cdfef3857bfef96

(1320)

on May 01, 2012
at 02:44 AM

That question is exactly what leads to eugenics and the culling of the 'weaker' races. While morally abhorrent, taken from a utilitarian perspective, eugenics is useful. Yet who is wise enough to predict which genes are useful and which are not? Artificial selection has created the crops and animals we use today. These populations are uniquely susceptible to parasites, disease, and other ailments. They must be pumped full of antibiotics and sprayed with pesticides. They cannot survive without human intervention. Is that superior? Food for thought.

81fca18329e68e227cdfef3857bfef96

(1320)

on May 01, 2012
at 02:36 AM

I don't understand what does not make sense. It is an accepted fact that paleolithic people culled newborns at rate of 1 out of 5 or greater. This is just the reality of living off the land at a sustenance level. It can see where people mistakenly equate 'living paleo' with really living paleo. It was largely a harsh, short existence by modern standards. If you have some other data or study that is contrary, I would be interested in seeing it.

E7adfe31507efb7c935f618a829f56d6

(1507)

on May 01, 2012
at 01:55 AM

this strikes me as a causation versus correlation issue.

80890193d74240cab6dda920665bfb6c

(1528)

on May 01, 2012
at 01:40 AM

By being childless, you're increasing your all-cause risk of mortality: "Results showed that relative to parents of two children, childless men and women and those with one child had higher mortality risks for nearly all cause of death groupings." http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0277953610001462

592fdaa77ec6342b736f1d25962aab7f

(547)

on May 01, 2012
at 01:35 AM

That's interesting. It doesn't make sense though. Maybe my logic is off. But with extended breastfeeding it wasn't like Paleo moms were having babies non-stop. Next, culling would really hurt them in the long run since probably less than half of kids made it into adulthood.

E7adfe31507efb7c935f618a829f56d6

(1507)

on May 01, 2012
at 01:26 AM

Okay, i'm not trying to be inflammatory but... "should we as a species be propagating weak genes down to the next generation[?]" You have just described the premise for eugenics.

782d92f4127823bdfb2ddfcbcf961d0e

(5231)

on May 01, 2012
at 01:12 AM

Interesting discussion of this topic in the book "The Red Queen" by Matt Ridley. "Reproduction is the sole goal for which humans are designed. Everything else is a means to that end."

F5f742cc9228eb5804114d0f3be4e587

(7660)

on May 01, 2012
at 12:54 AM

Great reminder. We see this in the animal kingdom all the time and there's no reason why humans "in the wild" would do any differently. In fact, the sensationalism surrounding women abandoning their babies in trashcans etc. can be seen as a continuation of this.

F5f742cc9228eb5804114d0f3be4e587

(7660)

on May 01, 2012
at 12:51 AM

From our perspective, sure. From evolution's? It's not. I'm also a fan of the Dark Mountain Project (http://dark-mountain.net/about/manifesto/) so I am not a believer that a handful of individuals deciding not to have children will amount to anything. All humans suffer, no matter the time or place. I trust in humankind's adaptability and that given enough time, one way or the other, humans will cease to exist. Sorry to be so overdramatic about it, but that's my perspective.

65125edd5aafad39b3d5b3a8b4a36bb7

(6092)

on May 01, 2012
at 12:10 AM

Of course overpopulation is a valid consideration. If there is not enough food or resources to raise your child to be healthy, due to overpopulation, is it really fair to that child to have brought it into the world in the first place? Without petroleum, it's unlikely this planet can support much more than 1 billion people.

78cb3c4f70de5db2adb52b6b9671894b

(5519)

on April 30, 2012
at 11:57 PM

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/04/09/american-torryann-hansen-_n_531477.htmlI remember reading this when it first came out in 2010, and the sadness I first felt still lingers. The lying and covering up by the agencies about emotional problems and the horrible acts of US parents (murdering/abandoning their adopted children) breaks my heart. Most cases do not end this severely, but it doesn't take away the point that you must be informed/educated/prepared when you adopt.

1edb06ded9ccf098a4517ca4a7a34ebc

(14952)

on April 30, 2012
at 11:55 PM

Read the book "the Selfish Gene" by Richard Dawkins.

78cb3c4f70de5db2adb52b6b9671894b

(5519)

on April 30, 2012
at 11:55 PM

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/04/09/american-torryann-hansen-_n_531477.html I remember reading this when it first came out in 2010, and the sadness I first felt still lingers.

F5f742cc9228eb5804114d0f3be4e587

(7660)

on April 30, 2012
at 11:21 PM

Ha! Yes, there's that problem. I'm not sure about that either, but certainly folks had to make some sort of connection? Maybe some did and some didn't. But I do know that there are still many cultures that think you're not a fulfilled human being without children.

