There’s more to “I Want a Baby” Syndrome
By Wasilwa Sitati
Recently, Gabriel Dinda penned an article on why the “I want a baby” notion is not only dangerous to the stability of the family but to the society as a whole. I concur with his view. This article contributes to the debate. However, please note that by writing this piece I am not proclaiming expert status on relationship or parenting matters.
There is no statistical data, at least in Kenya, on individuals intending to just “have babies” in a relationship context but one can hardly fail to observe this trend. In effect, there are different strands – psychological, social and economic – that could enhance the understanding of the “I want a baby” syndrome.
Psychologically, men and women have different interpretations of “I want a baby.” But before elaborating on the differences in psychological interpretation, let’s first understand the genesis of “I want a baby” notion. Naturally, men and women are sexually attracted to each other based on different ideals. Men are mostly attracted by a woman’s beauty though some women are also physically attracted to men. Structurally, women are mostly attracted to men on the basis of economic and social security.
From the outset, the law of sexual attraction dictates the frequency at which people make the “I want a baby” proclamation. Some utter it because they want their offspring to bear certain traits, physical or otherwise, and others dish it out because they feel their material needs or wants will somehow be catered for. These motives summarize the conventional wisdom in view of the “I want a baby” notion.
Back to the psychological explanation. In the event that the “I want a baby” statement is made without the context of a constructive relationship or marriage, then there is an interesting case of incentives to consider. A man who makes such a proclamation, in the context of a casual relationship, is highly likely driven by the need for sexual satisfaction and not intentional parenting. Chances are high that an average woman will interpret the man’s “I want a baby” statement as a clear signal of blossoming love, whether real or imagined. On the other hand, a woman who utters the statement, still in the context of a casual relationship, could be desperate or just insecure about her future. An average man will most likely endear himself to such an adventure without rational thinking.
Either way, commitment is not guaranteed since one party in both scenarios may not be ready for parenting responsibilities. After getting the baby, non-commitment arises and emotional chaos sets in. A child born out of such circumstances characterized by non-commitment by one partner is unlikely to have its social, psychological and material needs adequately met.
Socially, peer influence and social pressure are primary factors which trigger “I want a baby” statements. Our society still glorifies baby-making; it’s a highly prized primal social enterprise. This is the primary reason why parents and other concerned relatives often pester young adults with statements such as “you are getting old and you should bring someone home”. Innately, we react to social competition in the sense that our primal instincts prompt us to desire having babies in case our peers have birthed some.
Finding a good partner is a combination of hard work and luck but one literally sets up himself or herself for failure when there is clear lack of purpose in getting a baby. The lack of purpose, in this case, should be understood on the basis of desiring to have a baby with an individual whom you seem not to have a deeper sense of emotional connection, or collective responsibility to work together, submit to each other’s inadequacies and forge a life-long companionship.
Economically, material needs have always influenced siring children. Historically, fulfilment of one’s material needs or wants is a primary factor which intuitively determines whom to marry. Organically, men flaunt their wealth to attract interested women. Women, on the other hand, naturally seek for a partner who has the capacity to satisfy their material demands. But there is more to contextualizing this economic incentive in a sexual relationship.
While it is difficult to mention what exactly attracts men and women – sexual, material or intellectual satisfaction – rationally, there is need to distinguish between genuine concern for economic stability and greed. Generally, genuine concern for economic stability cultivates honesty and can be fixed if both parties in a relationship are disciplined to work towards a shared vision. Greed prompts sexual entrapment and is a primary incentive for statements such as “I just want to have a baby with you”.
Let’s get the logic. Social stability heavily depends on stability of the family institution. Stability of the family institution and that of the society can be enhanced with a sense of commitment to parenting. Intentional parenting is the bottom line for realizing a stable family and society. But notions such as “I want a baby” jeopardize intentional parenting and sow the seeds of social instability.
In any case, animal societies are more stable than human societies. This difference results from the stubborn nature of human beings to reorder the laws of nature such as having babies without due consideration for intentional parenting. Animals, on the contrary, fare better at parenting as a result of adhering to laws of nature including intentional parenting. Let’s find purpose in having babies for the sake of social stability.