Ecb90bbbd5a15868b2592d517a4a5e82

(280)

on April 30, 2012
at 10:55 PM

From a genetic perspective, you're just a bag to carry your genes forward. To ensure you want to do that, you have evolved a sex drive - a powerful instinctive urge to make with hot chicks whenever possible, and to think about sex as much as possible. If you don't have kids, you've failed evolution - you're not even in the "survival of the fittest" game until you've knocked up your girlfriend, to be frank. Untold generations of ancestors fought like to dogs to make sure you were born because you have their genes. Throw that away if you like; choose to lose, and erase your genes from history.

27e79ef3308bb5f2d7bd04ee7eea7b79

(2038)

on April 30, 2012
at 10:47 PM

"While I suppose it could've been possible, I just can't imagine any of our ancestors consciously choosing not to have children." Karen P, I'm not sure our Paleo ancestors made the connection between copulation and child-creation. Ever read the Earth's Children series by Jean Auel? She gives a pretty interesting way of how "cavemen" may have thought offspring were created.

27e79ef3308bb5f2d7bd04ee7eea7b79

(2038)

on April 30, 2012
at 10:47 PM

"While I suppose it could've been possible, I just can't imagine any of our ancestors consciously choosing not to have children." Karen P, I'm not sure our Paleo ancestors made he connection between copulation and child-creation. Ever read the Earth's Children series by Jean Auel? She gives a pretty interesting way of how "cavemen" may have thought offspring were created.

27e79ef3308bb5f2d7bd04ee7eea7b79

(2038)

on April 30, 2012
at 10:46 PM

"While I suppose it could've been possible, I just can't imagine any of our ancestors consciously choosing not to have children." Karen P, I'm not sure our Paleo ancestors made he connection between copulation and child-creation. Ever read the Earth's Children series by Jean Auel? She gives a pretty interesting way of how "caveman" may have thought offspring were created.

78cb3c4f70de5db2adb52b6b9671894b

(5519)

on April 30, 2012
at 10:42 PM

@Karen, it does make sense that HG groups and other cultures do it within family groups. In the case of foster kids, they usually try to place children with a family member first. However, sometimes extended families have just as much problem with substance abuse, instability, poverty, etc.:(

E7adfe31507efb7c935f618a829f56d6

(1507)

on April 30, 2012
at 10:31 PM

@ Anondson: I wrote my response when there were only two responses posted, I think Karen's and Heidi's...not sure. So when I wrote it, I was the only detractor, hence my surprise. @Karen: yes, of course homosexuality does not preclude raising a child--my comment is made in the context of those who use the "evolutionary mandate to reproduce" as an argument against homosexuality. If you watch the news, you know what I mean (and i am NOT accusing you of doing that). But Karen, i think in this forum, Paleo = good. so the question is, by its very nature, a rather weighted one.

D7cc4049bef85d1979efbd853dc07c8e

(4029)

on April 30, 2012
at 10:23 PM

Sure, but it was interesting you didn't call out the OP as moralistic, just the responders. Just noticin' is all.

F5f742cc9228eb5804114d0f3be4e587

(7660)

on April 30, 2012
at 10:22 PM

Also, being homosexual doesn't preclude having children or the desire to have children.

F5f742cc9228eb5804114d0f3be4e587

(7660)

on April 30, 2012
at 10:20 PM

It should be noted that adoption in HG groups and other cultures was done within family groups, not strangers. I'm sure our system seems positively barbaric to these cultures. It just might be.

F5f742cc9228eb5804114d0f3be4e587

(7660)

on April 30, 2012
at 10:19 PM

I'm only saying it's "Paleo" in the sense that if we take evolution as a guide as we do with nutrition, then procreating is the mechanism by which that occurs. It's just an intellectual exercise, not moralizing about whether or not people should or should not have children.

78cb3c4f70de5db2adb52b6b9671894b

(5519)

on April 30, 2012
at 10:17 PM

I don't think you'll have any physical consequence. For me, the idea of having children has nothing to do with passing down genes and "leaving something behind" and everything to do with me wanting a sense of family and wanting the experience of handprints all over my walls and going to Disneyland. I think being child-free is absolutely fine. You will not grow a third cancerous arm, I promise.

1edb06ded9ccf098a4517ca4a7a34ebc

(14952)

on April 30, 2012
at 10:15 PM

This is not an answer but what you are referring to is called the Malthusian Trap in economics. Also, your view of evolution is wrong. Evolution/natural selection does not occur at the species level- it occurs at the gene level. Every organism on the planet is just a survival machine for the genetic material it posses.

E7adfe31507efb7c935f618a829f56d6

(1507)

on April 30, 2012
at 10:12 PM

Yes, and please note that I did not say that.

Ab6fa1917815179062768c861b2efdab

(94)

on April 30, 2012
at 10:11 PM

Absolutely agree with you on all points, Sunny Beaches.

870fdea50f2a9f1cd2890c8e22549300

(2056)

on April 30, 2012
at 10:09 PM

Okay, I'm now officially confused about what the concept "paleo" is supposed to engender.

D7cc4049bef85d1979efbd853dc07c8e

(4029)

on April 30, 2012
at 10:07 PM

Is it moralistic to say the reverse? That having kids wastes the planet's resources?

78cb3c4f70de5db2adb52b6b9671894b

(5519)

on April 30, 2012
at 10:05 PM

"Romanticizing adoption"--you phrased it very well. I blame Shirley Temple movies, ha ha. Russia, unfortunately (like Romania) is known for poor quality orphanages. Yeah, attachment disorders, aggressiveness and other emotional problems are very real. It's very sad for everyone involved. I get pretty depressed reading about foster children. Foster parents...I have SO much respect and admiration for them. I love children and am passionately driven to give them the best outcome, BUT I know that emotionally, I could never do it. Which is why I do it from the research/writing world.

Medium avatar

(12379)

on April 30, 2012
at 09:58 PM

There are some good discussions about this topic in this thread http://paleohacks.com/questions/34305/is-the-growing-trend-of-choosing-childlessness-a-bad-sign/34330#34330

E7adfe31507efb7c935f618a829f56d6

(1507)

on April 30, 2012
at 09:57 PM

I bet a lot of our ancestors wished they could choose not to have children. See, e.g., the women's rights movement, the fight to legalize abortion, birth control and happy, childless women everywhere. Also, you have convinced me to stop recycling. What difference does it make anyhow? Just a drop in the bucket.

Ae3b7ea9f3755af32287825db8d98796

(2022)

on April 30, 2012
at 09:55 PM

So very well said! I agree that people over-simplify or romanticize adoption. I learned that when I was a social worker. I had clients who adopted Russian siblings. They had so many emotional problems, many that stemmed from leaving their homeland. People thought they would help out a child, having the best intentions, but they were entirely unprepared. This is also true for foster parents. It's very hard work. That story about the Chinese girl is heartbreaking.

8634d4988ced45a68e2a79e69cc01835

(1617)

on April 30, 2012
at 09:37 PM

I've heard a lot of rudeness to people who have children or want to from the 'child-free' set. I hope this discussion doesn't go that way.

8f3730668ce0afe19faafc9da192df15

(95)

on April 30, 2012
at 09:19 PM

Since I'm genetically superior to most other people it's my duty to populate the world with offspring. ;)

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13 Answers

13
78cb3c4f70de5db2adb52b6b9671894b

on April 30, 2012
at 09:39 PM

Doesn't adoption make much more sense for the majority of people?

I think people simplify adoption as the "answer". Adoption isn't just like picking a child like a toy off a shelf. It takes a very special person/family to adopt a child because they may have special socio-emotional needs. Children who are given up or orphaned often struggle with self-identity and/or feelings of abandonment. Some parents may not be prepared to deal with these challenges even if they have a world full of love in their arms. It's not a character flaw, but it is important to be aware of the reality of adoption. It can be a beautiful choice, but not for everyone.

Older children who are put up for adoption often have been neglected and/or physically or sexually abused. Parents who adopt have be emotionally and educationally prepared. Parents sometimes have this Hollywood love portrait painted in their heads, thinking that they are going to rescue the child, and that they child will fall into their arms and love them. The research on the effects of neglect and abuse on children, especially foster children who have jumped from home to home can paint a depressing picture. These children need a lot of love and patience and is someone hasn't had the training, the time, or the social support, it can be a difficult journey.

Watch the documentary "Wo Ai Ni" (I love you, Mommy). In this, a Jewish-American couple adopt two Chinese girls. The older daughter who was brought over at age 8 (for the purpose of being company for their other daughter), cried for weeks. There was so much anger and sorrow in her sobs. She knew no English, missed her home in China and all her friends. Her parents were so frustrated with her. They wondered why she was so sad when she had it "so good" in America with lots of toys. It made me ache so much for the little girl. A house is not a home, especially when you are stripped way from everything you know and placed in a foreign land, expecting to show love to strangers. Her parents kept telling her that they loved her early on, but for a little lonely child who saw them as strangers, it doesn't mean much. About a year or so later, the girl caught up with her English, BUT since her parents made no attempt at trying to keep her connected with her heritage, she lost almost all of her Chinese. She used to Skype with a friend of her's (I think she was another adoptee) in China, but at the end of the documentary, she could no longer talk to her friend! She needed a translator. Often, families of internationally adopted children keep life books, keep them involved in their culture, etc. Adoption is often very complicated, and people who take that route need to be prepared. It's not as simple as, "let's just adopt a child".

Anyway, we don't just have children for the purpose of passing down genes. We're more advanced than that. We do it for a sense of love, closeness and a sense of "family" and connectedness. I think we're driven to have a sense of family, and having children is a part of that. The environmental reasons and other problems may be a concern, but it doesn't water down our inner need for a family.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/04/09/american-torryann-hansen-_n_531477.html

I remember reading this when it first came out in 2010, and the sadness I first felt still lingers. The lying and covering up by the agencies about emotional problems and the horrible acts of US parents (murdering/abandoning their adopted children) breaks my heart. Most cases do not end this severely, but it doesn't take away the point that you must be informed/educated/prepared when you adopt (especially if they are not infants).

78cb3c4f70de5db2adb52b6b9671894b

(5519)

on April 30, 2012
at 10:42 PM

@Karen, it does make sense that HG groups and other cultures do it within family groups. In the case of foster kids, they usually try to place children with a family member first. However, sometimes extended families have just as much problem with substance abuse, instability, poverty, etc.:(

78cb3c4f70de5db2adb52b6b9671894b

(5519)

on April 30, 2012
at 11:57 PM

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/04/09/american-torryann-hansen-_n_531477.htmlI remember reading this when it first came out in 2010, and the sadness I first felt still lingers. The lying and covering up by the agencies about emotional problems and the horrible acts of US parents (murdering/abandoning their adopted children) breaks my heart. Most cases do not end this severely, but it doesn't take away the point that you must be informed/educated/prepared when you adopt.

Ab6fa1917815179062768c861b2efdab

(94)

on April 30, 2012
at 10:11 PM

Absolutely agree with you on all points, Sunny Beaches.

F5f742cc9228eb5804114d0f3be4e587

(7660)

on April 30, 2012
at 10:20 PM

It should be noted that adoption in HG groups and other cultures was done within family groups, not strangers. I'm sure our system seems positively barbaric to these cultures. It just might be.

78cb3c4f70de5db2adb52b6b9671894b

(5519)

on April 30, 2012
at 11:55 PM

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/04/09/american-torryann-hansen-_n_531477.html I remember reading this when it first came out in 2010, and the sadness I first felt still lingers.

Ae3b7ea9f3755af32287825db8d98796

(2022)

on April 30, 2012
at 09:55 PM

So very well said! I agree that people over-simplify or romanticize adoption. I learned that when I was a social worker. I had clients who adopted Russian siblings. They had so many emotional problems, many that stemmed from leaving their homeland. People thought they would help out a child, having the best intentions, but they were entirely unprepared. This is also true for foster parents. It's very hard work. That story about the Chinese girl is heartbreaking.

78cb3c4f70de5db2adb52b6b9671894b

(5519)

on April 30, 2012
at 10:05 PM

"Romanticizing adoption"--you phrased it very well. I blame Shirley Temple movies, ha ha. Russia, unfortunately (like Romania) is known for poor quality orphanages. Yeah, attachment disorders, aggressiveness and other emotional problems are very real. It's very sad for everyone involved. I get pretty depressed reading about foster children. Foster parents...I have SO much respect and admiration for them. I love children and am passionately driven to give them the best outcome, BUT I know that emotionally, I could never do it. Which is why I do it from the research/writing world.

518bce04b12cd77741237e1f61075194

(11577)

on May 01, 2012
at 07:19 AM

It's such a tough situation. My 2 cousins were put up for adoption when they were 2 and 4, and ended up being adopted by another family member who has many issues and allows the children to be in full contact with the mother and father that they were taken away from. It is terrible, and I often wish they were adopted to some place far away from where they were born, but I also know that the problems and issues are already instilled in them. It's so sad.

6ec8d30130a6fb274871314533b5536b

(581)

on May 01, 2012
at 05:41 AM

+1 for oh my God, emotion... amazing response. Very well explained and well said. My cousin is Korean and has been living with us since middle school (she's in college now). She's not adopted and is here for education, but even SHE went through a really hard adjustment period and hard time when she first came here. She gets to see her family during the summer, though. I can only imagine if she had been adopted by complete strangers with no ties to her old life :(

Bf57bcbdc19d4f1728599053acd020ab

(5043)

on May 01, 2012
at 07:06 AM

Great answer. We are hardwired to continue our community. And the most important community for any higher-level mammal is its family group.

10
F5f742cc9228eb5804114d0f3be4e587

(7660)

on April 30, 2012
at 09:22 PM

As far as evolution is concerned, yes. It is THE most Paleo thing you could ever do.

From a strictly evolutionary standpoint, there is no merit to moralizing or shoulds. I'm actually really curious what it is that's acting against evolution and making people reject having children or being squeamish about it when it was once considered a natural part of life. Sure, sure, people don't want to bring children into this horrible world yadda yadda yadda, but I can promise you there have been times in history far worse than this for bringing children into.

Also, the idea that we're overpopulated doesn't hold water either because it's a similar argument to not driving a car for environmental reasons. Both having a child and driving a car are similar "problems" from an environmental standpoint, but one individual's decision to either not have a child or drive a car is the most microscopic drop in a gargantuan vat of a bucket.

While I suppose it could've been possible, I just can't imagine any of our ancestors consciously choosing not to have children.

E7adfe31507efb7c935f618a829f56d6

(1507)

on April 30, 2012
at 09:57 PM

I bet a lot of our ancestors wished they could choose not to have children. See, e.g., the women's rights movement, the fight to legalize abortion, birth control and happy, childless women everywhere. Also, you have convinced me to stop recycling. What difference does it make anyhow? Just a drop in the bucket.

65125edd5aafad39b3d5b3a8b4a36bb7

(6092)

on May 01, 2012
at 12:10 AM

Of course overpopulation is a valid consideration. If there is not enough food or resources to raise your child to be healthy, due to overpopulation, is it really fair to that child to have brought it into the world in the first place? Without petroleum, it's unlikely this planet can support much more than 1 billion people.

F5f742cc9228eb5804114d0f3be4e587

(7660)

on April 30, 2012
at 11:21 PM

Ha! Yes, there's that problem. I'm not sure about that either, but certainly folks had to make some sort of connection? Maybe some did and some didn't. But I do know that there are still many cultures that think you're not a fulfilled human being without children.

27e79ef3308bb5f2d7bd04ee7eea7b79

(2038)

on April 30, 2012
at 10:46 PM

"While I suppose it could've been possible, I just can't imagine any of our ancestors consciously choosing not to have children." Karen P, I'm not sure our Paleo ancestors made he connection between copulation and child-creation. Ever read the Earth's Children series by Jean Auel? She gives a pretty interesting way of how "caveman" may have thought offspring were created.

27e79ef3308bb5f2d7bd04ee7eea7b79

(2038)

on April 30, 2012
at 10:47 PM

"While I suppose it could've been possible, I just can't imagine any of our ancestors consciously choosing not to have children." Karen P, I'm not sure our Paleo ancestors made he connection between copulation and child-creation. Ever read the Earth's Children series by Jean Auel? She gives a pretty interesting way of how "cavemen" may have thought offspring were created.

F5f742cc9228eb5804114d0f3be4e587

(7660)

on May 01, 2012
at 12:51 AM

From our perspective, sure. From evolution's? It's not. I'm also a fan of the Dark Mountain Project (http://dark-mountain.net/about/manifesto/) so I am not a believer that a handful of individuals deciding not to have children will amount to anything. All humans suffer, no matter the time or place. I trust in humankind's adaptability and that given enough time, one way or the other, humans will cease to exist. Sorry to be so overdramatic about it, but that's my perspective.

27e79ef3308bb5f2d7bd04ee7eea7b79

(2038)

on April 30, 2012
at 10:47 PM

"While I suppose it could've been possible, I just can't imagine any of our ancestors consciously choosing not to have children." Karen P, I'm not sure our Paleo ancestors made the connection between copulation and child-creation. Ever read the Earth's Children series by Jean Auel? She gives a pretty interesting way of how "cavemen" may have thought offspring were created.

5
Medium avatar

(19469)

on May 01, 2012
at 12:00 AM

To the question "Is it 'Paleo' to have children", the answer is unquestionably yes.

However, there is substantial evidence suggesting that the decision to not have children (by coitus interuptis or other means) as well as abortion/infanticide was commonplace among our ancestors just as it was with modern hunter-gatherer tribes.

From "Why They Kill Their Newborns By Steven Pinker":

"Until very recently in human evolutionary history, mothers nursed their children for two to four years before becoming fertile again. Many children died, especially in the perilous first year. Most women saw no more than two or three of their children survive to adulthood, and many did not see any survive. To become a grandmother, a woman had to make hard choices. In most societies documented by anthropologists, including those of hunter-gatherers (our best glimpse into our ancestors' way of life), a woman lets a newborn die when its prospects for survival to adulthood are poor. The forecast might be based on abnormal signs in the infant, or on bad circumstances for successful motherhood at the time -- she might be burdened with older children, beset by war or famine or without a husband or social support. Moreover, she might be young enough to try again. "

F5f742cc9228eb5804114d0f3be4e587

(7660)

on May 01, 2012
at 12:54 AM

Great reminder. We see this in the animal kingdom all the time and there's no reason why humans "in the wild" would do any differently. In fact, the sensationalism surrounding women abandoning their babies in trashcans etc. can be seen as a continuation of this.

Bf57bcbdc19d4f1728599053acd020ab

(5043)

on May 01, 2012
at 07:12 AM

interesting answer, but this is delicate territory that has been trod by people arguing for eugenics and ethnic cleansing. (I.e. we are diluting our gene pool by keeping damaged or unworthy people alive.) I think we can safely say that humans no longer have the moral choice to leave things up to mother nature as we did in the Paleolithic. And that is a good thing in many ways and a bad thing in others.

5
E7adfe31507efb7c935f618a829f56d6

on April 30, 2012
at 09:47 PM

I'm really surprised to see people saying that bearing a child is the most paleo thing you could do. It strikes me as incredibly moralistic. To me, paleo does not encompass whether or not to have children. It's a lens through which to view diet and exercise, but it is not my moral compass. Since when did not eating grains and legumes become a prescription for procreation? I do think our life-philosophies can be informed by paleo. I am all for seeking out ways to live an ancestral life in the context of the modern world. However, we have to be careful.

In the past, when evolutionary theory mixed with morality/social theory, you got eugenics, which justified the sterilization of women with mental illness and other disabilities, people who weren't white, and poor people. I am scared that someone is going to answer this question with, "it's only paleo to procreate if you, yourself, are paleo, because otherwise you are furthering a 'non-optimal' iteration of our species."

Of course our ancestors might have "chosen" not to reproduce. For example, homosexuality is not new to our species (see Evolution's Rainbow: http://www.amazon.com/Evolutions-Rainbow-Diversity-Gender-Sexuality/dp/0520240731). And I can definitely think of something "more paleo" than having children: eating paleo. Having children is an incredible thing and I am not, in any way, criticizing that choice. I am just wary of why anyone would ask "is it paleo" to have kids?

Beware, I say, beware.

E7adfe31507efb7c935f618a829f56d6

(1507)

on April 30, 2012
at 10:12 PM

Yes, and please note that I did not say that.

E7adfe31507efb7c935f618a829f56d6

(1507)

on April 30, 2012
at 10:31 PM

@ Anondson: I wrote my response when there were only two responses posted, I think Karen's and Heidi's...not sure. So when I wrote it, I was the only detractor, hence my surprise. @Karen: yes, of course homosexuality does not preclude raising a child--my comment is made in the context of those who use the "evolutionary mandate to reproduce" as an argument against homosexuality. If you watch the news, you know what I mean (and i am NOT accusing you of doing that). But Karen, i think in this forum, Paleo = good. so the question is, by its very nature, a rather weighted one.

F5f742cc9228eb5804114d0f3be4e587

(7660)

on April 30, 2012
at 10:19 PM

I'm only saying it's "Paleo" in the sense that if we take evolution as a guide as we do with nutrition, then procreating is the mechanism by which that occurs. It's just an intellectual exercise, not moralizing about whether or not people should or should not have children.

D7cc4049bef85d1979efbd853dc07c8e

(4029)

on April 30, 2012
at 10:23 PM

Sure, but it was interesting you didn't call out the OP as moralistic, just the responders. Just noticin' is all.

D7cc4049bef85d1979efbd853dc07c8e

(4029)

on April 30, 2012
at 10:07 PM

Is it moralistic to say the reverse? That having kids wastes the planet's resources?

F5f742cc9228eb5804114d0f3be4e587

(7660)

on April 30, 2012
at 10:22 PM

Also, being homosexual doesn't preclude having children or the desire to have children.

5
B6114a1980b1481fb18206064f3f4a4f

(3924)

on April 30, 2012
at 09:23 PM

I can't think of anything more Paleo than to procreate! And having children is not selfish. To be a good parent you have to give up so much of your own personal time and freedom in order to nurture another person's body and soul. When done well, it's the least selfish job I can think of.

4
C836b2644e7319bb957fbb794a97708e

on April 30, 2012
at 10:11 PM

I am going to step away from the moral/social aspect of this question. When I think of paleo I think of physical health. So I guess what I am wondering is does having children do something to a womans body that is beneficial? Are we not fully going through our intended life cycle if we do not? I have made the choice to be child free (why is not relevant) and I often wonder if I will suffer some sort of physical consequence later.

If there is no difference than no I dont think it matters to paleo. If there is a difference then its probably very paleo to reproduce.

78cb3c4f70de5db2adb52b6b9671894b

(5519)

on April 30, 2012
at 10:17 PM

I don't think you'll have any physical consequence. For me, the idea of having children has nothing to do with passing down genes and "leaving something behind" and everything to do with me wanting a sense of family and wanting the experience of handprints all over my walls and going to Disneyland. I think being child-free is absolutely fine. You will not grow a third cancerous arm, I promise.

80890193d74240cab6dda920665bfb6c

(1528)

on May 01, 2012
at 01:40 AM

By being childless, you're increasing your all-cause risk of mortality: "Results showed that relative to parents of two children, childless men and women and those with one child had higher mortality risks for nearly all cause of death groupings." http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0277953610001462

E7adfe31507efb7c935f618a829f56d6

(1507)

on May 01, 2012
at 01:55 AM

this strikes me as a causation versus correlation issue.

B6114a1980b1481fb18206064f3f4a4f

(3924)

on May 03, 2012
at 01:36 AM

There is evidence that women who do not procreate and especially women who do not breast-feed have higher rates of ovarian, cervical and breast cancer. Also, some diseases typically go into remission (or at least get better) during pregnancy, so women who have been pregnant tend to have lower rates of these disease in the 5-15 years post child-bearing. Of course as a single mother of twins, my stress levels and years of sleepless nights have probably more than canceled out any hormonal benefits I've gotten from pregnancy and breast-feeding!

3
D7cc4049bef85d1979efbd853dc07c8e

(4029)

on April 30, 2012
at 10:19 PM

Continuing the species is not the singular purpose of reproducing. As a social species, having children brings innumerable social benefits, and psychological benefits with those.

Connecting to a surrounding community is vital to our mental well being. What better way to develop a welcoming community than to "grow your own"!

Seriously!

Yeah you can connect to others without having a family. But families are one of the surest ways to have your own cheerleaders, your own soft place to land, your own safe critics, your own hubris popping needles, and best huggers.

2
81fca18329e68e227cdfef3857bfef96

(1320)

on May 01, 2012
at 01:20 AM

If you you agree with the premise that the world is near over population and that introducing more people will effect the overall survival of the human race, then yes; not having children would be following the example of our paleolithic ancestors.

Hunter/gatherer societies without agriculture or animal husbandry (only mode of transportation would be foot) would be severely limited as to the population they could sustain. Since human beings are fertile year round and paleolithic peoples lacked birth control, culling newborns was the only feasible option if they could not care for them. Estimates range between 15-50% of all newborns were killed within 24 hours before the development of agriculture. Yes, it's infanticide but let us not judge our ancestors too harshly who lived in a much more unforgiving world.

For reference to the above statement, check Wikipedia references 7-9 on infanticide. As a side note; I read Diamond, Jared (2005). Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed in my masters level environmental sustainability course. It was a bit dry but a good read for those interested in the subject.

592fdaa77ec6342b736f1d25962aab7f

(547)

on May 01, 2012
at 01:35 AM

That's interesting. It doesn't make sense though. Maybe my logic is off. But with extended breastfeeding it wasn't like Paleo moms were having babies non-stop. Next, culling would really hurt them in the long run since probably less than half of kids made it into adulthood.

81fca18329e68e227cdfef3857bfef96

(1320)

on May 01, 2012
at 02:36 AM

I don't understand what does not make sense. It is an accepted fact that paleolithic people culled newborns at rate of 1 out of 5 or greater. This is just the reality of living off the land at a sustenance level. It can see where people mistakenly equate 'living paleo' with really living paleo. It was largely a harsh, short existence by modern standards. If you have some other data or study that is contrary, I would be interested in seeing it.

592fdaa77ec6342b736f1d25962aab7f

(547)

on May 01, 2012
at 09:20 PM

Gotcha! I just find it so interesting; I definitely need to read more.

81fca18329e68e227cdfef3857bfef96

(1320)

on May 01, 2012
at 09:40 PM

I happened to take an environmental sustainability course for my master's where we examined civilizations that lived with extreme limitations and how they dealt with them. Let's just say cannibalism IS an option.

592fdaa77ec6342b736f1d25962aab7f

(547)

on May 01, 2012
at 01:55 PM

I know it happened - not arguing with that - but I don't think they did it for the best of the herd. Or they just didn't know better. Maybe something spiritual behind it? In New Guinea a woman may have 12 kids with only 3 to reach adulthood. Culling would further hurt their efforts to populate. See where I'm going?

81fca18329e68e227cdfef3857bfef96

(1320)

on May 01, 2012
at 06:02 PM

I do see the point you are trying to make. I believe the premise that paleolithic peoples were attempting to populate are wrong. The explosion of the human population began after the introduction of agriculture. Also, there were hunter/gatherer societies that lived on islands in the Pacific and off Australia that were studied by Naturalists in the 1700-1800's. It was observed that these people understood the environment could only provide for so many and that culling was actively used to limit the population.

2
9f54852ea376e8e416356f547611e052

(2957)

on April 30, 2012
at 10:20 PM

I, for one, support adoption and people's choice to not have children. It means less competition for my superior genes and offspring.

1
45eaf1688c1baf31d687a382b78f451f

on May 01, 2012
at 12:53 AM

Trying to think of a way to phrase my answer without getting mouldy bread thrown at me....

Perhaps some background. There are two sisters: me the older and my sister...the younger. I've been sickly most my life. My sister has not. I never had a desire for children. My sister always wanted a house-full.

I married a man who already has two adult children, with no real desire for more (although he said if I was interested, he was willing). My sister married a man who we grew up with, very nice guy, great with kids, who wants a house-full himself.

My sister gave birth to my nephew almost 12 years ago, after several weeks of bed rest because of almost miscarrying him. Eight miscarriages later, she has finally decided more children were not meant to be. Those failed pregnancies have taken a toll: whereas I have never had a gray hair, my sister is now dyeing hers. She looks old and tired most of the time.

Now, going back to me always being sickly. Turns out, I have celiac disease. As many of you here know, sometimes you can have celiac disease without any real symptoms. Also, celiac disease runs in families. The symptoms are rampant on both sides of my parents' families. My sister refuses to be tested or give up gluten...she loves bread too much (I can sympathize...to a point).

So there's my sister...with celiac disease. Her husband was diagnosed as a teen with Crohn's.
My nephew has Turrets.

They all eat SAD -- though I am working on them.

When my sister was pregnant with my nephew, her staple was Snickers ice cream bars. He was very colicky as a baby. He was not breast-fed (never took to it, and the hospital never really gave my sister support -- after a couple hours of trying, they took my nephew and gave him a bottle).

Back to me. Although I do not have any desire to have children, I am fairly certain I would not be able to take a baby to term due to the damage to my insides from the celiac disease.

So here are my thoughts: Is it "paleo" to have children? Yes -- But only if you are otherwise healthy and are eating paleo. Otherwise, should we as a species be propagating weak genes down to the next generation just because we have the science and knowledge to create and sustain babies that would have perished in less "civilized" times?

81fca18329e68e227cdfef3857bfef96

(1320)

on May 01, 2012
at 02:44 AM

That question is exactly what leads to eugenics and the culling of the 'weaker' races. While morally abhorrent, taken from a utilitarian perspective, eugenics is useful. Yet who is wise enough to predict which genes are useful and which are not? Artificial selection has created the crops and animals we use today. These populations are uniquely susceptible to parasites, disease, and other ailments. They must be pumped full of antibiotics and sprayed with pesticides. They cannot survive without human intervention. Is that superior? Food for thought.

E7adfe31507efb7c935f618a829f56d6

(1507)

on May 01, 2012
at 01:26 AM

Okay, i'm not trying to be inflammatory but... "should we as a species be propagating weak genes down to the next generation[?]" You have just described the premise for eugenics.

45eaf1688c1baf31d687a382b78f451f

(502)

on May 01, 2012
at 12:56 PM

Good points, Mark. And no, I do not support eugenics -- I don't believe someone can dictate to someone else whether that person should reproduce or not. I think my answer comes, in part, from years of people telling me that I'm going to want to have kids, that it's only natural. Some people have even gone as far as telling me it's my whole purpose! So being the naturally stubborn person I am, I've gone a totally different direction in my thinking. So my answer applies to me and the struggles and heartache I've seen with my sister.

45eaf1688c1baf31d687a382b78f451f

(502)

on May 01, 2012
at 12:59 PM

And the fact that I should not be allowed to use the computer unsupervised after 8 PM on a work night. PaleoVenus, I don't consider your response to be inflammatory. It's got me thinking...(which can be very dangerous ;))

B6114a1980b1481fb18206064f3f4a4f

(3924)

on September 13, 2012
at 01:05 AM

Interesting. I know three couples who have chosen to use a donor or to adopt rather than have fully genetic children because of a history of mental illness in their families. I don't consider this eugenics. I consider this a thoughtful choice made by three couples who didn't want to see their children struggling with the same mental health issues as they did.

1
97c04f87a752ff0a5cf6be9d806c0334

(888)

on April 30, 2012
at 09:50 PM

I think its more Paleo to be Earth-conscious and respectful of our environment. I also think it's Paleo to look out for our future generations and be more aware of the consequences of our actions.

Over population is an inevitability that most people ignore. Resource allocation is a very pressing issue right now and there is no easy solution, it gets far too political. I think it makes more sense to be child-free or to adopt children, rather than procreating. Sexual education programs and proper health care can deter unwanted pregnancies.

1
592fdaa77ec6342b736f1d25962aab7f

(547)

on April 30, 2012
at 09:50 PM

It'd be a disservice to the human race for me not to reproduce. Not to brag, but I have some really good genes. ;)

0
4278d3c1e7b23efaff544b58c2bfbb88

on April 30, 2012
at 10:22 PM

The more kids the more hunting gathering that can be done for the tribe. The weak kids will get eaten by the tigers. Survival of the fittest. Gooooo Paleo!!!!

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